Fear and discomfort shouldn’t block anti-racism efforts in schools

Some interesting practical suggestions towards greater inclusivity:

In 1920, Duncan Campbell Scott, then-deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs is quoted for suggesting that his goal was to “get rid of the Indian problem.” Scott’s solution was to expand the residential school system forcing Indigenous people to assimilate. One hundred years later, the legacy of residential schools continues to impact Canada’s current school systems. Research shows that Indigenous children across the country continue to experience systemic racism by their peers, teachers and the larger community. Needless to say, shaming and assimilation persist today.

Over the past 16 years, I’ve worked in education in various roles as a teacher, board lead, university course director and now as a vice-principal. Throughout this time, I’ve noted many advancements in championing Indigenous education and narrowing the Indigenous achievement gap by increasing graduation rates. But time and time again, I’ve also noticed deep discomfort and fear among educators when it comes to addressing anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in schools.

“I don’t feel comfortable!”

For the most part, educators want to have a positive effect on their students. But when asked to participate in creating that change by addressing racism, I’ve witnessed some who squirm and say they prefer not to “rock the boat.” For systemic racism to be dismantled in Canadian schools, however, we need to address the discomfort and fear that some educators feel in disrupting anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in schools.

For example, during a staff meeting at a Scarborough school where I previously worked, an administrator asked staff members how racism was being spread at school. Was it the curriculum? Our choices of books? The way we speak to students? I thought these were excellent questions to ask to encourage self-reflection and to prompt discussion about potential areas for improvement. In response, however, there was a long silence.

By comparison, I asked colleagues at different schools if race-related conversations were also happening during their staff meetings. For example, looking at race-based data and examining in-school practices that might hinder Black and Indigenous students. Most said yes, but added that they were led largely by Indigenous, Black and racialized educators.

Why are some white educators so uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s fear that openly and honestly engaging in these critical conversations may result in being labelled “racist” or “insensitive.” That said, many racialized and white educators do want to speak up. They are on a journey towards unpacking their racist ideologies or internalized oppression – but they don’t know how and where to begin or what language to use. Sometimes, it helps if a critical friend engages them in discussion. But this responsibility usually falls on Indigenous, Black and racialized people, which is problematic because the work of becoming anti-racist is a personal journey that doesn’t involve others.

“ I do not feel safe”

This makes me wonder what the union’s role is in protecting racialized teachers from microaggressions and unintentionally or intentionally racist remarks. Whose safety matters when having these discussions? What role will the union play in dismantling racism at Canadian schools?I’ve witnessed colleagues respectfully correcting white educators for saying: “I do not think racism is that bad in our school…is it?” Unfortunately, some have complained to the teachers’ union that they “do not feel safe” or feel “attacked” whenever they’re corrected for making a racist or problematic statement.

There’s also significant discomfort among educators when it comes to using anti-racist language when teaching elementary students. I’ve consistently heard some say that children at this age have “tender minds” or are “too young” to learn, and that “we don’t want to instill fear” in them. Yet research suggests that kids begin to perceive racist ideologies from the age of two. That’s why anti-racist education shouldn’t be just one lesson or unit plan. Instead, it needs to be embedded in everyday practices, starting from kindergarten. And if a student uses the term “racist” incorrectly, teachers should take that as a learning opportunity to address the class.

“I have good intentions!”

There is no doubt that educators have good intentions for student safety when participating in school board-wide events, such as Orange Shirt Day, Remembrance Day and Treaty Week. But what happens when these events cause harm to students?

For example, the purpose of Orange Shirt Day is for educators to teach students about the cultural genocide committed against First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, so it’s an opportunity for the school community to unite in the spirit of reconciliation. Specifically, students learn that the RCMP forcefully removed Indigenous children from their families and communities, as the Canadian government’s goal was to “kill the Indian in the child.”

That’s why, on Sept. 30, they read about Phyllis, a residential school survivor from Northern Secwpemc in British Columbia. As the story goes, Phyllis’ grandmother bought her an orange shirt to wear to St. Joseph’s residential school, but when she arrived, school officials took her shirt away. As a 6-year-old, Phyllis expresses that she felt worthless and like no one cared about her.

Despite this focus on Phyllis and other Indigenous residential school survivors, though, their experiences are often decentered on Orange Shirt Day. How? I’ve seen students receive handouts with the sentence starter, “I matter because…” Students’ responses, which ranged from “I am lucky I have a safe school” to “I have a mom and a dad,” are all valid but the voices of Indigenous people are erased in the process. It’s essential that educators focus on Phyllis’ story because only then can Canadians move forward towards reconciliation. For example, educators can dive deeper into researching residential schools’ objectives, and then explain how they were wrongly informed by white supremacist ideologies.

Another board practice we need to reimagine is “spirit days” like Crazy Hair Day, which can be problematic if students choose to wear an Afro, cornrows or Native long braids as a costume. Students also learn that this type of hairstyle is “crazy,” which dehumanizes Indigenous and Black people for the sake of “making school fun” or “keeping old traditions.” What’s more, Sikh and Muslim students can’t participate in these activities because some wear a turban or hijab, so they’re automatically excluded.

Educators need to understand that some school traditions promote racism, sexism, classism and other forms of discrimination against marginalized groups. We can no longer say, “But we’ve always done it this way” or “It’s a school tradition.” For example, hold a spirit day when students identify acts of kindness among their peers and compliment them, or wear their favourite piece of clothing and share why it’s special to them. This would enable students to participate without having to assimilate or adhere to antiquated norms.

It’s time to involve students in critically rethinking past practices and reimagining new inclusive school traditions. Educators can no longer hide behind fear when Indigenous, Black and racialized students’ lives depend on it.

Source: Fear and discomfort shouldn’t block anti-racism efforts in schools

The impact of COVID may make it difficult to attract immigrants compared to other G7 countries, making it difficult to meet the targets set for 2024.

Howard Ramos, Dan Hiebert and I have been looking at COVID-19 impact on immigration (my last monthly update can be found here: https://multiculturalmeanderings.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/covid-19-immigration-effects-key-slides-november-2020-draft-1.pdf).

One of the research questions we have is whether or not a country’s ability to manage or control COVID-19 will impact on its relative impact to potential immigrants. Out initial analysis is below, published in Policy Options (the updated slides can be found in the previous post):

Statistics tracking infections and deaths during the COVID pandemic show that Canada is faring better than all its G7 allies, save for Japan. Yet, it is doing far worse than the top five immigration source countries that it draws newcomers from. Canada cannot assume that it looks as attractive as it once did to newcomers, suggesting that it may be time to act proactively to meet ambitious immigration targets.

In October, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino made an ambitious announcement to bring 1.2 million newcomers to the Canada over the next three years. If it the country has a shot at meeting those targets, it cannot not sit back and simply expect those numbers to happen.

Immigration is driven by a complex set of push and pull factors that incentivises migration. Put simply, source countries have attributes that make life look more attractive abroad and host countries have features that attract newcomers. For instance, a weak economy or poorer quality of life at home compared to good jobs and good health abroad.

The lingering impact of the COVID-induced downturn is flipping traditional push and pull factors on their head. In past economic downturns and recessions, for example, recent immigrants suffer the most and this means we need to consider the inequalities that might get triggered by returning to recent levels (340,000 in 2019) too quickly, which the federal government’s plan largely ignores. This is not to mention how Canada’s health care system looks compared to other countries in addressing the pandemic.

The statistics may weaken the perceptions of potential immigrants of Western public health, social welfare programs and quality of life advantages. Take for instance COVID-19 infections-per-million from July to January 2021 as an example. If you look at the top-five immigrant-source countries to Canada (India, China, Philippines, Nigeria and Pakistan) all have far lower rates of infection than the G7 which are among the countries that compete with Canada for newcomers.

Although there may be undercounting of COVID infections and deaths in non-Western countries, rates would have to be five or more times higher to change the trends we report here. We do not believe such issues are significant enough to change the overall picture that rates in G7 countries are among the highest in the world.

Rates of infection can be taken as a proxy of a number of factors. They reflect the strength of a country’s social welfare system, its healthcare system and the quality of life it can offer newcomers. Polling of immigrants to Canada time and time again show that quality of life is a reason people move to the country and it is also seen in polling on specific regions, such as Nova Scotia. Rates of infection put this all into question.

The situation is even more stark when looking at deaths-per-million over the same period in 2020. Again Canada’s top immigrant source countries all have lower rates of death compared to the G7. On this front, again, Canada tends to look better than its G7 allies. But when regions of the country are examined in more depth, Quebec has worse outcomes than other immigrant destinations and has some of the highest death rates in the world.

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The degree to which Canada is to vaccinate may also become a factor, given its sluggish start compared to the UK and U.S. but higher than immigration source countries. Such statistics put into question whether traditional immigration destinations can offer the quality-of-life immigrants seek and this may change mix of the push and pull factors that drove migration before the pandemic.

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The statistics put into question the ability of the West to offer strong public health and social welfare safety nets. Dampened perceptions of the West’s advantage will likely impact the speed at which countries recover from the pandemic, the pace at which they can get their economies back to speed and thus their relative attractiveness to immigrants.

In this context, the federal and provincial governments may well need to revise immigration targets downward, at least in 2021. The mix may also need to be revisited given that the economic immigration streams prioritize the higher skilled where one lesson from the pandemic is the essential nature of lower-skilled service jobs. At the same time, Canada’s attractiveness compared to the U.S. will likely decline under the Biden administration, which is of particular importance to the tech sector.

The government cannot take for granted that the push and pull factors that drove migration before COVID will remain the same in the new normal. Instead, Canada needs to act boldly and proactively if it has a chance to returning to being a key player in attracting newcomers.

Source: https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/february-2021/will-the-pandemic-make-canada-less-attractive-to-newcomers-2/

Do Canada’s most powerful federal posts reflect the country’s diversity?

My latest, with Jerome Black, examining which benchmark should we use regarding visible minority representation in political institutions: overall population or citizenship-based population:

The inclusion of Canadians from visible minority groups in the country’s major political and socio-economic institutions is an important indicator of the success that Canada can claim as a multicultural nation, and ultimately a measure of the nature and distribution of power and influence within the country. But how to properly assess the level of inclusion for particular groups?

Where data exist, this is a straightforward task. To contextualize whether genuine integration and inclusion have occurred requires identifying the percentage of the overall Canadian population that the visible minority group occupies, and comparing that number to the group’s representation in a particular sector. A small or non-existent gap between the two percentages would suggest a more positive interpretation about the incorporation of visible minorities while a larger deficit would imply the opposite. Still, the analysis can be done using different population benchmarks. (Note that the term visible minority is used here to match the language used by Statistics Canada in the collection of census and other data.)

We wanted to take a close look at the overall percentage of visible minority candidates and MPs over the last three general elections; and the percentages per visible minority group. We also wanted to see what percentage of appointed officials (senators, judges, Governor in Council (GiC) appointees and public servants) were from visible minority groups.

There are two benchmarks used here – one is using the overall population, and the other is using the portion of the population that are citizens. The latter’s importance stems from the requirement that the candidates of political parties hold citizenship.  Similarly, the requirements for most political appointments and public service hiring are citizenship-based. While GiC appointment requirements vary by organization, given residency, knowledge and experience requirements for full-time positions, citizenship would appear to be the default criterion…

Continue Reading: Do Canada’s most powerful federal posts reflect the country’s diversity?

Contact tracing must not compound historical discrimination

Good discussion of some of the issues involved:

Governments seem likely to adopt tracing apps as a part of the new normal in the fight against infection during a pandemic. This week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa had “a number of proposals and companies working on different models,” and that “there are possibilities around using voluntary measures.” Unfortunately, the use of these tracing aps will not be genuinely optional or voluntary for most users. Perhaps more importantly, the technical frameworks that are currently under development must be configured in such a way that the historical discrimination of minority groups is not compounded by governments’ implementation of tracing policy.

Research suggests that these apps will be installed on mobile phones and designed to work in concert with smartphone operating systems to alert the phone’s owner if they have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. The apps will probably rely on the opt-in COVID-19 tracing technical frameworks that were jointly announced by Apple and Google, and let individuals reveal their COVID-19 status as well as potentially inform them about people or places that carry higher risks of infections.

A significant amount of attention has been given to the privacy and security issues associated with these apps as well as whether the tracing apps will be sufficiently accurate to warrant using them in the first place. If governments approve their use, there may be strong legal or social pressures for individuals to use them and so it is critical for policymakers to start developing equitable policies and not justify the adoption of apps on the basis that individuals have opted-in to their use.

Opt-in mechanisms are intended to give individuals control over how their personal information is handled. Apple’s and Google’s operating systems already let individuals choose whether to share their information when they install a new game or productivity app on a device. These companies’ health surveillance functionalities will replicate this existing freedom of choice model. COVID-19 related proximity information will not be collected or shared without a smartphone user having first consented to the activity.

Meaningful consent to these companies’ health surveillance must involve giving individuals a certain level of understandable information about a tracing app’s data practices. However, policy-makers cannot be focused exclusively on a narrow understanding of consent. They must go further.

Government compulsions to opt in

Governments may decide that contact tracing apps can help to contain COVID-19’s spread once sufficient testing is available for both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. If public safety officers are tasked with enforcing social distancing or self-quarantine orders they might demand that individuals reveal their COVID-19 status. The possibility of such an encounter with law enforcement officers, in particular, will implicitly encourage Canadians to use tracing apps. With an unlocked phone in hand, officers may go on fishing expeditions to search for potentially unlawful communications or activities.

Officers asking about individuals’ COVID-19 status may be particularly concerning to minority groups subjected to carding or to enhanced and often illegal searches. Members of over-policed groups may also feel particularly compelled to opt in to using COVID-19 apps due to concerns about how police will treat them if the apps are not installed.

Moreover, tracing apps may not be optional if individuals must reveal their COVID-19 status before entering government buildings or using public services or spaces. In such circumstances, it is conceivable that individuals would be compelled to use the apps to obtain licenses, use public transit or pass through public parks.

Private business and compulsions to opt in

Private organizations will likely have clients reveal their COVID-19 status before entering a store. If you must show your status to enter a grocery store, it is no longer optional. Sometimes clients may be unable to reveal their status – they may not own a phone or have lost it and be unable to purchase another – or they may not want to reveal their status on the basis of potentially negative consequences. For example, clients of food banks may be unwilling to reveal their COVID-19 status at all and be motivated to present fake information to avoid the chance that they will be prevented from accessing a food bank for food.

Employers may also want to know their employees’ COVID-19 status to protect or manage their workforce. Any employee who has been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 might be barred from the workplace until they undergo self-quarantine or receive negative test results. Where employers lack robust stay-at-home policies or if accessing a worksite is a condition of continuing to receive a salary, there is a risk that individuals will attempt to evade health surveillance.

Towards inclusive policy options

Canadians have demonstrated a relatively high-degree of trust in their political and health leaders throughout the pandemic. However, trust in law enforcement bodies and health bodies is considerably lower for some. The technological infrastructure being developed by Apple and Google will not resolve these historical tensions. If governments choose this path, then they must face these tensions directly.

First, governments should not empower police to view individuals’ COVID-19 status but, if they do, they must prevent officers from turning status checks into smartphone fishing expeditions. As well, public officials who review an individual’s tracing app should be required to record and publicly report the gender and ethnicity and provide an explicit rationale for assessing their COVID-19 status.

Second, policy-makers must work with organizations representing historically disenfranchised groups to develop policies which ensure members of the public can reliably access government buildings and services. Anti-poverty, homeless and addiction advocates should be consulted to determine how government services and infrastructure can continue being offered to persons who may lack access to smartphones or for cases when they may be COVID-19 positive or potentially infected.

Third, governments could subsidize the costs associated with an employee’s self-isolation or self-quarantine. Not all employees have paid sick leave that extends to self-isolation or benefits that cover the entirety of an employee’s sick leave over the course of recovering from COVID-19. Without generous sick leave policies, employees may be motivated to find ways to be at work even if their app indicates they are ill.

Fourth, any government-sanctioned tracing app must provide information for Canadians to meaningfully opt in to any health surveillance. Privacy commissioners and health officials could be tasked with ensuring that apps clearly and accurately explain an app’s anonymization measures, how COVID-19 risk assessments are generated and disclosed and the effectiveness of the app in tracing the spread of the disease.

It’s clear the apps that use Apple’s and Google’s technical frameworks are unlikely to be truly voluntary or opt-in. While neither company’s promised frameworks are presently available for developers to use, this does give policy-makers time to design ones that are inclusive. It is time they start their drafting and planning for this hypothetical tracing app future so that, if it does come to pass, any policies will avoid compounding historical discrimination.

Source: Contact tracing must not compound historical discrimination

More research needed to break down job barriers for racialized Canadians

While the specific suggestions have merit, I think it would be more productive to focus on the effective of existing policies and programs in addressing gaps and challenges:

To improve understanding and pathways for progress, researchers should continue and expand work in several areas, including the following:

  • more disaggregated data to allow us to better understand the experience of different populations within the categories of “visible minority” or “immigrant”;
  • greater focus on the impact of bias, discrimination and systemic barriers in the employment system rather than focusing solely on how job seekers can be better “adjusted” for the labour market;
  • a better understanding of who does what in areas like language training, bridging and other occupational programs, so that we can develop better data on what works for whom;
  • greater examination of how policies in the selection of immigrants, in settlement support and in training programs affect newcomers’ opportunities, and of how these policies can be aligned with employers’ needs; and
  • more examination of ways to promote innovative employer practices to recruit, advance and create inclusive environments for newcomers and racialized Canadians.

The great number of underemployed newcomers and racialized Canadians represents a significant opportunity for Canada’s employers and for the economy more generally. By further investigating these questions, we can help to ensure that all Canadians are able to seize, and benefit from, the opportunities presented by a future of work that is more diverse and inclusive.

Source: More research needed to break down job barriers for racialized Canadians

What policy issues will define our next 40 years of publishing? Policy Options at 40

Good and useful contrast by Jennifer Ditchburn between what has changed and what has remained the same:

Flipping through back copies of Policy Options from 1980, the year the magazine was founded, there’s a distinct feeling of déjà vu.

There are headlines such as,

“How Best to Live with the United States;”

“The Liberal Vacuum in the West;”

“Canada Needs to be Self-sufficient in Oil.”

The State of the Legislative Process in Canada”

“Since the election there has been more bemoaning than ever of the structural malformation of the Canadian body politics, with one main party rootless in Quebec and the other almost alien to Western Canada,” wrote founding editor-in-chief Tom Kent, the legendary public policy thinker and journalist, of the two main parties.

“What is worrisome is the strengthened fear that the fundamental reason why it seems unchangeable is that people in both those regions increasingly doubt whether federal politics matter much anyway.”

In 1980, as in 2020, the country was in a period of intergovernmental malaise and coming out of an election. The first referendum on Quebec sovereignty was held in May 1980. The notorious National Energy Program was inaugurated that year, and Pierre Trudeau, prime minister at the time, opened the 32nd Parliament with not a single Liberal MP from BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and only two in Manitoba.

By the fall of 1980, Trudeau had announced his intention to approach the United Kingdom unilaterally to seek the patriation of the Constitution – sparking more than a year of constitutional negotiations with premiers, and mobilizing Indigenous leaders to make sure their treaty and inherent rights were respected.

There is always something bizarrely comforting about spotting familiar patterns in Canada’s past: How many times do we hear the phrase “plus ça change, plus c’est pareil” in reference to our political history? Meanwhile, people who weren’t yet born during the years of the National Energy Program or The Night of Long Knives can reference those grievances and find the echoes in our contemporary frictions. Yes, old policy and political mistakes can cast long shadows.

But here’s the thing: Canada in 2020 is nothing like the Canada of 1980, and we should be careful not to use old maps to orient ourselves as we move into the next decade. Our country is more urban and suburban, more ethnoculturally diverse, and also getting proportionately older.

Susan Gibson, then with Ontario’s Status of Women Council, wrote in 1980 about the hiring and promotion of women in the public service that, “it is clear that substantive improvement in the status of women Crown employees still lies in the future.” At the time, Gibson said there were no women deputy ministers in Ontario, and only 1.38 percent in senior positions. By 2017, women accounted for 30.4 percent of Ontario deputy ministers and about half of other executive levels, according to an employee survey from that year.

Reading through those issues of Policy Options from 1980, a few things were notably absent.

John F. Graham, the late Dalhousie University professor and economist, was the only person that year to discuss environmental concerns.

“We now…face the prospect in the not very distance future of very low, zero, or negative economic growth resulting from a combination of exhaustion of natural resources and suicidal environmental damage,” he wrote.

The impact of technology is referenced, but in the “boob tube” style of the 1980s – which was to bemoan the impact of television on Canadian public discourse. Who could have envisioned the way our lives and our economy would change with the advent of the smartphone, social media platforms and advancing artificial intelligence?

Indigenous rights and the Crown’s treaty obligations do not figure in the numerous articles about federalism and intergovernmental affairs. Although a vast amount of work remains to be done to fulfil the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to restore a true nation-to-nation relationship, decolonization was simply not a topic of policy conversation in non-Indigenous circles 40 years ago.

Plus ça change, well, ça change.

Yes, we are in another phase of discontent within the Canadian federation, but it is impossible to consider this time in Canadian history without also looking outside of our borders. Where the issues eloquently explored in this magazine in 1980 dealt principally with federal-provincial, industrial and Canada-US policy, almost all the challenges before us today have a global dimension.

While the federal government and the premiers tussle over carbon pricing and support for the energy sector, the overarching question is whether the world’s nations collectively will act quickly enough to curb the catastrophic rise in global temperatures. (The results of the COP 25 conference in Madrid last month bode poorly.)

The suitability of the equalization program and stabilization fund are on the First Ministers’ agenda, but the bigger picture about the Canadian economy hinges on the disruptive forces of automation, artificial intelligence and the impact of climate change down the road. As the federal government’s foresight agency Policy Horizons pointed out in a recent report, it’s unclear what skills workers will need in the future, and also how taxes will be collected as jobs becoming increasingly virtual.

Yes, Canada’s relationship with the United States remains a perpetual policy preoccupation, but now it is overlaid with concerns over how to fill the vacuum Washington has left in international multilateral institutions and counterbalance the growing influence of China.

Even when we talk about the health of our democracy, the future leadership of the Conservative Party, and other Canadian political issues, we have to consider the wider context of disinformation and borderless social media platforms, populist trends worldwide, and the microtargeting of voters through the use of their own data.

Over the next year, we will be re-publishing some of the articles that appeared in 1980, along with responses to the material from 2020. As the current editor-in-chief, I can’t help but wonder which issues just barely appearing on our radar now will be fundamentally shaping Canada in the years to come.

Source: What policy issues will define our next 40 years of publishing?Policy Options at 40

Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media

More in-depth look at Chinese-language media election and related coverage:

The conflict between Hong Kong and China. The pros and cons of immigration and refugees. Beliefs on abortion and same-sex issues. The tension between paying taxes and benefiting from social services.

Specialists who monitor Canada’s roughly 290 Chinese-language newspapers, websites, radio stations and TV channels say the political coverage not only echoes the mainstream media, it also reveals the distinct concerns of people with origins in East Asia.

Immigration and refugee issues garner more attention in the Chinese-language media than they do among the general Canadian public, say professional observers.

And even though Chinese-Canadians with roots in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China show a complex range of political opinions, Andrew Griffith, a former senior director in Ottawa’s immigration department, has concluded: “There is more of a conservative trend among Chinese-Canadians than, for example, South Asians.”

Like other Canadians, the 1.3 million people of Chinese origin switch party allegiances according to broader political patterns, said Griffith, who works with Diversityvotes.ca, a website highlighting political coverage in the country’s ethnic media. But their votes could make a crucial difference in dozens of urban swing ridings with large immigrant and visible-minority populations.

Roughly three out of four Chinese-Canadians live in either Greater Toronto, where they make up 11 per cent of voters, or Metro Vancouver, where they account for 20 per cent of voters. In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, which has two federal ridings, 54 per cent of the population is ethnic Chinese.

Andres Malchaski, president of MIREMS International, which monitors the ethnic-language media and helped create Diversityvotes.ca, says that, while a large portion of Canadians tell pollsters the environment is their top election issue, that issue is far outweighed in the Chinese-language media by debates over immigration and refugees.

Chinese-Canadian media outlets, including their discussion forums, contain frequent criticism of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for bringing in more than 60,000 Syrian refugees since 2015, said Machalski, who has analyzed Canada’s ethnic media for three decades.

Media outlets that target Canadians from China are often wary of refugees from Muslim countries, Machalski said, an attitude that reflects the way China’s authoritarian leaders have restricted the religious freedom of millions of Uighur Muslims.

“The feelings expressed by some of the calls and comments on phone-in shows and in newspaper columns (in Canada) certainly support the idea there will be segments of Chinese voters that might even go so far as to support the People’s Party of Canada,” which is calling for reducing immigration and refugee levels, Machalski said.

Still, Machalski emphasized that the views expressed in the Chinese-language outlets in Canada offer a “kaleidoscope” of perspectives, which often reflect whether their respective audiences are connected to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hanoi or Beijing.

That is especially so in regards to the recent anti-Beijing protests in the financial centre of Hong Kong.

More than 300,000 people living in Hong Kong hold Canadian passports — and Oct. 21 marks the first Canadian election in which they can cast a ballot, says a Diversityvotes.ca article by Blythe Irwin.

The Chinese media is picking up on everything Canadian politicians are saying about the special administrative region of China. Ethnic-Chinese media commentators, she says, are both approving and sceptical of the way Trudeau says he is “extremely concerned” about Hong Kong, while Conservative leader Andrew Scheer went further by declaring in a tweet: “We are all Hong Kongers.”

Fenella Sung, a former Chinese-language radio show host, said that Chinese-media perspectives about the conflict largely reflect whether the Canadian-based outlets are aimed at audiences rooted in Hong Kong or China.

It’s not surprising that readers of media directed at the large mainland-Chinese population in Canada “would think the Hong Kong issue is China’s internal affair and that it would not be appropriate for Canadian politicians to comment,” said Sung, who is a member of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong.

Long-time immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of East Asia, Sung said, tend to have political concerns that are in line with Canadians at large, such as jobs, housing and protecting the environment.

“But newer and younger immigrants, mostly from mainland China, are very consistent and focussed on economic growth, expansion of trade, less government bureaucracy, and lower taxation. They don’t like social spending.”

Prior to the B.C. election in 2016, some opinion polls suggested that, even while the province’s more than 500,000 ethnic Chinese voters held diverse views, they generally leaned to the centre-right B.C. Liberals, and had almost no interest in the Greens.

In an article on politics and Canada’s ethnic media published Wednesday in Policy Options magazine, Griffith said Liberal and Conservative party approaches to same-sex marriage and abortion have been widely commented upon, suggesting so-called “family values” are important to many recent immigrants and people of colour.

“While the Liberals and Conservatives get widespread coverage of their electoral promises and commitments, the NDP and Green Party are under-covered,” Griffith added, after reviewing 1,200 recent articles in the ethnic media.

“In contrast, the People’s Party of Canada, given its focus on restricting immigration and its initial exclusion from the leaders’ debate, received more than twice as much substantive coverage as the NDP and Greens combined.”

Chinese-language and other ethnic media outlets in Canada don’t necessarily reinforce cultural silos, Griffith says. But it’s clear they also offer a special window into political discussions of particular concern to certain ethnic groups.

Source: Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media

How does ethnic media campaign coverage differ? My analysis in Policy Options

Drawing on over 1200 ethnic media pieces in the eight weeks prior to the election call as part of diversityvotes.ca, my analysis assesses the major themes and issues covered:

Canadians who rely on ethnic media as their main information source receive coverage of issues comparable to that of mainstream media.

A major focus of this 2019 election for the various campaigns will be courting voters from immigrant and visible minority communities, who are a majority of the population in 41 ridings, and 20 percent or more in an additional 93 ridings.

For full article: How does ethnic media campaign coverage differ?

Citizenship policy challenges the next government will face – My latest

Citizenship is the neglected child of immigration-related policies. It attracts less attention, and it has a lower profile and fewer resources than other areas. This is evidenced by wide swings in the number of new citizens, periodic funding shortfalls and the paucity of data, compared with that for immigration.

….

Full text: Citizenship policy challenges the next government will face

Revoking birthright citizenship would affect everyone: Jamie Liew

Jamie Liew, an immigration lawyer and law professor, responds to my article, providing the “what’s the problem” perspective, noting the relatively small number as percentage of total births (and immigrants) and the likely impact on all Canadians.

However, the only option she mentions is that of requiring all Canadians to apply for citizenship. Yet when the previous government pressed unsuccessfully to abolish birthright citizenship, the other option of having the provinces apply the policy through the birth registration process was favoured at it would not impose that burden on all Canadians (see What the previous government learned about birth tourism). The provinces refused given the smaller numbers at the time (estimated at 500) and the associated costs.

However, just as the provinces were able to issue enhanced drivers licences with citizenship status as a way to make it easier for Canadians to travel to the US without a passport following 911, the provinces could do the same with birth certificates, although this would also be costly given the operational implications.

Of course, any such change would require addressing statelessness, as the previous government did with respect to citizenship revocation in cases of terrorism or treason. The examples cited of the number of persons possibly being effected are, in my opinion, exaggerated.

I find it somewhat tiresome to hear arguments that such a policy is inherently divisive, discriminatory and arguably racist. Even if some opposed to birthright citizenship may be driven by xenophobia, advocating such a policy or other changes to reduced the practice is not inherently xenophobic. It simply aims at avoiding abuse of birthright citizenship of those who come simply to give birth, obtain citizenship for their child, and then return to their country of origin.

One can argue on whether or not such a fundamental change to birthright citizenship is warranted (I don’t favour this option at present) but largely dismissing the issue and overstating collateral impacts are less than helpful to informed public discussion.

It is encouraging that the government has acknowledged the issue, agreed to study the issue, and engage the same organization to conduct the study that I obtained the numbers cited in my article (Canadian Institutes of Health Information):

There has been a lot of talk about getting rid of birthright citizenship in Canada and the United States. President Trump recently announced he will issue an executive order that would do away with automatic citizenship for babies born in the US. Conservative Party of Canada members passed a motion last August that would end birthright citizenship unless one parent is a citizen or permanent resident, should the party form government. And Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido has sponsored a petition to eliminate birthright citizenship.

In the US, the president will have to contend with the fact that he cannot just unilaterally eliminate a right in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. In Canada, however, the story is different: birthright citizenship can be eliminated simply by amending or repealing parts of the Citizenship Act.

In both the US and Canada, the preoccupation with ending birthright citizenship is tied to the argument that migrants are engaging in “birth tourism” and challenging the integrity of citizenship. But the facts say otherwise.

Andrew Griffith, a former director general at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada recently analyzed hospital financial data for Policy Options, and noted that a sharp rise in birth tourism in some Canadian hospitals can no longer be considered “insignificant.” Still, Griffith found that only 1.2 percent of births can be attributed to mothers who reside outside of Canada. The figure might actually be lower if births to other temporary residents such as corporate transferees and international students and Canadian expatriates returning to give birth are factored in.

While there appears to be an increasing trend, the low overall levels suggest there is no business case for changing Canada’s citizenship policy. Eliminating or even creating a “graduated” birthright citizenship on this basis would be akin to an enormous hammer hitting a tiny nail.

The elimination of birthright citizenship would affect not just migrants, but all of us. A citizenship application will need to be made for every person born in Canada. More tax dollars would be needed to process the applications. Clerks would suddenly have the power to make substantive and legal determinations about the status of every person that applies for citizenship. Like any administrative system, mistakes would be made. Bad or wrong decisions would be challenged in the courts at great expense to both the state and the people affected. People would struggle with the fact that they are stateless in the interim.

Undoubtedly, doing away with birthright citizenship would increase the number of stateless persons in Canada. Being stateless has serious implications. Stateless persons have difficulty accessing education, employment, health care, social services and freedom of movement. Simple things like obtaining a bank account, cell phone account or registering birth, marriage or death are complicated if not impossible. Stateless persons would be subject to arrest, detention and potential removal to places they may never have been before.

The elimination of birthright citizenship would have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable: the indigent, those with mental illness, and children who are in precarious family situations or are wards of the state. These are the people that may not have the appropriate paperwork or proof that they do qualify for citizenship or do not have support for obtaining citizenship. For example, parents (who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents) of persons seeking citizenship may have lost paperwork, may not want to cooperate, may not be in the country, or may find out they are not the biological parent of that child.

This one policy would create an expensive social problem for the state.

The elimination of birthright citizenship is not an act to preserve or protect the integrity of citizenship. The policy would be a dividing tool. Ending birthright citizenship would legitimize the argument that racialized persons are less deserving of citizenship, even though there is no evidence to show that children born of foreign mothers do not stay in Canada and do not contribute to society. The policy would also fuel discrimination against those of different socio-economic classes, because the most vulnerable and marginalized would have the most difficulty in accessing citizenship, or if they are citizens proving that they are. These administratively stateless people would be treated like foreigners and outsiders, even though they are eligible and qualify for citizenship. It is a tool to delegitimize people who have a genuine and effective link to Canada. It would create barriers to important rights that come with citizenship, including the right to vote.

We only need to look at how stripping citizenship and the denial of citizenship elsewhere in the world has encouraged discrimination, persecution and violence against stateless people. For example, the oppression of Rohingya and the genocide against them was precipitated by their being denied citizenship in Myanmar, a country they called home for generations.

Canadians should be cautious when considering the idea of getting rid of birthright citizenship. It would not stop migrants from coming. Instead of making it harder to get citizenship, we should trust our well-oiled immigration system to deal with the entry of people into our country. If there are issues with the authorization of persons entering our country, it is immigration law that should be tweaked, not citizenship law.

Canada has signed both the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which obligate Canada not to create situations of statelessness. My father was born stateless because the state he was born into did not confer birthright citizenship. It affected his opportunity for education and employment, as well as his mental health. Being a child of a previously stateless person, I am proof enough that welcoming stateless people to Canada with the conferral of citizenship is the best way to build a nation.

Source: Revoking birthright citizenship would affect everyone