More immigrants coming to Nova Scotia than at any time in the last 10 years, government says

The numbers are still small compared both the provincial population (900,000) and to overall immigration levels (around 250,000):

But the trend hasn’t been a straight line of steady growth. Since 2004, when 1,771 immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia, the number rose almost every year and peaked at 2,651 in 2008 before dropping off to 2,138 in 2011 and rebounding steadily in the past three years.

Among last year’s immigrants, 717 people came through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program — the highest number yet for the program. This year, a total of 1,050 individuals are expected to gain permanent residency through the program, the government says.

Diab also said more immigrants are choosing to stay in the province. She said the latest figures from Statistics Canada indicate 71 per cent of immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between 2007-2011 stayed in the province. These are the most recent numbers available, and the province relies on Ottawa to provide retention figures.

The retention rate for immigrants who arrived in Nova Scotia between 2003 and 2007 was 69 per cent.

Diab said the province has streamlined the application process for skilled and educated immigrants, strengthened ties between government and settlement service providers and changed the nominee program to allow international students to stay in Nova Scotia.

As well, the province appointed a premier’s task force on immigration last August.

“Nova Scotia is a welcoming community and we want to ensure our province is seen by immigrants as an excellent choice,” Diab said in a statement.

More immigrants coming to Nova Scotia than at any time in the last 10 years, government says – The Globe and Mail.

What drove seven young Quebeckers into the arms of the Islamic State?

A good and balanced portrayal of the debates in Quebec, with a good selection of different views. But the money quote on lessons learned comes from Amy Thornton, a researcher in radicalized youth in Europe and North America, University College London:

Ms. Thornton, the U.K. de-radicalization researcher, said there are different models for countering extremism, but the wider atmosphere matters. Canada has sent fewer than a couple hundred fighters to jihad and homegrown terrorists remain mercifully rare compared to Europe. Maintaining a calm and welcoming stance is key to Canada remaining a fringe contributor to the ranks of extremists, she said.

“This is about keeping your national identity, and Canada’s national identity is about openness and integration and toleration,” she said. “Don’t let extremists from either side dominate debate. Don’t lurch toward marginalizing people just because something happens. Stay balanced.”

What drove seven young Quebeckers into the arms of the Islamic State? – The Globe and Mail.

Douglas Todd: If academia is becoming less relevant, blame bad writing

These apply to all writing, not just academic:

What are the signs of bad writing?

• Jargon: Sometimes it’s necessary to use technical words, but words like “apperception” become unhelpful jargon when they’re used mostly to keep out outsiders. Other bits of jargon, like “outsourcing,” hide offensive realities.

• Verbs as nouns: Billig dislikes academic “nouniness,” the tendency to turn virtually every idea into an abstract noun. Billig names scores of over-used nouns, like mediatization, re-ethnicification, deindividuation and, especially, reification. He argues against making verbs into nouns with suffixes such as “ization,” “ication” or “ism.”

Billig is correct when he says such nouns turn vague concepts into concrete things, when they’re not.

An over-reliance on abstract nouns helps academics avoid dealing with real people and actual processes, Billig says.

For what it’s worth, one of my pet-peeve abstract nouns is the increasingly common “essentialism.”

• Passive language: Academics, like everyone else, need to avoid passive sentences when possible, because they include less information than sentences with active verbs, which require (often human) actors as subjects.

• Not much to say: In academic circles, the pressure “to publish or perish” is not an empty threat. Billig maintains somewhat ruthlessly that a cause of bad writing is that many academics don’t have much worthwhile to say. Academics, he says, often use jargon, nouns and passive sentences because they’re hiding that they’re just repeating platitudes.

• Self-censorship: This is another danger in academia. It’s not just politicians and business leaders who cover their butts with euphemisms; academics also default to bureaucratic language. Bureaucratese is designed to say less, not more.

Douglas Todd: If academia is becoming less relevant, blame bad writing.

And always a good idea to re-read Orwell’s Politics and the English Language essay from time to time.

David Mulroney warns Canada should apply Afghanistan’s lessons to Iraq

Sound advice:

A former top official on Canada’s work in Afghanistan is warning against getting too involved in Iraq without clear and realistic objectives.

David Mulroney, who served as the deputy minister in charge of the Afghanistan Task Force, said Canada hasn’t looked closely enough at its experience in Afghanistan.

“When I recently saw Foreign Minister [Rob] Nicholson musing that we’d apply some of the lessons of Afghanistan to our engagement, I kind of sat bolt upright because I think one of the problems is we haven’t spent much time learning the lessons of Afghanistan,” Mulroney said in an interview to air Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio’s The House.

Mulroney said a newly released audit shows “how hard it was to get that development assistance and humanitarian assistance right in a place where none of the officials were really clear about what Canada’s objectives were.”

Mulroney also served as secretary to the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, which was led by former foreign affairs minister John Manley, and as foreign and defence policy adviser to the prime minister.

He said the lack of discussion about Afghanistan toward the end of the 10-year mission has kept Canadians from learning key lessons, which include being realistic about how much Canada doesn’t know about a region and setting “often very modest” goals.

Mulroney also said Canada needs an exit strategy.

“When does it happen for us and who’s around to pick up the pieces of what we’ve put in place. Until we’ve really talked honestly about that, I’d be very worried about our ability to pull something off in a place that’s as challenging as that nexus of Iraq and Syria.”

He also warned the government has to think about how the humanitarian, military and diplomatic pieces fit together.

“If it’s being done now, this is the time to tell Canadians that people have thought about that. Because if it hasn’t been done, we’ll get the same ultimately disappointing results that audit points to on Afghanistan.”

David Mulroney warns Canada should apply Afghanistan’s lessons to Iraq – Politics – CBC News.

And a good short interview with him in the Globe:

 How would you characterize the tension between diplomats and political staffers nowadays?

The truth is that public servants now serve a concierge function. They get difficult things done on the basis of careful instruction. So you focus on managing events, like visits, and then you report back to headquarters, but then you feel increasingly bullied. By the end of my career I’d written the same report on Sino-Canadian relations a dozen times. It was time to go.

In what specific way did Ottawa make you feel discouraged?

On the [Chinese social media site] Weibo we hosted a discussion about the case of Lai Changxing, [a fugitive to whom Canada gave refuge].

The other was about the official car I drove, which generated a real discussion about how what kind of accountability officials should be held to.

But there was complete silence from Ottawa, the kind that indicates disapproval. There was nothing they could hold against us because there were too many positives, including two editorials in The Globe. In the end though we turned the way embassies communicate on their head.

David Mulroney on pandas, the PM and Chinese-Canadian relations

Why we can’t run from Starbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign

Although over-taken by Starbucks decision to cancel the campaign, good piece by Tabitha Southey on the Starbucks #RaceTogether campaign:

As for the rather precious outcry that people are just trying to get their coffee, and so this is hardly the place for this kind of thing, you can still just get a coffee – but let’s not ignore the long and raucous tradition of discussing politics, philosophy and current affairs in coffee houses.

Coffee houses were once predominantly about discourse and debate and, yes, they too had owners who made money – yet still managed to be hotbeds of sedition. Cheer up, grumpy radicals, the French and American revolutions were both plotted in the Starbucks of their day.

I know that, when I walk down a street in New York with my wonderful sister-in-law, who is black, we’re walking on different streets. I know, of course, that racism is entrenched and systemic – and that I benefit from it every day.

No one’s suggesting that it is a little personal “issue” that can be solved by coffee talks, but we shouldn’t underestimate the power of small stories, of moments of connection, to provoke change.

Small stories are how we organize our world, and I find I can’t laugh for long at anything that encourages us to glimpse down the other’s road.

Why we can’t run from Starbucks’ #RaceTogether campaign – The Globe and Mail.

Canada faces dramatic drop in citizenship, prompting concerns about disengaged immigrants

Canadian Multiculturalism: Evidence and Anecdote Deck - Images.039Further to yesterday’s post regarding my forthcoming book (Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote) and the deck summarizing some of the high level results, the Toronto Star article focussing on my findings regarding citizenship take-up and the impact of the 2010 changes (the chart above shows the impact of the citizenship test changes on different ethnic groups):

“In the past, citizenship was viewed as a stepping stone to immigrant integration, and it should be done earlier on,” said Griffith, who will present Multiculturalism in Canada at a three-day national immigration and settlement conference in Vancouver that starts Thursday.

“These changes have made it harder and prohibitive for some to acquire citizenship, turning Canada into a country where an increasing percentage of immigrants are likely to remain non-citizens, without the ability to engage in the Canadian political process.”

Based on latest government data, Griffith found that the ratio of permanent residents who eventually become citizens has been in decline since 2000, and has dropped most rapidly in recent years.

Only 26 per cent of permanent residents who settled in Canada in 2008 have acquired Canadian citizenship, compared with 44 per cent for the wave of immigrants settling in 2007, and 79 per cent of those who arrived in 2000.

Griffith said the government data used in his analysis was selected to reflect the fact that it takes immigrants an average six years to acquire Canadian citizenship. The 2008 cohort best indicates the early impact of reforms implemented by the Conservative government.

The permanent-resident-to-citizen conversion rate does generally rise the longer immigrants have been in Canada. But an 18 per cent decrease between the 2008 and 2007 cohorts is alarming, Griffith said.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson Johanne Nadeau said Canada has one of the highest naturalization rates in the world, “as 86 per cent of eligible permanent residents for Canadian citizenship decide to acquire it.”

She suggested the Griffith is misinterpreting the data because “he is not taking into account those (permanent residents) who are not yet eligible to become citizens because they haven’t met all of the requirements needed to begin the citizenship process.”

Citizens are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, can vote in elections and are entitled to Canadian passports. Not only do permanent residents not have those privileges, they are also vulnerable to revocation of their status and removals from Canada.

“I understand the rationale behind these government changes,” said Griffith, who worked for the government as the reforms were developed and rolled out, and retired in 2013.

“But I’m on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion. We need to make sure those who apply for citizenship take it seriously, but we don’t want to inadvertently create excessive barriers and shift the relationship of some of the communities with the country.”

… “When you make it more difficult for some communities to become citizens, you are going to create issues with their engagement, attachment and identity of Canada,” said Griffith.

“The question is how we balance between ensuring the rigours of the (citizenship) process and yet making it fair and reasonable.”

Canada faces dramatic drop in citizenship, prompting concerns about disengaged immigrants

Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote (forthcoming)

Description of my forthcoming book (summer 2015):

With over 20 percent of the population foreign-born, and with more than 250 ethnic origins, Canada is one of the world’s most multicultural societies. Canada’s ethnic and religious diversity continues to grow alongside immigration.

Yet how well is Canada’s model of multiculturalism and citizenship working, and how well are Canadians, whatever their ethnic or religious origin, doing? Will Canada’s relative success compared to other countries continue, or are there emerging fault lines in Canadian society?

Canadian Multiculturalism: Evidence and Anecdote undertakes an extensive review of the available data from Statistics Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada operational statistics, employment equity and other sources to answer these questions and provide an integrated view covering economic outcomes, social indicators, and political and public service participation.

Evidence and Anecdote provides a detailed analysis from the national perspective as well provincial overviews, showing both common trends and regional differences. The book outlines the theoretical, historical, and policy context to illustrate the uniqueness of Canada and evolution of multiculturalism and to help readers understand the broader context for the evidence and analysis.

Visuals and charts are extensively used to engage readers and substantiate the changing nature of Canadian diversity.

Intended audience includes the media, academics, policy makers at federal, provincial and municipal levels, organizations active in integration and related issues, as well as ethnic and religious communities themselves.

Canadian Multiculturalism: Evidence and Anecdote will be available summer 2015.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Theory, Policy and Practice
  • Canada: A National Perspective
  • British Columbia: Or Should it be Asian Columbia?
  • Alberta: The New Face of Diversity
  • Saskatchewan: Steady Growth
  • Manitoba: Quiet Success
  • Ontario: Multiculturalism at Work
  • Québec: Impact of a Complex Identity
  • Atlantic Canada: Immigrants Wanted but Will They Come and Stay?
  • The North: Aboriginal Nations and New Canadians
  • Policy Reflections and Implications
  • Acknowledgements
  • Appendices

Summary deck presentation here.

Quebec infringed on religious freedom by forcing Catholic school to teach secular course: Supreme Court

On the recent Supreme Court ruling:

Loyola told the Supreme Court it wasn’t challenging the constitutionality of any legislation. But it was invoking a regulatory provision that allows private schools to teach their own version of a course where their program is equivalent, the school said in its factum. However, Quebec’s Education Department doesn’t consider Loyola’s substitute course an equivalent one. One reason is that the approach recommended by the ERC course is non-denominational, while Loyola’s version aims to transmit the Catholic faith, the Quebec government argues.

Loyola has said it would teach all the same content at the ERC course Loyola’s former principal Paul Donovan told the Montreal Gazette on Wednesday.

“We just didn’t want to have to suppress or hold back the Catholic nature of the school,” Donovan said.

Private religious schools in Quebec can teach their own faiths, but separately from the ERC course.

It’s the second time the Supreme Court has weighed in on the course taught in Quebec’s schools since the 2008-2009 school year. A Drummondville couple, who are Catholics, had argued that refusing to exempt their sons from the compulsory course violated their freedom of conscience and religion. But in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court dismissed their appeal in 2012. The couple hadn’t proved that the ERC course interfered with their ability to pass their own faith onto their children, the decision said.

Quebec infringed on religious freedom by forcing Catholic school to teach secular course: Supreme Court.

Graeme Hamilton’s commentary on the fears of religious fundamentalism in Quebec:

Listening to politicians, it can feel as if Quebec is under assault from religious fundamentalists. The opposition Parti Québécois wants an observer to report annually to the National Assembly on “manifestations of religious fundamentalism.” The Liberal government has a working group to combat radicalism. The Coalition Avenir Québec proposes banning preaching that runs counter to Quebec values.

But those same legislators have no quarrel with a secular fundamentalism that has taken root in the province at the expense of religious rights. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada sent a message to Quebec that its state-sanctioned secularism can go too far.

In a ruling affirming the right of Montreal’s Loyola High School, a private Catholic boys school, to teach its own version of a provincially mandated course on ethics and religion, the court offered a timely reminder to politicians.

“The pursuit of secular values means respecting the right to hold and manifest different religious beliefs,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote for the majority. “A secular state respects religious differences, it does not seek to extinguish them.”

The pursuit of secular values means respecting the right to hold and manifest different religious beliefs

The ruling specifically applies to a small number of private religious schools in Quebec, but it resonates more widely at a time when governments contend with questions involving religious rights. Recently in Quebec, mosques have run up against obstacles over fears of religious extremism, and a Muslim woman was told she could not appear before a Quebec Court wearing her hijab. The federal government has taken a stand against the face-covering niqab, saying women cannot wear the garments during citizenship ceremonies.

Interference with a religious group’s beliefs or practices is justified only if they “conflict with or harm overriding public interests,” Justice Abella wrote.

… In a partially concurring opinion that argued for less restriction on Loyola, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Michael Moldaver wrote that it is enough for Loyola teachers to treat other religious viewpoints with respect; it does not have to treat them as equally legitimate.

“Indeed, presenting fundamentally incompatible religious doctrines as equally legitimate and equally credible could imply that both are equally false,” they wrote. “Surely this cannot be a perspective that a religious school can be compelled to adopt.”

John Zucchi, whose son was a student at Loyola when the ERC program was introduced and who was a plaintiff in the initial court case, said Thursday’s ruling provides crucial guidance. “This is helping the country to come to what I would call a sane form of secularism,” he said. “We don’t need to shut down one voice in the name of diversity and pluralism, but rather diversity and pluralism mean that all perspectives can be heard and be out in the public square.”

Graeme Hamilton: A secular fundamentalism has taken root in Quebec

In politics, it’s dangerous to take the low road: Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson, is his usual diplomatic way, makes strong points about wedge politics, topical given some of the comments by Conservative MPs in particular:

They [political strategists] know that voters have had a bellyful of manufactured drama – politicians getting hot and bothered about issues that shouldn’t be at or near the top of the agenda.

For one reason, the audience can spot the manipulation. It’s like a magic trick when the audience has figured out how the illusion is done: not only is it not entertaining, it’s awkward and embarrassing. At best, voters might just ignore you, because they know the tactic is not serious, just a game.

But the bigger reason to hesitate is the risk of starting a hazardous chain reaction, one that gets outside your control quickly. When you use a controversial issue to rally your base, there is a greater risk of also hardening and energizing your opponents too.

There are highly skilled and experienced campaign teams all across the spectrum, people who know how to turn a wedge attack aimed against them into an opportunity to raise money and ire and generate a backlash.

The late U.S. politician Adlai Stevenson (who twice failed in presidential bids against Dwight Eisenhower) said, almost 60 years ago, “the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.”

It would be naïve to suggest that we’re in for a new golden age of only positive campaigning. But a pretty fair case can be made that voters are noticing and responding well to high-road campaigning, which reveals how fed up they are with the opposite.

And the smartest campaigners know that wedge issues are becoming less like a magic potion for electoral success, and more like nitroglycerine: a choice that could go pretty badly, if fumbled.

In politics, it’s dangerous to take the low road – The Globe and Mail.

Pierre Karl Péladeau fait volte-face et s’excuse

Once the cat is out of the bag…

Les mots ont un sens. Les mots ont un poids. Le favori de la course à la direction du Parti québécois, Pierre Karl Péladeau, a reconnu jeudi soir avoir eu tort de présenter l’immigration comme un obstacle sur le chemin du pays du Québec.

Le PQ doit « rassembler le plus large possible », a fait valoir M. Péladeau lors d’une causerie entre les cinq prétendants à la succession de Pauline Marois et des militants péquistes de la région du Centre-du-Québec.

En route vers le motel Blanchet à Drummondville, le député de Saint-Jérôme a mis en ligne sur sa page Facebook un message intitulé « Mes excuses ». « Ça m’apparaissait important de chasser l’ambiguïté parce qu’il faut que ce soit clair, net et précis : […] ceux et celles qui ont décidé de venir s’installer ici au Québec, c’est une richesse pour le Québec », a-t-il répété une fois arrivé à destination.

… Les propos tenus par M. Péladeau mercredi soir attestent de la « déviation claire vers le nationalisme ethnique » prise par le PQ, estime le premier ministre Philippe Couillard. « Depuis la charte, il y a une dérive très malheureuse. Il n’y a plus d’arguments financiers [et] économiques pour la séparation du Québec. Alors, on essaie de s’accrocher à n’importe quoi », a déclaré le chef du gouvernement à l’entrée du caucus libéral. « D’après moi [cela] doit faire frémir ceux qui ont fondé ce parti-là. »

De son côté, le ministre Gaétan Barrette a reproché au PQ d’importer l’idéologie du Front national, parti d’extrême droite français, en sol québécois. « Le Parti québécois est en train de montrer son vrai visage. C’est un parti sectaire », a-t-il lancé.

Pierre Karl Péladeau fait volte-face et s’excuse | Le Devoir.

And Chantal Hébert’s commentary on the PQ leadership campaign:

PQ blind spot keeps Pierre Karl Péladeau the party favourite: Hébert

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