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

How to talk about cultural appropriation: Andray Domise

While the focus of Domise is with respect to transgender, the issues apply more broadly:

At Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards, Jeffrey Tamborpicked up his second win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. On the Amazon series Transparent, Tambor plays Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman whose transition forces her shallow, upper-class wife and adult children to grapple with their own shortcomings. Jeffrey Tambor is a cisgender man—which means someone who identifies with their sex at birth, or anyone who isn’t transgender—and when he accepted the award, he made an open plea to Hollywood to make him an anomaly. “Please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story . . . I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a transgender character on television.” With his acceptance speech, Tambor was the first high-profile name in weeks to address the issue of cultural appropriation with any degree of tact. Up to that point, the mainstream response to claims of appropriation have been pleading childlike ignorance at best, and downright hostility at worst. It’s long past time for the conversation to evolve.

Because there seems to be a bit of confusion over the term “cultural appropriation,” let’s be clear on what it isn’t. White rappers aren’t appropriating culture by dint of their whiteness. There’s a reason that accusations of cultural appropriation don’t stick to Eminem, for example, but leave a rancid cloud trailing in Iggy Azalea’s wake. A white author writing Indian characters into the story is not prima facie cultural appropriation. Neither is a white chef specializing in Vietnamese cuisine. Whenever the conversation on cultural appropriation resurfaces, it always begins with unnecessary theatrics over the definition of the term, and drifts into hurt feelings when appropriators feel they’ve been compared to racists. After these exercises are complete, the conversation goes unresolved anyway.

Some refer to cultural appropriation as “borrowing” from other cultures, which is about the same as your least favourite houseguest “borrowing” your silverware. In the creative industries, where touching off trends among receptive audiences can bring multimillion dollar rewards, cultural appropriation is theft. It is plunder. It is lifting cultural aspects from underrepresented groups of people, and not only offering nothing in return, but expecting their gratitude for the promotion. It is trying other people’s identities on as costumes, while people who live within their skin, hair, culture, and gender identity struggle for acceptance. Navneet Alang, a writer for Hazlittwrote a piece last year on the appropriation of South Asian culture and offered a most succinct explanation of the phrase:

“[For] a certain kind of person, the whole world is waiting to be mined, packaged, and sold, regardless of what the things in question mean to people, or whom such selling benefits.”

Cultural appropriation is when Marc Jacobs affixes ludicrous neon dreadlocks to the hair of white models during New York Fashion Week, while the fashion industry has fewer high-profile black designers and models now than it did in the 1970s. It’s Jacobs’s claim “I don’t see colour,” in response to criticism, while putting his name on a makeup line whose colour scheme runs from “bone china” to “paper lunch bag,” and then claiming that Black women straightening their hair is also cultural appropriation. Never mind that many Black women’s hair is naturally straight, and that many curly-haired white women also straighten theirs. At a time when Black children are being disciplined by schools for wearing their hair in natural afros, when a biracial Zara employee in Toronto was reprimanded by management for her box braids, and when a Black employee at a Toronto Jack Astor’s was sent home for wearing her hair in a bun, this should not be a talking point.

I spoke with April Reign, managing editor of Broadway Black, and the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag that shook up Hollywood in the lead-up to last year’s Academy Awards. “In movies,” Reign said, “they hire cops as consultants in films. So why wouldn’t you respect someone else’s culture in an area where you’re getting paid? If you’re going to make money off my culture through your book, your fashion line, your movie, or your TV show, but you’re not being considerate of it, that’s where I really have a problem.” I joked that an answer might be, for example, to hire “Blackness consultants.” But Reign said the idea wasn’t so far-fetched, because in order to properly respect a culture, entertainment creators need to engage with people who were born into and live within the culture. These exchanges need to be meaningful and mutually beneficial.

Put another way, cultural appropriation is what keeps scores of trans actors underemployed, while cisgender men like Jared Leto and Eddie Redmayne are hailed for their bravery in playing trans women on screen. It’s Matt Bomer, another cisgender man, refusing to answer to trans women who questioned his decision to accept the role of a trans woman in the upcoming film Anything. It’s his castmate Mark Ruffalo pleading for compassion and understanding because the film’s already been shot, rather than showing compassion and understanding to trans women fed up with seeing their identities simplified to men in drag by the film industry.

Yet, with less than 30 seconds of speaking, Jeffrey Tambor showed how easy the dialogue on cultural appropriation can be. If he can use his platform to do this so effortlessly, then his creative peers are out of excuses.

Lessons learned from ‘The Jewish Hour’

Rick Salutin comments on some of the insights from the early Jewish community in Toronto and how they may apply to today’s integration challenges:

That community, in Toronto, is described in a lovely, loving new book by the late Michael Mandel: The Jewish Hour. He focuses on weekly radio shows in Yiddish, in Toronto — in 1938 there were three competing “Jewish Hours” — and on local newspapers from the 1930s to the 1950s. The papers were in Yiddish, but helped integrate their readers by covering Toronto events, unlike the dominant New York Yiddish press, which was devoured here.

By the 1930s, Jews were less than 10 per cent of Toronto — far fewer than the quarter to a third in New York or Warsaw — but still the largest non-British group. You could say they were white, unlike today’s minorities, but in ways they were viewed as non-white. They were assumed to have distinct, identifiable physical traits though they could sometimes “pass,” much like other non-Caucasians. You could also say they shared Canada’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, but you’d be wrong. Canada was then universally considered a “Christian nation.” As part of the integration of Canadian Jews, the term slowly expanded to Judeo-Christian.

To some degree at least, that process of integration is unstoppable. Mandel’s dad, who was a regular on radio, was known in the Yiddish press as a “showman” — spelled out literally in the 1,000-year-old language of Eastern European Jews. Toronto’s many cantors — leaders in prayer — often crossed over to secular performances, just like Al Jolson in the first talkie, The Jazz Singer.

In return, newcomers made their contributions. The Yiddish papers had no illusions about the rise of Hitler, from the start. They warned Canada. When the war ended, they had no illusions about what would follow: “If we are going to have an era of peace, it is only because humanity is now exhausted and broken — not because it finally realizes the absurdity of the atrocities of war.”

Like every immigrant community, there were fierce internal differences, about which the larger society tends to be oblivious. Instead it tries to homogenize groups, as it now does with Muslims. But there were communist Jews, socialists, Zionists and anti-Zionists, Tories and Liberals, rich versus poor — who attacked each other regularly. The presence of a crisis, such as 9/11 or the Holocaust, sharpens the differences while underlining the need for unity.

The outlets declined as Yiddish did. In 1931, 96 per cent of Jews here called it their first language. By 1951, it was 51 per cent, and 11 per cent in 1981. The papers tried to adapt with English sections: the Star’s memorable theatre critic, Nathan Cohen, edited the English pages for the communist “Vochenblatt.”

Till the end, the voices were eloquent: “That is how it goes in Jewish history, from Moses’s time till the present: the presidents and rich ones commit themselves only when there is an ark” — meaning a secure shelter like Noah’s — “and a place of honour.” You can’t get enough of that kind of journalistic feistiness, in any language.

I know there are different challenges with racialized immigrations, like those of the last 50 years. But I don’t think they’re insuperable, due to both the will of immigrants to join their new society and its urgent need for what they offer.

Source: Lessons learned from ‘The Jewish Hour’ | Toronto Star

Inaugural Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship Awarded to the Aga Khan for His Commitment to Advancing Pluralism 

Always worth noting the Aga Khan’s comments on multiculturalism, diversity and pluralism:

“One enormous challenge, of course,” observed the Aga Khan, “is the simple fact that diversity is increasing around the world. The task is not merely learning to live with that diversity, but learning to live with greater diversity with each passing year.” The Aga Khan fully recognizes the frustrations of the pluralism story. The challenge, he noted, was that as we become aware of the diversity of the world we live in and come into contact with people who are different than us, difference becomes a source of conflict rather than an opportunity. “We talk sincerely about the values of diversity, about living with complexity. But in too many cases more diversity seems to mean more division; greater complexity, more fragmentation, and more fragmentation can bring us closer to conflict.”

It is not just proximity that creates this awareness, and often tension. Technology and media, while seemingly bringing us together, recognized the Aga Khan, often pull us apart, feeding ignorance and insularity. The antidote, however, isn’t ignoring difference. “We often hear in discussions of Global Citizenship that people are basically alike. Under the skin, deep in our hearts, we are all brothers and sisters – we are told – and the secret to a harmonious world is to ignore our differences and to emphasize our similarities. What worries me, however,” said the Aga Khan “is when some take that message to mean that our differences are trivial, that they can be ignored, and eventually erased. And that is not good advice. In fact, it is impossible.”

“Pretending that our differences are trivial will not persuade most people to embrace pluralistic attitudes. In fact, it might frighten them away. People know that differences can be challenging, that disagreements are inevitable, that our fellow-humans can sometimes be disagreeable,” he continued.

Too often people think that embracing the values of Global Citizenship means diluting or compromising one’s own bonds to country or peoples. This is not the case emphasized His Highness. Rather, “the call of pluralism should ask us to respect our differences, but not to ignore them, to integrate diversity, not to depreciate diversity. The call for cosmopolitanism is not a call to homogenization. It means affirming social solidarity, without imposing social conformity. One’s identity need not be diluted in a pluralistic world, but rather fulfilled, as one bright thread in a cloth of many colours.”

How one goes about achieving this is no easy task. He ended the evening with a recipe-of-clarity-and-wisdom in charting a future for global citizenship: “a vital sense of balance, an abundant capacity for compromise, more than a little sense of patience, an appropriate degree of humility, a good measure of forgiveness, and, of course, a genuine welcoming of human difference.”

The Aga Khan’s full speech can be found here.

Source: Inaugural Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship Awarded to the Aga Khan for His Commitment to Advancing Pluralism | Huffington Post

Quebec woman ordered by judge to remove hijab in court seeks clearer rules

Given the ongoing Quebec debates, a declaratory ruling might be helpful:

Rania El-Alloul, the Montreal woman who was asked by a Quebec Court judge to remove her hijab during a hearing in 2015, was back in court Thursday asking a Superior Court justice to clarify the rules governing religious attire in Quebec courtrooms.

Judge Eliana Marengo told El-Alloul during a hearing in February 2015 that she would only hear El-Alloul’s case if she removed her hijab.

At the time, El-Alloul was in court trying to get her car back after it had been seized by Quebec’s automobile insurance board.

Marengo told El-Alloul that a courtroom was a secular space, and she was not suitably dressed.

The judge also compared the hijab to a hat and sunglasses, which would not normally be allowed in court.

The specific rule about attire in Quebec courtrooms simply states that people appearing before judges must be “suitably dressed,” with no further explanation.

The case sparked outrage across the country, with many lawyers offering to represent El-Alloul and people offering money to help cover her legal bills, suggesting that her charter rights had been violated.

Superior Court asked to weigh in on attire

El-Alloul’s lawyers asked Quebec Superior Court Justice Wilbrod Décarie on Thursday for a declaratory judgment — essentially a ruling that would clarify that hijabs and other religious attire are permitted in Quebec courtrooms and that a judge can’t refuse to hear witnesses on that basis.

Julius Grey and Catherine McKenzie argued that such a ruling is necessary so people who wear religious attire know if they can be heard in Quebec courts.

Without a declaration of rights, McKenzie said, “this opens the door to ask people about religious belief because of what they wear on their head.”

She called that a slippery slope.

Mario Nomandin, the lawyer for Quebec’s attorney general, said such a declaration was not needed.

Normandin noted the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that the question of religious clothing in court should be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Justice Wilbrod Décarie said he will take the arguments under advisement.

It could be weeks or months before he renders his decision.

Source: Quebec woman ordered by judge to remove hijab in court seeks clearer rules – Montreal – CBC News

Reflecting on the Canadian government’s apology to Japanese-Canadians | Paul Kariya

28 years after, Kariya, one of the negotiators for the apology, reflects:

What heinous crime was committed that necessitated such harsh treatment with no recourse to justice?  The War Measures Act was employed to infringe human rights and property title and brand these people enemy aliens.  Although the cloak of national security was used to justify the government actions, no evidence has ever been found of sabotage or espionage on the part of any Japanese-Canadian.

 Canada was at war with Japan, Italy and Germany. But the same actions were not taken against all residents of Italian and German descent.  Why Japanese-Canadians?  The instigation and motivation was racism and economic opportunism led by a small number of politicians and other interest groups who used the Second World War as a cover to whip up hysteria and manipulate government to destroy a vibrant, peaceful and contributing community.

Only a few institutions of society opposed the mass uprooting, suggesting it was wrong and unjust.  Municipal governments, political parties, labour unions, service clubs and mainstream churches either led the charge or passively stood by.  Only the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation Party and some evangelical churches said it was wrong.

Could this happen again?  I don’t think so. The Japanese-Canadian community helped draft the emergency Measures Act (successor to the War Measures Act) and today we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  But as we see in the current U.S. election campaign, the ugliness of racism can emerge in seemingly legitimate circumstances.

The only other group of people treated racially in this manner in B.C. with far more devastating impacts and horrors were First Nations peoples.  And despite progress in health, education and economic development, are we really dealing with the very difficult fundamental subject that a past mentor, the late James Gosnell, Nisga’a leader, named 40 years ago, as “the Land Question.”

My father and mother never got their house, fishing boat or possessions back.  The Custodian of Enemy Alien Property was supposed to keep all confiscated private properties in trust for later return, but instead these were almost all immediately sold off.  It was heart breaking to have my father point out to a twelve year old me, “that boat named Marine K used to be ours.”

In 1988 symbolic individual compensation of $21,000 was awarded to surviving internees. But of course, title, property, possessions, lives and communities could not be returned.

I expect reconciliation with First Nations in B.C. will not see all former lands and resources returned. But we can pick up the pace to resolve the injustices through negotiation.

Let me say, I have never felt prouder to be a Canadian than when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney turned to us in the House of Commons Gallery that September day in 1988 and introduced us Japanese-Canadians and then proceeded to read the government’s apology.

Source: Reflecting on the Canadian government’s apology to Japanese-Canadians | Vancouver Sun