Trudeau says orderly immigration system is needed, after deaths of eight migrants

Confidence might also be increased if the government could demonstrate a more prudent and realistic approach to immigration levels. Arguably, the rapid increase in temporary workers and students, significantly more than Permanent Residents, uncapped and not in the annual levels plan, is by itself another manifestation of less than orderly immigration:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reiterating the importance of an orderly immigration system as police investigate the deaths of eight migrants, including two toddlers, in the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne last week.

Last month, Canada negotiated a deal with the United States to turn away asylum seekers at unofficial border crossings like Roxham Road, closing a long-standing loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement.

The deal means people will be turned away from the border no matter where they try to cross. The aim is for people to make their asylum claim in the first country they land in, whether it be Canada or the United States.

Migrant advocates warned the new rules would push people to take even greater risks in their efforts to cross the border, like using smugglers and moving to even more remote crossings.

A week later, the bodies of eight people were pulled from the St. Lawrence River after they tried to make it into the U.S. from Canada by boat.

The prime minister called the deaths a tragedy, but said Canada needs to maintain public confidence in the immigration system.

“When people take risks to cross our borders in an irregular fashion or if they pay criminals to get them across the border, this isn’t a system we can have confidence in,” Trudeau said in French at a press conference in Val-d’Or, Que.

Canada is prepared to welcome more immigrants than ever, he said, “but we’re going to make sure that it’s done in the right ways, appropriately.”

The government’s immigration plan says between 410,000 and 505,000 people will become permanent residents this year, which would be the highest number in recent history.

But since COVID-19 border restrictions lifted in 2021, the number of asylum claims has significantly surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Cities and provinces, particularly Quebec, have said the number of families claiming asylum have put pressure on local services.

Despite the recent clampdown at the border, the federal government set aside $1 billion for temporary shelter and health-care coverage for asylum seekers.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan called on the government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement Monday, saying it was negotiated in secret and without consultation.

“I do fear that people will die,” said Kwan at a press conference at the irregular border crossing near Emerson, Man.

She was joined by Seidu Mohammed, a bisexual man from Ghana, whose asylum claim was rejected in America. He spent a year in immigration detention before he crossed into Canada through an irregular border crossing.

If he didn’t, he fears he would have been deported to Ghana where sexual acts between consenting people of the same gender is against the law and people who identify as LGBTQ face discrimination and violence.

Mohammed said he was terrified when he heard about the new policy.

“It’s going to put a lot of immigrants and refugees in danger, and they’re going to lose their lives from this,” he said.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser called the deaths of the migrants in Akwesasne horrific, and said they have caused him to think about changes.

“I don’t have an announcement on a policy change today, but I can reassure you that I’m thinking very deeply about what shifts we ought to be making in Canada,” he said, reflecting specifically on the fact that the two children who died had Canadian passports.

The children were one and two years old.

Fraser said the government is looking at putting money toward some of the root causes that push people to make perilous journeys through irregular border crossings in the first place, but repeated the prime minister’s message about the importance of an orderly system.

“We want to do what we can to promote opportunities for people to come through regular pathways so they know that they’re going to be able to arrive in Canada safely, whether that’s through our refugee programs, whether that’s through our economic programs to be reunited with their families,” Fraser said at a press conference in Calgary.

Source: Trudeau says orderly immigration system is needed, after deaths of eight migrants

Trudeau pushing softer approach to temporary visas, less focus on risk of overstaying

Would be nice if we actually had published data on the number of visa overstays to inform policy and monitor extent of issue (USA reports on overstays). Some progress in recognizing impact of immigration on housing…:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s pushing Canada’s immigration system to soften its approach to processing visa applications and put less focus on the risk of visitors overstaying their short-term visas.

“We’re also trying to do a better job around temporary visas,” Trudeau said Friday.

“The system — I’ll be honest — is still based around, ‘Prove to me that you won’t stay if you come,’ right?” he said, arguing that it is easier for applicants to “convince” immigration officials to grant them visas if they have “a good job and a home and a house and a good status back home.”

On the other hand, people who are strongly motivated to be in Canada for family reasons could be seen by officials as more likely to overstay, he suggested: “If your mom talks about how much she loves you and just wants to be there (in Canada), and you’re there all alone, that’s scary.”

Trudeau made the remarks Friday during an hour-long meeting with about 25 Algonquin College nursing students in Ottawa. Many of them told him they are international students, and a handful mentioned visa issues.

During a question-and-answer session, one international student recounted being hospitalized for seven months and feeling isolated. She told the prime minister her mother had tried twice to get a visa to come visit her, but both applications were rejected.

Trudeau responded that it is vital for Canadians to have faith in the integrity of their immigration system. But he also suggested that he had asked Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to take a less defensive posture when issuing visas.

“We have to stop saying ‘Well, it would be a bad people, a bad thing, if these people were to choose to stay,'” Trudeau said. “Our immigration minister, Sean Fraser, is working very, very hard on trying to shift the way we look at immigration and make sure that we’re bringing people in.”

The prime minister told the student that the Immigration Department made the wrong call in deciding not to admit her mother.

“It would seem unfair to Canadians and to all sorts of people if there was a back door. These are all the things we’re trying to balance,” Trudeau said. “But I absolutely hear you. Your mom should have been able to come and see you.”

Trudeau added that the federal immigration system is challenged by Canada’s need to fill labour gaps and by numerous crises abroad that are causing people to flee their homes.

Trudeau also said Ottawa has to do a better job helping immigrants thrive. Otherwise, he said, Canadians’ warm feelings toward immigration could chill.

“An anti-immigration party would have a hard time succeeding in Canada, because so many Canadians understand how important that is,” Trudeau said. “We need to protect the fact that Canadians are pro-immigration.”

For example, he said there must be enough housing stock for newcomer families to establish themselves without breeding resentment among the Canadian-born population. But he suggested immigration could also help solve that problem.

“There’s a labour shortage in the construction industry and building houses. So as we bring in more people who can build houses, we will solve some of the housing shortage,” said Trudeau.

“There are solutions in this. Part of it is shifting the attitudes. Part of it is also just improving our ability to process (applications) using proper digital means and computer means.”

Fraser’s office confirmed that work is underway to look at how Ottawa issues visas for relatives of people already in Canada.

“Reuniting families is a pillar of Canada’s immigration system,” the minister’s spokeswoman, Bahoz Dara Aziz, said in a statement. “We continue to be guided by principles of fairness and compassion, and work to explore all avenues possible in bringing people together with their loved ones.”

Canada’s visa denials and processing delays have made global headlines in the past year, with citizens of developing countries finding themselves unable to attend global conferences hosted in Canadian cities.

This week, the International Studies Association went public with its struggles to get visas for hundreds of people set to attend a Montreal conference next month.

Despite presenting plane tickets, income data and evidence of funding they received to attend the conference, many attendees, including panelists, have been denied on the grounds that they can’t demonstrate a likelihood of returning home when the event is over.

The issues follow an uproar last year over the denial of visas for multiple African delegates to the International AIDS Conference, also held in Montreal, which had some accusing Canada of racism.

Data updated Tuesday show that visa applications take an average of 217 days to process for people based in Britain. It’s 212 days for people in France.

While citizens of those countries don’t need visitor visas to come to Canada, academics from many developing countries who are based in Paris or London do need a visa to attend a conference Canada.

The Immigration Department did not respond to the concerns until after The Canadian Press published an article Wednesday.

“IRCC works collaboratively with organizers of international events taking place in Canada to help co-ordinate processing of temporary resident visa applications for delegates or participants to Canada,” spokesman Jeffrey MacDonald said in an email.

“We are committed to the fair and non-discriminatory application of immigration procedures. We take this responsibility seriously, and officers are trained to assess applications equally against the same criteria.”

The department said the complexity and accuracy of information in a visa application can influence how quickly IRCC processes it, in addition to the staffing and resources of offices that handle the requests.

But the department also noted that the processing times it posts online are often not “reflective of reality.”

That’s because the estimate is based on how long it took officials to process 80 per cent of applications in the previous six to eight weeks. Those include long-backlogged cases.

“Processing times can be skewed by outliers, in particular applications from our older inventory that were previously on hold for a long period of time and are now being processed,” MacDonald wrote.

“Once this backlog of applications is cleared, we will start to see processing times more reflective of reality.”

Source: Trudeau pushing softer approach to temporary visas, less focus on risk of overstaying

Phillips: Justin Trudeau has not learned from Hillary Clinton’s infamous ‘deplorables’ gaffe

Good advice:

Remember Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables?”

She came up with that peculiar turn of phrase in September, 2016, when she was campaigning for the U.S. presidency against Donald Trump. Half of Trump’s supporters, she declared, were among those deplorables — people who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic.”

There were plenty of reasons why Clinton lost to Trump, but pretty much everyone agrees that dismissing maybe a quarter of American voters as racist, sexist, etc., was one of them. Even Clinton conceded the point in the end. In her memoir of the campaign, “What Happened,” she said she regretted handing Trump “a political gift” by insulting millions of well-intentioned (but wrong) voters.

The lesson — a pretty basic one, you’d think — is that while it’s fine to attack your opponent it’s hardly ever fine to attack their supporters. In the end, you’re after their votes. Not all of them, certainly. Some will never be won over, and some no doubt will be “deplorable” in one way or the other.

But you want to persuade the persuadables, and tarring them with labels like racist and sexist is bound to push people away, not bring them over to your side. At least, that’s how it turned out for Clinton, with tragic results for the United States and the rest of us as well.

In light of that, what to make of Justin Trudeau’s most recent diagnosis of what’s fuelling support for his Conservative rival, Pierre Poilievre?

In a revealing interview with the Star’s Susan Delacourt, the prime minister was eager to take on Poilievre. Trudeau, Delacourt wrote over the weekend, accuses the Conservative leader of “whipping up the anger to appeal to those Canadians who are nostalgic for a country that worked well for them, maybe not so much for others.”

In Trudeau’s words: “He’s playing and preying on the kinds of anger and anxieties about some Canada that used to be — where men were men and white men ruled.”

This is red meat for Poilievre and his core supporters, so it was no surprise to see him jump right on those words. The Conservative leader posted a three-minute video, one of those, “Hey Justin” jobs he’s become so expert at, accusing Trudeau of saying “the reason you claim you’re so unpopular with Canadians is that Canadians are racist.”

So, basic fact check: is that what Trudeau said? Certainly not. Is Poilievre distorting his words for crass political advantage? Of course. 

But is there something to what Poilievre says? Well, kind of. Trudeau didn’t say Canadians are racist; he didn’t even say Poilievre’s supporters are racist. But he did link Canadians’ anger and anxieties to something that could reasonably be interpreted as racist — a fond memory, or nostalgia as Delacourt put it, for a once-upon-a-time Canada where “white men ruled.”

At this point there are people who will be thinking something along the lines of: Right on, Justin. That’s what Poilievre’s really all about. Good for you for “calling out” him and his sleazy supporters. 

To those people, all I would say is — fine, go ahead and think that. But to Trudeau and those around him I would say — don’t go there. If you didn’t actually cross the line into accusing Conservative supporters of being racist, you did edge up to it and took a good look.

Trudeau is actually very thoughtful on these issues. After living through the pandemic and the convoy protests he’s had plenty of opportunity to reflect on what animates the anger across the country — including the fury directed at him personally.

He’s quite right that many people are upset at the way society has changed, and not always for good reasons. But his job isn’t to be a political analyst; it’s to manage that change in a way that unites people and brings as many as possible over to his side. 

To succeed at that, he needs to take on board the lesson Hillary Clinton learned the hard way. Don’t insult people on the other side. It’ll only come back and hit you in the face.

Source: Justin Trudeau has not learned from Hillary Clinton’s infamous ‘deplorables’ gaffe

Trudeau says Quebec has the ‘tools’ to welcome 112,000 immigrants, more than double its goal, Trudeau forcé de clarifier ses propos sur les seuils d’immigration

Correct. Not a question of having or not having the tools but Quebec takes a more more critical look at immigration rathe than the “more the merrier” approach in the rest of Canada. Have included an article from Le Devoir on the false controversy his remarks caused, forcing him to clarify his remarks (even if I found them clear).

But the divergent approaches to immigration, and the resulting dilution of Quebec’s weight in the federation, are a cause for medium-and-longer concern:

Quebec’s immigration minister has responded to comments from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying his assertion that the province could welcome up to 112,000 immigrants every year instead of the planned 50,000 is “insensitive” to Quebec’s challenge of protecting the French language.

Trudeau told The Canadian Press Monday afternoon in a year-end interview that Quebec had the resources to host more than double the immigration threshold it has set for itself and that the province already has “all the tools” for those people to be francophones.

Earlier this year, the federal government set a goal of welcoming 500,000 new immigrants by 2025 — 112,000 represents 22.3 per cent of that number, which is the equivalent of Quebec’s population within Canada.

Source: Trudeau says Quebec has the ‘tools’ to welcome 112,000 immigrants, more than double its goal

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a tenu mardi à préciser ses propos voulant qu’il fasse le « constat » que le Québec « a la capacité », selon lui, d’accueillir jusqu’à 112 000 immigrants par année, face aux commentaires désapprobateurs de la ministre québécoise de l’Immigration et de certains partis d’opposition aux Communes.

En entrevue de fin d’année avec La Presse canadienne, M. Trudeau avait, dans sa réponse à une question dans laquelle ce chiffre lui était présenté, répété ce dernier.

« Le Québec a actuellement la pleine capacité d’accueillir 112 000 immigrants par année. […] C’est un constat », avait-il dit lundi.

Le premier ministre était interpellé sur le fait que les Québécois représentent 22,3 % de la population canadienne et que ce chiffre de 112 000 correspond donc à la proportion des 500 000 immigrants que son gouvernement a récemment annoncé vouloir accueillir annuellement d’ici 2025.

Mardi, M. Trudeau est revenu sur ses propos durant la période des questions, bloquistes et conservateurs l’accusant de s’immiscer dans la décision de Québec de fixer ses propres seuils d’immigration.

« Je n’ai pas proposé de chiffres pour le Québec, a-t-il soutenu. J’ai reconnu que le Québec avait la capacité d’augmenter ses seuils d’immigration s’il le voulait. Ils ont ces pouvoirs parce que nous reconnaissons l’importance que le Québec a dans la protection de la langue française et de la nation québécoise. »

Pourtant, au cours de l’entrevue de fin d’année, il a bel et bien mentionné nommément « 112 000 » en réponse à une question.

« Je ne suis pas en train de le recommander [les 112 000 immigrants] non plus », avait ensuite nuancé M. Trudeau.

Les journalistes de La Presse canadienne venaient alors de porter à son attention l’écart entre le chiffre de 112 000 immigrants et les seuils de 50 000 et 70 000 qui ont été évoqués respectivement, en campagne électorale provinciale, par le gouvernement de François Legault et le Parti libéral du Québec. Québec solidaire a pour sa part proposé que la province reçoive entre 60 000 à 80 000 nouveaux arrivants par année.

Le premier ministre fédéral a expliqué son « constat » en faisant référence à l’accord entre le Québec et Ottawa en matière d’immigration qui donne tous les outils nécessaires au Québec pour l’accueil de 112 000 immigrants.

Dans ses échanges aux Communes, M. Trudeau a insisté que « c’est une décision pour le Québec et nous respectons les compétences à ce niveau-là ».

Or, l’opposition officielle conservatrice a plutôt interprété les propos du premier ministre comme une « directive », a résumé en mêlée de presse son lieutenant politique pour le Québec, Pierre Paul-Hus.

« M. Trudeau dit : “On peut avoir jusqu’à 112 000 immigrants au Québec”. Le gouvernement du Québec dit : “Non. On a calculé que nous, pour bien accueillir des immigrants, c’est 50 000’’. Donc M. Trudeau fait de façon indirecte une forme d’efforts d’imposer un seuil d’immigration pour le Québec, ce qu’on considère qu’il ne devait pas se faire », a-t-il dit.

Le chef bloquiste Yves-François Blanchet estime aussi que M. Trudeau veut imposer sa vision.

« En 24 heures, le premier ministre dit qu’il faut que le Québec accueille 112 000 immigrants. “Oh ! Je ne l’impose pas”, mais toutes les autres fois il a dit qu’il voudrait bien l’imposer », a-t-il mentionné durant la période des questions.

Il a, de plus, suggéré que le fédéral était bien mal placé pour parler en raison des arriérés dans le traitement de dossiers d’immigration.

« Est-ce qu’il devrait refaire ses devoirs et laisser le Québec gérer tant l’immigration que le français ? », a tonné M. Blanchet.

Du côté du gouvernement de François Legault, la ministre de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, Christine Fréchette, a déclaré par écrit que les propos de M. Trudeau lui paraissent « insensibles ».

« C’est au Québec, et au Québec seul, de déterminer ses seuils d’immigration », a-t-elle souligné. La ministre n’était pas disponible pour une entrevue mardi.

Selon elle, le Québec a « un double défi, qui est unique au Canada », soit de s’attaquer à la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre tout en arrêtant le déclin du français, « ce à quoi M. Trudeau semble rester insensible », a-t-elle ajouté.

Source: Trudeau forcé de clarifier ses propos sur les seuils d’immigration

Pierre Poilievre is demanding it — but insiders reveal why Canada won’t brand this Iran military group as terrorists

The same day the Globe publishes commentary arguing the government should explain itself (it should publicly rather than indirectly), The Star provides a good explainer, and there have been a number of articles in various publications regarding some Iranian Canadians who have not been able to enter the USA given their having been low-level conscripts in the IRGC:

The Canadian government has not yet designated Iran’s revolutionary guard corps as a terrorist entity over concerns the action would be overbroad, difficult to enforce and unfairly target potentially thousands of Iranians in Canada who may have been conscripted by Iran’s military, sources tell the Star.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his government will hold the “bloodthirsty regime to account,” and that Canada will continue to sanction the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but he stopped short of answering yes or no to Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s demand he recognize the IRGC as a terrorist group.

Faced with growing calls for action by the Conservatives, families of Canadian victims killed when Iran shot down flight PS752 and now in the face of a global uproar over the death of a young Iranian woman who wasn’t wearing a hijab, the federal Liberal government says it intends to “do more” to sanction human rights abuses by the Iranian regime.

“Everything is absolutely on the table,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Wednesday.

“Some of this is very complicated, getting the details right is complicated, avoiding collateral damage is important,” Freeland said, the day after meeting with families of the 2020 plane crash victims.

Freeland added, “But from my perspective, there’s actually something very simple at the heart of this, which is Canada and Canadians need to be on the side of women — women and students who are brave enough to protest, and not on the side of misogynist repressive theocrats.”

Canadian government officials have “for years” looked at the question of putting the IRGC, a branch of Iran’s armed forces, on the terrorist list under the Criminal Code, three sources said.

But ministers this week have repeatedly declined to state why Canada has not done so already.

Source: Pierre Poilievre is demanding it — but insiders reveal why Canada won’t brand this Iran military group as terrorists

Trudeau promises complete review of funding to anti-racism group after ‘vile’ tweets

Needed. Will be interesting to see how comprehensive the review will be and the degree to which the  the findings will be public and candid:

The federal government is conducting a “complete review” of funding to an anti-racism group whose senior consultant sent a series of tweets about “Jewish white supremacists,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

The government has put a stop to all funding to the Community Media Advocacy Centre and is putting in place procedures “to make sure this never happens again,” he said at a press conference.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that federal dollars have gone to this organization that has demonstrated xenophobia, racism and antisemitism.”

Last week, Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen, who was also at the press conference, cut $133,000 in government funding to the Community Media Advocacy Centre and suspended an anti-racism project it was overseeing after “reprehensible and vile” tweets posted by its senior consultant, Laith Marouf, came to light.

Trudeau’s comments come as other past funding for the organization is scrutinized.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said this week that he wants money provided to CMAC under the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2018 to be clawed back.

He said a grant application by CMAC for $2,882 under the program, which offers work experience to people aged 15-30 and is run by Employment and Social Development Canada, was reviewed at the time by his constituency office in Ville-Marie, Que.

CMAC was approved to receive that amount, but ultimately only got $795, according to a spokesman for Marci Ien, the minister for women, gender equality and youth, who publicly launched the program this year.

“Not a single cent of government money should go to organizations that harbour anti-Semitic views,” Miller said on Twitter. He said he has never met Marouf, whose views he called “despicable.”

A spokeswoman for Miller’s federal department said “clearly, this organization should not receive additional funding.”

“After funding had been allocated, Laith Marouf made antisemitic comments that are reprehensible and inconsistent with the objectives of the Canada Summer Jobs program,” Miller’s office added.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, the CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said his organization appreciates Miller’s “clear and unambiguous statement regarding the importance of government funding not going to groups harbouring and espousing antisemitic views.”

“We call on the ministries involved to be transparent and provide details about their investigations into the systemic failures that led to this inappropriate funding in a timely fashion,” he added.

Opposition MPs are calling for a full audit of funding to CMAC from government departments and through federal programs, including for its involvement in proceedings run by Canada’s federal broadcasting regulator.

CMAC describes itself on its website as a non-profit organization supporting the “self-determination of Indigenous, racialized and disabled peoples in the media through research, relationship-building, advocacy and learning.”

The Twitter account for Marouf, a consultant for the organization, is private. But a screenshot posted online shows a number of tweets with his photo and name.

One tweet said: “You know all those loud mouthed bags of human feces, aka the Jewish White Supremacists; when we liberate Palestine and they have to go back to where they come from, they will return to being low voiced bitches of (their) Christian/Secular White Supremacist Masters.”

Stephen Ellis, a lawyer for Marouf, distinguished between Marouf’s “clear reference to ‘Jewish white supremacists”‘ and Jews or Jewish people in general.

Marouf does not harbour “any animus toward the Jewish faith as a collective group,” Ellis said in an email.

“While not the most artfully expressed, the tweets reflect a frustration with the reality of Israeli apartheid and a Canadian government which collaborates with it,” Ellis said.

Public records show that CMAC has received about $500,000 in funding since 2016 to act as a public interest group in proceedings run by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The money came from the Broadcast Participation Fund, an independent body that was stood up by the CRTC to pay for public interest groups’ participation in CRTC matters.

In 2021, CMAC also took part in CRTC consultations on regulations amending the accessibility reporting requirements for broadcasters and telecommunications companies.

According to publicly available documents detailing payments, Marouf and his wife, Gretchen King, whose name also appears on CMAC company filings, were both paid for taking part in the proceedings.

They were paid using money from a deferral account held by Bell, which the company agreed to have the CRTC distribute to public interest groups on its behalf. Bell declined a request for comment.

CMAC did not respond to requests for comment.

But Ellis, Marouf’s lawyer, said the centre’s work had been valuable and contributed greatly to the proceedings.

The lawyer said what “is very clear from CMAC’s filing and the CRTC decision is that if it were not for CMAC’s efforts, Indigenous, racialized and women disabilities groups would have been absent from the proceedings to rewrite CRTC policies to comply with the Accessible Canada Act and its clauses reaffirming the intersectionality of oppressions.”

Peter Julian, the NDP heritage critic, is calling for Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and CRTC officials to appear at the House of Commons heritage committee when Parliament returns to discuss an apparent lack of “due diligence” before paying CMAC.

“It is obvious there was no vetting at all, and that raises a bunch of disturbing questions,” he said.

John Nater, the Conservative critic for Canadian heritage, also said the minister should answer questions before the committee. “We believe it imperative that the minister provide answers at committee and explain how this was allowed to happen.”

Fellow Tory MP Melissa Lantsman said she will present a petition from her constituents to the House of Commons asking for a public inquiry. She said an independent body should examine all historical funding to CMAC.

She criticized Rodriguez for not speaking out about the tweets. “The most vile thing about this is the silence,” she said.

Rodriguez declined to comment.

Tory MP Dan Albas, who sits on the Commons finance committee, said the government needs to examine all funding of CMAC.

“There has been radio silence over what they are going to do to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Source: Trudeau promises complete review of funding to anti-racism group after ‘vile’ tweets

Canadian Jewish community expectations:

“What I know is that the minister now has all the information, appreciated the challenge it poses, and has publicly committed to a series of remedies. We will judge him on what flows from that commitment over the coming days.”

During a press conference on Aug. 29, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino (Eglinton—Lawrence, Ont.) announced that the Heritage Department will conduct an extensive review of the funding being distributed through Ottawa’s anti-racism strategy to ensure no additional funds are directed to organizations or individuals who promote hateful content.

Fogel said the review will need to determine what deficiencies in the department’s decision-making process led to a grant being awarded to the CMAC. He added that CIJA will judge Hussen and the Liberal government based on the outcome of that review.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, says his organization will be satisfied if Housing and Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen’s ‘actions support his undertaking and commitment’ regarding the CMAC funding scandal. Photograph courtesy of the CIJA

“If, over the coming days, [Hussen’s] actions support his undertaking and commitment, I think we would be quite satisfied with his management of the issue. But there are many moving pieces,” said Fogel in the email.

On Aug. 23, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal, Que.) told the National Post thathe alerted Hussen about Marouf’s anti-Semitic social media posts before the issue was reported on widely, and argued action could have been taken more quickly.

Fogel suggested that an appearance by Hussen before the House Heritage Committee would provide a valuable opportunity to address the issues in an open and accountable way.

“There are many dimensions of the issue regarding which there is conflicting information, including when the minister became aware of the problem and what steps were taken to address it,” wrote Fogel. “I cannot speak to the timeline regarding when [Hussen] was first made aware of this specific issue. However, there are many possible explanations for the absence of visible action for a number of weeks. He may have referred it to the department. He may have required legal advice, since a legal contract had to be considered.”

Fogel said the federal government’s response to this funding scandal must include full disclosure about how the grant was awarded to CMAC, and a new protocol regarding future grants that shows the government “has translated its learning into a better way forward.”

“The goal should be not just the identification of where the process went wrong—and in this case, it went very wrong—but more importantly, what generic procedures should be put into place that will ensure such things do not happen in the future,” said Fogel in the email.

The Hill Times reached out to Hussen to ask about Housefather’s claim that swifter action could have been taken in regards to suspending the CMAC funding. A spokesperson for the minister responded that anti-Semitism, hate, and racism in all its forms have no place in Canada, and that Hussen’s office is leaving no stone unturned in this matter.

“We thank MP Housefather for bringing this individual to our attention, as our government does not tolerate this hatred, and we have informed CMAC that their funding was cut and their project was suspended,” read the emailed statement. “We have also instructed the department of Canadian Heritage to identify how CMAC was able to access funding in the first place, and to look for immediate solutions when it comes to properly vetting funding applicants, including any individuals they employ or partner with. Minister Hussen is working with his colleagues to ensure that programs that are both within and outside of his purview are assessed with strong processes, in order to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

The Hill Times contacted Canadian Heritage to ask about the vetting process in awarding government grants for organizations, and about how the process might be refined going forward, but did not receive a response by deadline.

Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman (Thornhill, Ont.), who is Jewish, told The Hill Times that the funding scandal is indicative of a systemic issue.

“Anti-racism in this government doesn’t seem to include anti-Semistism,” said Lantsman. “There is a trust issue now here.”

Lantsman said that she favours a full review of Heritage, the vetting process behind awarding grants, and the timeline of when Hussen was made aware of Marouf’s social media posts.

“There’s a culpability of the government trying to take what they think is quick, corrective action to sweep this under the rug while not addressing the actual problem,” said Lantsman. “I want to be clear. The government has not addressed this as a wider issue, [other] than to cut funding after more than a month after they’ve been caught.”

NDP MP Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre, Ont.), his party’s ethics critic and a member of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, told The Hill Times it would be strange for anyone to pin the blame for the funding scandal specifically onto Hussen, given the decision was made before Hussen assumed responsibility for the diversity portfolio that falls within the Department of Heritage. Hussen was sworn in as minister of housing and diversity on Oct. 26, 2021.

Green said it is the Liberal government’s responsibility to “take meaningful action beyond individual people.”

“What I’m looking for out of this government is not about individual actors within the government, but an actual commitment that they’re going to follow through on the outcomes around anti-racism,” said Green. “This goes well beyond Minister Hussen, who, in the right moments, has said the right things, and I think has supported the right initiatives.”

Green said he supports a review of Heritage Canada, and any government department that deals with “the procurement of outside organizations who may be engaged in harmful behaviours.”

“What we have found within the Liberal government [is] that they speak the language of equity, diversity and inclusion, but it’s often the case that they fail to have the corresponding outcomes in their actual governing, and that is certainly not constricted to Minister Hussen,” said Green. “I think it speaks to the culture of the seriousness of the issue. My hope is that [the Liberals] would hold a high standard of scrutiny and due diligence on funding for all agencies, in all departments, that are government funded … and learn from this situation, and move forward.”

Source: Diversity Minister Hussen will be judged based on result of review into CMAC funding, says Jewish advocacy group

Prime Minister announces new task force to improve government services for Canadians: When in doubt, appoint a task force…

Hard to know whether to laugh and cry.

Given that IRCC is responsible for both immigration and citizenship backlogs, and has the policy and program responsibility for the passport program with Service Canada providing in-person service and processing, hard to see this as anything else but communications spin.

PCO could simply have weekly meetings at the DM or ADM level with IRCC and Service Canada to monitor and keep the pressure on. Happened during my time over 20 years ago at PCO on certain high profile issues and unlikely that this approach has changed drastically.

Cabinet task forces mean more time preparing for meetings and briefings and less time on the concrete operational changes needed to address backlogs.

The government ended its “deliverology” unit in PCO in 2020 but its focus was more on government priorities and commitments than existing programs (covered by departmental reports and TBS).

And as others have noted, perhaps a pause in policy initiatives and expanded immigration levels until the backlogs are sorted out:

Canadians deserve high-quality and efficient government services that are accessible, timely, and make their lives easier. The delays in immigration application and passport processing are unacceptable and the Government of Canada is urgently working to resolve them as soon as possible.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the creation of a new task force to improve government services, with a focus on reducing wait times for Canadians. The task force, a Committee of Cabinet ministers, will review service delivery, identify gaps and areas for improvement, and make recommendations to ensure Canadians from coast to coast to coast receive the highest quality of service.

As we recover from the pandemic and increasingly adjust to a fast-moving world where more Canadians are once again relying on government services, they have experienced delays in delivery that are far from acceptable. The task force will drive action to improve the processing of passports and immigration applications by identifying priority areas for action and outlining short- and longer-term solutions, with a focus on reducing wait times, clearing out backlogs, and improving the overall quality of services provided to Canadians. As labour shortages continue to lead to air travel delays around the world, the task force will also monitor the situation at Canadian airports.

The Government of Canada is working hard to improve the delivery of services that Canadians rely on every day.


“We know service delays, particularly in recent months, are unacceptable. We will continue to do everything we can to improve the delivery of these services in an efficient and timely manner, and this new task force will help guide the work of the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.”The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Quick Facts

  • The members of the task force on Services to Canadians are:
    • The Hon. Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth (Co-Chair)
    • The Hon. Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations (Co-Chair)
    • The Hon. Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance
    • The Hon. Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board
    • The Hon. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion
    • The Hon. Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development
    • The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
    • The Hon. Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue
    • The Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
    • The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
  • Ministers responsible for the relevant departments, including the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and the Minister of Transport, will be ex-officio members of the task force.
  • Other members of Cabinet may be invited to participate in task force meetings to provide advice and recommendations on issues related to their respective portfolios.


Trudeau says passport delays are ‘unacceptable,’ promises the government will ‘step up’

Unacceptable that government did not act in advance on its knowledge that demand would surge post-pandemic. Undermines overall government credibility when it cannot deliver on its core responsibilities (passport, alas, not the only example):

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising to do more to fix what he calls an “unacceptable” state of affairs at the country’s passport offices that have been overwhelmed in recent days as thousands of Canadians scramble to get their hands on the necessary documents before travelling abroad.

Speaking to CBC Radio’s The House in an interview that will air Saturday, Trudeau said he understands there’s a lot of anxiety among would-be travellers right now.

“This situation is unacceptable,” he said. “There’s a real concern among families facing these things and we have to step up.”

Source: Trudeau says passport delays are ‘unacceptable,’ promises the government will ‘step up’

Closing Roxham Road border crossing will not stop arrival of asylum seekers: Trudeau 

For the record:

Closing an unofficial border crossing in southern Quebec will not slow the arrival of asylum seekers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

“If we close Roxham Road, people will cross elsewhere,” he told reporters in Ottawa. “We have an enormous border, and we’re not going to start arming or putting fences on it.”

On Wednesday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault called for Trudeau to close the makeshift crossing south of Montreal, saying that the province doesn’t have the capacity to care for migrants as they wait for their refugee claims to be processed.

Trudeau said intercepting irregular migrants at Roxham Road, where an RCMP post has been set up, allows Canadian authorities to conduct security verifications and to ensure that migrants are not “lost and illegal inside Canada.”

Negotiations are ongoing with the United States, Trudeau said, to change the Safe Third Country Agreement, which has led to the irregular crossings.

Under that agreement, which has been in place since 2004, asylum seekers who enter the U.S. must claim refugee status there and can be turned back if they attempt to enter Canada through an official border crossing to make a refugee claim. However, asylum seekers who cross the border irregularly can make a refugee claim once they are in Canada.

Discussions with the U.S. to change the agreement are “advancing well,” Trudeau said, but he added that the subject is delicate for the Americans, because they are worried about the impact any changes could have on the country’s border with Mexico.

The RCMP have intercepted 7,013 asylum seekers who have crossed irregularly into Quebec from the United States since the beginning of the year, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In 2019, more than 16,000 asylum seekers were intercepted by the RCMP after crossing irregularly into Quebec.

Source: Closing Roxham Road border crossing will not stop arrival of asylum seekers: Trudeau 

Trudeau promet « un examen détaillé » du refus d’étudiants africains francophones

PM comment of note:

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau assure procéder à « un examen détaillé » des répercussions qu’ont les critères des programmes fédéraux sur la composition de l’immigration. Faisant référence au refus massif d’étudiants africains francophones, il a affirmé lors de la période des questions à la Chambre des communes mercredi « que ces rapports sont particulièrement inquiétants ».

Le Devoir révélait récemment que les taux de refus de permis d’études pour les ressortissants des pays du Maghreb et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest ne cessent de grimper. Certains candidats qui répondent à tous les critères sont ainsi empêchés de poursuivre leurs études au Québec.

M. Trudeau répondait mercredi à l’intervention du chef du Bloc québécois, Yves-François Blanchet. Sous le « prétexte » que les agents d’immigration ne croient pas que ces étudiants rentreront chez eux après leurs études, ils sont refusés, a-t-il dit. « C’est un grave procès d’intention. Une forme de discrimination à dénoncer, qui nuit aux échanges et au développement de l’Afrique », a ajouté M. Blanchet, exhortant le gouvernement à intervenir.

« Nous n’allons tolérer aucune discrimination systémique », a rétorqué le premier ministre, rappelant qu’il a reconnu qu’il en existe « dans toutes nos institutions à travers le pays ». L’examen détaillé des répercussions des programmes d’immigration servira à garantir que tous les demandeurs sont traités « de manière équitable », a-t-il avancé.

Le taux de refus pour tous les pays d’origine est en outre beaucoup plus élevé dans la province que dans le reste du Canada, un phénomène qui préoccupe toute la classe politique québécoise. Il est « inacceptable » qu’Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (IRCC) « nous prive d’étudiants africains francophones correspondants en tout point au profil d’immigrant qu’on souhaite attirer au Québec, notamment pour développer nos régions, soutenir nos cégeps et pallier […] la pénurie de main-d’œuvre », a notamment écrit sur Twitter la députée du Parti québécois Méganne Perry Melançon.

Des problèmes documentés

Le nouveau ministre fédéral de l’Immigration, Sean Fraser, a également promis la semaine dernière de vérifier « personnellement » que les préjugés inconscients des fonctionnaires de son propre ministère ne font pas en sorte de discriminer les Africains francophones souhaitant venir étudier au pays.

Un rapport fédéral publié en octobre révélait que son ministère fait face à des problèmes de racisme à l’intérieur même de sa bureaucratie. Des fonctionnaires utiliseraient des clichés ouvertement racistes dans leurs conversations et des préjugés guideraient les embauches et les promotions.

IRCC échoue par ailleurs toujours à atteindre les cibles fixées pour l’accueil d’immigrants francophones au Québec et hors Québec, a aussi alors rappelé M. Fraser, malgré la pénurie de main-d’œuvre que connaît le pays.

Mardi, un nouveau rapport du commissaire aux langues officielles, Raymond Théberge, en a remis une couche : le Canada aurait dû admettre au moins 75 839 immigrants francophones de plus hors du Québec depuis 2008 pour maintenir le poids démographique du français dans les provinces à majorité anglophone.

Au Québec, les principaux bassins de recrutement des étudiants francophones africains font face à des taux de refus de permis d’études de plus de 80 %. La France arrive souvent en tête de liste des pays d’origine des étudiants étrangers. Depuis 2018, elle partage toutefois la première position avec l’Inde, d’où la majorité des ressortissants choisissent plutôt de poursuivre des études en anglais.

Source: Trudeau promet « un examen détaillé » du refus d’étudiants africains francophones