What was it like meeting the national defence and multiculturalism minister of Canada? | CanIndia NEWS

Interview with Minister Kenney with Indo-Canadian media. He provided the best government explanation for the removal of pre-Permanent Resident time credit towards citizenship to date (the explanations by both Minister Alexander and officials during C-24 hearings were unconvincing):

He spent about forty-five minutes in the Can-India office as we quizzed him on important issues—national security, immigration (he was previously immigration minister) and of course jobs and multiculturalism which are my pet peeves. The minister was well-prepared and easily navigated the tough questions we had.

No, he said foreign students will not reduce the job opportunities available to our kids. Nor will attaining PR status be easy for them. I was both surprised and happy to hear Mr. Kenney acknowledge that some institutions have made education a business and want to increase enrolment of foreign students but it didn’t assuage my fears that it would happen anyway. The government knows, I thought to myself, now when will they do something about it. It’s a huge concern that many parents with college and university-going kids like me, have today.

He brought up the subject of many new Canadians not even being aware that a federal election would soon take place because they were not engaged. Naturally I asked how the Conservative Party had planned to address that. Mr. Kenney’s answer was neat though evasive and a bit contradictory. He said today immigrants were more aware and that jobs and economic progress was the best way to engage them. I agree with his philosophy a successful person will integrate better and naturally be more engaged. While it is largely a game of chance, it is my observation that it takes newcomers at least five years to find their groove (if they are lucky that is). What happens to political and community engagement in the meanwhile? What about the hundreds who have been here for years and are still disillusioned, will they ever be brought into the fold?

He dwelt on how communities create ghettoes that prevent new Canadians from fully integrating and assimilating. It’s what I have gone about at length… how ethnic ties are stronger and far outweigh loyalty to Canada. I support his staking a stand on the matter. Why is it a party ideology and not a national strategy? Current trends indicate that many politicians seem to have adopted the approach of businesses towards their multicultural clients—that of trying to cater to communal needs and sentiments in order to ‘hook’ them.

Source: What was it like meeting the national defence and multiculturalism minister of Canada? | CanIndia NEWS

Debate about the women’s debate missed a bigger point: Antoinia Maioni

Provincial_Under-Representation_of_WomenIn addition to federal under-representation, the chart above indicates provincial representation. Of note, British Columbia and Alberta have achieved gender parity in cabinet:

If we really want to raise consciousness about women in this election, let’s start with the glaring fact that women are still sorely under-represented in politics and that the face of this election campaign is dominated by male politicians. Notwithstanding that three of Canada’s provinces are now led by women premiers, federal politics has yet to become gender-friendly. The presence of Elizabeth May as leader of the Green Party is the exception that proves the rule: powerful parties (as in, parties that expect to gain power in Ottawa) are not populated or led by as many powerful women as men.

By international comparison, as my colleague Elisabeth Gidengil has pointed out, women are still few and far between in Canadian politics (we rank 49th worldwide in terms of women elected to legislatures). There are myriad reasons why women are less likely to choose, or be successful at, a political career, that range from obvious societal realities (family and children) to more subtle yet significant reasons (workplace culture and boys’ clubs) to enduring structural obstacles (money, power, influence). And in the Canadian case, these are exacerbated by a political system that concentrates power at the top, and a first-past-the-post electoral system that allows fewer entry points for women seeking office.

Even though political parties have worked toward recruitment – or even quotas – the presence of women is relatively weak. One aspect is the plight of so-called “sacrificial lambs”: tabulating data from the past five Canadian general elections, political scientists Melanee Thomas and Marc-André Bodet found that female candidates are still more likely to run in ridings their parties expect to lose. Another is “the higher you go, the fewer you find” phenomenon of women in political party leadership that Sylvia Bashevkin revealed decades ago.

Today, some of the key party players behind the scenes are powerful women; the national campaigns are being led by Jenni Byrne (Conservatives), Anne McGrath (NDP) and Katie Telford (Liberals). But for voters, the election is not about who is in the backroom, the war room, or even the pundits’ panels. And for us, the public persona of political leadership – the faces and voices that we see and hear – remains resolutely male.

The real women’s issue in this election campaign should not be about the merits of a separate debate, but how these issues matter to all Canadians and why the main leaders debating them are all men.

Of course, under-representation of visible minorities is also an issue:

Provincial_Under-Representation_visible_minorities

Source: Debate about the women’s debate missed a bigger point – The Globe and Mail

Which party is ready to deal with Canada’s aging demographics? – The Globe and Mail

Daniel Muzyka and Glen Hodgson of the Conference Board of Canada on labour market, including immigration, policies (assume at some point they will further flesh-out their specific immigration-related recommendations 3 and 4):

Labour market policies are another key area, and there are a number of policy options available if the problem is properly diagnosed. These include:

  1. Ensuring that Canadian workers have the knowledge and skills needed in tomorrow’s work force. In a world with accelerating technological and competitive pressures, all Canadians will need access to continuous education, training and development within a philosophy of life-long learning.
  2. Improving labour-force flexibility and mobility to fully utilize the existing work force and to allow individuals across the country to pursue opportunities that present themselves.
  3. Providing an opportunity for all citizens, notably underrepresented groups (such as aboriginals and recent immigrants), to fully participate in the work force.
  4. Continuing to develop and implement effective approaches to immigration and the full integration of immigrants into Canadian society.
  5. Creating the best incentives for individuals arriving at retirement age to stay engaged in the work force and for organizations to make innovative use of their knowledge and skills.

The message is that aging demographics are already having a negative impact on our economy’s performance. Those who wish to occupy 24 Sussex Dr. should be asked to define their policy ideas for strengthening Canada’s growth potential.

Source: Which party is ready to deal with Canada’s aging demographics? – The Globe and Mail

Lutte contre la radicalisation: les cégeps irrités par le plan de Québec

As always, the challenge lies in implementation, so I can partially understand their reaction:

La Fédération des cégeps se dit insultée que le gouvernement Couillard, dans son plan de lutte contre la radicalisation, se donne un pouvoir d’enquête et de sanction envers toute école – y compris un cégep – où seraient propagés des propos haineux ou qui serait le théâtre de comportements inquiétants.

«Nous, on se pose encore des questions sur la meilleure façon de contrer la radicalisation. Si le ministre [de l’Éducation], lui, sait quoi faire, qu’il nous le donne, le guide!», lance en entrevue avec La Presse Bernard Tremblay, président-directeur général de la Fédération des cégeps, qui entend bien présenter un mémoire aux auditions sur le projet de loi 59, qui se tiendront dans quelques semaines.

La question de la radicalisation se pose avec une acuité particulière dans les cégeps depuis quelques mois.

Cet hiver et ce printemps, deux jeunes qui fréquentaient le collège de Maisonneuve ont été arrêtés, tandis que quatre autres ont bel et bien mis le cap sur la Syrie. Il y a aussi eu cette controverse autour des locaux loués à Adil Charkaoui, qui a menacé le collège de Maisonneuve de poursuites quand le cégep a envisagé de mettre fin au contrat signé avec lui.

Dans la mesure où les cégeps se sont de tout temps ouverts à la communauté, à qui peut-on louer des locaux sans crainte? Qui risque de propager un discours haineux? Ne risque-t-on pas des poursuites si l’on refuse de louer des locaux aux uns mais pas aux autres?

Ces questions donnent de sérieux maux de tête aux contentieux des cégeps. La réponse appropriée est d’autant moins claire que les personnes qui demandent à louer des locaux ne se présentent pas toujours sous leur vrai jour, mais se décrivent parfois «comme des personnes qui viennent donner des cours de yoga ou d’impôts», relève M. Tremblay.

Dans l’immédiat, au collège de Maisonneuve, des enseignants et d’autres membres du personnel ont été formés pour être à l’affût de tout comportement problématique. Le collège de Maisonneuve travaille aussi avec la psychiatre Cécile Rousseau, directrice de l’Équipe de recherche et d’intervention transculturelles à McGill, pour tenter de mieux dépister les jeunes qui risquent d’être attirés par des gens radicaux. Cela dit, il n’y a pas que le groupe État islamique qui pose problème. Comme l’indique la Fédération des cégeps, les propos de droite véhiculés par les skinheads sont aussi très préoccupants. Et les cégeps, comme la population en général, ne sont pas à l’abri de l’islamophobie, dont il faut aussi se garder, a fait remarquer M. Tremblay.

Source: Lutte contre la radicalisation: les cégeps irrités par le plan de Québec | Louise Leduc | Éducation

Court backs Conservatives’ funding cut to ‘anti-Semitic’ Arab group

Finally picked up by the English language press:

An appeal court has upheld the Conservative government’s decision to cut funding to a “radical and anti-Semitic” Arab-Canadian group once headed by a Liberal candidate.

In 2009, then-Citizenship and Immigration minister Jason Kenney cut $1 million in annual funding to the Canadian Arab Federation, arguing that the group’s leadership had repeatedly expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah. The Federation had a long track record of “expressing hateful, antisemitic views, and glorifying terrorists,” said Kenney in a Wednesday email to the National Post.

The group has subsequently failed in two lawsuits to have the funding reinstated. The Federal Court upheld Kenney’s decision in 2014, followed more recently by the Federal Court of Appeal.

“I have been on public record disagreeing with the approach taken by the current administration of the Canadian Arab Federation,” said Omar Alghabra, Liberal candidate for Mississauga Centre and a president of the group between 2004 and 2005.

He added, “at the end of the day, it’s government’s prerogative to make decisions on what to fund and what not to fund.”

The Canadian Arab Federation had been paid an annual sum of $1 million in exchange for providing language-training services to new immigrants.

In severing ties with the group, Kenney’s office had cited several specific incidents, including a CAF executive attending a Cairo conference where Hamas and Hezbollah delegates were present, and a CAF-organized rally in which the Hezbollah flag was flown. Last year, a decision by Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn wrote that, based on the Ministry’s evidence, “CAF appears to support organizations that Canada has declared to be terrorist organizations and which are arguably anti-Semitic.”

Source: Court backs Conservatives’ funding cut to ‘anti-Semitic’ Arab group 

Who are the middle class?

Andrew:

Miles Corak’s latest with a great chart comparing the richest 10 percent, the poorest 40 percent, and those in the middle in terms of share of income.

Originally posted on Economics for public policy:

slice of pieOne economist recently suggested that there are as many as 156 definitions of the middle class. If this statistical potluck isn’t complicated enough, pollsters also tell us that a very large fraction of the population describe themselves as “middle class.”

You can see why politicians have made the “middle class” an election issue, but also why they might hesitate to answer the question: “Who are the middle class?”

It isn’t a contradiction for many people to feel they are in the “middle” even if their incomes are well above average or well below. There’s a certain truth to this because most Canadians share a set of common concerns that go beyond just their incomes.

You are “middle class” if you aspire to a better tomorrow, and have a hope for growth and progress in your circumstances; you are “middle class” if you are struggling with uncertainty, and worried if…

View original 566 more words

Why Dropping ‘Anchor Baby’ Is a Problem for US Politicians | TIME

Good article on the history of the term “anchor babies” in the US, and how it has evolved into an offensive term (in Canada, the term generally used is birth tourism, where the numbers are tiny):

This about-face stirred debates about who should decide what’s offensive and who shouldn’t. Was an American institution kowtowing to liberals? Or was a dictionary being descriptive about how a word is truly perceived among English-speakers? When Oxford Dictionaries quietly added their definition after that controversy settled, they tagged it with a bright orange offensive label. Those signs are, Oxford editor Katherine Martin says, not chosen by lexicographers making emotional decrees but affixed as guidance for people who want to use the language intelligently.

Often when language gets accused of being offensive, public figures and media shift to more neutral ground, which can lead to some exhausting phrasing. (When the AP banned their journalists from using undocumented immigrant and illegal immigrant, for instance, standards editor Tom Kent suggested to TIME that a more precise description might be “foreigners in the United States in violation of the law.”)

Martin says one problem with anchor baby is that there is no natural alternative, overwrought or otherwise—and not for the neutral reason suggested by Bush, whether or not he meant to insult anyone. “There is no neutral term for this because it is a term that is intended to be derogatory,” she says.

One indication of that intention, as the Washington Post‘s Amber Phillips points out, is that the idea it describes doesn’t entirely make sense in practice. As TIME explained in 2011, “the law says the parents of such a child must wait till she is 21 for her to be allowed to sponsor them to live and work legally in the U.S., and research shows that the vast majority of children of illegal immigrants are born years after the mother and father have arrived in the U.S.”

Regardless, the phrase has stuck. And, while debate over its use can actually lead to discussion of important issues like candidates’ positions on birthright citizenship (Bush is for it; Donald Trump, who also uses the term, is against it), that stickiness is just one more reason for conscientious politicians to steer clear of it, says linguist Zimmer. “The difficulty is that those pithy words and phrases are much more memorable and work their way into the public consciousness,” he says. “And once they’re there, they are difficult to dislodge.”

Source: Why Dropping ‘Anchor Baby’ Is a Problem for Politicians | TIME

An Immigrant in France – Updated Version of an American in Paris?: Mira Kamdar

Interesting account of the immigration process in France:

Most foreigners begin with a one-year permit. In principle, you are eligible for a 10-year permit after five years, and may also be eligible to apply for citizenship. In practice, many people must renew their residency permit every year, a humiliating exercise that makes it nearly impossible to do things that would actually help them integrate into French society, like getting a permanent job or applying for credit.

The real problem is France’s attitude toward immigrants. The populist right has whipped up hysteria with visions of the country being overrun by Muslims from former colonies. In fact, nearly half of all immigrants who arrived in France in 2012 were born in Europe.

In July, France’s National Assembly passed an immigration reform bill after much debate. The right argued it would open the floodgates. Immigrant defense groups said it did not go far enough, and posed new problems. The bill, which is expected to be considered by the Senate by year’s end, would create a multiyear residency card aimed at reducing lines and processing costs at the prefectures. It would allow illegal immigrants awaiting deportation to be assigned to a residence rather than a detention center.

The bill would also give the prefectures intrusive new powers to verify information about foreigners with the health care and employment administrations. Most immigrants in France are required to sign a “contract” pledging to learn French and the values of the republic. Under the bill, they could, depending on their progress, be given another multiyear permit, be bumped back to a one-year permit or be denied residency altogether. The bill would do nothing to guarantee access to the 10-year residency card employers and banks look for as proof of a long-term commitment to stay in France.

In June, my updated residency card finally in hand, I filled out the form to apply for a 10-year permit. Like all immigrants here, I know there are no guarantees.

Source: An Immigrant in France – The New York Times

Selecting Boys Over Girls Is A Trend In More And More Countries

Worrisome trend:

But in some countries the balance is tipped unnaturally toward an overabundance of boys, an imbalance that is likely to last through the reproductive years. Several things have combined to lead to what researchers call “missing women.”

Many countries have a deep-seated cultural preference for sons over daughters. Inexpensive blood tests that can determine the sex of a fetus as early as seven weeks have been developed. And countries around the world have imported ultrasound equipment. “Ultrasound is available even in very poor countries,” says Hudson. “The Chinese government actually imported ultrasound machines mounted on carts in the 20th century, so that even the most remote village would have access to this technology.”

In 1995, only six countries had such a marked imbalance of boys to girls. Today, 21 countries have a skewed sex ratio favoring boys. The growth of gender imbalance in only two decades points to widespread acceptance of modern technology that can predict the sex of the fetus, according to Hudson.

Technology has enabled even the poorest of countries to bypass the natural gender balance. “It’s largely due to the abortion of females,” says Hudson. “But it’s also due to passive neglect, such as underfeeding, underimmunization, and failing to take girls to the doctor when they’re sick.” Abortions of females can happen before anyone in the community notices a pregnancy, she says. And when girls are abandoned or neglected so severely that they die, it often doesn’t create much of a stir among people who understand the preference for boys.

“No one raises it as a public issue within the community, so while it’s not secret, it isn’t commented upon,” says Hudson.

The result of sex-selective abortions, infanticide and neglect of baby girls, according to the United Nations Population Fund, is more than 117 million “missing” females in Asia alone, and many more around the world.

And for every missing woman, there is a surplus man who will never establish a family. “Men are unable to marry,” Hudson says, and frustrated, single men are more likely get into trouble. “It leads to instability. In masculinized societies, there are issues such as rising violent crime rates, increasing rates of gang activity and rebel group activity, increasing prostitution and trafficking, and greater constraints on the movement of women.”

One country with a tradition of preferring male offspring has successfully corrected the imbalance. “South Korea is the only country I know of that has clawed back its abnormal sex ratios back to the normal range,” says Hudson. And it did this not by trying to change culture, tradition, hearts or minds — but by changing laws.

In South Korea, sons were responsible for performing ancestral rites and for the care and support of elderly parents. When the government began promoting a two-child norm in the 1970s, Hudson wrote in Foreign Policy, the ratio of boys to girls climbed to a peak of 116.5 to 100 in 1990. That’s when the South Korean government began to overhaul laws that favored sons. Women gained full rights in inheritance and in heading families. The government enforced a ban on prenatal sex testing. A pension system was established so that neither sons nor daughters were fully responsible for the care of the elderly. And today, South Korea’s ratio of boys to girls reflects nature’s average.

But a growing number of countries continue traditions, policies and practices that favor sons over daughters. “These trends do not bode well for the stability and security of nations, regions and even the international system,” says Hudson. “There is a real price to be paid for the devaluation of female life.”

Source: Selecting Boys Over Girls Is A Trend In More And More Countries : Goats and Soda : NPR

Is ‘racial colour-blindness’ hurting our children?

The risks of colour blindness to identity (US study):

A new study by Social Psychological and Personality Science, When societal norms and social identity collide, asks this question in relation to how minority children living in western countries see both themselves and others. “Their racial background is often integral to their identity and how others perceive them,” stated the study’s authors Kristin Pauker, Evan Apfelbaum and Brian Spitzer. “Yet, talk of race is taboo.”

The study came to this conclusion after gathering 108 American-raised Latino, Asian, Black and Caucasian children between the ages of 9 and 12 and asked them to play a game similar to “Guess Who.” Each child was given 40 photos and told they had to ask as few questions as possible to figure out which card the other person was holding.

Children who come under the “visible minority” umbrella, it seems, were just as likely to avoid the topic of race.

“It is troubling that pressures to adhere to colour-blind norms override talk of race, even among racial minority children,” wrote the authors. In fact, only 40 per cent of the children asked questions like “are they Black?” or “are they White?” in order to win the game.

Afterwards, about 58 per cent said it would have been rude or offensive to ask those types of questions, while 23 per cent insisted it would be extremely racist. “Teachers are particularly important social referents for instilling norms regarding race,” noted the study.

Is ‘racial colour-blindness’ hurting our children? | Globalnews.ca

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