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.

Quote

“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.

Source: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2022/06/25/prime-minister-announces-new-task-force-improve-government-services

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

Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Multiculturalism Policy

PM statement. No statement by Conservatives (not surprising given silence in platform) or NDP (more surprising given extensive section in platform):

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the 50th anniversary of Canada’s multiculturalism policy:

“On this day in 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau announced multiculturalism as an official government policy – the first of its kind in the world – to recognize the contribution of cultural diversity and multicultural citizenship to the Canadian social fabric.

“The diversity of Canadians is a fundamental characteristic of our heritage and identity. For generations, newcomers from all over the world, of all backgrounds, ethnicities, faiths, cultures, and languages, have been coming to Canada with the hopes of making it their home. Today, in addition to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, people from more than 250 ethnic groups call Canada home and celebrate their cultural heritage with pride – they are at the heart of our success as a vibrant, prosperous, and progressive country.

“Canada’s multiculturalism policy was implemented based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. These recommendations were made upon the urging of diverse ethnocultural groups throughout Canada, a reminder of the lengthy and ongoing struggle for equality in this country. The policy promotes respect for cultural diversity, acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance, and share their own cultural heritage, and considers their cultural contributions throughout the country as essential to Canada. The policy received constitutional sanction in 1982, with an explicit recognition that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be interpreted in a manner consistent with the multicultural heritage of Canadians. Multiculturalism was then further enshrined into law in 1988 through the passing of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act,which was adopted unanimously by Parliament. This was an important step toward promoting the full and equitable participation of individuals of all backgrounds in shaping a strong, diverse, and inclusive society.

“While the policy continues to give vitality to Canadian society, reflect its multicultural reality, and inspire people and countries around the world, we still have work to do to make Canada inclusive, fair, and equitable for all. This year, several disturbing and divisive incidents motivated by hate have reminded us that prejudice, systemic racism, and discrimination continue to be a lived reality for many Indigenous and Black peoples, religious minorities, and racialized communities. Many also continue to face barriers to social and economic participation, which have only gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today, Canada strives to be a respectful, prosperous, and compassionate country thanks to the tremendous contributions of people of all backgrounds who call it home. As we continue to build a more inclusive and open country, we recognize that a multicultural society is a work in progress. We must continue to promote the values of respect and inclusion that the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, the Charter, human rights legislation, and many other commitments have sought to promote. Along with Canada’s strong multiculturalism policy, we must also recognize the rich cultures of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, and our commitments to respecting their Aboriginal, treaty, and human rights and advancing reconciliation. This requires us to confront painful truths about our history and society, learn from them, and take meaningful action together to address systemic discrimination and ensure everyone is treated with respect and able to participate equitably in economic, social, cultural, and political life in Canada.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite all Canadians to find out more about multiculturalism in Canada, celebrate the cultural diversity that makes us who we are, and continue to learn from one another. By appreciating our differences as the source of our strength and resilience, we can build a truly inclusive, vibrant, and multicultural society.”

Source: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/statements/2021/10/08/statement-prime-minister-50th-anniversary-canadas-multiculturalism

Douglas Todd: ‘Get real’ estate! Five reasons to doubt Trudeau’s housing promises

Of note. Leave it to the housing experts for a comparative assessment of party housing promises and their electoral positioning:

Justin Trudeau has abruptly switched into the role of housing-affordability radical.

But it remains to be seen how many Canadians will buy the Liberals’ brazen new wave of promises — including a ban on foreign purchases, a tax on property flipping and restrictions on exploitive real-estate agents — since there is much cause for skepticism.

Weighing the party’s credibility is crucial since polls are suddenly showing housing affordability (not COVID) is one of the electorates’ top concerns. That’s like the B.C. election in 2017, which saw provincial Liberal leader Christy Clark, who relied heavily on developer donations, turfed in favour of the NDP.

All federal parties’ housing platforms require scrutiny, but here are five reasons voters are justified in feeling suspicious about the prime minister’s sudden conversion to housing activist, a persona he adopted last week to profess: “You shouldn’t lose a bidding war on your home to speculators. It’s time for things to change.”

1. Trudeau has done remarkably little to address an expanding housing crisis

Housing prices across the country have jumped more than 50 per cent cent on average under Trudeau’s watch.

This glaring reality was captured in a recent devastating sound bite, when a heckler at a Trudeau rally in Ontario bellowed: “You had six years to do something. You’ve done nothing. These houses are worth $1.5 million. Are you going to help us pay $1.5 million? Are you, buddy?”

While in power, Liberal promises to address soaring prices have added up to zero. Take, for instance, the commitment Trudeau made in B.C. during the 2019 campaign, to bring in a one-per-cent tax on purchases by “non-resident, non-Canadians.” Nothing happened.

Similar vacuous pledges came to mind last week when the Trudeau stole the Conservatives’ idea to place a two-year ban on all foreign property purchases. Only two months earlier, the Liberals had voted against a Conservative opposition-day motion to do just that.

Many Liberals, federal and provincial, have long claimed it’s xenophobic to restrict foreign buyers in Canada. They’re only now toning down their race-baiting.

The Liberals have long failed to address foreign capital flooding into real estate — as revealed, yet again, this week. A South China Morning Post article by Ian Young showed Ottawa spent five years covering up an old Canada Revenue report detailing how “rich migrants made more than 90 per cent of luxury purchases” in Burnaby and Coquitlam “while declaring refugee-level incomes.”

It also became even harder in the past few days to accept Trudeau’s authenticity on taxing house flipping when it was uncovered the Liberals’ star candidate in Vancouver-Granville had flipped 21 properties. Liberals’ coziness with real-estate insiders runs deep (as it does for many politicians).

2. The Liberals have purposely increased ‘demand’ for housing

It was more than odd when Trudeau came to Vancouver in August and said “you’ll forgive me if I don’t think about monetary policy … You’ll understand that I think about families.”

It’s impossible to believe the prime minister doesn’t comprehend that monetary policy — in the form of extremely low interest rates and his government’s rapid printing of money in response to the pandemic — have helped jack up prices.

While the Liberals are joining the Conservatives and NDP in making big pledges to increase the construction of housing, many analysts are shocked that some promises Trudeau is making will further inflate prices.

Trudeau’s talk about tax-free housing accounts for first-time buyers, along with other credits, will super-charge demand even more, particularly among young people who can’t afford to stretch further. The size of new mortgages in Canada are soaring far into the danger zone.

It looks, however, like many millennials aren’t buying the new Liberal rhetoric; Leger polling has found the party has been losing support among young adults.

3. Ottawa has done little to combat money laundering via real estate

Prominent housing analyst Stephen Punwasi says former Vancouver Sun reporter Sam Cooper’s book, Wilful Blindness: How A Network of Narcos, Tycoons and CCP Agents Infiltrated The West, is “the most important book on Canadian real estate you’ll read this year.”

Wilful Blindness describes how transnational multi-millionaires and criminals, rooted in China, Mexico and elsewhere, have exploited the country’s real estate, which is “Canada’s soft spot for economic infiltration.” Cooper’s book describes many egregious examples of how “dirty” offshore money has been transformed into “clean” money through Canadian housing, especially via property flipping.

What have the Liberals done to crack down on money laundering in urban real estate? Though the Liberals said they would gradually direct $69 million into strengthening RCMP investigation of money laundering, B.C. Attorney General David Eby and others have urged Ottawa to go much further — and institute U.S.-style racketeering laws, which are credited with dismantling Mafia families.

4. The Liberals keep hiking immigration levels

Economists — from banks, universities and developers’ organizations — have in recent years acknowledged one of the biggest factors affecting Canadian housing and prices is population growth through immigration.

Despite, or because of, this, Trudeau has steadily increased Canada’s immigration target since being elected in 2015, hiking it from 250,000 to 400,000 a year, with B.C. an especially popular destination.

UBC geographer Dan Hiebert has found the typical value of a detached Metro Vancouver home owned by a new immigrant in 2017 was $2.3 million, $800,000 higher than a dwelling owned by a Canadian-born person.

An SFU study found “hidden foreign ownership,” particularly through satellite families in which breadwinners make their money offshore, is a significant reason prices have no connection to local wages. It all adds up to help cut into the hopes of both domestic Canadians and newcomers with modest resources.

Source: Steve Saretsky, Vancouver housing analyst

5. It’s worse than ironic Trudeau now says, ‘The deck is stacked against you’

In light of the prime minister showing almost no interest in protecting the young from soaring prices, it was more than perplexing to last week see him act like a white knight taking on an out-of-control real-estate system.

Who knows if the identity switch will get votes? But Trudeau’s latest self-image echoes that of the Liberals’ talkative housing secretary, Adam Vaughan, who in April let slip that Canada is “a very safe market for foreign investment, but not a great market for Canadians looking for choices around housing.”

While Vaughan revealed the Liberals’ strategy has been to support “a very good system of foreign investment creating a lot of new housing in Canada as we add immigrants and grow the population,” he cautioned it would be terrible to bring in any policy that could cause  homeowners to see “10 per cent of the equity in their home suddenly disappear overnight.”

There it is. Two months ago the Liberals were firmly on the side of homeowners wanting to profit. Last week Trudeau suddenly became a champion of those frozen out of ownership.

You’re forgiven for thinking you are witnessing pure electoral posturing.

Source: Douglas Todd: ‘Get real’ estate! Five reasons to doubt Trudeau’s housing promises

Delacourt: It’s time to talk about this rage against Justin Trudeau

Good commentary. It may also be time to call out some of the enablers and fomenters, Rebel and “True” North, given their frequent invective (which at time of writing this Sunday afternoon, have not covered or commented on the rage). Both Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh strongly condemned the mob’s actions but did not see anything from the Greens or Bloc. PPC tweet:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Trudeau doesn’t respect democracy. He uses billions in taxpayer money to overtly buy votes. He violates the Constitution. He demonizes opponents. He curtails our rights. He’s a wannabe fascist tyrant. But yeah, protesters yelling at him are the problem. <a href=”https://t.co/uaUbTmP9gd”>https://t.co/uaUbTmP9gd</a></p>&mdash; Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MaximeBernier/status/1431986988765360133?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>August 29, 2021</a></blockquote>

It’s time to talk about this rage against Justin Trudeau — not just the mob spectacles on the campaign trail, but all the toxic strains of that fury simmering through Canadian politics for some time now.

The incredible scene of Trudeau haters in Bolton, Ont., their faces contorted in gleeful rage, has elevated this phenomenon from an ugly undercurrent to a force that needs to be reckoned with in the current election campaign.

On one level, what was on display was deeply and intensely personal against the man who has been prime minister of Canada through six challenging years for the country. But as Trudeau himself suggested after the incident on Friday night, it is also a boiling cauldron of populist discontent, fuelled by a pandemic — and, I would add, stoked by the grievous state of the political culture.

“We all had a difficult year and those folks out protesting, they had a difficult year too, and I know and I hear the anger, the frustration, perhaps the fear, and I hear that,” Trudeau said after his campaign had to flee the mob.

There is a chance here, not just for Trudeau, but for all politicians and voters in Canada, to look this toxicity in the eye and take the full measure of it right now, in a way the United States has failed to do, even after the storming of the Capitol earlier this year. The disgrace in Bolton on Friday night wasn’t of the same magnitude, but it comes from a similar place — the point where political disruption crosses into all-out eruption.

All politicians rile up some segments of the population and the RCMP isn’t accompanying them just to err on the side of caution. No one should need reminding that in July 2020, a military reservist named Corey Hurren crashed his truck full of weapons through the gates of Rideau Hall, looking to do damage to Trudeau. This was a day after a rally on Parliament Hill calling for Trudeau’s arrest for treason.

The threats are real, and they have been for as long as I’ve been covering federal politics. One of my first out-of-town assignments after being posted to the capital, in fact, was a rally in New Brunswick where Mila Mulroney, wife of prime minister Brian Mulroney, was jabbed in the ribs by a protester’s sign.

But the poisonous rage that is directed toward Trudeau on a daily basis, churning through social media 24/7, landing as flaming parcels every day in reporters’ email inboxes, and now manifesting itself as a high-level security threat in small-town Ontario, is another order altogether. It is woven with threads of racism, xenophobia, sexism, conspiracy theorists and COVID/vaccine deniers. It has been emboldened by a small cottage industry of commentary that portrays a “woke” Trudeau as the destroyer of all that holds the old Canada together.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole couldn’t have been more clear on Saturday after the incident in Bolton, where some of his party’s supporters were participants in the cursing and howling throng. Those people, O’Toole said, ”will no longer be involved with our campaign, full stop. I expect professionalism, I expect respect. I respect my opponents.”

Yet on the very eve of the current election campaign, O’Toole’s own party put out a video depicting Trudeau as a spoiled, flouncing girl having a temper tantrum. This wasn’t some rogue partisan, cobbling together a video in his parents’ basement. It appeared (now revoked for copyright reasons) on the official Twitter account of the Conservative party.

And this business of feminizing Trudeau to demonize him has deep, enduring roots. (Note to email correspondents: calling him “Justine” is neither original nor witty.) For years, Trudeau haters have been spewing the same kind of bile they usually hurl at women politicians; mocking his hair, his family and casting any success as the product of smarter men around them.

There’s a direct line between that mockery and the taunting hordes on the campaign trail; the sneering contempt.

The immediate questions revolve around whether Bolton will help or hurt Trudeau — is this a turning point, when the Liberal leader gets to cast himself as the underdog/victim? Is it like the moment in 1993, when Jean Chrétien stood up to Conservatives’ mockery of his face?

There’s an old Jerry Seinfeld joke about those detergent ads you see on TV. “If you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem.” All the speculation about how the Bolton incident will affect the election campaign feels a bit to me like seeing the problem as laundry. It’s not just about politicians cleaning up their strategic act for this election, but what is causing the stain on the political fabric of this country.

The faces of those protesters, accompanied by children chanting foul-mouthed curses at a prime minister, is not a sight that can be bleached from the memory of this campaign.

To paraphrase that Seinfeld joke, if you have mobs of citizens openly threatening harm to Trudeau, the biggest problem isn’t Trudeau.

Source: It’s time to talk about this rage against Justin Trudeau

Statement by the Prime Minister on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

For those interested in the government political messaging, largely the same as last year:

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Canadian Multiculturalism Day:

“Today, we celebrate a pillar of our national character, and recognize the many contributions that people of all backgrounds have made, and continue to make, to our society.

Canada’s commitment to multiculturalism is an example to the world, and at the heart of our success as a country. For generations, Canadians have known we are stronger when we recognize and honour our differences and diverse roots, and work together to build a more inclusive future for all.

“This year, we mark an important anniversary. Fifty years ago this fall, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism, which was later enshrined in law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. While we have made important progress toward a more inclusive and equitable society since then, much work remains to be done. Every day, far too many racialized Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and religious minorities continue to face systemic racism, discrimination, and a lack of resources and opportunity.

“Sadly, over the last year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and deepened social, health, and economic disparities, and seen a rise in threats and violence against many of these communities. The tragic events of the past several weeks are painful reminders that Canada has not always lived up to its ideals, and that many Canadians continue to feel fear and insecurity simply because of the colour of their skin, their background, or their faith.

“This is unacceptable and must change. That is why the Government of Canada must and will continue to take meaningful action to right past wrongs, fight racism and discrimination, and foster a fairer, more equitable society.

“As individuals, we all have a role to play in building a more inclusive and resilient country. The values of openness, compassion, and respect have the power to bring us together, but they are only meaningful if we embody them. When we choose to put them into practice, we choose to shape a better tomorrow for everyone.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I invite Canadians to celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day by taking part in online events and in-person activities, and recognizing the invaluable contributions that Canadians of all backgrounds continue to make to our country. Together, we can make Canada a stronger, more welcoming, and inclusive place.”

Source: Statement by the Prime Minister on Canadian Multiculturalism Day

No statement by Conservative leader Erin O’Toole but this tweet:

Multiculturalism and inclusion are pillars of Canada. Canada’s Conservatives will always fight to protect our diversity and ensure equal treatment for all that respects and celebrates that diversity. Today we are wishing all Canadians a happy Multiculturalism Day.
Nothing from NDP leader Singh, Green leader Paul or Bloc leader Blanchet.

Delacourt: There’s a line Justin Trudeau won’t cross when it comes to fighting Islamophobia

Unfortunate. Perspective of former CPC candidate Jeff Bennett revealing:

Justin Trudeau has made his clearest statement yet on what he will and will not do to stand up against Islamophobia in Canada.

The prime minister says he will call out anti-Muslim crime, using the strongest words possible — “terrorism” — to condemn the killing of a family in London, Ont.

Trudeau will not, however, call out Quebec for the secularism law that has made Muslims feel unwelcome in that province — Bill 21, which forces Muslims to relinquish any religious clothing if they want to work in public professions.

“No,” Trudeau said bluntly on Tuesday when asked whether Bill 21 bred intolerance of Muslims. He talked of how Quebec had a right to make its own laws, how people in Quebec might be having “conversations” and “reflecting” on the law in days ahead, and said his government would be “watching” and “following.”

In other words, not leading.

So, to recap: anti-Muslim sentiment is wrong. Anti-Muslim crime is terrorism. Legislation that denies religious expression to Muslims is something to be discussed, but not by this prime minister or other political leaders.

None of the fine-sounding speeches in the House of Commons on Monday came anywhere near mention of the legislation in Quebec.

“Right now, people are talking to their families and saying maybe they should not go for a walk,” New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh said in an emotional speech. “There are people literally thinking about whether they should walk out their front door in our country.”

Singh was not talking about Bill 21.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke from the heart about the nine-year-old child who survived the attack, and what kind of Canada he should be allowed to grow up in.

“He deserves a Canada where Muslim women of faith can wear a hijab without fear of being accosted or harassed in public,” O’Toole said.

He wasn’t talking about Bill 21 either, or his own Conservative party’s dog-whistle record on everything from “veiled voting” to “barbaric cultural practices” in the 2015 election.

What makes the silence so breathtaking is that all of Canada’s political leaders have just emerged from two weeks of hard talk about how governments in the past did too little about racism toward Indigenous people.

They are all collectively, retrospectively sorry that an entire culture suffered at the hands of successive politicians who were not courageous enough to stand up to the widespread racism at the time.

Would Canada’s blotted history be improved if we unearthed a speech of John A. Macdonald saying he was following events closely at residential schools and hoped Canadians were having conversations about them?

The contrast between Trudeau’s strong words in the Commons on Tuesday and his tiptoeing around Bill 21 was striking, and the latter may cancel out the former. The prime minister did allow that he has long opposed Bill 21, but he clearly doesn’t intend to use the weight of his office or his words to change the reality of it.

For real political bravery on Tuesday, one had to look in more out-of-the way places — to London, in fact, where a former candidate for the provincial Progressive Conservative party decided to tell the difficult-to-hear truth of racism in politics.

Jeff Bennett, who ran for the PCs in the 2014 election, recounted in a Facebook post how people in his riding were happy to see that he had replaced the former candidate, a man named Ali Chahbar. Loyal Conservatives in London told Bennett they were relieved that “his name was English and his skin was white.” Bennett remembered how Chahbar had been smeared on local talk radio with talk of sharia law and other nonsense.

Bennett wrote that he was tired of people saying London was better than what happened on Sunday. “Bullshit. I knocked on thousands of doors in the very neighbourhood this atrocity occurred. This terrorist may have been alone in that truck on that day, but he was not acting alone. He was raised in a racist city that pretends it isn’t.”

Bennett came in second in London West in 2014 and has likely abandoned any aspirations to be elected again, given his willingness to tell voters what they don’t want to hear about themselves.

This of course explains the silence on Bill 21 on Tuesday, even as the political leaders are making bold proclamations about intolerance towards Muslims. An election looms, Quebec is a crucial battleground and Bill 21 is popular.

Canadian history has been on trial, rightly, for the past two weeks, and Bill 21 is indeed making its own way through the courts. One wonders how history will judge the failure of political leaders to speak up against that legislation when they could have seized the moment.

Source: There’s a line Justin Trudeau won’t cross when it comes to fighting Islamophobia