New Creative Artists Agency study says diverse casting increases box office potential across all budgets – LA Times

The one thing Hollywood understands – money. Important study:

There’s been little debate over the moral arguments behind increasing diversity on- and off-screen in Hollywood, but the economic arguments haven’t always been so clear.

While women, people of color, LGBTQ folk and other historically marginalized communities in Hollywood continue to insist “diversity pays,” the box office success of films with diverse casts such as “Hidden Figures” ($230.1 million worldwide) and “Get Out” ($251.2 million worldwide) is inevitably deemed a “surprise.”

A new study and database crafted by Creative Artists Agency, however, is aiming to take some of the surprise out of box office performance, noting that across every budget level a film with a diverse cast outperforms a release not so diversified.

Additionally, the data, to be released during a private leadership conference dubbed Amplify on Wednesday in Laguna Beach, demonstrates that the average opening weekend for a film that attracts a diverse audience, often the result of having a diverse cast, is nearly three times on average a film with non-diverse audiences.

“One of the interesting things that the most successful movies share is that they’re broadly appealing to diverse audiences,” said Christy Haubegger, leader of CAA’s multicultural development group, who oversaw the study along with agency executive Talitha Watkins. “People want to see a world that looks like theirs.”

The impetus for the talent agency’s Motion Picture Diversity Index came following the release of the Motion Picture Assn. of America’s Theatrical Market Statistics report, which found that non-white moviegoers made up 49% of tickets sold in 2016, and 45% in 2015. Because the numbers outpace the 38% of the U.S. population who are non-white, CAA became interested in the audience makeup of the top-grossing films of the year. With additional data from comScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak and Gracenote’s Studio System, the goal was to determine the correlative factors of diverse casting, diverse audiences and box office success.

CAA examined 413 theatrical films released from January 2014 through December 2016, detailing cast ethnicity for the top 10 billed actors per movie, a total of 2,800 people. They found that for the top 10 grossing movies in 2016, 47% of the opening weekend audience (and 45% in 2015) were people of color. Moreover, seven of the 10 highest-grossing movies from 2016 (and four from 2015’s top 10) delivered opening weekend audiences that were more than 50% non-white.

From there, the study notes that at every budget level, a film with a cast that is at least 30% non-white — CAA’s definition of a “truly diverse” film — outperforms a release that is not truly diverse in opening weekend box office. And on the audience side of things, the average opening weekend for a film that has a “truly diverse” audience, pegged at 38% to 70% non-white, is $31 million versus $12 million for films with non-diverse audiences.

The numbers suggest a more diverse cast brings a more diverse audience, which brings in more money.

The best-performing movie of the films evaluated, which had an approximately 40% diverse cast and a 38% diverse audience, was “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” starring Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.

Also of note was the study’s evaluation of racial casting by genre. According to the study, the whitest genres casting-wise are horror and fantasy, and the most diverse genres are comedy and thriller.

As for what audiences want to see, white people are more likely to flock to drama and romance; black people to biopics and thrillers; Hispanics to horror and animation, and Asians to fantasy and animation.

“The hope is that seeing real numbers attached to the success of the inclusion of more voices and diverse casts will be further motivation for studios, networks and others to be really conscious of the opportunity,” said Richard Lovett, CAA’s president.

He highlighted the study as yet another way that the agency has made diversity a “moral imperative.” In the #OscarsSoWhite furor, many studios laid blame at the agencies’ collective feet.

But already in 2005, CAA began diversifying its internship pipeline by recruiting from top colleges with large black, Latino and female populations. In 2015, it created a traveling Road Show to brief film and television studios and networks on content that appeals to multicultural audiences and the availability of diverse artists working across all areas of the industry. It also continues to seek out and support diverse clients through various writing and leadership programs.

The efforts are paying off, as CAA’s revenue from multicultural clients increased 14% from 2015 to 2016, and the company was highlighted in a USC study for representing the largest share of female and African American directors.

Source: New CAA study says diverse casting increases box office potential across all budgets – LA Times

How police became the enemy in Toronto schools: Cohn

Good insightful column by Regg Cohn. Activists have the right to opinions and protests but ultimately the democratic process and accountability must decide:

Uniformed police have now been banned from participating in Toronto’s Pride parade.

Will they next be barred from fraternizing with students in our schools?

Anti-police protests have become a recurring theme in Toronto. Black Lives Matter led the charge at last year’s Pride, blocking the parade and out-organizing the organizers until they won the day.

Now, however, the protesters may have met their match in parents and principals who don’t view all police as perennial enemies in all places.

At a raucous meeting of Toronto’s Police Services Board this month, BLM protesters found themselves being challenged by people of colour who are taking a more colour-blind view of security, safety and pedagogy.

Critics describe the School Resource Officer (SRO) program as a “school to prison pipeline,” arguing that police pick on marginalized — read, racialized — students. But when police board member Ken Jeffers suggested last week that it be suspended or terminated like a truant student, the reaction may have surprised him.

One woman in the audience shouted back that he should ponder the blood shed by Blacks because of violence in our schools. As my colleague Andrea Gordon reported, a procession of principals, teachers and students from diverse racial backgrounds expressed strong support for the police presence — though it didn’t seem to influence BLM’s view.

The SRO program is not unique to Toronto but it is uniquely controversial here. Vancouver, Ottawa, Mississauga and other big cities have embraced the idea of placing police in schools, where it remains popular.

That’s not to say the program is perfect. But we should remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good — even if the police are sometimes seen by many as the enemy.

Whatever its flaws, the program has indisputably benefited many students and teachers in the trenches. An independent study of a similar SRO program in Peel suggests the presence of cops is an “overwhelmingly positive” confidence-building and relationship-building measure.

Measuring its impact is undoubtedly difficult. To its credit, the police board ultimately decided to defer any suspension until the Toronto program is properly evaluated. That didn’t stop Black Lives Matter from dismissing any review as a “dangerous side tactic.”

BLM is entitled to its protests, which had a cascading effect on the Pride parade — a private (albeit publicly subsidized) group that can make its own decisions in its own ways. Unlike Pride, the police services board — like our Toronto-area school boards — is a democratically constituted entity answerable to our elected councillors, who are accountable to the broad public and especially parents. Pressure tactics are part of our civil discourse, but representative democracy ought not to be held hostage to protests weighed down by historical grievances about police raids on gay bathhouses three decades ago.

It’s easy to forget the impetus for police in our schools. A decade ago, Grade 9 student Jordan Manners, 15, was fatally shot in the hallway of C.W. Jefferys Collegiate. In the aftermath, Toronto’s two publicly funded school boards teamed up with the police to introduce the SRO program.

The C.W. Jefferys school initially resisted the idea, but later embraced it after another teen was stabbed and yet another caught with a loaded handgun. Its current principal, Monday Gala, is a strong supporter:

“If you come into Jefferys today and see the positivity that is going on organized by this partnership with the police, you can’t deny the fact that there is a place for the police in the school,” he told the Star.

Some feel frustrated that the SRO program isn’t comprehensive but perhaps unfairly selective, rotating 36 uniformed cops through 75 schools across the city. Other SRO programs, such as in Peel and Ottawa, cover all schools.

That has led to the perception that only at-risk Black kids are targeted at schools like C.W. Jefferys. But at-risk — and rich — kids of all colours are just as likely to be watched over by cops at the posh Etobicoke School of the Arts, Riverdale Collegiate or Northern Secondary School.

Would an even larger program that puts cops in every single school appease everyone? It hardly seems like the solution sought by protesters, who sometimes sound as if they don’t want to see any cops anywhere at any time — whether on a Pride parade ground or a Toronto school ground.

Protesters have every right to their anti-police perspective. Especially in the wake of a long battle against carding that disproportionately affected people of colour.

Minority voices, whether held by minority groups or believed by bastions of white privilege, are part of our democratic discourse. But they cannot be the last word in a democratic process.

Source: How police became the enemy in Toronto schools: Cohn | Toronto Star

Refugee board set to finally hear ‘legacy’ asylum claims

To note – these kinds of backlogs should not happen:

The Immigration and Refugee Board is finally taking action to process asylum claims languishing in the system under pre-2012 rules, some of which have been waiting to be heard for more than six years.

There are about 5,500 so-called “legacy” claims filed before December 15, 2012, when the former Conservative government overhauled the asylum system by introducing statutory timelines to hear new claims and expedite removals of failed claimants — leaving the old cases on the back burner.

All legacy claimants are being asked to immediately contact the board and make any needed updates to their applications, so the board can start scheduling their hearings for September. Those who are ready have been asked to fill out an “intention to proceed form” online.

“We understand how difficult it is for the people to have been waiting for a minimum of four years in the legacy backlog,” said Mario Dion, chair of the refugee board. “Their lives and well-being are at stake and we are committed to start scheduling these cases as soon as possible.”

This spring the board launched a legacy task force and dedicated $3 million yearly to address the legacy backlog by hiring more than 20 retired refugee judges to focus on these drawn-out cases, the majority of them filed in 2011 and 2012. It also released a YouTube video to advertise the effort.

Although most post-2012 claims are generally heard by adjudicators within 60 days, the board is facing tremendous pressure at its refugee protection tribunal with a backlog of pending asylum claims that is expected to exceed 37,000 by the end of the year, partially due to the surge in claims at border entry points from the United States since President Donald Trump was elected.

For years, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers have called on the federal government to introduce some form of amnesty to legacy claimants to allow them to move on with their lives, but the plea has been ignored.

They said the longer people wait for a refugee hearing, the less chance they have of being accepted as refugees as memories fade and country conditions change with the processing delay.

“Fairness requires that we give them the opportunity to regularize their status in Canada without delay,” said Loly Rico, chair of the refugee council.

Source: Refugee board set to finally hear ‘legacy’ asylum claims | Toronto Star

A [Kellie Leitch] Tweet Stirs Up Canada’s Immigration Debate – The New York Times

Why does it take the NYT to report this? How did the Canadian media (to my knowledge) miss this important background:

Mr. Rafia and his wife, Raghda Aldndal, were the subject of a sensitive and probing documentary about Canada’s Syrian refugees, produced by two Australian filmmakers last year. The film, “Canada’s Open House,” gives an unusual opportunity to look more deeply into the case.

Canada’s Open House Video by SBS Dateline

Dawn Burke, chairwoman of the group that sponsored the Rafia family in the small town of Chipman, New Brunswick, said she used interpreters multiple times to explain Canadian laws, including those against domestic violence, to Mr. Rafia.

The larger issue that the case illustrates, said one of the filmmakers, Amos Roberts, is the difficulty that many older refugees, particularly men, face in adapting to new lives in a foreign culture. More than 40,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Canada, almost half of them sponsored privately by ordinary citizens like Ms. Burke.

“To expect new immigrants, especially refugees, to adapt within a year or two is mind-boggling,” said Professor Hamza, the interpreter.

“You feel like a stranger,” Mr. Rafia said in the documentary, which was made shortly after the family’s arrival. “Guantánamo Bay is a prison on an island. It’s the same here.”

The couple’s arranged marriage was already troubled in Syria, and Mr. Rafia admitted early on that he had beaten his wife in the past, Ms. Burke said.

“We made it very clear that he was not allowed to hit his wife,” she added.

The family eventually moved to Fredericton, a city where they would be closer to a Syrian community and jobs were more plentiful. But the marriage did not improve and on May 18, Ms. Aldndal showed up at a Fredericton hospital with injuries from a beating. Mr. Rafia was arrested and pleaded guilty on May 26.

Right-leaning media picked up the story, accusing Canadian liberals of welcoming wolves in sheep’s clothing.

But few who understand the case see it as an indictment of Canada’s multicultural immigration policies or its progressive refugee outreach. “It’s not a legacy. It’s an exception,” Ms. Burke said, referring to the line that Ms. Leitch posted.

Mr. Roberts, the filmmaker, said it was “horrifying to see this one incident become a useful bit of propaganda” for anti-immigration forces.

Mississauga woman’s demand for English-speaking doctor spoke volumes: Paradkar 

Interesting reflections on perceived micro-agressions following the open aggression displayed by the woman asking for a white doctor at a clinic.

My mother bristled at the same question – “where do you come from” – given her slight Russian accent.

Since them, I have been particularly sensitive in not asking that question whenever being served by medical professionals, despite my curiosity in terms of how easy or how hard it was for them to become certified and practice in Canada:

The woman’s behaviour comes as a surprise to some because it shatters the delicate veneer of equality that surrounds the idea of multiculturalism.

While her demand for a “white doctor” has received the most attention, it’s her insistence on one who speaks English — in a clinic where everybody clearly speaks it — that interests me because it sheds light on a language-specific “micro aggression”— a term used to describe seemingly inconsequential offences that stem from deeply biased attitudes.

The most commonly known micro aggression is the otherization implicit in “Where do you come from,” invariably asked to people of colour.

Another — and this one also raises the hackles of some white people — takes the form of a compliment: “How articulate you are. How well-spoken.”

So colonized was I that it took me a while to comprehend the offensiveness behind what I thought was essentially a handshake between two equals.

It was also slow to dawn on me because — confession alert — I was busy turning up my nose at the grammar deficiencies of spoken Canadian English, with dropped g’s and h’s, or mispronunciations; “pome,” for poem, airplane for “aeroplane,” all-timers for “Alzheimers,” or missing prepositions; “He wrote me” as opposed to “He wrote to me” or mistaken tenses; “I wrote him” instead of “I have written to him,” among countless others.

How fuddy-duddy of me, you say?

Very.

Urban Indians, who speak English with varying degrees of fluency, are brought up being constantly upbraided on the “proper” way to speak it. The ultimate authority of “propah” were the old men from the upper ranks of the army, navy and air force. Men who would say things like “brolleh” for umbrella, and whose penchant for propriety would have made the Mississauga woman feel considerably provincial.

While I love the English language and try not to see evolution as transgressions, I see the condescension now, and how it cuts across colonial and class lines.

I understand now that when people tell me, “How well you speak!” it’s an expression of surprise at how fluent I am in the Queen’s language, despite my accent, despite where I come from.

My colleague, feature writer Jim Coyle, has experienced this micro-aggression, too.

“As a son of immigrants whose own parents didn’t go past Grade 7, I have an acute ear for the veiled slurs of my betters,” he once told me. “As I moved up in social class, it was often remarked on with surprise how “well-spoken” I was. As if this was remarkable in an Irish Catholic from the wrong side of the tracks.”

It’s a way of patting you on the head for aspiring towards a benchmark modelled on upper-class English ideals.

The establishment of a narrow expression of English as the standard has come at the cost of suppression and erasure of native languages across this land and world over.

The English spoken in the Mississauga clinic wasn’t the woman’s kind of English. Ergo, it was faulty and invited contempt.

The ranter said what many unconsciously feel but don’t express.

When we judge as unintellectual or uneducated someone who speaks differently, we give meritocracy a sucker punch and place mediocrity with the “right” voice above brilliance with the alternative one.

Linguistic bias blinds us to great ideas, gifted stories and scientific advances. It further marginalizes and silences women who, having faced barriers to English education, are now rejected from the simplest of jobs. This hurts our productivity and leaves us culturally impoverished.

In the end, it leaves us well beneath the promise of the potential true multiculturalism holds.

Source: Mississauga woman’s demand for English-speaking doctor spoke volumes: Paradkar | Toronto Star

Italy PM says citizenship bill to make Italy safer – Xinhua

Coming to terms with reality:

Granting citizenship to children born in Italy of immigrant parents is the right thing to do and will make Italy safer, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Saturday.

The so-called “ius soli” (“law of the soil” in Latin) bill has become a hot-button issue after last Sunday’s local elections which saw strong gains by the rightwing, anti-immigrant Northern League across Italy.

In remarks at a televised forum organized by La Repubblica newspaper in the northern city of Bologna, the center-left prime minister rebutted opponents of the bill.

The ius soli bill, which is supported by center-left parties and the business sector, would grant citizenship to children born in Italy of foreign parents, and to kids who have spent at least five years in the Italian school system.

Its opponents — the rightwing Northern League party and the euro-skeptic Five Star Movement — claimed it will give potential extremists a legal foothold in Italian society, that it is tantamount to an “ethnic substitution”, and that it is “an unvotable mess”.

“I know a part of parliament and of public opinion looks upon (the ius soli bill) with diffidence,” Gentiloni said. “We musn’t pretend they don’t exist.”

The prime minister explained that citizenship implies rights but also duties, and that is in the interests of the country to include children who are already Italian in everything but their passport, and who will grow into productive members of the society.

“We musn’t allow room for the notion that…we underestimate the significance of our culture and our identity,” Gentiloni said. Granting citizenship to children born in Italy is a sign of strength, not weakness, he added.

The prime minister also replied to those who “agitate the spectre of a threat to our security in a wholly unjustified way”. Counter-terrorism experience teaches that the only way to root out and prevent radicalism is social inclusion, not marginalization and discrimination, Gentiloni said.

“To those who stoke such fears, we must say extending citizenship to these children…is not just a matter of conscience and civil rights, but also one of security,” Gentiloni said.

“The time has come to consider these children as Italian citizens to all effects,” the prime minister said. “We owe it to them, it is the right thing to do, and I hope parliament (approves the bill) very soon, in the coming weeks.”

The ius soli bill was first proposed by an immigrant rights campaign called Italia Sono Anch’Io (I Also Am Italy), which gathered 200,000 signatures on a petition to parliament in 2011-2012.

Supporters of the bill argue that it grants rights to children who are already de facto Italians, boosts Italy’s aging population, and contributes to the national economy by giving them a reason to stay in the country, work, consume and pay taxes.

Source: Italy PM says citizenship bill to make Italy safer – Xinhua | English.news.cn

ICYMI – ‘You can’t just pick and choose’: Alberta Christian school fights board request to remove ‘offensive’ scripture

Would Carpay defend a Muslim school that used some of the Koranic versus that endorse violence? He appears to argue for no limits:

CCA — a public K-12 school in Kingman, a hamlet with a population of 103 about an hour outside of Edmonton — has retained the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF), a conservative legal organization dedicated to “defend(ing) the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through litigation and education.”

“Trustees enjoy the legal right to send their own kids to various schools that align with the parents’ beliefs and convictions. But these trustees have no right to impose their own ideology on schools they disagree with,” John Carpay, president of the JCCF, said in a statement.

Skori sent an email earlier this year asking Wargel to remove a bible verse on immorality from the school’s statement of faith. She also asked that they remove the word “quality” from the phrase “CCA offers quality educational programming.”

CCA agreed to remove “quality” and the passage from 1 Corinthians, which states: “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“The specific reference and the word quality were not a big issue,” Margel said. “Out of respect of the relationship we’ve had with them, we can say ‘okay, this isn’t the key point here.’”

But Skori followed up, saying that “any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals should not be read or studied in school.” She clarified in a separate email, “For example: any teachings that denigrate or vilify someone’s sexual orientation.”

“That’s a completely different directive, and it was shocking. Absolutely shocking,” Margel said.

BRSD spokesperson Diane Hutchinson said the board felt compelled to make the request after protections for gender and sexual minorities were added to the Alberta Human Rights Act in late 2015.

“In our province there is a heightened awareness and a heightened sensitivity” around LGBTQ issues, she said, downplaying concerns of censorship.

“It appears that someone who was involved in the conversation had taken a small piece of the conversation and used it to raise an alarm about the potential for interference,” she said.

CCA approached JCCF a couple of months ago for advice on the situation, after which the JCCF sent an eight-page letter to the school board outlining what it says is an “unwarranted and unrealistic” prohibition.

“The government’s duty of neutrality, required by the Supreme Court of Canada, means that a school board cannot dictate whether verses in the Torah, Koran, New Testament or Guru Granth Sahib are acceptable,” Carpay said in a statement.

Less than eight hours after the letter was sent, Margel says she got an email back reaffirming the board’s position.

“How can you come to that conclusion in less than eight hours?” she said.

Alberta funnels public funding into “alternative schools” like CCA, which emphasize a particular language, culture, religion or subject. Each alternative school is offered through an Alberta school board. In CCA’s case, this involves a Master Agreement between the school and the BRSD, under which the board agreed not to meddle in the “essential nature” of the school’s programming.

Hate mail is flowing, misinformation and fear-mongering are widespread

“Alberta has one of the most diverse education systems in Canada,” Carpay told the Post. “It’s really contrary to government policy for any school board to try to squelch that diversity.”

Source: National Post

ICYMI: Liberal mosque opens in Berlin – The Washington Post

Interesting example of how Islam can evolve in the West:

Inside the red-brick building that now houses the German capital’s newest and perhaps most unusual mosque, Seyran Ates is staging a feminist revolution of the Muslim faith.

“Allahu akbar,” chanted a female voice, uttering the Arabic expression “God is great,” as a woman with two-toned hair issued the Muslim call to prayer. In another major break with tradition, men and women — typically segregated during worship — heeded the call by sitting side by side on the carpeted floor.

Ates, a self-proclaimed Muslim feminist and founder of the new mosque, then stepped onto the cream-colored carpet and delivered a stirring sermon. Two imams — a woman and a man — later took turns leading the Friday prayers in Arabic. The service ended with the congregation joining two visiting rabbis in singing a Hebrew song of friendship.

And just like that, the inaugural Friday prayers at Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque came to a close — offering a different vision of Islam on a continent that is locked in a bitter culture war over how and whether to welcome the faith. Toxic ills like radicalization, Ates and her supporters argue, have a potentially easy fix: the introduction of a more progressive, even feminist brand of the faith.

“The intention is to give liberal Islam a sacred space,” Ates said. “I feel very discriminated by regular mosques where women have to pray in ugly backrooms.”

The subject of withering criticism as well as hopeful support, the house of worship is part of a small but growing number of liberal mosques founded all or in part by women.
Seen by their backers as an antidote to gender bias that often leaves Muslim women praying in smaller spaces, the new kind of “feminist mosques” amount to a rallying cry for change, observers say.

In London, for instance, the female-founded Inclusive Mosque Initiative opened its doors in 2012. Female imams routinely lead prayers in spaces that welcome male and female Muslims of any sect — gays and lesbians included. More recently, mixed-gender or all-female prayers have spread to boutique mosques from California to Switzerland to Denmark.

Women and men traditionally pray separately in mosques for reasons of modesty. Some argue that the Koran does not explicitly call for separation, but others say that female voices should not be heard during prayer.

Source: Liberal mosque opens in Berlin – The Washington Post

White supremacists ideas revived in Collacott oped | David C. Atkinson

Good detailed reminder how Martin’s oped (Opinion: Canada replacing its population a case of wilful ignorance, greed, excess political correctness) echoes the past.

There is space and a need for critiques of Canadian immigration and related policies as part of political and policy discussion, and this can be done (and should be) without xenophobia:

In reality, Collacott nostalgically yearns for an imagined homogenous past that only ever existed in the minds of the province’s most obstinate white supremacists. His admonition emulates precisely the words of B.C.’s one-time Minister of Finance and Agriculture, Francis Carter-Cotton. In the midst of a concerted provincial campaign to exclude Asian immigrants in 1899, Carter-Cotton defended the idea that British Columbia “should be occupied by a large and thoroughly British population rather than by one in which the number of aliens largely predominated and many of the distinctive features of a settled British community were lacking.”

Collacott claims, as others once did, that his angst is rooted in social, economic, cultural, and political concerns. Stevens made a similar claim at Vancouver’s Dominion Hall in 1914. Like Collacott, he insisted that defending the whiteness of British Columbia “is not a case of racial pride. It is a case of actual social and economic conditions in our country, which it is impossible to maintain with two systems of living in our country which cannot be successfully assimilated.” Nevertheless, that evasion could not even withstand his next utterance: “I intend to stand absolutely on all occasions on this one great principle of a white country and a white British Columbia.”

In reality, Collacott’s commentary squarely reiterates these previous champions of white supremacy. They, too, essentialized Asian immigrants as hyper-competitive and economically rapacious interlopers, or as culturally alien intruders. Those ideas rested then, as now, on fundamentally racist notions of immutable racial characteristics that preclude assimilation and spell only disaster for Canada. Whether couched in a century-old language of civilizational decline, racial degeneration, and economic competition, or camouflaged in the alt-right’s semantic contortions of white nationalism, ethno-states, and identitarianism, these are profoundly dangerous ideas that undermine the very foundation of modern Canadian society.

Source: Opinion: White supremacists ideas revived in Collacott oped | Vancouver Sun

Kellie Leitch criticized over tweet attacking Syrian refugee program

Deservedly so. Sun columnist and former Conservative ministerial staffer Candice Malcolm, the originator of the line (The real legacy of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program), merits the same:

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch is facing new criticism after she issued a tweet portraying the legacy of the Liberals’ Syrian refugee program as a lone domestic violence case involving a Syrian refugee in Fredericton.

Social media erupted after Ms. Leitch tweeted Sunday: “A battered wife and a bloodied hockey stick. That’s the legacy of Trudeau’s Syrian refugee program,” quoting and including a link to a Toronto Sun column about a Syrian refugee in Fredericton who beat his wife with a hockey stick. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Ms. Leitch’s tweet is as disgraceful as domestic violence itself.

“It’s [domestic violence] clearly something that we abhor and we condemn. What Ms. Leitch is doing is equally reprehensible because she’s tying in a problem that exists everywhere – both in refugee communities and in … our society. This is a problem that many societies grapple with. She’s tying that in with our refugee policy,” Ms. Hussen said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Monday.

The column, written by Candice Malcolm last Friday, attempts to make the case for Ms. Leitch’s Canadian values test, saying it would have “gone a long way” in the case of Mohamad Rafia, who told the court he didn’t know it was against Canadian law to beat his wife. The Syrian refugee, who arrived in Canada 14 months ago, was sentenced to one year probation, according to a report by The Daily Gleaner on June 8.

Ms. Leitch’s proposed “Canadian values test” was a key part of her recent Conservative leadership campaign. The test would make newcomers go through face-to-face interviews with trained immigration officers to screen for Canadian values such as freedom, tolerance and generosity.

Ms. Leitch lost last month’s Conservative leadership vote, dropping off the ballot at the ninth of thirteen rounds with 7.95 per cent of the vote. Andrew Scheer won the race and now leads the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, where Ms. Leitch sits on his front bench.

When contacted by The Globe Monday, Ms. Leitch’s phone line went dead. Follow-up calls were not answered.

Asked about Ms. Leitch’s tweet, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said she would not speak on behalf of her colleague.

“I’m not going to speak on behalf of one member of our party. I’m going to speak on behalf of the record of our former government and the very positive and assertive position that we’ve taken as a party since the last election on a Conservative vision for helping the world’s most vulnerable, including refugees.”

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan accused Ms. Leitch of “fear mongering.”

“Kellie Leitch continues to spout divisive dog-whistle rhetoric even after her own party rejected her and her ideas,” Ms. Kwan said.

Source: Kellie Leitch criticized over tweet attacking Syrian refugee program – The Globe and Mail