Collacott: Immigration ‘conversation” is public relations exercise

While I disagree with much of what Collacott argues – the European examples come from too different histories and geographies, the costs of immigration cited are based on the flawed Grubel-Grady study – I do share some of his cynicism with respect to the announced consultations.

It would be better to appoint an independent panel or commission to review the full range of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism issues to have a serious and independent study to help guide longer-term policy (see my previous IRCC Discussion guide on immigration: What about citizenship?):

Canada has probably worked harder and had relatively more success than any other country in welcoming and integrating people of different backgrounds from around the world. The “national conversation’s” assertion that “Canada’s strength lies in its diversity” however does not correspond with reality.

While a well-managed and moderate increase in diversity can enrich a society in various ways, it is also clear that unlimited diversity has a negative effect on societal cohesion and national identity. This has been well-documented by scholars such as Harvard professor Robert Putnam, whose research found that, as urban communities become more and more diverse, the levels of social cohesion decline and there is less trust among residents.

This has been amply demonstrated in Europe, where the social as well as economic integration of many immigrants with very different cultural values and traditions from those of the host nations has been impeded as their numbers grew and they became heavily concentrated in urban areas.

The suggestion that Canada’s strength lies in its diversity, nevertheless, implies that our society  will endlessly benefit from becoming more and more diverse.

The question then has to be asked why the Government is promoting its “national conversation” based on a slogan that doesn’t make sense.

The answer becomes clear from other sections of the conversation’s press release when it states that the government is committed to an immigration system that supports diversity and helps to grow the economy.

The fact is that, while immigration makes the economy larger, it doesn’t improve the standard of living of the average Canadian: it simply creates a larger pie that is divided into more, and usually somewhat smaller, pieces. Indeed the latest research indicates that recent immigration is very costly to Canadian taxpayers — to the tune of around $30 billion a year — in addition to raising house prices beyond the reach of most young Canadians in large cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, increasing congestion and commute times and putting heavy pressure on health care services. 

While there been periods in our history when we have benefitted from large-scale immigration, this is not one of them. Canada does not face major labour shortages and has sufficient human capital and educational and training facilities to meet almost all of our needs  from our existing resources.

The “national conversation” is clearly a public relations exercise designed to convince members of the public that they are providing serious input into how immigration can benefit Canada.  The terms of reference, however, leave no doubt that its real purpose is to promote large-scale immigration and diversity in order to increase political support for the Liberal Party of Canada rather than to serve the interests of Canadians in general.

We very much need a comprehensive, well-informed and balanced review of immigration policy — but not the phony “national conversation” the government is attempting to foist on the public.

Source: Opinion: Immigration ‘conversation” is public relations exercise | Vancouver Sun

Many Mounties oppose opening ranks to permanent residents, easing entrance requirements, spokesmen say

The change from making Canadian citizenship a requirement to a preference brings the RCMP in line with the overall public service, although this change is unlikely to make much of a difference to recruitment.

Military, RCMP, CSIS.001As noted in earlier posts and in the above chart, the RCMP diversity numbers are poor:

The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC) said Sunday management has caved in to political correctness and the “knee jerk” changes amount to lowering standards.

“Essentially we face operational security issues as well as serious repercussions in service delivery if we hire people to meet political vs. operational criteria,” the association said in a statement through spokesman Rob Creasser.

On the issue of allowing permanent residents to apply to become Mounties, the association asked, “As a Canadian icon, shouldn’t the national police be Canadian?”

Internal records obtained by the National Post through access-to-information legislation show when the force announced the changes in May, officials anticipated questions over whether hiring non-citizens could affect the RCMP’s image and “what the RCMP represents.”

The RCMP’s proposed response says fewer young people are interested in policing careers and the force is struggling to attract “not only applicants, but also diverse applicants.”

Allowing permanent residents to apply would improve diversity and help the force deliver “culturally sensitive policing.”

The documents note the force’s senior executive committee has set recruitment targets of 30 per cent women, 20 per cent visible minorities and 10 per cent aboriginal.

Still, “RCMP recruiting standards remain very high and we continue to seek to attract the most qualified applicants from all backgrounds,” according to the documents.

The RCMP has a proud tradition as a national symbol of Canada, and that will continue

“The RCMP has a proud tradition as a national symbol of Canada, and that will continue. This change will also directly contribute to the RCMP’s commitment to ensure a workforce that is representative of Canada.”

Despite the new measures, the RCMP will still give priority to applicants who are Canadians citizens.

Permanent residents must have lived in Canada for at least 10 years, but if hired, they will be not be pressured to become citizens as that is a “personal choice.”

The force is also exempting more people from having to take the entrance exam, a test designed to gauge aptitude for police work.

University graduates have been exempt since June 2015. Now, they are being joined by people with two-year college diplomas.

In a further streamlining of initial screening, applicants need not prove they are physically fit. All physical testing now takes place during the 26-week program at the RCMP’s cadet training academy.

These changes were adopted in response to complaints the application process was “too long, inflexible and outdated,” the RCMP says.

Sgt. Brian Sauvé, co-chairman of the National Police Federation (NPF), another association representing some Mounties, said Sunday while the federation does not have a problem with opening applications to permanent residents — this will help the force represent Canada’s “blend of great people”  — it has serious concerns with the other changes.

All applicants should undergo aptitude and fitness evaluations before joining the training academy, he said. Without them, the force runs the risk of more people getting injured during training, as well as higher attrition rates later as recruits realize policing is not for them.

Source: Many Mounties oppose opening ranks to permanent residents, easing entrance requirements, spokesmen say

Swastika flags at Vancouver home spark cultural dialogue

Certainly succeeding in provoking a dialogue, and one that appears to be carried out respectfully. It is also an example of one of most, if not the most, egregious case of cultural appropriation:

Sital Dhillon was driving through her neighbourhood in South Vancouver when she noticed a house with two prominent yellow flags adorned with swastikas flying at the front gate.

“When I saw the symbol, I stopped and took a second look and it started to provide questions in my mind,” said Dhillon. “I didn’t want to draw conclusions.”

Dhillon quickly noticed the flags weren’t the only thing decorating the front of the house — there were several posters, banners, and other religious symbols, hinting that there may be something more to the use of the swastikas.

But the symbol, so associated with Nazi terrors, still touched a nerve.

“The Western world does not have a very good perception of the swastika,” she said, “It’s evil. It’s hate.”

Religious symbol

Homeowner Ravinder Gaba doesn’t see anything wrong with his use of the swastika.

Ravinder Gaba put two swastika flags in front of his house to honour a spiritual guru who is staying at his house. He says the swastika is a symbol meaning peace, love, and purity in Hinduism and other religions.

“This symbol, if you go to India, in every temple that symbol is there,” he said.

Gaba, who is Hindu, is playing host to a spiritual leader — a man believed by his followers to be an immortal living saint, Brahmrishi Shri Gurudev. The flags are flying outside his home for a few days to celebrate the occasion.

Gaba points out that the swastika goes back thousands of years, long before Adolf Hitler and the Nazis began using it.

“It’s nothing with Hitler. We don’t follow Hitler. We don’t follow even extremist people right now, okay? We are a religion against that,” he said. “Believe me I don’t know that’s his symbol. That’s a Hitler’s symbol? I don’t know.”

Swastika

Ravinder Gaba’s home was recently built and includes a large custom mantle decorated with Sanskrit swastikas. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Gaba’s newly built home even has an elaborate stone mantel in the living room with stylized swastikas decorating the corners.

‘A lot of pain’

Carey Brown, a rabbi at Temple Sholom Synagogue in Vancouver, reacts strongly to the flags, even with the knowledge that they aren’t a Nazi reference.

“It is very jarring to see it,” she said. “Whether it’s graffiti on a bus stop or a flag flying in someone’s lawn, even if they’re placed there for two different reasons, just seeing it … is very jarring.”

“Certainly as a Jew, it’s a symbol that has a lot of emotional painful resonance for me. We have many members of our synagogue who themselves are survivors of the holocaust, or have parents or grandparents that survived,” said Brown. “It’s a lot of pain and a little bit of fear as well.”

Brown has travelled throughout India, and is fully aware of the ancient use of the swastika in religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

“While it’s a little bit strange to see swastikas all around you, I know that in its context it means something very peaceful,” she said.

But for Brown, that context is removed once the swastika is flown in Canada.

“Symbols have meaning, and the meaning of this symbol — in the Western world certainly — is one that is the absolute opposite of peace, and to see it flying in Vancouver it is difficult to see and it represents something that’s very hateful to me.”

Cross-cultural dialogue

Gaba says his religion teaches love and peace, and that’s all he means to promote with his swastika flags.

He hopes that anyone who has misgivings about the flags will knock on his door and engage in a conversation about the issue.

“They should come to us and ask us first. We are always open. Anybody can come and ask us a question,” he said. “We are loving people.”

But for Brown, knocking on the door of a house that has swastikas outside doesn’t seem like a likely proposition.

“I think many people would want to not knock on the door, because they would be nervous about who they might encounter inside,” she said, adding that she would welcome a cross-cultural conversation about what the symbol means to different people.

Source: Swastika flags at Vancouver home spark cultural dialogue – British Columbia – CBC News

Suresh Kurl provides some historical context:

Historically, Swastika goes back to approximately 12,000 years, when it was discovered carved on an ivory figurine in Mezine (Ukraine).

In Buddhism, svastika is also considered a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, abundance and eternity. It is found carved on statues on the soles of Lord Buddha’s feet and on his heart.
In Jainism, Svastika symbolises the four states of existence: Heavenly beings (devas), Human beings, Hellish being and Tiryancha, as flora or fauna,  representing the perpetual nature of the universe in the material world, where a creature is destined to one of those states based on their karma. Amazingly, Native Americans also use this symbol for the sun.

Recently, Mr. Ravinder Gaba of South Vancouver put two swastika flags in front of his residence to honour his spiritual guru.  As a practicing Hindu he must have learned that the swastika is an old Vedic symbol denoting peace, love and purity.

If I may add, this Hindu-Auspicious symbol spelled as, Sv-asti-ka in Sanskrit also means well being, fortune, luck, success, prosperity and victory — a far cry from its Nazi association. The symbol represents the Hindu Lord Vishnu (the preserver of this planet) and god Surya (Sun).

Rabbi Carey Brown of Vancouver said, “Certainly as a Jew, it’s a symbol that has a lot of emotional painful resonance for me. We have many members of our synagogue who themselves are survivors of the holocaust, or have parents or grandparents that survived,” said Brown. “It’s a lot of pain and a little bit of fear as well.”

No human with a conscience can dispute this tragedy. I am a Hindu. I was not even born, when Adolf Hitler adopted the symbol, redefined it, corrupted it and rained his terror over Jewish people under his Nazi brand of Swastika flags.

I sincerely apologise on behalf of Mr. Gaba for flying those flags with Swastika. Though his behaviour would seem insensitive I would like to believe it was not intentional.

As we live in a multi-cultural and Inter-faith country, I believe it will be advisable to first run such symbols and objects through the litmus test before putting them out for a public display : “How it will affect the general public before we display them?  No worship or celebration can be fruitful if it ends up hurting our fellow human beings. We know it.

That said the Inter-faith Associations also have an obligation to review such sensitive issues and come up with harmonious solutions.

SWASTIKA: Cultural Sensitivity Should Take Precedence When We Display Controversial Symbols And Objects

Le coût de la diète religieuse bondit dans les prisons

Part of the cost of living in a diverse society and respecting different faiths:

Le coût des repas religieux servis dans les prisons québécoises a bondi au cours de la dernière année, en particulier en ce qui concerne les mets préparés pour les détenus de confession juive. Un repas casher en prison coûte maintenant deux fois plus cher qu’un repas non religieux, a appris La Presse. Portrait de la diète carcérale, un régime de 12,6 millions par année.

Chaque repas casher servi en centre de détention a coûté 6,98 $ pendant l’année financière 2015-2016, contre 5,25 $ un an plus tôt, selon des données du ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP) rendues publiques par la Loi sur l’accès à l’information. Selon le Ministère, ce bond de 33 % en un an est la conséquence de la résiliation du précédent contrat pour l’achat de repas cashers congelés.

« Durant la période sans contrat, les établissements de détention ont dû s’approvisionner auprès de fournisseurs locaux, à coûts plus élevés. »

– Louise Quintin, porte-parole du ministère de la Sécurité publique

Un nouveau contrat de deux ans pour l’approvisionnement de repas cashers congelésa d’ailleurs été conclu en décembre dernier pour 223 582 $. Une seule des deux soumissions déposées a été jugée admissible. En vertu du contrat, le fournisseur doit préparer jusqu’à 35 058 repas et les livrer dans quatre centres de détention de la région métropolitaine. Plus de 20 000 repas cashers sont destinés à l’Établissement de détention de Montréal (Bordeaux). Les autres sont partagés entre les prisons de Laval, de Saint-Jérôme et de Rivière-des-Prairies.

 Les 11 759 plats cashers servis en 2015-2016 – en hausse de 15 % par rapport à l’année précédente – représentent à peine 0,17 % des quelque 7 millions de repas servis chaque année dans les prisons provinciales. En incluant les coûts de la main-d’oeuvre, la préparation de chaque repas non religieux a coûté 3,27 $ en 2015-2016, une hausse de 6 % en un an, soit trois fois plus que l’inflation. La facture a donc bondi de 516 000 $ pour la diète standard, même si 34 000 repas de moins ont été servis.

Le coût unitaire d’un repas halal a augmenté de 14 % en un an, passant de 3,61 $ à 4,10 $, en raison de la cherté de la viande halal, selon le Ministère. Ainsi, les 91 988 plats préparés en 2015-2016 pour les détenus de confession musulmane ont coûté 124 646 $, en hausse de 10 %. Ces repas sont généralement préparés à partir de viande hachée halal achetée en « très petite quantité » pour remplacer le boeuf d’un hamburger, par exemple.

« Il est important de souligner que le nombre de repas halal a diminué [de 7 %] […]. De plus, notons que les repas cashers et halal servis dans les établissements de détention représentent moins de 2 % de l’ensemble des repas servis en détention », soutient Louise Quintin. En fait, la diète religieuse représente 1,47 % de tous les repas servis en prison provinciale.

Les centres de détention ont l’obligation d’offrir un repas halal ou casher à un détenu qui en fait la demande écrite. L’administration doit alors valider « l’appartenance à la communauté religieuse du demandeur ainsi que la sincérité de sa croyance », explique Mme Quintin. Un détenu peut démontrer sa croyance religieuse par un document pertinent, par sa connaissance de sa religion ou par sa participation à des activités spirituelles.

Source: Le coût de la diète religieuse bondit dans les prisons | Louis-Samuel Perron | Actualités

Economist Daily Chart: Measuring Well-Being

Interesting if somewhat predictable:

HOW do you measure the well-being of a country’s citizens? Looking at wealth alone is clearly not enough: oil-rich states in the Middle East may have the highest levels of GDP per person yet they lag behind the West in terms of civil rights, education and a host of other quantifiable (and desirable) measures. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) attempts to answer this question with its “Sustainable Economic Development Assessment” (SEDA).

This year’s report, published on July 21st, encompasses 163 countries or territories and looks at each country’s performance across three measures: economics, investment and sustainability. Economics is made up of income, stability and employment; investment comprises health, education and infrastructure; and sustainability includes income inequality, civil society, government and environment. Altogether, BCG crunched nearly 50,000 data points.

The usual suspects occupy the top spots, with Norway reaching the maximum of 100 in the normalised scoring system, as it has every year since SEDA was launched in 2012. It is followed by northern European states and other developed countries. Petro-states such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, two of the wealthiest countries in the world, come in at 25th and 26th respectively. The United States’ relatively poor standing at 19th reflects its high income inequality as well as its low health and education scores.

BCG also compared financial inclusion (the percentage of individuals aged 15 or over with a bank account) against each country’s SEDA score, revealing a clear relationship.The report’s authors found that countries with higher financial inclusion generally had higher well-being than their peers at a similar income level. The relationship between financial inclusion and well-being is most closely connected to good infrastructure (telecoms and electricity), civil society (gender equality) and government (strong regulation and the rule of law).

Source: Economic Issues

Comedians say the push for political correctness is no laughing matter

Reasonable commentary by Evan Carter on the limits of comedy:

Finding the balance between comedy that pushes the envelope and a routine that doesn’t offend anyone has been a precarious task for decades.

But many comedians today say that social media has put them under an unprecedented amount of scrutiny. Whereas a comedian’s ill-advised or offensive joke would once elicit boos or, at worst, a few cancelled gigs, it now ends up on social media, where it’s seen by millions.

Evan Carter, a Toronto comic who’s been performing stand-up since the early 1980s, agrees comics today have it harder than when he started in the business.

“There’s something that they don’t like and they’ve picked out two minutes of a one-hour show completely out of context, and the next thing you know — boom! — it’s on Twitter, it’s on Instagram, it’s on Facebook, and before you get off stage, you’re hated.”

Still, Carter, who teaches a course in stand-up comedy at Second City, doesn’t think political correctness is the enemy of comedy: “I think what’s the enemy of comedy is lazy comics.”

He says that even very risky material can be accepted by the audience if it’s intelligently written and delivered; he brings up Louis C.K. as an example of a popular comic who handles tough topics like spousal abuse or racism cleverly in his routines.

“Craft the joke, build a joke, so that the audience goes, ‘Yeah, I probably shouldn’t be laughing at this but I see your point and I’m willing to learn from it,'” is the advice he gives his students. “But if it’s somebody that’s just coming up and punching you in the face while you’re standing there with a line, with a word that’s just there to shock you? Well, that really doesn’t take much craft at all.”

Source: Comedians say the push for political correctness is no laughing matter – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News

Another balanced piece is by Steve Patterson:

My personal comedy mantra is to make fun of the “haves” not the “have-nots.” When there is someone in the public eye whose arrogance, attitude and ineptitude should be taken down a peg or two (or perhaps have the ladder kicked out from underneath them completely) I am all for it. But it should be done with witty wordsmithing, precise skill and, where possible, in a way that makes the target of the joke laugh along.

Mike Ward is a skilled comedian. He is a worthy wordsmith (in both French and English, which is no small feat). But he picked his target poorly in this case and now he is being told to pay the price. It happens that he is one of the few Canadian comedians who can afford the fine and will certainly profit more from this notoriety in the media. And Mr. Gabriel and his family can count a small “win” after being publicly shamed through no fault of their own (those heaving backlash against his family for initiating this complaint are, in my opinion, tiny-brained troglodytes).

So where does this leave Canadian comedians? I would say, keep working hard to make your jokes the best they can be. Choose your targets wisely. And I would have thought this would go without saying, but leave vulnerable people such as, say, children with facial deformities, out of your comedic repertoire. Unless they personally requested you to focus your sights on them. Then, make sure they’re laughing louder than anyone else at the joke.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to writing jokes that will offend Donald Trump and any of his supporters, while hoping that he doesn’t sue me.

If a joke is offensive, is it punishable?

 

Canadian think tank under fire for accepting donations from arms maker: Appearances matter

Full disclosure best way to avoid the appearance of bias or conflict of interest – think tanks are no different than other institutions in that regard:

A high-profile Canadian think tank that just published a paper defending this country’s controversial $15-billion combat-vehicle sale to Saudi Arabia recently accepted donations from defence contractor General Dynamics – the parent of the arms maker in this export contract.

At least four of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute’s “fellows,” or affiliated academics, have also written columns this year arguing in favour of the deal to sell weaponized combat vehicles to Riyadh in publications from The Globe and Mail to iPolitics.ca to Legion Magazine. The institute also published a piece in its quarterly publication The Dispatch, with the same thrust, called The Saudi Arms Deal and the Inconvenient Truth.

This all came out even as international condemnation grows over Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human-rights record as well as the Mideast country’s bloody conduct in the war in Yemen, where it stands accused by a United Nations panel of targeting and indiscriminately bombing civilians.

While the Calgary-based Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI) acknowledges it accepted money from General Dynamics to help sponsor an Ottawa symposium in May, it won’t divulge precise details of the corporate or major individual contributions it receives annually.

The organization’s 2015 financial statement reports $735,520 in donations and $201,184 in grants and project funding.

Colin Robertson, vice-president of the institute and a former Canadian diplomat, said the organization, which is registered as a charity, complies with all Canada Revenue Agency rules for reporting funding. But these rules do not compel CGAI to divulge the identities and amounts paid by each contributor.

Corporate logos featured on some of the CGAI’s products offer some insight into donors but Mr. Robertson said there are a number who want to remain anonymous or low-key.

The institute’s May symposium discussed Canadian foreign and defence policy and General Dynamics helped sponsor the event, which cost an estimated $45,000 to stage. “My recollection is they gave the most,” said Mr. Robertson, who did not divulge exactly how much the defence contractor provided. “We just about covered the costs with what we got from the sponsors.”

Another significant sponsor for the symposium was Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35 Lightning fighter.

Mr. Robertson said donors do not dictate what CGAI writes in its publications or what positions its fellows take in the media.

“A number of our fellows have written, all independently, on arms sales, as it is a topic of public debate and discussion. There is no linkage [between] their independent work and the individuals and organizations that support the work of CGAI. Our integrity depends on our independence,” the vice-president said.

Amir Attaran, a professor of law at the University of Ottawa, said it’s incumbent on the foreign-affairs and defence-policy think tank to disclose how much it’s getting from each corporate contributor and major individual donors.

“There’s an obvious appearance of bias – real bias – because you can’t take money from a company and then speak in the company’s interest without it seeming you’re doing so for the money,” Prof. Attaran said.

“If you’re taking money from Philip Morris and you lauded smoking, would it be any different?”

He said a one-time donation by General Dynamics still leaves the appearance of conflict of interest.

“You can’t take money for a single activity and firewall it off from the organization,” he said.

Prof. Attaran said he cannot publish a single paper in a medical journal “without disclosing the money I’ve received.”

Source: Canadian think tank under fire for accepting donations from arms maker – The Globe and Mail

The West’s Crisis of Leadership [focus on France] – The New York Times

Sylvie Kauffmann on the weakness of political leadership in France, contrasted with the resilience of its population:

Today, France and the United States are probably the West’s two main targets of Islamist terrorism. In France, our government warns that we must “learn to live with terrorism.” Yet just when they need to be stronger, our societies seem fragile, tense, stirred by powerful winds of revolt against their elites and an economic order that has increased inequalities. Can they withstand the shock?

Defying the odds through the last 18 difficult months — three bloody waves of terrorist attacks and sporadic terrorist incidents, strikes, violent protests against a reform of labor laws, high unemployment and floods — the French have proved surprisingly resilient. The annual survey of the National Consultative Human Rights Commission, carried out in January, even showed tolerance on the rise “despite the posture of some public figures.” While the 2008 economic crisis reduced tolerance, the 2015 attacks produced the opposite effect, “leading to soul-searching and civic mobilization” against extremists, the commission said.

Similarly, the Pew Research Center’s 2016 Global Attitudes Survey found that France (the European Union country with the biggest Muslim and Jewish populations) was the European nation second only to Spain in valuing diversity. The monthlong Euro soccer competition, hosted by France just before the Nice attack, also inspired intense fervor from the French public for its very diverse national team; it was supported throughout by enthusiastic singing of “The Marseillaise,” even after it lost the final game.

Some statistics from the Ministry of Interior, though, show a different picture: The number of racist criminal acts went up 22.4 percent in 2015. The reason for this contradiction, the Human Rights Commission’s experts suggest, is that while individuals who carry out such acts are becoming more radicalized, the society at large is more aware of the dangers of polarization. This attitude shows in an increasing number of civic initiatives, and in the results of the regional election last December: After the far-right National Front did very well in the first round, voters rallied against it and prevented it from winning a single region in the second round.

Whether such healthy reactions will prevail after the Nice massacre — and any future one — is an open question. With a big immigrant population from North Africa and a very strong National Front locally, Nice itself is particularly vulnerable.

The sad reality is that people of good will are not helped by a significantly mediocre political establishment. There could be national unity at the bottom — if only there were at the top.

This was illustrated again immediately after the Bastille Day attack. While citizens of all backgrounds and colors joined to pay their respects to the victims on the Promenade des Anglais, while the florists of Nice united to cover the bloodied avenue with flowers, while the nation was in shock, our politicians bickered over whether the government could have prevented this new atrocity. With the 2017 presidential election flashing big on his radar screen, Mr. Hollande’s rival and predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, did not even wait for the end of three days of national mourning before mounting a ferocious attack on what he saw as the government’s passivity.

The political debate in France has not quite reached the abyss of the campaign for the June 23 referendum on Brexit in Britain yet, nor of Donald J. Trump’s surreal pronouncements, but it is going in that direction. Le Monde’s longtime cartoonist Plantu feels that politicians, media and social networks have stolen his job: “They are now more caricatural than my own caricatures,” he said. In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls openly worried about a trend that he describes as “the Trumpization of minds.” This, he said, “cannot be our response to the Islamic State.”

When citizens behave more wisely than the men and women who compete to represent them, the time has come to take a hard look at the state of our political systems and its impact on our societies further down the road — particularly when modern democracies are under threat from outside forces that have declared war on them.

Source: The West’s Crisis of Leadership – The New York Times

Une cible de 5 % d’immigrants francophones à l’extérieur du Québec

Will be interesting to review implementation over the course of the next few years:

Pour la première fois de l’histoire, les treize provinces et territoires ont entériné une cible d’immigration francophone à l’extérieur du Québec de 5 %, vendredi.

Réunis à Whitehorse dans le cadre du Conseil de la fédération, les chefs de gouvernements ont adopté à l’unanimité une résolution en ce sens, pressant Ottawa de les aider à atteindre cet objectif.

Près de 4 % des résidents des provinces canadiennes autres que le Québec ont le français comme langue maternelle. La cible de 5 % fixée vise à accroître cette proportion.

« Cette décision est majeure. Nos leaders ont […] pris la décision de donner un élan à la francophonie », a déclaré le ministre québécois des Relations canadiennes et de la Francophonie canadienne Jean-Marc Fournier.

Sommet sur l’immigration francophone Un sommet sur l’immigration francophone réunissant ministres provinciaux et fédéraux de l’immigration et des affaires francophones doit être tenu au printemps 2017, afin de « déterminer les moyens d’action à prendre » pour atteindre la cible de 5 %. Une rencontre préparatoire est également prévue en octobre 2016.

Cette cible d’immigration est une revendication de longue date des communautés francophones en milieu minoritaire. De nombreuses provinces, dont l’Ontario, ont établi leurs propres cibles, mais la plupart d’entre elles ne sont pas parvenues à atteindre leurs objectifs jusqu’à présent.

Source: Une cible de 5 % d’immigrants francophones à l’extérieur du Québec | Le Devoir

Allan Richarz: A more diverse bench isn’t the answer

Nice to see that my analysis (Diversity among federal and provincial judges – Policy Options) is provoking some discussion and debate.

But I think for most advocates of greater diversity on the bench and public and private institutions more generally, the fundamental purpose is to encourage a greater diversity of life experiences and views to inform and improve decision-making.

We all have our implicit biases and assumptions. Judges are no exception, even if their training and decision-making (“slow thinking” to use Kahneman’s phrase) are designed to help them be more mindful of these biases.

It is not simply assuming that female, visible minority and indigenous judges will necessarily make different decisions than male, non-visible minority or non-indigenous judges, but that their different backgrounds may provide a different perspective to interpreting the law.

Moreover, the legitimacy of public institutions requires a reasonable correlation between the population and their representation in these institutions.

How would Richarz feel if the numbers were reversed with only 2.1 percent of federal judges being white?

 

So while I fully agree with Richarz that improved judicial diversity is not a panacea for over-representation in prison or other similar issues, this does not undermine the overall case for diversity:

A recent report by Policy Options magazine reveals that indigenous and minority representation on Canada’s judiciary registers in the low single digits. This has led to the predictable hue and cry over a “judiciary of whiteness” from assorted legal analysts cum race-baiters. The real problem, however, is not with a lack of minority representation on the bench, but with the patronizing and divisive assumption that having more minority judges will serve as a sort of panacea for certain racial groups’ over-representation in prison. The clamour for more minority appointments to the bench is simply a smokescreen for pushing broader political ends that will ultimately do nothing for the communities it purports to help.

There are a number of troubling assumptions underlying the contention that greater minority representation on the bench will result in more positive outcomes for minority defendants. The first seems to take as a given that, say, an African-Canadian judge will cut a black defendant slack based not on the law, nor on the facts of the case, nor on the judge’s legal experience, but on nothing more than a sense of racial solidarity. This would be unacceptable in any other contexts. A male judge acquitting a male defendant of sexual assault based on a wink-wink, nudge-nudge “you know how it is” would raise immeasurable howls of protest.

Such an approach also unfairly reduces minority judges to just that, a minority judge. Becoming a judge is no easy task. Never mind the long hours at law school, passing the bar exams, spending a decade or more as a practising lawyer and earning the recommendation of one’s peers; all that is thrown out the window when one is simply reduced to “the Asian judge” or “the black female judge.” Perhaps for activist lawyers who have built careers on sowing racial divisions such labels do not matter, but for minority lawyers simply wanting to work and be treated no differently from their white colleagues, being reduced to a mere token is undoubtedly patronizing and unfair.

Adding to this is the unfair denigration of the thousands of judges serving  across Canada. While it is certainly fair to note that the judiciary is somewhat “male, pale and stale,” it is quite another to conclude based on that that the judiciary is riddled with closet racists, homophobes and misogynists as a result.

None of this matters, of course, to activists who would simply reduce the legal profession and judiciary to its constituent elements of race and sex. Their end game, however, is not about greater equality or fairness or whatever other trendy legal cause célèbre arises; it is about their own power, self-aggrandizement and profit. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but also the TV face time and lucrative government contracts.

Judges are not the victims in this instance. For better or for worse, they have largely insulated themselves from the slings and arrows of the rabble-rousers and society generally. Who suffers most is the communities activists purport to help. Underlying causes of criminal overrepresentation in black and indigenous communities are overlooked in favour of sexier, more profitable Band-Aid solutions.

It is an unfortunate trend among progressive organizations in which political opportunism trumps all. In the United States, the leading cause of death among African-Americans aged 15-34 is homicide, according to the Centre for Disease Control. Among all African-American homicide victims, 90 per cent are killed by other blacks. Last weekend, 11 people in Chicago — all black — were shot and killed, yet Black Lives Matters was elsewhere, disrupting yuppie food festivals and clambering for airtime on CNN. This is a crisis, and people are dying. The solutions will be complex and never complete, but surely a more diverse bench isn’t the first place the hard work should start.

Ultimately, if activists want to help their communities, they must focus less on cheap agitation and political stunts, and more on actually supporting those in need. There is no doubt room to improve our judicial system, but tokenizing those serving in it is not the way to do it. Promoting and sponsoring education, work training opportunities and self-respect, rather than treating communities as hapless minorities in need of a Svengali-like saviour, are key. Perhaps it means less screen time on the TV talk shops, but activists’ political opportunism must take a back seat to actually serving their communities.

Source: Allan Richarz: A more diverse bench isn’t the answer

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