Citizenship: What the Census Tells Us

Please find below the link to the Policy Options article I did with respect to citizenship and the related deck that I will present later this week at the Metropolis Conference in Calgary (hence will not be blogging for the rest of the week).

What the census tells us about citizenship

This analysis uses Census data to examine naturalization rates with respect to gender, age, education, immigration period and category, labour force status and median income.


Immigration alone can’t keep Canada young

Reminder that the demographic argument for large increases in immigration to address an aging population will not by itself reverse the demographic trends:

Canada is getting older. Not just us Canadians as individuals, but our population as a whole.

Our fertility rate dropped below the replacement rate of 2.1 required for population stability way back in 1971. Life expectancy at birth has increased by more than nine years since then.

One consequence of low fertility and increased longevity is that the number of people past what we traditionally consider working age is rising relative to the people of working age. The ratio of Canadians age 65 and older to Canadians age 18-64 rose by more than 10 percentage points over the past 40 years, and will rise by more than 10 percentage points again over the next 40.

An aging population puts pressure on living standards, dampens growth of government revenue and presents fiscal challenges – notably to public pensions and health care. Since immigration has become a major contributor to population growth, and immigrants are, on average, younger than already-resident Canadians, immigration can look like an antidote to aging – a kind of national elixir of youth.

This hope does not survive an encounter with real numbers, as we show in a recent publication.

Running the federal government’s recent targets, and the recommendation for an increase to 450,000 immigrants annually from the government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, through a demographic model reveals that higher immigration, by itself, does little to alleviate the pressure of aging.

Raising immigration, whether to an unchanging level of 450,000 a year, or to a permanently higher rate of 1.2 per cent of the already-resident population, does not stop the ratio of retirees to workers rising further, and has negligible impacts on living standards.

An immigration policy designed to stabilize the ratio of retirees to workers would require massive inflows – 1.5 million annually over the next decade alone – that are outside the realm of economic or political reality.

By contrast, projections involving later retirement – an increase in the age at which we typically consider people too old to work – present a markedly brighter picture. A projection in which the average age of retirement rises from 65 to 70 over 20 years produces a stable ratio of retirees to workers over the next decade and a half, and a decline after that. More workers per retiree means faster growth in living standards.

Encouragingly, combining later retirement with a permanently higher rate of immigration produces a bonus.

Not only does that mix lower the ratio of retirees to workers and boost living standards throughout the projection, but it demonstrates some happy timing.

In the next decade or so, when the pressure of aging on living standards will be most intense, later retirement improves the outlook – and as that boost begins to fade, the slower-acting impact of higher immigration gives us a second wind.

The later-retirement example highlights a more general point. Canada needs policies to complement higher immigration targets.

Slower growth and higher taxes will make us less attractive to potential immigrants than faster growth and lower taxes.

If living standards are growing relatively quickly in countries that are potential sources of immigrants, and in countries that compete with us as destinations for immigrants, we will have a tougher time attracting the quantity and quality of people envisioned by advocates for higher immigration – a vicious circle.

If longer work life and other responses to aging makes us more prosperous, however, we will more easily attract immigrants and retain workers who can contribute to our prosperity – a virtuous circle.

Higher immigration may be good for many reasons, but it cannot keep Canada young. Other policies to ease the demographic transition, notably encouraging people to work longer, hold out at least as much promise for boosting living standards.

And those changes would complement higher immigration targets, by improving Canada’s attractiveness to people willing and able to contribute to the Canadian economy.

via Immigration alone can’t keep Canada young – The Globe and Mail

How America Fell Behind the World on Immigration – POLITICO Magazine

Justin Gest of George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government on American immigration policy:

In the world of immigration, the United States of America is a rogue state.

It wasn’t always so. There was a time in the early 20th century when the United States was viewed by the world as a paragon of immigration policy. Then a rising power that solidified its grip on a continent by settling immigrants from far and wide on disputed land, the United States established the world’s first federalized admissions restrictions in 1882. Other immigrant magnets such as Canada and Australia would follow its precedents in governance—however morally questionable—for generations. In those days, merely regulating human movement at all was pioneering.

However, thanks to decades of partisan brinkmanship and polarizing identity politics, it has now been 32 years since Congress passed a major piece of legislation governing immigration—a matter of pivotal social and economic consequence. It has been even longer since the landmark 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act abolished quotas based on national origins and focused American policy thereafter on the admission of people with family ties—principles that form the foundation of U.S. immigration policy today. Since then, other countries have put in place new regimes that admit and integrate immigrants as part of modern national strategies related to labor recruitment, business development and demographic aging. Australia’s Parliament passes tweaks to its immigration laws almost every month.

My co-author Anna Boucher and I have gathered admissions and citizenship data from 30 of the world’s most prominent destination countries. We found that the world has largely shifted to a model of immigration policy that approaches immigration more as an economic instrument than a statement of values. These policies reflect the logic of a global “gig economy” that views people as commodities to recruit, employ and dismiss at will. In contrast, U.S. regulations emphasize admissions for the purpose of family reunification, limit the admission of highly skilled migrants, limit temporary migration, and—relative to other countries—facilitate access to American citizenship.

Once the standard-bearer, the United States is now the outlier.

The U.S. military doesn’t use 1980s weaponry. The Securities and Exchange Commission doesn’t use 1980s financial software. Medicare doesn’t provide 1980s medicine. But America has settled on immigration regulations designed for an era that preceded the internet, free trade and the end of the Cold War.

Modernity, however, comes with trade-offs. Like the era before World War II, when governments crudely excluded ethnic groups in light of eugenicist ideologies about racial hierarchy, other countries’ 21st-century policies that pursue immigrants based on new ideals of merit neglect humanitarianism. They devalue family togetherness, ignore the potential for immigration to save lives and stimulate developing economies, and they treat immigrants as disposable labor. For the United States, one step forward has thus meant one step back.

By preserving anachronistic policies, American regulation both hinders our competitiveness but reflects the spirit of equality and humanity that infused the legal reforms of the late 1960s. Foolishly, new proposals from the Trump administration will only make us less economically competitive and less humane.


Our study of citizenship and immigration flows—the amount of foreigners a government admits each year—covers former settler states like the United States, but also Australia, Canada and New Zealand. We examine Japan and South Korea, the Nordic states and all continental European countries from Germany westward. We also include many countries from the developing world, where nearly half the world’s migrants go today. These include Bahrain, Brazil, China, Kuwait, Mexico, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. We have results for much of the past decade and complete data for 2011, a relatively ordinary year preceding the disruptions of the European migrant crisis.
With only a few exceptions, we find that three key trends characterize today’s immigration outcomes:

Temporary visas: Immigrants enter on more temporary visas that—while often renewable—limit their residency entitlement to a short term.

Labor migration: Most permanent visas admit immigrants for their labor or under regional free movement agreements designed to facilitate labor mobility.

Fewer naturalizations: These policies mean fewer immigrants are able to access citizenship and the full set of freedoms, rights and protections it entails.

With these priorities, other countries have evolved to recognize immigration as a crucial strategy to combat demographic aging, recruit innovators, attract highly skilled professionals and fill labor gaps with limited new membership. Some like Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom have devised points-based systems that admit migrants based on the extent to which they fulfill “merit” criteria related to language proficiency, skill, employment and recognized educational credentials. Other countries, like those on the Arabian Peninsula, have established overseas labor recruitment offices to promote and facilitate temporary migration. Many countries in Europe and Latin America have struck agreements with each other to permit the mobility of human capital.

These governments have identified the specific ways that immigration benefits their economies and their populations, and have proactively sought to design systems that deliver immigration in the manner they wish. The United States, unfortunately, has largely left immigration to the inertia around an outdated system and assumed that America’s magnetic power will override the benefits of considered strategy for recruitment, admissions and retention.

So the United States has been stuck in a sort of policy formaldehyde. Since the reforms of the 1960s, the U.S. has insisted that all foreign students at American universities take their new skills and leave within a year of graduation if they cannot find a company to sponsor them. Meanwhile, the U.S. has rigidly capped the admission of highly skilled engineers, scientists and programmers from China and India. The U.S. economy is structurally reliant on the cheap, flexible labor of undocumented immigrants, particularly in the construction, agricultural and service industries that build, nourish and comfort American society. It is costly and difficult for companies to justify the hiring of foreign people with extraordinary talent. And it is relatively easy for people to overstay their visas unbeknownst to the U.S. government. Congress has voted against laws that condition hiring on documented status checks, and refused to implement a system of exit stamps that confirm the departure of immigrants at ports. Congress has also refused to fund the agencies that process applications for citizenship and entry, as if the U.S. government is doing immigrants a favor and not redeeming any benefits of its own.

As a result, the United States stands out. About 65 percent of our permanent visas are granted for the purposes of family reunification. No other country is higher than 50 percent, and nearly all other countries are under 30 percent. The share of all visas granted to family members and refugees is higher than all other countries as well—more than 11 percentage points higher than the nearest countries, Ireland and Sweden. People who immigrate for family and refuge—non-economic reasons—are typically placed on a path to citizenship; and yet American naturalization rates are lower than numerous other countries with a greater emphasis on economic migrants, especially Canada. Further, while other countries have regularized undocumented immigrants, the United States features the highest estimates of undocumented immigrants in the world—between 10 million and 12 million people.

From the perspective of many moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats, American policies are makeshift and haphazard. We turn away millions of highly skilled professionals, patent filers and young contributors to the tax base. We are an anachronism that fails to compete at the international level for the best and the brightest and fails to manage flows responsibly. The costs are immeasurable because the counterfactual is unknown, but it is qualitatively clear that American economic admissions policies hinder high-skilled migration more than other countries.

On the other hand, many advanced countries elsewhere have devalued humanitarianism, ignored the benefits of family migration and greater diversity, and pursued economic strategies without consideration for their ethical implications. Singapore deports certain classes of immigrants if they become pregnant. Countries on the Arabian Peninsula grant almost nobody citizenship and deport immigrants’ children if they don’t get a job by the time they are adults. And European countries have refused to equally share the responsibility of resettling humanitarian migrants; the Dublin Agreement shifts all responsibility to the countries of first arrival on the Mediterranean Sea.

During the decades since its last major immigration legislation, the U.S. government vetted, resettled and promoted the integration of more refugees than any other country worldwide—until the Trump administration’s recent Muslim ban and 60 percent cut in refugee admissions. American policies provided citizens with the right to reunify with their spouses, children of any age, parents and siblings by sponsoring them for admission. Even though these migrants’ entry was not justified by the economic gains they were expected to bring, employment and entrepreneurship data do not suggest an appreciable difference between them and labor migrants. Though successive administrations have created and maintained obstacles to acquiring citizenship (such as tests, fees, bureaucratic drag and waitlists), rates of naturalization remain relatively high. The United States has also run a unique “diversity lottery” that vets and randomly selects qualified immigrants from underrepresented countries for admission—solidifying America’s reputation as a country of dreams that is open to all peoples.

From this perspective—shared by liberal and mainstream Democrats—the United States’ inability to evolve has meant that it has maintained among the more humane admissions systems in the world. Until Trump’s executive orders, the United States was a beacon of openness—a laissez-faire country that with each generation reinvents itself thanks to the infusion of innovative, intrepid, industrious newcomers.

The problem is that our failure to modernize this relatively humane system has led to unquantifiable, missed economic opportunities and gross inefficiencies that have inflamed political conflict.

When the U.S. did not facilitate temporary work permits and seasonal visas for unskilled laborers, migrants chose to meet employer demand without authorization, and employers eagerly ignored their legal status.

When Congress did not act on the plight of the innocent children who accompanied these undocumented labor migrants, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that circumvented the legislative process. Separately, scores of municipalities refused to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agents.

When the public grew frustrated with a perceived inability to govern borders, they supported President Donald Trump and his promise of greater order.

However, the Trump administration’s draconian crackdown on undocumented immigrants and their families and its recently announced plans are retrenching the United States, when we need to be catching up.

And what about Trump’s wall? This expensive boondoggle will not prevent the visa overstays and visa violators that constitute the vast majority of the undocumented migrants. His proposed termination of the diversity lottery and limits on family migration reduce total admissions rather than creating space for highly skilled professionals. And if Democrats and moderate Republicans will agree to these measures, only then will the president agree to do the humane (and practical) thing and make the children of undocumented immigrants eligible for citizenship—albeit not for another decade.

And yet, the U.S. can be both humane and economically sensible at the same time.

It is possible to design a points-based system of admissions that identifies “merit” in economically desirable credentials, but also in American family ties, in multiple language proficiencies, in underrepresented origins, in vulnerable circumstances, in the presence of a financial guarantor, in previous visits to the United States that featured on-time exits. What if this whole package was considered the way employers holistically screen résumés, the way universities evaluate prospective students?

The United States can lead the world on immigration again. But putting up walls, metaphorical or real, is not the way to do it.

via How America Fell Behind the World on Immigration – POLITICO Magazine

Jagmeet Singh should ask, ‘What would Thomas D’Arcy McGee do?’ –

Good piece by Geddes:

I asked University of Toronto history professor David Wilson, author of a landmark two-volume Thomas D’Arcy McGee biography, what the story of the most famous Irish Catholic in Canadian politics in the mid-19th century might tell us about the challenges facing a Sikh in Canadian politics today. In fact, Wilson had already alluded to the parallel in his writing. He told me McGee would differ with Singh on major points—starting with McGee’s insistence, in the House that day in 1867, that no respectable politician should show up at a meeting where violent radicals are lionized on banners and portraits.

Wilson says McGee would scoff at Singh’s stance that it can be productive to share stages with those who advocate violence. “McGee’s position was unequivocally that you should have no truck or trade with such people,” Wilson says. “In fact, any kind of ambivalence, any sense that they were motivated by good intentions, had to be really beaten down. You had to draw a clear line. He was quite happy to polarize the [Irish Catholic] group, because he believed that polarization would isolate and marginalize the revolutionaries.”

Still, McGee’s perspective wouldn’t be congenial to hard-liners today who insist immigrants should somehow stop worrying about what’s going on in their home countries and just be Canadian. On the last day of his life, Wilson says, McGee wrote letters about Irish poetry, and about how Canada’s way of accomodating ethic and religious differences might serve as a model for Ireland. “So, yes, he cared deeply deeply and passionately about Ireland,” Wilson says.

On how immigrants should become Canadian, McGee’s views seem to have been far ahead of his time. Wilson says he didn’t think there was any definitive Canadian identity newcomers needed to take on. “He thought it was completely unrealistic to have an a priori definition of what it was to be Canadian,” Wilson says. “Instead, he saw it as a continuous work in progress, in which different ethnic groups—of course, he’s talking about Irish and Scots and French and English—will bring what he hopes will be the best of their cultures.”

And leave behind the worst. For McGee, the worst of Ireland was embodied by the Fenians. His outspoken opposition to them came, of course, at the ultimate cost: he was assassinated by a shot to the back of the head on April 7, 1868, in Ottawa. A Fenian sympathizer was later convicted of the murder and hanged. In the opening chapter of his engrossing McGee biography, Wilson mentions just two other victims of assassination in Canadian history: Pierre Laporte, murdered by the FLQ in 1970’s October Crisis, and Tara Singh Hayer, a Surrey, B.C., newspaper publisher killed in 1998, after years of speaking out against Sikh separatist violence.

via Jagmeet Singh should ask, ‘What would Thomas D’Arcy McGee do?’ –

And by Arshy Mann:

His initial unwillingness to call out Talwinder Singh Parmar, the founder of a Sikh extremist organization, as the architect of the Air India bombing has now morphed into a lawyerly response: he accepts the findings of the Air India inquiry, which found that Parmar—who was killed by Punjab police in 1992, and continues to be the subject of conspiracy theories that claim he was in fact an Indian agent—was behind the attack. And when asked whether violence is justified in the name of Sikh liberation, Singh equivocates, stating that these sorts of questions are complex when a religious minority is being systematically murdered by the state.

He’s right—these are complicated issues that can’t be adequately answered in a sound bite. But if Singh wants to be able to go back to talking about pharmacare and taxes and pipelines, he’s going to have to find a way to articulate the pain of the victims of violence perpetrated by Sikhs—or risk his leadership being overrun by the politics of the 1980s.

In some ways, it’s not fair to put the burden of decades of bloody history upon Singh’s shoulders. It’s not his responsibility to condemn every Sikh who has committed an atrocity in the name of the faith. But along with being the leader of the federal NDP, Singh is also the highest-profile Sikh politician outside of India. That, combined with his history of activism on Sikh issues, means these are not questions he has the privilege of dodging.

When he talks about the violence that Sikhs have had perpetrated against them with such passion, and then becomes elusive and defensive when Khalistani violence is raised, it makes it appear that he only cares about the former.

That might be acceptable for a Sikh activist trying to bring greater attention to some of the atrocities that have been done to Sikhs. But a federal leader who is looking to represent the whole country has to do more.

Many Sikhs, including myself, are thankful that he talks about the painful history so many families have endured. Those stories are too rarely told.

But the trauma of those years extends beyond just the Sikh community. It’s time for Singh to talk about them too.

Source: Opinion Jagmeet Singh’s Khalistan problem: The NDP leader talks passionately about anti-Sikh violence—but becomes elusive on the topic of Khalistani violence.

Colby Cosh: The Supreme Court faces the emo drama of expatriate voting

Good if somewhat disjointed commentary:

On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hold a hearing in Frank vs. Canada, a test case on the voting rights (in federal elections) of expatriate Canadian citizens. Everybody agrees that they definitely have some. The Charter is unambiguous about assigning such a right to all Canadian citizens. The question is whether this is a right that can be temporarily withdrawn, as the law now does, from a Canadian who has been apart from Canada for some time and is outside the reach of its law and institutions.

Lower courts have already offered conflicting answers, so it is hard to be sure what the Supreme Court will do. But emotional framing is bound to weigh a great deal in the final argument. In the court of origin, the government made an argument that letting long-term expatriates vote was unfair to the poor wretches who are trapped in Canada and who have no choice but to live with its government.

This was a sort of “dilution of voting power” argument, but it had the effect of sounding like the legal arguments that used to be made against prisoner voting — arguments that were ultimately thrown out. The Supreme Court approved inmate voting in 2002; having been asked “Hang on, you’re going to let a convicted rapist have the same voice in government as his victim?”, it returned what is now the accepted answer. “Yes, that’s the nature of a right. Like it or not, rapists have ’em too.”

This involves us in some logical awkwardness, because convicts have plenty of other rights whose free exercise we forbid after due process of law. But on the other hand, prisoners are definitely stuck with the Canadian state, and with its exclusive privilege of retaliatory violence, in an even more obvious sense than free residents are. It would thus be a bit weird to make Canada’s determination to count convict votes part of an argument, by extrapolation, for expatriate voting.

Weird or not, that’s what the originating judge did. He saw these as analogous questions of personal dignity. We don’t want to devalue or question the Canadian-ness of people who have been away for many years, but who feel Canadian and insist on being Canadian.

The majority on the Ontario Court of Appeal panel that next heard Frank vs. Canada cleared its throat and said, as it were, “Whoa, let’s start over.” Those judges chose a guiding metaphor that had not been used in the original contest: the philosophically notorious “social contract.” Resident citizens have duties and obligations that expatriates don’t: obvious ones include taxes and compulsory jury service (how would expatriates like to be reeled back in for that?), but there is also the big, obvious one of “being subject to Canadian law,” the vast obsidian bulk of which applies only on Canadian soil. Moreover, we exclude non-resident citizens from social entitlements like public health insurance.

But there is nothing in the text of the Charter that requires or urges a “social contract” framing of core democratic rights. The appeal court was, as I see it, trying to find a way of dressing common sense in legal language — asking, in effect, “Hang on: we’re really going to let U.S. taxpayers with Canadian passports vote in Canadian elections?” We have seen what often happens to such “Hang on …” arguments at the Supreme level.

Until recently, no one had considered letting expatriate citizens vote as a matter of right. The whole issue cropped up because Canadian law had, from the First World War on, to devise obviously desirable provisions for voting by Canadians who are abroad in uniform and in the foreign service. Citizens who are away from Canada just because there is more money or opportunity or sunshine somewhere else are not in the same position as those who are actual living tendrils of the Canadian state. But since the law makes a distinction between mere economic expats and offshore agents of Canada, the expats have an opportunity to denounce the distinction and wriggle through the hole.

For some reason, everyone recognizes that the “expatriates have a right to express Canadian identity” argument does not quite work for provinces. A Quebecer living in B.C. is likely to have a meaningful, even essential personal connection to Quebec, but there exists no legal concept of Quebec citizenship, or at least none recognized by the federal government.

I wonder, though, whether the resident citizen’s right to vote in federal elections could be logically severed from mere geographic accident, if we are going to adopt that view of things. Shouldn’t I be allowed to vote for a member of parliament in my hometown, although I no longer know much of its concerns and circumstances in detail, and almost never visit? Bon Accord, Alta., did form my character! And I suppose I care about it! From a polite distance!

Some Canadian citizens might be able to claim a right to cast a vote in many places with which they have some prior connection — maybe even an ancestral one. The opportunities for tactical voting would be hilarious. On what grounds could this kind of frenzy be ruled out, in logic, if the emotional principles of disfranchised expatriates are admitted by the law?

Source: Colby Cosh: The Supreme Court faces the emo drama of expatriate voting

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether long-term Canadian expats can vote

Will be interesting to see how they rule (for my previous piece on why I oppose unlimited voting rights, see What should expatriates’ voting rights be? – Policy Options and Canadian expats shouldn’t have unlimited voting rights, the latter written with Rob Vineberg):

Canada’s top court is set to grapple with whether long-term expats should be allowed to vote, an issue that loomed large in the last federal election in which Justin Trudeau and his Liberals took office.

Civil liberties groups, which argue current rules barring the expats from voting are unconstitutional, and Quebec, which supports the federal government’s defence of the restrictions, are among interveners in the closely watched case the Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to hear on Wednesday.

Canadians lose the right to vote after living abroad for more than five years under rules on the books since 1993. However, it was only under the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper that Elections Canada began enforcing the laws.

Two Canadians living and working in the United States launched the case after being denied the right to vote in the 2011 election. They argue that citizenship, not residency, is the key requisite for voting.

“One way or the other, this is going to get decided and either Canadians will be enfranchised or Canadians will be disenfranchised,” Jamie Duong, one of the appellants, said from Ithaca, N.Y.

Duong and Gill Frank, an academic in Princeton, N.J., initially won their case before Ontario Superior Court in 2014 but the government appealed. In a split decision in 2015, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled the restrictions do indeed infringe on the rights of citizens. However, the majority found the violation democratically justified because the rules preserve the “social contract” between voters and lawmakers.

In its Supreme Court filing, the government takes issue with the characterization that long-term expats were “disenfranchised” by the rules enforced under Harper. With few exceptions, no Canadians living abroad were allowed to vote before the 1993 law changes, the government says.

“The impugned provisions enfranchised non-resident citizens by allowing them to vote for the first time in Canadian history, for as long as they met the definition of being temporarily resident outside Canada,” the government states.

In their factum, Duong and Frank argue they maintain a “deep and abiding” connection to Canada even though, like many citizens in a globalized world, they have left the country for employment or educational reasons.

“There is no pressing and substantial objective to justify the legislation,” the pair argue. “Five years is an arbitrary marker, which is not rationally linked to a citizen’s connection to Canada, nor to being subject to Canadian laws.”

Another intervener, the Canadian Expat Association, said the rules have “devalued” the citizenship of those abroad.

“For expats whose identity is deeply Canadian, this expressive harm to their dignity and personhood is demeaning and harmful,” the association says.

In rebuttal, the federal government argues Parliament made a reasonable policy choice in enacting rules designed to maintain the fairness of the electoral system. Canadians living in Canada, the government maintains, are more affected by laws their elected officials enact than are expats.

During the last election, actor Donald Sutherland, Canadian business groups abroad and other expats rallied against Harper and the voting ban. The campaigning Liberals promised a review and in November 2016, the Trudeau government introduced legislation to enable Canadians abroad to vote. However, little has happened since.

Duong said expats — estimates are that more than one million of them are unable to vote — will be keeping a close eye to see what the Supreme Court decides.

“The Canadian expat community that has been supporting us and supporting the fight has been fantastic,” Duong said. “We’ve raised closed to $18,000 from 220 people around the world…that has been helping to cover court expenses.”

Source: The Supreme Court is set to decide whether long-term Canadian expats can vote

Every Canadian should have the right to vote — even those living abroad (pro-expat opinion piece by Ivo Entchev)

Enough with the Jordan Peterson hysteria: Michael Coren

Michael Coren’s “a plague on both your houses” is well argued and stated:

I’ve met Jordan Peterson twice; first on a TV show and later at a dinner party. He’s an intelligent and interesting man, with ideas on numerous subjects. Since then, of course, he’s become famous, and the mere mention of his name can divide a room.

I’ve no interest in providing yet another analysis of the Toronto academic’s ideas, but I will say that he is nowhere near as extreme and repugnant as many of his critics allege, and nowhere near as profound and original as do his supporters.

Peterson’s earlier claims were hardly fanatical. He wanted increased thought given to how we use and change language, and objected to the more sweeping linguistic demands of some in the trans community.

Agree or not, this was hardly outrageous stuff. But then the polarization began, and rather than flee from it, Peterson — perhaps because he had no choice — seemed to embrace the conflict.

He spent time and showed solidarity with The Rebel, a media platform that lost all credibility some time ago due to its far-right content and employment of figures rejected by respectable media. He made broadcasts that seemed increasingly strange and sentimental. There was a certain narcissism on display, a development of a public personality who, rather than offering informed reservations about language change, was now seen by his enormous number of followers as a philosopher-king, with answers to almost every dilemma.

It’s unfair to characterize someone entirely by those whom they attract, but equally unfair to dismiss the connection as immaterial. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of Peterson’s supporters realizes how abusive, intolerant, and angry they can be.

To his credit, their hero has sometimes told them to stop, but he also seems to be a product of their enthusiasms. There’s something exponential in all this, with Peterson appearing to be encouraged now to speak out on all sorts of things, often with very limited authority. But because it comes from him, it’s assumed to carry great weight.

Then there is the reaction, which is often grotesque. At a protest outside one of his recent talks, a violent demonstrator was found to be in possession of a garrote. This is the world gone mad! Peterson is called a racist and a homophobe, and that’s likely untrue, but the same can’t be said of all of his fan-base.

There is so much space and time given to Peterson and anti-Peterson, so much of it fat with empty hyperbole. And here’s the point. A self-defeating division has been created, where the chance of a moderate, sophisticated, and empathetic discussion has been made virtually impossible.

Peterson’s supporters are contemptuous of his opponents, highlighting the lunatics rather than listening to those from marginalized communities who have valid fears about what is being argued. His opponents refuse to give Peterson credit for anything he says, when in fact if we unwrap the showmanship and ludicrous zeal, the man sometimes asks essential questions.

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of older, privileged journalists dismissing, and sometimes mocking, minority sensitivities. They’re generally white men, and have been unchallenged in their careers. Sorry guys, times are changing, and about time too.

Equally, I’ve had enough of the hysteria brigade, screaming at every ostensible offence, urging censorship as a political weapon, and making no distinction between what is genuinely dangerous and what is merely challenging.

A plague on both of your bloody houses, and you should try to grasp that most Canadians are caught in the middle of this, and consider both of you to be problems rather than solutions.

Jordan Peterson is not some infallible figure. Some of what he says is absurd and wrong, his followers are far too often motivated by misplaced fear and nostalgia, and a lot of his most vociferous critics don’t even know what he says and need to learn that violence is entirely unacceptable, and that they usually play into Peterson’s hands.

So, there we have it. The difficulty with being in the middle of the road is that one sometimes gets run over, and I confidently expect that to happen now on social media and the like. Thus, I suppose, proving my point.

via Enough with the Jordan Peterson hysteria | Toronto Star

Martin Collacott: Sikh political power in Canada under scrutiny

Yet another column on Sikh Canadians and their political influence. Their over-representation represents a mix of their geographic concentration in a number of ridings as well as their greater tendency to participate in politics compared to other groups such as Chinese Canadians, who also are concentrated in a number of ridings. Black Canadians are too dispersed to have the same electoral impact despite their size.

As to his recommendation that political party membership should be contingent on Canadian citizenship, while not without merit, would be unlikely to change the overall dynamics much:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to India made clear just how intertwined Sikh politics are with the political scene in Canada, as well as the complications this creates in our relations with India.

The visit reflected the huge influence Sikhs have on Canadian politics while constituting only one per cent of the population. We currently have four Sikh federal cabinet ministers, compared to none from the much larger Chinese community. Another example of this highly skewed level of representation is that in the parliament of India, Sikhs hold only two senior cabinet posts even though they comprise more than 20 million of that country’s population [given India’s population of 1.34 billion, 20 million is 1.5 percent, two out of the 27 cabinet ministers is 7.4 percent compared about half that of Canadian Sikh representation].

Not only are Sikhs heavily over-represented in the cabinet, but Trudeau appears to have made a distinct effort to find people likely to be supported by members of the community sympathetic to the creation of an independent Khalistan, a Sikh state to be carved out of India. This became apparent back in December 2014 when Trudeau as the then-leader of the Liberal party parachuted in Harjat Singh Sajjan as the candidate in Vancouver South to replace Barj Dhahan, who had already been chosen by local Liberal constituency members.

Whereas Sajjan enjoys the backing of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), which supports an independent Khalistan, Dhahan is a moderate and ally of former B.C. premier and federal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh, one of the most respected politicians of Sikh background in Canada and no friend of Khalistani separatism.

One senior Sikh official summed the situation up by stating that he thought the Liberal party had been “hijacked by the WSO” and that the party, “especially Justin, (was) in bed with extremist and fundamental groups.”

The problem, therefore, is not only that Sikhs are heavily over-represented in federal politics, but that the Liberal party has chosen to concentrate on getting the support of Khalistani separatists and extremists as the easiest way of strengthening its support base in that community. It would not be surprising in the circumstances if other ethnic and religious groups started employing the same tactics in an effort to promote policies that benefit their particular community rather than Canadians in general — a development that would deepen ethnic divisions within our society.

Correcting this situation will involve not only the adoption of more responsible policies by the Liberals, but changes to internal party voting rules.

Back in 2003 and 2004, I and three associates published a series of articles exposing the potential damage done by political parties that recruit blocks of supporters from specific ethnic communities in the expectation that this support would be translated at some point into policies favouring the communities in question. We pointed out that such practices could lead to increasing divisions in Canadian society as more and more ethnic and religious groups gave their political support to those who would primarily serve their community’s interests rather than on policies that would benefit Canadians in general.

One recommendation we made was that full membership of a political party should be restricted to people eligible to vote in a federal election — which includes Canadian citizenship. At present, members of political parties can vote for delegates to a leadership convention as well as the selection of a candidate for election in a constituency, and as such are able to influence policy, without having to be a citizen.

Non-citizens could still be encouraged to take an interest in politics (perhaps as associate members of parties), but should not have full voting rights and the capacity to influence policy until they become Canadians.

In the meantime, political parties continue to recruit people who are often not Canadians, know little about Canada and yet are used by political factions to influence our policies. While the Liberals and NDP are the chief culprits in terms of allowing such abuse of the system, all parties should review their internal membership voting rules to ensure that the kind of distortion of Canadian democracy we are now seeing is brought to an end.

Source: Martin Collacott: Sikh political power in Canada under scrutiny

Australia: Being cruel to refugees doesn’t strengthen multiculturalism

I find Minns somewhat over the top. There is a correlation between confidence in immigration and border management, to deny this is counter to the Canadian experience.

This does not justify some of the anti-immigration and anti-refugee rhetoric (and some of the Australian government’s initiatives) but denying any link and not taking border management seriously is another matter:

There are now dozens of statements from United Nation bodies, condemning Australia’s refugee policies as harsh, inhumane and detrimental to the health and safety of the refugees.

In the face of this criticism, over the last two years, the Australian government has developed a new rationale for this extremely harsh treatment. They now claim that the measures used against boat arrivals – mandatory detention, permanent exclusion and being sent (now for five years for some) to Nauru and Manus Island – are, paradoxically, the very things that reinforce public support for immigration and multiculturalism.

The Prime Minister’s website quotes him as saying that: “Strong borders allow the government to maintain public trust in community safety, respect for diversity and support for our immigration and humanitarian programs.”

His blog reiterates the message: “Strong borders are the foundation of our high-immigration multicultural success”. Peter Dutton made the same point in a speech in London last year.

In fact, government figures have shown few reservations about wading into Pauline Hanson’s territory when they have felt it is in their political interest to do so. In November 2016, Dutton claimed that Malcolm Fraser made a mistake in allowing Lebanese Muslims into the country – not fundamentally different to Hanson’s call in the election that year for a total ban on Muslim immigration. In the same year he said that “illiterate and innumerate” refugees would take Australian jobs or “languish” on the dole and Medicare. Hanson’s 1996 maiden speech said that “immigration must be halted in the short term so that our dole queues are not added to by, in many cases, unskilled migrants not fluent in the English language.”

Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge suggested earlier this month that mulitculturalism is at risk unless tougher English-language tests are introduced for potential migrants. He argued that those from a non-English-speaking background are often concentrated “in particular suburbs… with a considerable absence of English being spoken or understood.” Again, Hanson, speaking then of Asian migrants, said that “they have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate.”

Last April Dutton introduced a bill to require permanent residents to wait four years, instead of one, to apply for citizenship. He plans to reintroduce it this year. It is another signal to the electorate that we should be suspicious and fearful of new arrivals. It is a move in the direction of Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, who are opposed to multiculturalism and want to extend the waiting time for permanent residents before applying for citizenship to ten years.

Both Turnbull and Dutton raced to condemn Sudanese youth gangs in Melbourne in January. Although the Federal government has no jurisdiction over the matter and despite the fact that crime in Victoria was down nearly 5 per cent in the year to last September, Dutton claimed that people were afraid to go out to restaurants. Again, fear is stoked, insecurity deepened and small, easily identifiable, non-Anglo groups blamed. In this soil, it is inevitable that broader hostility to immigration will grow – something that Tony Abbott, ever the opportunist, has noticed and taken advantage of with his call for deep cuts to immigration.

The claim that our government is staunchly defending a tolerant multiculturalism by taking necessarily harsh action against asylum seekers is difficult to sustain.

The international record on such action and its effect on the broader society is also informative. When the years spent in squalid refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere finally became too much and exploded into large refugee flows into Europe in 2015 and 2016 some governments took brutal and exclusionary actions. Hungary sent troops to force refugees back from its border. Today its Prime Minister Viktor Orban rejects taking any refugees in coordination with other EU countries, calling them “Muslim invaders.”

The Polish Law and Justice Party fought and convincingly won the 2015 election on the basis that it would not accept even one Muslim refugee. In so doing it has legitimised racism and Islamophobia. As many as 60,000 took part in a march in Warsaw last November organised by a movement called “White Poland”. With banners such as “White Europe” and “Clean Blood” they outnumbered the official Independence Day celebrations.

In Austria, Sebastian Kurz became Chancellor late last year after campaigning on a hard anti-immigrant policy, including seizing money from asylum seekers to pay for the costs of their temporary accommodation. Now, he has joined in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ). Its leader, and now Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has continued the attack, calling for asylum seekers to be shut up in conditions which some have described as chillingly reminiscent of concentration camps. The party’s General Secretary Herbert Kickl has spoken of plans to create “camps” for refugees “to keep them concentrated in one place”.

The evidence from Europe is consistent with our experience in Australia. Right-wing populism, anti-immigrant sentiment, suspicion of and hostility to people simply because they are Muslim, cannot be effectively challenged by cruelty towards refugees. On the contrary, such refugee policies legitimise the fears on which that brand of politics thrives. These policies not only harm the refugees, they also harm the society in which we live.

There are alternatives to the current Australian refugee policy which do not amount to open borders. We know this is the case, because, in this country, we implemented many of these alternatives for decades very successfully. Thousands of Canberrans plan to march on this Palm Sunday to call for our leaders to do so again.

via Being cruel to refugees doesn’t strengthen multiculturalism

Social conservatives savour victory, thank immigrants: Konrad Yakabuski

Yakabuski picks up on the Pricker-Ibbitson theory in The Big Shift towards more conservative social policies as a result of more religious and socially conservative new Canadians.

The reality is more nuanced as new Canadians, like most voters, are not single issue candidates; after all, the Liberals won the vast majority of ridings in which visible minorities form the majority despite more liberal social views:

Canada has accepted about five million new immigrants in the past 25 years and they have irreversibly changed our political dynamics.

Twenty-five years ago, Quebec’s place within the Canadian federation was almost all we ever talked about. Today, the Quebec question has faded from the national agenda. All we seem to talk about now is diversity.

For most of us, this means ensuring that more women and minorities are represented in all spheres of Canadian life. We have branded ourselves as an immigrant nation that embraces people of all origins. “Diversity is our strength” has become our national motto, replacing A Mari Usque Ad Mare (from sea to sea) everywhere but on our country’s official coat of arms.

What our political elites have a hard time admitting, however, is that diversity is not a one-way street toward harmonious living – what the French call le vivre-ensemble – but a multilane expressway of competing and often colliding values, norms and ideas. Nowhere has this become as apparent as in the emergence of social conservatism as a political force in Canada.

Doug Ford’s election as the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party would not have been possible without the mobilization of social conservatives. That a strident anti-abortion activist – Tanya Granic Allen – was even on the ballot was proof in itself that this is no longer your father’s PC Party. That Ms. Granic Allen captured almost as much first-ballot support as the centrist Caroline Mulroney, and that her supporters propelled Mr. Ford over the top on the final ballot, was especially sweet for social conservatives.

The latter are now celebrating their new-found political clout — in dozens of languages. Immigration has swelled the ranks of Canada’s social conservatives. Polls shows that Canadian-born voters are less religious than ever, even when they claim to belong to a particular faith. That is not true of immigrants, who often identify more with their religion than their country.

Immigrants have increasingly shaped our communities, our schools and our self-conception as a country. So, it was only a matter of time before they began shaping our politics, too. It is unlikely Ontarians would be debating the province’s new sex-education curriculum at all if only Canadian-born voters were concerned. Resistance to the new curriculum has been strongest among immigrant parents. Some even pulled their kids out of school in protest.

Ground zero for the anti-sex-ed movement is Thorncliffe Park, in Toronto’s inner suburbs, where 70 per cent of the population was born outside Canada and almost 60 per cent of residents speak neither English nor French at home. They’re far more likely to speak Urdu, Farsi and Tagalog.

Campaign Life Coalition, the anti-abortion activist group that has led the fight against Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne’s update to the sex-ed curriculum, publishes some of its literature in 10 languages. The group claims to have signed up 9,000 new PC Party members during the leadership race to support Ms. Granic Allen as their first choice and Mr. Ford as their second.

“New Canadians are extremely important to CLC. It is probably our fastest growth segment in terms of general supporters and activists,” CLC spokesman Jack Fonseca said in an e-mail. “I do believe that their mobilization could shift public policy momentum on life and family issues.”

Not all social conservatives are religious. Chinese immigrants, whom Mr. Fonseca said have accounted for “a lot of growth” in his group’s membership, are among those least likely to practise a religion. But for most social conservatives, religion is the motivating factor in their political mobilization.

More than half a million Muslims immigrated to Canada in the 20 years to 2011, according to Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey. The 2016 census showed that Canada accepted more than 150,000 immigrants from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria— all Muslim-majority countries – between 2011 and 2016. Tens of thousands more came from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

Almost 200,000 Filipino immigrants came to Canada in the five years to 2016, replenishing the pews of the country’s Catholic churches. As with most Canadian Muslims, these Filipino newcomers take their faith ultraseriously.

A 2016 Environics poll showed Canadian Muslims voted overwhelmingly for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015. But that was likely a result of the uproar surrounding Conservative attempts to ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies and the party’s pro-Israel foreign policy. The same poll found that, among Canadian Muslims, “religious identity and practice are important and growing, in contrast to the broader secularizing trend in Canada.”

How long can these two trends co-exist without colliding? Doug Ford’s leadership win may just have given us the answer.

via Social conservatives savour victory, thank immigrants – The Globe and Mail