Harper inadequate, inconsistent on China, former adviser says

Former Canadian Ambassador to Beijing, and Foreign Policy Advisor to PM, David Mulroney on the Harper Government. Picks up many of the same themes in my book Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism (disclosure David is a former colleague of mine):

David Mulroney, Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, says Canada should boost its economic and diplomatic ties with China and even reinforce its naval presence off the west coast to show its serious about being a player in the region.

But Harper has failed to show adequate leadership and has been wildly inconsistent, with periods of estrangement and hostility followed by flurries of activity to try to woo Beijing, according to the ex-diplomat.

Government policy is too often directed by political partisans with “extreme ideological” agendas, who are motivated only by the goal of winning votes in immigrant communities in Canada.

“We need leadership from the top,” writes Mulroney, who was named Harper’s senior foreign and defence policy adviser when the Conservatives took power in 2006.

His book Middle Power, Middle Kingdom, to be published later this month by Penguin Canada, is likely to be controversial. His concern about Chinese money boosting housing costs in cities like Vancouver, reported in Tuesday’s Vancouver Sun, led to number of readers to contact The Sun sharing those concerns.

Mulroney, now at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, is particularly critical of Canadian prime ministers — and especially Harper — who have used foreign policy to win favour with diaspora groups within Canada.

He said political leaders in countries such as India and China are decidedly unimpressed when a prime minister shows up with Canadian MPs returning to their, or their ancestors’, country of origin.

He said Harper is treating foreign leaders as “mere props” participating in “photo opportunities” aimed at ethnic media back in Canada.

“It would be naive and undemocratic to argue that domestic politics has no place in our foreign policy,” he writes. “But political leaders need to rely on something more than the most recent polling data in navigating international issues.”

Mulroney also challenges the Harper government’s “increasing preference” for rhetoric — “the more extreme the better” — over behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

“The resulting ‘megaphone diplomacy’ is gratifying to some audiences at home, but it erodes and undercuts whatever real influence Canada might have had.”

He says Canada’s approach to China needed an overhaul when the Liberals were ousted in 2006, as the Liberal “Team Canada” trade mission strategy had become outdated. Mulroney also argues that China’s human rights violations were becoming increasingly problematic for Canadians, and that the federal Liberal party under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin was “equally unbalanced on the side of unwarranted optimism and uncritical acceptance” of China.

And he in no way underplays China’s dark side, pointing out that China aggressively spies in Canada.

And Beijing also undermines long-standing work by Canada and other western countries in promoting democratic values in developing countries.

“China does support odious regimes, and it is a challenger of the liberal international order.”

The author, who notes that Harper and many of his ministers and aides have long treated Canadian diplomats as “incompetent and politically unreliable” closet Liberals, also acknowledges that some of his foreign service colleagues aren’t faultless.

“They contributed to this caricature through their own inability to fully respect the concerns that motivated the newly elected government.”

But he says Conservative mistrust of its bureaucratic advisers went to strange lengths, and cites the close relationship between former Foreign Minister John Baird and China’s former ambassador to Canada, Zhang Junsai.

Baird was unusually candid with the diplomat about Canada’s objectives — a frankness which wasn’t reciprocated — and the two consulted closely during and after Baird’s trips to China while senior Canadian diplomats were left out.

My favourite line:

“It was as if it was more damning to be suspected of having liberal sympathies than it was to actually be a Communist, and as if the Canadian government was intent on conducting foreign policy without its public service.”

via Harper inadequate, inconsistent on China, former adviser says.

New Poll Says Newcomers Outpace Canadian-Born In Saving Their Money | Link Newspaper

Not completely surprising given the risks newcomers take coming to Canada and likely the savings culture that they bring with them. Nice counterpart to the Grubel and Grady studies arguing immigrants are a drain on the economy:

Half (50 per cent) of  those who have lived in Canada for five years or less, say they save more than 10 per cent of their income, compared with 19 per cent of those born in Canada. Only two per cent of newcomers said they save less than one per cent of their income, whereas 28 per cent of those born in Canada make this claim. The research is based on poll respondents who reside in British Columbia or Ontario, two provinces that attract many newcomers.

“Newcomers have a healthy approach to saving, and regardless of income, seem to have a greater focus on putting money away,” says Christine Shisler, Director, Client Strategy, RBC. “While balancing a new life in Canada, newcomers place a priority on savings and financial planning – a solid start to their journey in a new country.”

According to the research, newcomers and those who are Canadian-born share common financial goals for the next five years, such as having enough money to cover daily expenses (77 per cent of newcomers, 75 per cent of Canadian-born) and saving for retirement (67 per cent and 59 per cent respectively). Both groups also aim to pay down non-mortgage debt (52 per cent versus 54 per cent).

While both prioritize saving money to cover daily expenses as a primary goal, the two groups differ when it comes to their financial behaviour:

Not only do newcomers save more of their income, they also have very different savings goals. Newcomers are more likely to place a priority on starting a small business (41 per cent) and education for their children (61 per cent) than Canadian-born respondents (9 per cent and 21 per cent respectively).

New Poll Says Newcomers Outpace Canadian-Born In Saving Their Money | Link Newspaper.

‘This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges

The Saudi approach to de-radicalization:

“If you lose these inmates when they are in prison, they will come out of prison more radical,” Turki said, adding that supporting their families also helps make sure they, too, don’t “fall into the hands of the terrorists.”

Turki said that about 20 percent of those who have gone through the rehabilitation program have returned to terrorism-related activities. Many rights activists think the failure rate is higher than Saudi officials admit.

Critics often argue that Saudi Arabia, or at least many rich Saudis, supports violent Islamist radicals, and that the government’s emphasis on rehabilitation reflects a certain sympathy with terrorists.

But Saudi officials argue that no country, except for Syria and Iraq, is more directly threatened by Isis. They say their approach to convicted terrorists is more pragmatic and effective than simply throwing thousands of them in prison for decades and hoping that their friends and family don’t become radicalized.

“I don’t think we should be reflexively opposed to these programs,” said Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. “The hard-core, wild-eyed fanatics we are never going to rehabilitate, but a solution that says they are all the same and we should lock them away forever isn’t effective, either.”

Hoffman said a 20 percent recidivism rate is far better than the 70 to 75 percent recidivism rate for violent criminals in the United States. He said prisons without rehabilitation programs can become “terrorist universities” that turn minor offenders into hardened militants. He also said that inmates who are coaxed away from radical thinking can also provide valuable intelligence about terror groups.

“Programs like this can be enormously effective,” he said.

‘This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges – Middle East – World – The Independent.

ISIS Vandals Destroy Works of Art That Challenge Their Take on Islam

On the latest nihilism of ISIS and denial of the richness of civilization, Islamic and otherwise:

The enemies of modernity and tolerance and civility and liberty, and all the other values that classical liberals hold dear, believe that destroying the products of the arts and humanities will further their goals. They think the statues they are smashing to splinters and the words they are burning are important and influential enough to warrant their destruction.

This is not, it is worth noting, a radical innovation by ISIS. There is a long history of fundamentalist Islamic groups destroying cultural treasures. The Buddhas of Bamiyan. The “end of the world” gate in the ancient city of Timbuktu. Over 95 percent of ancient Mecca. Countless thousands of ancient manuscripts. Groups from ISIS to the Taliban to Wahabist Saudi clerics have made it clear: Everything must be obliterated.

They claim, of course, that these things must be destroyed because they are idolatrous in themselves or might inspire idolatrous thinking in others. But I think it is far more likely that ISIS wants them destroyed because these objects prove the falseness of their version of history.

From the 8th to the 14th centuries, the flourishing, trading, creative, scientific, philosophic, artistic and intellectual marvel that was the Islamic Golden Age produced a ringing argument against the ISIS narrative that their way—the way of extremism and the sword—is the only path to success.

Golden Age science, mathematics and medicine were the envy of the world. The tolerance and intellectual curiosity modeled by thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi and Ibn Rushd created a civilization where, more than anywhere else, Muslims, Jews and Christians were able to study, trade and live in unprecedented peace and productivity.

And this Golden Age died when people who would have been very much at home in ISIS began to gain power.

For ISIS to continue to spread their evil, they must destroy the history that gives evidence against them—by destroying the museums and libraries that protect it—just as they must destroy the living humans who fight them.

Are the arts and humanities important? Do they accomplish anything we should care about?

Look at those who want to destroy them. Consider what their ends are. Then tell me.

ISIS Vandals Destroy Works of Art That Challenge Their Take on Islam.

Don’t equate radical thoughts with actions, academics tell senator

Sigh ….

Conservative Senator Daniel Lang told a crowd of students at the University of Ottawa’s Public Policy Conference on Saturday that “we need to recognize that radicalized thoughts lead to radicalized actions.” But just last week Lorne Dawson, co-director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, told the committee that research on radicalization consistently demonstrates that very few individuals who hold radical ideas ever actually graduate to committing violence and that generalizations about radicalization don’t help the fight to counter extremism in Canada.

“Research literature is overwhelmingly clear there is a very poor correlation between espousing ideas and engaging in action,” Dawson told iPolitics on Monday. “Obviously some people on the committee heard what we were saying and some didn’t.”

Dawson’s co-director, Daniel Hiebert, also said he disagreed with Lang’s point and noted it’s important to keep in mind the distinction between having radical thoughts and acting on those thoughts.

“You can’t perform a radicalized action unless you had a radicalized idea so yes, there is a connection between those things but nowhere near everyone who has radical ideas will perform radicalized actions,” he said.  “The literature on these issues is very clear that it’s another conversion process. There’s one conversion process that happens between thinking mainstream ideas and having extremist ideas – that’s a pretty big kind of hurdle to jump over, it’s a pretty big conversion process that happens there. There’s yet another conversion process that happens between having extremist ideas and thinking that violence is an appropriate way to propagate those extremist ideas. So there’s no simple linkage between those two things. There’s sort of a necessary linkage — as I said, you can’t have B without A but A does not necessarily lead to B. “

Lang’s office sent an emailed statement in response for a request for clarification of his comments.

The statement reiterates the text of his speech at the conference.

“To be clear, I stated: We need to recognize that radical ideas lead to radical actions. It does not mean we should criminalize ideas, but we need to identify them; state that they have no place in Canadian society, even at university campuses – where sometimes the cloak of free speech is abused; and denounce those promoting them and facilitating such ideas – even if they are done in the name of religious ideology or doctrine,” the statement reads.

Don’t equate radical thoughts with actions, academics tell senator (iPolitics)

Refugees reporting more income than investor-class immigrants

More evidence on the design flaws of the immigrant investor program. Not sure that the changes will correct the overall picture of lack of commitment and a more instrumental view of immigration and citizenship:

According to CIC, business immigrants have accounted for seven per cent of Canada’s total immigration since 1980 and in 2010 investor-class immigrants — who, as a condition for entrance, were required to prove net worth in the millions and invest $800,000 in Canada — accounted for 88 per cent of all business immigrants.

According to CIC, investor immigrants reported average earnings of about $18,000 in their first year and just $28,000 after 15 years. After three years, only 47 per cent of such immigrants reported any income. The Canadian average is 67 per cent.

After five years, only 39 per cent reported income, suggesting investor immigrants may leave the country (or declare non-residency) after the citizenship process is complete.

Meanwhile, refugees (those who come to Canada under hardship) reported first-year average incomes of $20,000 and after 15 years those incomes rose to $30,000. Two-thirds of refugees reported income by their fifth year, on par with Canada’s average.

More troublesome for Young is that similar rates of income after 15 years are found with the spouses and children of the initial, principal applicant.

“It’s particularly worrisome considering that the biggest cohort (40 per cent) of dependents upon arrival is made up of children aged 10 to 19. These (children) would be 25-34 after 15 years, and should be earning good money. But they aren’t.”

As well, Young adds, “the same phenomenon of a decline in tax-reporting rates could be seen in spouses and children, suggesting some of them, too, head for the exits.”

“The issue is not with immigrants or immigration in general, it is with wealth migration schemes in particular. …Should Canada wait for the grandchildren of investor immigrants to join the workforce before seeing the supposed benefits of millionaire migration?” asked Young on his blog.

Refugees reporting more income than investor-class immigrants

Many older Canadian immigrants live on less than $11,000 per year

Some of the challenges facing older refugees:

Immigrants and refugees who come to Canada later in life face unique challenges in terms of income, livelihood and social integration, said Chris Friesen, director of settlement services for the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. The problems are especially acute for seniors who are not from one of the region’s larger ethnocultural communities, such as Chinese, Indian or Filipino, where larger social networks are in place. They represent a small but growing share of immigrants to B.C. and Canada, Friesen said.

“The new and few, we call them.”

On Tuesday, Khaleghi and other immigrant seniors will have the chance to share their stories with key decision-makers and recommend changes to help others like them. The forum, called Moving Forward: Unheard Voices, will include representatives of city governments, health authorities, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the B.C. Seniors Advocate, among others.

Recent policy changes have made things more difficult for immigrant seniors, who typically come to Canada either as sponsored family members or refugees, Friesen said. Citizenship and Immigration Canada recently increased the amount of time families must commit to financially supporting relatives to 20 years from 10 years, which means that only the wealthiest families are able to be reunited on a permanent basis. On the refugee side, Canada now selects people based on need of protection versus ability to settle.

“All these things are colliding together that impact the livelihood and life and dignity of these folks as they age in Canada,” Friesen said. “What was kind of an eye opener for me is, if you arrive at 65 and you have no financial means, your baseline entitlement is under $11,000 (per year) that you have to live on. On top that, if you’re a refugee, not only is it less than $11,000 but you also have to repay your transportation loan that provided you the opportunity to come to Canada.”

Many older Canadian immigrants live on less than $11,000 per year.

5 head-covering controversies in Canada

CBC put together a short list of the major public controversies, given the latest one, the decision by a judge in Quebec not to hear her case given she was wearing a hijab:

1. Sikh Mounties permitted to wear turbans

2. Turbans on the soccer pitch

3. Taking a citizenship oath

4. Testifying in court

5. At the voting booth

5 head-covering controversies in Canada – Canada – CBC News.

‘Soft security’ measures also needed to battle home-grown radicalism, experts say

More coverage of the work by Lorne Dawson and Dan Hiebert on the need for greater emphasis on anti-radicalization and de-radicalization programming, the softer yet necessary prevention programming:

It would take an immense public education effort and support for families and Muslim communities to have difficult conversations, to provide support and resources. Dawson draws the comparison to how we now approach suicide. Just as parents and teachers should never ignore a 14- or 15-year-old who says he’s going to kill himself, Canadians have to respond to young people espousing sympathetic feelings for extremist ideologies from the get-go.

“If someone says, ‘Anyone who is not a Sunni is a kuffar and they should all be killed,’ that’s not a line you let pass. The trouble is if your only recourse right now is to phone the police or the RCMP, it’s not going to happen,” says Dawson.

That’s because the Canadian government has chosen to focus on “hard security” — boosting investigative powers, intelligence gathering, arrest powers. There is no provision in the Conservative government’s massive anti-terror Bill C-51 to provide new resources for de-radicalization programs — the kind of “soft security” measures that Dawson, Hiebert and others say are key.

By that they mean interventions involving law enforcement, teachers, social workers and psychiatrists — resources that are woefully lacking at the moment for Muslim communities across Canada, the Senate committee has heard.

The researchers say Ottawa should look to other countries, pointing to a program in Britain called Channel that draws in police, social workers, psychiatrists and teachers “to deal with the other aspects of that person’s life that need to be fixed, to get them to divert from that path towards radicalization and violence.”

“That’s expensive, but, again: an ounce of prevention, a pound of cure.”

And they urged continued funding for research projects such as theirs. “We don’t adequately understand radicalization yet,” said Dawson. “To put it in simple terms, we’re very worried . . . . If you don’t have a fine enough conception of what’s causing the problem, it’s difficult to develop the most effective counter measures.”

‘Soft security’ measures also needed to battle home-grown radicalism, experts say | Toronto Star.

And a good interview with Dawson:

The lure of terrorism: Q&A with cult expert Lorne Dawson (with video)

Sex-Ed Not Welcome at Any Age for Many Immigrant Parents – New Canadian Media – NCM

Some good reporting on the sex-ed debate within different communities. Not surprising, but I think that many are living in denial of reality:

Politicians in the South Asian community also spoke out against the curriculum. The Weekly Voice and South Asia Mail reported former MPP Harinder Takhar (who served under Premier Dalton McGuinty) as saying that he had advised McGuinty against implementing the curriculum in 2010. He maintains this view stating that, “a serious debate is required in the community on this issue.” The same report also states Conservative MP Parm Gill’s apprehensions. Gill said that being the father of three children, the new syllabus is a cause of concern for him. He was of the opinion that the Liberal party had, “destroyed the institution of marriage and now it is (sic) on its way to put our children on the wrong track.”

There are some who support the provincial governments move, though their voices may be barely audible amongst the loud clatter of all the protestors. Two of the five parents interviewed by Can-India News thought it was, “about time.”

“Parents opposing the new sex-ed curriculum are living in denial. Schools should be discussing these issues and giving students the information they need,” said one parent, identified only as Parineet. “They should know about these things because everyone talks about it in schools and it is easy for them to get the wrong idea or information from friends or the Internet. The school would do it scientifically and professionally.”

Irrespective of how parents feel, Premier Kathleen Wynne is determined that the new sex-ed curriculum will be implemented this time. How much of a difference it will make is another matter though, as parents will have the option of pulling their children out of sex-ed classes.

Sex-Ed Not Welcome at Any Age for Many Immigrant Parents – New Canadian Media – NCM.

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