Douglas Todd: Niqabs: The paradoxical world of Zunera Ishaq

Interesting interview with Zunera Ishaq, the woman at the heart of the niqab citizenship controversy:

How did it come to pass that the so-called “liberal” media, and prominent Canadian feminists, championed the 29-year-old suburban Toronto woman who insisted on wearing in a civil ceremony one of the world’s most provoking symbols of patriarchy?

What background was missing from the debate over the niqab?

I was able to obtain Ishaq’s responses to some of these questions this week.

Ishaq told me she respects Mulcair and Trudeau for defending her niqab, and for standing for multicultural “choice” and tolerance.

She went out of her way to say she also respects Harper, “who created all the mess. He was following his conscience.”

Our telephone conversation revealed a woman who inhabits a world of paradoxes, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “seemingly absurd or self-contradictory propositions.”

On one hand, the famous 29-year-old Sunni Muslim sounded libertarian and morally relativistic, emphasizing “every person is free to live in a way in which he or she feels is right.”

On the other hand she also seems the opposite. She is ultraconservative on segregation of the sexes, homosexuality, abortion, obeying Islamic commands and women being “unclean” during menstruation.

As niqabs become more common in Canada — a regular sight on campuses, including the University of B.C. — it’s worth understanding the apparent contradictions associated with defending this stark symbol of gender inequality.

Since Ishaq was often portrayed as standing up for all Muslim women, it’s important to note hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, and the majority of the 1.1 million Muslims in Canada, disapprove of the niqab.

Ishaq said she respects the many Muslims who disagree with her. That includes the imam at another Metro Toronto mosque who, not knowing she was present, criticized her for insisting on wearing the niqab.

Women rarely wear the niqab in most Muslim-majority countries, where scarves covering the hair or no headdress are more common. Niqabs have been banned in some Muslim countries, because they were used in crimes and terrorist attacks.

Ishaq’s religiously torn homeland of Pakistan, which she and her family were preparing this week to visit, is one of the few countries where Pew Research found support for the niqab, with 32 per cent saying women should cover their faces.

Only a few hardline Muslim leaders, including in Saudi Arabia, require women to wear long black abayas and press for them to cover their faces.

“Saudi Arabia has chosen that law,” Ishaq said, in one of repeated references to the supreme value she places on “choice,” including at the political level.

“I would not say that it’s wrong. I would not say it’s exactly right in Islam. So I would not like to comment.”

She agreed Islamic tradition advocates only personal “modesty.” And she acknowledged nothing in the Qur’an mandates women covering their faces.

“I do not feel that Muslim women who do not wear the niqab are lesser than me. What I’ve done is my choice, another opinion.”

Ishaq also called homosexualitya “choice,” which goes against the predominant understanding among gays and lesbians.

“Being a Muslim, it’s my view that homosexuality is not the right thing. But I have to tolerate it, without discrimination and without hatred. I have no issues with people who are homosexual. That’s their choice. But I definitely do not think it’s right.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Niqabs: The paradoxical world of Zunera Ishaq | Vancouver Sun

Canadian refugee ‘model’ isn’t exportable: Persichilli

Tend to agree regarding the non-applicability of the Canadian model – histories, geographies and situations just to different:

As for the adoption of the “Canadian model” for solving the world refugees problem, that’s an overstatement that can be of no interest in Europe. It is like suggesting a tea party in the family room to host an after-party for thousands of people attending a Toronto Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre.

In Europe, the problem is not a lack of willingness to host refugees; in fact, they are already hosting millions. The problem is in the numbers, and those numbers are out of our reach.

Source: Canadian refugee ‘model’ isn’t exportable – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Shared Services likely to become ‘money pit,’ says Canada’s former chief statistician who quit two weeks ago

In his words:

Canada’s former chief statistician, who publicly quit his job two weeks ago on principle to the cheers of hundreds of Statistics Canada employees, says Shared Services Canada is doomed to fail.

“There’s a really good chance Shared Services Canada will turn into a money pit,” Mr. Smith told The Hill Times after he resigned publicly as Canada’s chief statistician on Sept. 16.

Mr. Smith stepped down after fighting unsuccessfully to free Statistics Canada from Shared Services’ government IT department, which Mr. Smith said jeopardizes the number-crunching agency’s independence and integrity. As well, he said the model the government created for the government-wide IT management is doomed to fail.

…As a result of his departure, he told The Hill Times that he’s been iced-out of the deputy minister community, one he said he had never really been “in,” and, so far, said his claims have been dismissed by the government.

Mr. Smith said he thinks it’s a wrong-headed move to transfer Statistics Canada’s informatics infrastructure to Shared Services, but believes it’s the senior ranks of the bureaucracy that is pushing “extremely strongly,” in favour of the Shared Services model.

“This idea came out of the bureaucracy, the most senior bureaucracy is very committed to it, they don’t want to walk away from it. [The] Privy Council Office, Treasury Board Secretariat, and more people in the most senior ranks are strongly committed to this,” said Mr. Smith, adding that they were the ones to sell it to the current government as worth continuing.

“I think the government wants to believe it,” he said.

The $2-billion department, Shared Services, was created in 2011 by the previous Conservative government to consolidate and modernize the Government of Canada’s IT networks and personnel by 2020, a deadline it’s now uncertain about meeting, given extensive delays and potential greater costs than initially thought. Its three key tasks are to amalgamate all government email systems, merge data centres, and consolidate IT networks.

….Mr. Smith said, in principle, the job of the national statistics office is centered around information and technology, and “everything we do, from drawing samples, to collecting via the internet, to processing survey data and disseminating survey data, it absolutely requires informatics to run efficiently, and well and properly. … When the government created Shared Services Canada it took our away our authority to acquire informatics infrastructure, hardware, the servers, and the file servers we needed to do our job, and they gave that authority to SSC.”

Mr. Smith said even though he had the budget to purchase the informatics systems he wanted, the decision-making power had been taken away from him.

“Therefore they can stop me from disseminating data, from producing data, simply by withholding or failing to provide the informatics infrastructure—the computing power—to do it. And it doesn’t really matter, at the end of the day, if they do it out of malicious intent or whether they do it out of incompetence; the result is the same,” said Mr. Smith.

He said there was an “unacceptable level of risk” in its data centre infrastructure, which the two departments disagreed on where the actual drives would be located and who would have access. He said there was an inability for Shared Services to deliver the additional capacity required to move ahead with Statistics Canada’s plans to enhance its website to be more user-friendly. And he said there was, at the time he left, a “lineup” of policy departments at Statistics Canada’s door asking for new data as a result of the Liberal government’s emphasis in evidence-based decision-making.

“More money got spent, the results aren’t there, and this is simply because the decisions are outside the control of Statistics Canada now,” said Mr. Smith.

He added that although this was the state of affairs when he resigned, he’s optimistic that because of his outspoken critiques, “every effort will be made to make sure my predictions don’t come true.”

In response to the allegations last week, senior officials from Shared Services and the Treasury Board Secretariat held a technical briefing where Shared Services Canada chief Ron Parker dismissed Mr. Smith’s concerns.

Mr. Parker said that he and Mr. Smith last met at an April meeting and there were “no technical or operational issues” raised. Mr. Smith said this is utterly false.

“I was appalled … for him to contend that there was no issues is absolutely absurd,” Mr. Smith said, adding that he recalls at that meeting raising a “litany of concerns.”

Mr. Smith said he thinks the government shouldn’t go further down the enterprise-wide IT path until a business plan and accountability model have been established between Shared Services and all partner departments. He said the government should be skeptical about its ability to deliver on such a massive transformation, pointing to the Phoenix pay system debacle that’s disrupted or affected the pay for 82,000 public servants. The Phoenix pay system has cost the government more than $50-million to fix, and the $398-million Email Transformation Initiative to move all government email addresses to one system is on hold and 18 months past when it was supposed to be fully implemented.

The complaints from Statistics Canada are not the first from a department who is unsatisfied with Shared Services work. A number of departments are unhappy about the service they’ve received and some other departments that deal with sensitive data have explored ways to opt out of the system. So far, Mr. Parker says the plans do not include any departments opting out of the agreement.

Despite this, Mr. Parker declared the benefits of the enterprise approach remain clear, and “the partners are part of that model and therefore there’s nothing, nothing in the plan that envisions opting-out.”

….The decision to resign came after months of trying to bring attention to his concerns, said Mr. Smith, who has been raising issues since before the current government was elected and after, in meetings with the minister responsible for Statistics Canada, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains (Mississauga-Malton, Ont.), and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick.

He thought the government’s promise to enhance his agency’s independence would bring sea change to fix his problems with Shared Services. When it didn’t and the issues with Shared Services Canada began to dominate conversations with employees who were saying it affected their ability to do their job, he decided he needed to make it clear he was prepared to resign. After that didn’t move the needle, he submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) on Aug. 3, enough time he thought for them to implement an independent appointment process for his successor. That didn’t happen and instead the government appointed Anil Arora, who was working as an assistant deputy minister at Health Canada.

“When I penned that letter I thought that the odds were overwhelmingly against it having any impact other than me winding up resigned, and my interpretation of the situation was correct,” said Mr. Smith, who didn’t hear anything from anyone in government from the point of submitting his resignation until Sept. 15, when letters came from both Mr. Wernick and Mr. Trudeau, accepting his resignation.

After the way government has handled his resignation, he thinks Canadians should be skeptical about their commitments to Statistics Canada.

While he doesn’t see himself as a whistleblower, since resigning he said he’s received a lot of encouragement from employees at the agency, who have sent him emails supporting his move and thanking him for standing up. He’s received support from the national statistics council, from provincial and territorial counterparts, and international support.

“Everybody sees the issue, and they’re all living the consequences,” Mr. Smith said.

Source: Shared Services likely to become ‘money pit,’ says Canada’s former chief statistician who quit two weeks ago – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Good to talk about Canadian values, and let’s think it through: Andrew Cardozo

Good piece by Andrew Cardozo going through all the limitations in values testing for immigrants and proposing a more positive approach:

But this is not to say we cannot talk about Canadian values or tell newcomers—and immigration applicants, about Canadian values; that way they can know what to expect or decide not to come here if they don’t like any of our values.

The healthier way is to be strong and clear about these values, because there is no question that some of our values are not universally held or practised. Besides some Canadian-born folks who have old-fashioned ideas, there are some newcomers who come with attitudes of inequality as compared to the “Canadian norm.” Many people come here precisely because of our values and others come here without considering what that may mean for them and their families and children.

Not only is it healthier and nicer, it is a more successful way to encourage newcomers to embrace the values of our liberal democratic society. Being proudly progressive and Canadian is the best way to root out many of the attitudes of inequality and discrimination across all communities.

The thing about the uniquely “Canadian values” of equality and respect is that they are fairly clear, only fairly. Some are legislated, some are not. And it is that complex and careful balancing over time—with lots of variation and nuance—that allows for a free and peaceful society. Fundamentalist societies are the ones that allow for no deviation and they generally are not very peaceful or cohesive.

Source: Good to talk about Canadian values, and let’s think it through – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Statistics Canada eyes the end of the short-form census

Other countries do this and makes sense, both from cost and accuracy perspectives. But complex transition:

The mandatory long-form census returned this year, a decade after it was last seen.

If things go as planned, a decade from now the short-form census won’t be seen again.

Statistics Canada is working on a plan for the 2026 census that would eliminate the mandatory short-form census that goes to every household and instead use existing government databases to conduct a virtual count of the population.

The plan would save taxpayers millions of dollars and provide the same information used by governments to plan roads, hospitals, schools and other public services.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act paint a detailed picture of what officials hope to have in place by 2026: a digital register of every Canadian that could be updated every five years, if not annually, and a smaller long-form questionnaire.

“This approach to replace the short-form questionnaire will require a complete redesign of the long-form questionnaire,” reads the April report provided to former chief statistician Wayne Smith.

The agency said in a statement that it hasn’t yet determined its approach for the 2021 census, but made no direct reference to the 2026 count. The statement said the agency “conducts ongoing research activities to determine the most efficient way of collecting census information.”

Source: Statistics Canada eyes the end of the short-form census –

USA: The black-white wage gap can be explained in a word: discrimination : NPR

The latest of studies showing the impact of discrimination:

Racial discrimination, it seems, is like the salt that’s left in a pot after water boils away — much easier to identify in the absence of the other things.

That was one of the big takeaways from a report released this week by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Researchers were studying the longstanding black-white wage gap, and their findings were grim: The distance between what white Americans and black Americans earn is larger than it’s been in almost 40 years.

I talked to Valerie Wilson, who analyzes race and the economy for the institute. She told me that the wage gap has grown and shrunk over the years and has lingered in both boom and lean times. While it once varied by region — smallest in the Midwest and largest in the South — the gap is now more or less uniform across the country. It’s been a chronic blemish on our economy.

And the major reason, Wilson said? Not education. Not work experience. Not whether you live on a farm or in a downtown apartment complex. It’s discriminationand it’s borne out in the data.

I was curious when she said this. How would you even measure discrimination when the people doing it don’t tend to advertise it, and the people being discriminated against often don’t know it’s happening? How do you detect something that is essentially invisible?

“The way that we measure discrimination in this report,” Wilson said, “is that it’s the portion of the gap that remains after we control for all the other factors that would reasonably influence one’s earnings.”

Here’s the crux of the matter via the report:

“During the early 1980s, rising unemployment, declining unionization, and policies such as the failure to raise the minimum wage and lax enforcement of anti-discrimination laws contributed to the growing black-white wage gap. During the late 1990s, the gap shrank due in part to tighter labor markets, which made discrimination more costly, and increases in the minimum wage. Since 2000 the gap has grown again.”

The researchers didn’t try to describe the ways widespread discrimination caused the wage gap, but we have some ideas. There’s the much-cited 2003 study where applicants with resumes boasting “black-sounding” names — Lakisha, say, or Jamal — were less likely to get callbacks for jobs. And then there’s this 2014 study by three prominent economists that analyzed the job searches of nearly 5,200 newly unemployed people in New Jersey:

“First, black job seekers were offered significantly less compensation than whites by potential new employers. Second, blacks were much more likely to accept these lower offers than their white counterparts.”

Interestingly, the economists also found that the racial gap in pay narrowed over time if employees stayed at the same company; that is, once the company became more comfortable with those black hires. But that also means that black folks have to stay with one employer longer to catch up with the wages of their white coworkers.

That finding dovetails with data from the EPI study, which pointed out that black college graduates enter the workforce making less than white college graduates. Taken together, black people are starting their work lives with potential employers deciding whether their names disqualify them, with fewer job prospects and with lower entry-level wages. Discrimination, then, is part of the experience of black workers long before and long after they’re hired.

Source: The black-white wage gap can be explained in a word: discrimination : Code Switch : NPR

Monsef could face consequences, immigration lawyers warn 

Lots of coverage on Maryam Monsef and her birthplace.

Most coverage conflate birthplace, citizenship and identity. While they can for many be one and the same, this is not the case for all, particularly in the case of immigrants.

For example, my mother was born in Russia on the eve of the Russian revolution, her family as refugees fled to Latvia, and her Canadian passport listed Riga as her birthplace, likely reflecting that the chaos at the time made it impossible to obtain a Russian birth certificate. But we all knew her true birthplace.

As to the speculation by some regarding whether or not her citizenship and immigration status could or should be revoked, Monsef arrived in Canada at the age of 11 so all documents would have been submitted by her mother. So while her mother’s status could theoretically be subject to review, hard to see why any government would do so some 20 years after the fact and given that it is not material to the family’s status as refugees.

Iran has between one and three million Afghan refugees, which are not well integrated into Iranian society, and largely live within Afghan neighbourhoods.

So I am sceptical of the reasoning of the immigration lawyers contacted by the Sun (Guidy Mamann, Chantal Desloges and Julie Taub):

Canadian immigration lawyers say Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef could suffer consequences if her refugee or citizenship applications included false information.

“It’s extraordinarily serious,” Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann said. “From a strictly legal point of view – and I’m assuming cabinet ministers want to observe the law – she is a person right now who has citizenship through fraud. It may be intentional or unintentional, but her citizenship in Canada right now is open to attack.”

…“If you had false info on your citizenship application you could be subject to having it revoked,” Toronto immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges explained. “It could not go so far as a criminal charge because for her to be charged criminally you’d have to do it knowingly.”

While lawyers the Sun spoke to disagreed on certain specifics, none doubted that a case such as Monsef’s would typically undergo a review.

“There are differences in cases where they probably decide not to proceed when false info is presented for reasons of safety and security. But that’s rare,” says Ottawa immigration lawyer Julie Taub, a former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

“The situation is if she was not an MP, if she was not a cabinet minister, if she was just your average Joe, the government would probably seek to vacate her status and once that protection is gone they could go after her citizenship,” Mamann added.

“I think the government is going to be in a hard position because they obviously won’t want to take any action on it but if they don’t, how is that going to look, that she’s getting preferential treatment?” Desloges said.

Source: Monsef could face consequences, immigration lawyers warn | furey | Canada | News

Michael Friscolanti demonstrates a more sophisticated understanding of the issues involved, and the likelihood of removing her immigrant and citizenship status:

If her mother provided inaccurate information to the IRB, does that mean Monsef could be stripped of her citizenship?

Again, it’s not clear what Basir told the IRB. But even if she failed to disclose where her daughters were born, experts in refugee law are divided about the potential consequences. According to the Citizenship Act, the government has the power to revoke citizenship on the grounds it was obtained “by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances.” Material is the key word. Simply put, would the evidence that has come to light have altered the IRB’s original opinion that Monsef was a bona fide refugee? “If it was not disclosed that she was born in Iran, that, in my opinion, is a material misrepresentation,” says Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann. “If you find one lie, then you start questioning the whole story.”

Michelle Rempel, the Conservative Immigration critic, seems to agree, saying there could be “serious consequences” if Monsef’s refugee claim contained false information. But Showler, the former IRB chair, sees it differently. Because Monsef had no legal status in Iran (to repeat: she wasn’t a citizen, despite being born there), her birthplace had zero bearing on the case. “What you are doing with a refugee claim is you’re saying: ‘I cannot go back to my home country because I will be persecuted,’” he says. “Whether or not she was born in Iran is irrelevant. The only country for which she had citizenship was Afghanistan, and that is the country from which she feared persecution.” Showler says “there is not one chance in 1,000″ that Monsef’s immigration status is in jeopardy. “It’s very, very difficult to unwind citizenship status,” he continues. “You can do it, but almost always when it happens, it’s because somebody has committed a serious crime and there are reasons you want to get them out of the country. For something like this, there would be absolutely no reason for doing it.”

What if her mother did tell the IRB that Monsef was born in Iran?

For one thing, it would eliminate any chance, however remote, of the minister being stripped of her citizenship. It would mean Basir provided all relevant facts to the IRB, and that the board concluded all four claimants were genuine refugees. If that’s the case, however, it does raise yet another question.

If the Immigration and Refugee Board was told that Monsef was born in Iran, how could she not know?

Think back to the ensuing document trail. If the IRB was informed of her true birthplace, that same location would have been listed on her subsequent permanent residency forms, her citizenship application, etc. Under such a scenario, it seems implausible that Monsef would have remained oblivious to the truth all this time—or that the Privy Council Office, which conducts a “rigorous vetting process” for would-be cabinet ministers, would not have stumbled upon the evidence. It’s much more likely, as discussed above, that Monsef’s mother chose to hide from the IRB what she hid from her daughters: that they were born in Iran.

Source: Maryam Monsef’s personal revelations leave lingering questions               


Every day, immigrants are busting myths and building Canada

Useful vignette:

Riverside Natural Foods, launched just three years ago this August, began with one syrup kettle, a few baking trays and just 10 employees. Today it has 100. The Riverside plant near York University has production lines running from the pre-dawn hours till past midnight in two buildings, with a third expected to open in January. MadeGood bars are popping up everywhere from corner stores to major supermarkets. Riverside clients include giants like Loblaws, Costco and Whole Foods. “It’s been quite a ride,” says Ms. Fotovat.

Her brother Nima is company president, her sister Salma is in charge of the supply chain. She is head of operations. She arrives at the plant every weekday around 7 a.m. After scrubbing her hands, putting on a lab coat and pulling a net over her hair, she walks onto the floor to see how things are going. In one part of the plant, workers are pouring oats into a mixing machine; in another, a group of women are packing snacks into boxes for shipment; in another, a big ultrasonic cutting machine is dividing a sheet of cooked oats into bars.

With production ramping up so fast, the company is always bringing in new, more sophisticated machinery from Italy, Germany or the United States. But Ms. Fotovat says the key to its success, and the hope for its future, is the people.

She relies on their quick wits to fix production glitches and help figure out how to do things better. “What I’ve learned over the years is you’ve got to give people time to show what they can do,” she says. “You don’t think they can do it and then they blow your mind.”

The Riverside staff is a typical Toronto mix. One manager comes from Venezuela, another from Peru. Most of the workers on the floor come from the Philippines. Ms. Fotovat hired many through a temp agency.

One of her finds was Renato Resurreccion, who walked in the door as a temp and now manages 20 to 30 people on the morning shift. Another is Fernando Yarcia, who oversees the mixing machine. “He just cares,” says Ms. Fotovat. “If he sees a piece of garbage on the floor, he’s the one who will pick it up and put it in the garbage.” He wept when he heard the company was hiring him on full time.

Riverside doesn’t just want to be a big company. It wants to be a model company, where employees feel that they have a stake and share in its success. It is the kind of place where they remember your birthday and listen to your ideas.

In other words, it is about as far as you could imagine from the sweatshop that Trump fans and their Canadian cousins have in mind when they complain about how immigration is wrecking everything. Here is a business that rather than lowering standards and undercutting more established firms is setting high standards for innovation and creativity, while going out of its way to treat its employees right.

A paper by University of Waterloo professor Bessma Momani for this week’s 6 Degrees Citizen Space event in Toronto finds that “Canadian immigrants are more likely than Canadian-born people to start their own businesses. They employ other Canadians, innovate new products and services, disrupt business as usual and generate wealth and prosperity for Canada and all Canadians.”

Source: Every day, immigrants are busting myths and building Canada – The Globe and Mail

Jason Kenney: ‘I still wonder how I got here’ – remarks on Canada

In addition to the obligatory thanks to all, and his plea for civility and thoughtful deliberations, Kenney’s remarks on Canada worth noting, and consistent with his time in office:

As a last word about this country, which we all serve—this magnificent country with limitless potential—as I worked as minister of immigration, citizenship, and multiculturalism and welcomed refugees to this country, I was reminded of the words of Desmond Morton, a great Canadian historian and a former NDP candidate. He said that Canada is made up of people who have been on the wrong side of history. That includes our first nations at the time of European contact.

That also includes French Canadians at the time of the conquest and Acadians, with the great upheaval and the tragedy of what happened to them.

It includes the United Empire Loyalists; English Canada was founded by refugees, including some of my ancestors, who came here from the American Revolution. It includes those who saw Canada as the North Star through the Underground Railroad, who escaped slavery in the United States to achieve freedom in this country, sometimes with the scars of slavery on their backs. There were the Highland clearance Scots, who founded Cape Breton. There were the famine Irish, including some of my ancestors—and members can see that the Kenneys have recovered from the famine. There were Jewish victims of the pogroms before the Second World War, in the early 20th century, and the victims of the Shoah, who came after the Second World War. There were the eastern Europeans, the men in sheepskin coats who fled political oppression to pursue new opportunities in settling the Canadian Prairies; the Hungarians of 1958; the Czechs of 1968; and the Vietnamese of 1979. With the Chinese premier here today, we should also remember the Uyghurs and Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners and those who stood at Tiananmen Square. There are so many others right to this day: the Syrian refugees whom we welcome; the 25,000 Iraqi refugees who came through a program that I established; the gay Iranians and men and women of all backgrounds. All of them in their own way were losers of history, yet by becoming Canadian they have become winners of history.

All of those people would have cause to live in a spirit of bitterness and recrimination but, instead, have decided not to forget their tragic past, to remember and memorialize it but move forward with hope in the future, as Canadians with a common sense of responsibility for one another.

I close my two decades in this place by quoting the words of former prime minister Diefenbaker, when he introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights. In expressing a sentiment that applies to all of those losers of history who have built one of the greatest countries of history, he stated:

“I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”

German MPs in heated debate over fast-track citizenship for Britons – The Guardian

Interesting debate:

The German Green party has called on the government of Angela Merkel to fast-track the applications of Britons wishing to become German citizens in the light of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Volker Beck, a leading member of the party, told the Bundestag that Germany should “send a signal that Britons belong to Europe and to Germany” by allowing the “swift and straightforward naturalisation” of British citizens.

The opposition Greens tabled the resolution having already written to the government over the summer requesting a reform of the citizenship law because it said that young Britons in particular who were living and working in Germany “need a clear perspective that they can stay” in the event of Britain leaving the EU.

A heated debate in the German parliament on Friday revealed the extent to which the Brexit vote and the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s future relationship with the European Union continues to vex and anger German politicians across the spectrum.

Beck said that 5,000 Britons had received German citizenship last year and there were many others who wished to apply among the more than 100,000 other UK citizens living in the country. But many were not eligible, he said, because they had not lived in the country for the eight years the current law recommended or were not earning the level of income required to prove they could support themselves.

Beck called on the German government to “change its spots” and create a “modern citizenship law” that would allow people to hold more than one citizenship. Currently, this is only possible in exceptional cases.

Once Britain leaves the EU, Britons would be unable to become German citizens without first renouncing their British citizenship, hence the Greens’ attempts to speed up the process that would allow Britons to become German and remain British.

But the proposal was met with stiff resistance by politicians from chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

Stephan Mayer of the Christian Social Union called Beck’s proposal “treasonous” and accused him of “pushing a policy of the forced Germanisation of Britons in Germany”.

He said that any discussion concerning Brexit was “premature and pointless, as long as the negotiations [regarding the conditions of exiting the EU] are still ongoing”.

“For the time being we need to view the issue with typical British dispassion,” he told parliament.

He said British citizens already “get all the rights they need here, apart from being able to vote”.

But Rüdiger Veit of the Social Democrats (SPD) hit back. “It’s not about a forced Germanisation of Britons; it’s to do with the fact they’re very welcome here and it would be a happy situation if as many of them who want to beome German citizens did,” he said.

Tim Ostermann, who is MP for Herford in North Rhine Westphalia, a base for the British forces in Germany until last year, said he had not received any complaints from British citizens who had chosen to stay in the area that they had had any difficulties in acquiring citizenship.

“I never heard from any ex-British soldiers that they had any problems,” he said, calling the Greens’ proposal “an overreaction”.

Source: German MPs in heated debate over fast-track citizenship for Britons | World news | The Guardian