Gurski: Linking immigration and terrorism is wrong, in Canada and elsewhere

Good column by Gurski:

I never knew my maternal grandfather. He emigrated to Canada in the early part of the 20th century from western Ukraine (or eastern Poland, the details on that are fuzzy) and settled in Montreal where he worked at the CPR’s Angus workshops, along with a great many other immigrants, I imagine. He married and had four children, including my mother, and toughed it out during the Great Depression. He died in the mid-1940s.

I seldom think of him but his memory came back to me last week when I read of a new documentary, That Never Happened, by Saskatoon native Ryan Boyko, which premiered at Ottawa’s Bytowne Cinema among other venues. The film deals with the internment of thousands of Ukrainian immigrants in camps in remote areas of Canada from 1914-1920. These men were seen as citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with which we were at war, and hence they were viewed as enemies of the state. My grandfather is believed to have been one of those internees at the Spirit Lake detention site in northern Quebec (I have a copy of my grandfather’s passport which says he was tied to the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

The round-up of thousands of Ukrainian immigrants, and the monitoring of tens of thousands more, was the product of fear: fear of the other. In fairness, I suppose, Canada was at war and those were different times, but fear is still largely irrational and often unjustified. Nor has it gone away – as there are still those who paint immigrants as threats today.

To see this, we do not have to cast our eyes even as far as the shameful depiction by U.S. President Donald Trump of the thousands of desperate migrants making their way through Central America to the southern states as “terrorists and criminals.” An example closer to home is La Meute (the “Wolfpack”), a racist Francophone anti-immigrant group, doing the same thing in Quebec regarding the irregular migrants seeking to leave an increasingly unstable U.S. and showing up at Canada’s border .

Whatever you think of people on the move – and there are valid concerns over how the government is dealing with, and should deal with, these migrants – what is quite clear is that they present a very low to non-existent national security threat. Yes, it is always possible that there are unsavoury characters in the mix who may engage in criminal activities in Canada, but shrill fear-mongering about a wave of terrorists seeking to sow mayhem in our cities is unsubstantiated.

U.S. intelligence agencies, for instance, have stated publicly that Trump’s conviction that ISIL is using the cover of refugee flows to infiltrate the U.S. is false. In other words, the president’s own intelligence services have taken the rare step to openly tell Americans that there is no “there” there, despite Trump’s demagoguery.

I am neither naïve nor ignorant of the real terrorist threat, having spent 15 years with CSIS as a strategic terrorism analyst and having written four books on the topic. It is always possible that malefactors use the immigration system to enter Canada – and we have had examples in the recent past. At the same time, however, there is simply no evidence that this represents a significant risk for our country. Our intelligence and other government organizations are on top of this, and they will advise the proper authorities when they come across solid information about a real risk so that action can be taken.

The rest of us – yes, that includes members of La Meute and other anti-immigrant and Islamophobic groups – need to start trusting in those agencies and stop irrationally hitting the panic button on immigration. Canada needs more people for its economic and social development and immigration is one way to get those people. Immigration is a strength, not a weakness.

Besides, no one should have to endure what my grandfather did. No one.

Source: Gurski: Linking immigration and terrorism is wrong, in Canada and elsewhere

Minister Joly Launches the New Paul Yuzyk Youth Initiative for Multiculturalism –

Funny to see the Paul Yuzyk award relaunched under the Liberals.

The Conservatives launched it when I was the DG – Citizenship and Multiculturalism in 2009, largely in part to counter the prevailing narrative that multiculturalism originated with the Liberals as well as responding to wishes of the Ukrainian Canadian community.

Now the Liberals are trying to appropriate Yuzyk, a former Conservative senator. That being said, it is positive when governments adopt or appropriate other party programs that support integration.

This, along with the related initiative Holodomor National Awareness Tour 2017–2020, also demonstrate the influence and sophistication of the Ukrainian Canadian community, who worked closely with the previous government on such initiatives as the Historical Recognition Program, Holodomor recognition and foreign policy issues.

Text of press release follows:

Diversity is Canada’s strength. Our young leaders play a critical role in shaping our country’s future and fostering a stronger, more prosperous Canada, where everyone has the ability to reach their full potential.

Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Multiculturalism, announced the launch of the new Paul Yuzyk Youth Initiative for Multiculturalism. This annual funding initiative will award micro-grants of up to $1000 to dozens of young Canadians to fund projects that promote diversity and inclusion in their communities. This initiative will empower young leaders to make a positive impact on their communities, while addressing racism and discrimination. Canadian citizens or permanent residents aged 18 to 24 will be able to submit their applications online starting today, until April 20, 2018.

The new Paul Yuzyk Youth Initiative for Multiculturalism is in keeping with the Government of Canada’s commitment to promoting multiculturalism and strengthening our diverse communities, while working to eliminate discrimination, racism and prejudice in all its forms. The new initiative will honour the legacy of the late Senator Paul Yuzyk in developing and promoting Canadian multiculturalism by inspiring young leaders to continue advancing cultural understanding and inclusion in‎ communities across the country.

The initiative will be administered by Inter-Action, the Government of Canada’s multiculturalism grants and contributions program, which funds community engagement and development projects which promote intercultural understanding and equal opportunities for people of all cultures.

via Minister Joly Launches the New Paul Yuzyk Youth Initiative for Multiculturalism –

Press release on Holodomor National Awareness Tour:

Today, Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism) and Member of Parliament (Parkdale–High Park), announced that the Government of Canada is providing more than $1.4 million to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation in support of the Holodomor National Awareness Tour 2017–2020. Mr. Virani made this announcement on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Multiculturalism.

The ongoing Holodomor National Awareness Tour 2017–2020 has launched a Holodomor Mobile Classroom that tours the country both to raise awareness of the Holodomor and to promote tolerance and mutual understanding. This project is expected to reach 65,000 participants across the country.

The project is receiving $1,459,730 in total funding over three years through the Projects component of Inter-Action, the Government of Canada’s multiculturalism grants and contributions program. Inter-Action funds community engagement and development projects that promote intercultural understanding and equal opportunities for people of all cultures.

via Parliamentary Secretary Virani Announces $1.4 Million in Funding for the Holodomor National Awareness Tour –