Diversity in the public service’s executive ranks

My latest, looking at how women, visible minorities and Indigenous people are represented in the highest ranks of the federal public service (DMs and EXs).

The following two charts summarize the historical evolution of how transparency and regular reporting have resulted in a more diverse public service at the overall and executive levels:

Source: Diversity in the public service’s executive ranks


In the U.S.’s debate over free-speech politics, Black Americans lose: Domise

Good piece by Andray Domise:

Where Black identity is concerned, all speech is political speech. In a social environment where principals suspend students, coaches expel players, and spectators are confident shouting slurs and dumping beer on the heads of silent protesters (in an eerily similar fashion to the pro-segregationists who showed up to the Woolworth’s lunch counter to remind integrationists just who was in charge), Black people and public figures find themselves in the exact double-bind Jemele Hill described. When other Black Americans face state-sanctioned violence and injustice, does one choose their profession and education, and even their personal safety? Or should they choose the community they represent?

In September, after Hill was reprimanded for her tweet about Trump being a white supremacist, ESPN president John Skipper issued a memo to employees:“ESPN is not a political organization,” he wrote. “Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express.” Later in the memo, Skipper writes: “…we have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.”

As I’ve mentioned before, those most violently affected have the most to lose by speaking up about white supremacy. ESPN may see itself as an apolitical organization, but it cannot avoid politics where they’ve been brought into the game by players, coaches, owners, and the President and Vice-President of the United States. Suspending a Black journalist for discouraging lateral violence among football fans is necessarily a political position. Going by ESPN’s reasoning, Hill may comment on what she sees on the field, but the conversation happening off the field, even when it involves her own community, is deemed off-limits.

Universities and high schools may see themselves in a similar light—existing outside of politics—but the personal politics of their staff, when allowed to supersede the right of students to speak out for the modern civil rights movement, make that impossible. There is no avoiding politics on the matter of Black lives. There is only the exercise of free speech in the face of oppression, or the complicity in enforcing silence among the oppressed.

By hiding behind an “apolitical” stance, and punishing Black people who dare speak up about an unjust system, institutional politics in America are clear. And they just happen to line up perfectly with a white supremacist President who demands Black Americans be punished for engaging in peaceful protest. The question isn’t whether or not speaking, tweeting, or kneeling is appropriate. It’s whether those with the ability and willingness to silence protest, while claiming a false neutrality, will ever realize whose side they’re taking.

Source: In the U.S.’s debate over free-speech politics, Black Americans lose – Macleans.ca

ICYMI: Halloween stores starting to get the ‘appropriation’ message

Hard to see this being that being a priority issue for most Indigenous peoples given other more pressing concerns but interesting nevertheless to see how legitimate concerns over representation trickle down:

Halloween costume stores seem to be getting the message about cultural appropriation, but some are still stocking offensive costumes, says an Indigenous social media activist.

Chippewa woman Alicia BigCanoe’s social media campaign, #IAmNotACostume, has been spreading awareness for several years about how costumes depicting Indigenous stereotypes during Halloween negatively affect First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

“[I feel] a little bit of anxiety around [Halloween], especially knowing that children see these images and First Nations, Inuit and Métis children still see themselves being romanticized in these costumes,” she said.

However, this year is little different, she said.

“The intensity is not as strong as it has been in previous years. I think that’s because of the amount of spotlight that has been put on this issue. It seems that as each year passes more and more folks are starting to ask questions,” said BigCanoe, who posts a picture of herself yearly in traditional Indigenous garb, along with her #IAmNotACostume hashtag.

Beginnings of change

Some costume stores say they’re doing their best to make sure their costumes are inclusive and don’t appropriate from Indigenous and other cultures.

“People want Pocahontas costumes, people want Mexican ponchos, people want stuff that really isn’t appropriate,” said Alana Sambey, manager of Malabar Limited in downtown Toronto.

In the two years Sambey has been stocking Malabar for Halloween, she said she has actively put a hold on purchasing products that appropriate other cultures.

“People need to recognize that it is in fact culture, not costume,” Sambey said.

“I think it’s really important that people do not wear for costume or for fun something that is from a culture that is not their own because it dehumanizes that culture,” she added.

The manager from the LaSalle, Que., location of Halloween Depot, a corporate chain, told CBC he is not stocking his shelves with costumes that appropriate Indigenous cultures this year.

Across the country in Kelowna, B.C., Deborah Lawless, store manager of Halloween Alley — another line of franchised stores — said her location is also not stocking Indigenous costumes this year, although she noted they have in the past.

“We have a lot of respect for different cultures and this should be a fun time of year for everyone,” said Lawless.

Not all stores agree

In Peterborough, Ont., a staff member from the local costume shop K&C Costumes confirmed by phone the shop carries “Native American” costumes for men, women and children.

CBC called another store in Vancouver to inquire whether it was stocking Indigenous costumes.

“We sell everything. We’re a costume store,” said the manager of the Vancouver Costume Store.

A staff member from a local costume store in Guelph, Ont., said it carries Indigenous costume items, including tomahawks, spears, and bows and arrows.

Algonquin teen Maddie Resmer said she and her friends went to a Spirit Halloween store in Kitchener, Ont., in September.

There, the 17-year-old found six full costumes based on Indigenous stereotypes that left her both enraged and heartbroken.

The costumes were labelled with the names “Native American Princess,” “Indian Warrior” and “Noble Warrior,” but Resmer said the worst offender, “Reservation Royalty,” left a particularly bad impression on her.

“No Native child wishes to spend their life on the reservation that imprisoned their ancestors, and yet they have no choice. They boil their drinking water, they walk 35 kilometres to get to school, they watch their friends, family, community members fade away into alcoholism, abuse, and suicide — this is the way of the Canadian reservation,” said Resmer.

“There is no ‘reservation royalty.'”

Franchisee’s choice

A pop-up location for a different Spirit Halloween location in downtown Toronto displayed no Indigenous costumes on the walls.

The store manager, who said she has been told by her head office not to identify herself to media, confirmed to CBC the store would not be stocking its shelves with Indigenous-based costumes this season.

Another staff member told CBC the store had trouble in the past with displays of Indigenous-based costumes being repeatedly torn down.

Spirit Halloween’s head office was not available for comment by phone and did not respond to email requests by CBC about the costumes found in the Kitchener location.

However, it did send CBC a statement in 2016 about the Indigenous costumes they carry.

“Since 1983, at Spirit Halloween, we have offered a wide and balanced range of Halloween costumes that are inspired by, celebrate and appreciate numerous cultures, make-believe themes and literary figures,” a spokesperson from the company said in a statement.

“We have not directed any of our Spirit Halloween stores to remove Indigenous-themed costumes from our shelves, nor do we plan to have these costumes removed.”

Source: Halloween stores starting to get the ‘appropriation’ message – CBC News | Indigenous

What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz – The New York Times

Gives a good sense of the criteria Facebook uses,  allowing more than what I would consider hate speech.

Take the quiz at their website for the contrast between Facebook, your responses as well as NYT readers (spoiler alert: Facebook classified half of these as hate speech, I classified 5 of the 6):

Have you ever seen a post on Facebook that you were surprised wasn’t removed as hate speech? Have you flagged a message as offensive or abusive but the social media site deemed it perfectly legitimate?

Users on social media sites often express confusion about why offensive posts are not deleted. Paige Lavender, an editor at HuffPost, recently described her experience learning that a vulgar and threatening message she received on Facebook did not violate the platform’s standards.

Here are a selection of statements based on examples from a Facebook training document and real-world comments found on social media. Most readers will find them offensive. But can you tell which ones would run afoul of Facebook’s rules on hate speech?

Hate speech is one of several types of content that Facebook reviews, in addition to threats and harassment. Facebook defines hate speech as:

  1. An attack, such as a degrading generalization or slur.
  2. Targeting a “protected category” of people, including one based on sex, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and serious disability or disease.

Facebook’s hate speech guidelines were published in June by ProPublica, an investigative news organization, which is gathering users’ experiences about how the social network handles hate speech.

Danielle Citron, an information privacy expert and professor of law at the University of Maryland, helped The New York Times analyze six deeply insulting statements and determine whether they would be considered hate speech under Facebook’s rules.

  1. “Why do Indians always smell like curry?! They stink!”
  2. “Poor black people should still sit at the back of the bus.”
  3. “White men are assholes.”
  4. “Keep ‘trans’ men out of girls bathrooms!”
  5. “Female sports reporters need to be hit in the head with hockey pucks.”
  6. “I’ll never trust a Muslim immigrant… they’re all thieves and robbers.”

Did any of these answers surprise you? You’re probably not alone.

Ms. Citron said that even thoughtful and robust definitions of hate speech can yield counterintuitive results when enforced without cultural and historic context.

“When you’re trying to get as rulish as possible, you can lose the point of it,” she said. “The spirit behind those rules can get lost.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said that the company expects its thousands of content reviewers to take context into account when making decisions, and that it constantly evolves its policies to keep up with changing cultural nuances.

In response to questions for this piece, Facebook said it had changed its policy to include age as a protected category. While Facebook’s original training document states that content targeting “black children” would not violate its hate speech policy, the company’s spokeswoman said that such attacks would no longer be acceptable.

Systemic racism encourages half of Canadians to fear Islam and Muslims | Ayesha Chaudhry

Chaudhry, Canada Research Chair of religion, law and social justice at UBC on the M-103 hearings.

I tend to agree with her that the focus on the word Islamophobia appears largely  a smokescreen to avoid discussing the on-the-ground issues:

Recently I appeared before the standing committee on Canadian heritage, which is holding hearings in response to the passing of M-103 earlier this year. The hearings are ostensibly about systemic racism and religious discrimination, but some on the committee seem unaware of this.

What should be an investigation into systemic hate in Canada often feels like a referendum on one word mentioned in M-103: Islamophobia.

From the start of the hearings, witnesses have weighed in, with the active support of some committee members, about whether Islamophobia exists, where the term came from, and whether it is an appropriate term of art. Perhaps, some have offered, we should instead use the term “anti-Muslim”; perhaps we should differentiate between hate that is directed at Islam and hate directed at Muslims; perhaps we should be focusing less on Islamophobia and more on Muslim extremism and radicalization.

Each of these theoretical forays into the technicalities of a single term represents a theft from the task of combating systemic hate, which is the mandate of the committee.

Systemic hate is not bound by technicalities, and it is not restricted to any group of individuals. Rather, it is a form of hate that has come to be enshrined in the institutions of a society, silently shaping the attitudes and behaviours of vast members of the population.

People do not realize they are being shaped by systemic hate, whether that takes the form of misogyny, racism, religious discrimination, or something else. We may not think of ourselves as sexist, yet we somehow manage to regularly pay women less. We may not think of ourselves as racist, yet Indigenous people and Black-Canadians are overrepresented in our prisons, and under-represented in positions of power.

The same goes for Islamophobia. Most people do not consider themselves Islamophobic, and believe that they can differentiate between the religion, Islam, and its adherents, Muslims. But when hate is systemic, it does not accommodate our self-image or make neat boundaries between Islam and Muslims; hate is not that sophisticated.

Consider that according to a 2017 poll, 46 per cent of Canadians have an unfavourable opinion of Islam, and that a 2016 poll found that more than half of Ontarians — 55 per cent — believe that mainstream Islamic doctrines promote violence.

These numbers are deeply worrying because they describe a pervasive climate of fear and loathing that does not stop where a religion ends and its adherents begin. Indeed, in recent polls 43 per cent of Canadians say that they hold a negative opinion of Muslims, more than half — 52 per cent — believe that Muslims can’t be trusted, and 42 per cent believe that discrimination against Muslims is “mainly their fault.” It is not an accident that these are almost the same percentages as those who hold negative opinions of Islam.

In light of these pervasive attitudes about Islam and Muslims, it is unsurprising that between 2012 and 2015, hate crimes against Muslims increased a staggering 253 per cent.

That is not because of lone individuals, but because systemic racism has encouraged about half of the Canadian public to fear Islam and Muslims, without needing to differentiate between the two. Systemic Islamophobia helps us understand why people with Muslim names have a harder time getting jobs, why they are policed at a higher rate, and why one-third of Canadians believe it is “unacceptable” for their children to marry Muslims.

It is ugly, it is shameful, and it is systemic when close to half the population of one of the most peaceful nations on earth hates the second largest religion on earth and its adherents. That hate consumes all of us, the hated and the haters. And such hate results in discrimination that harms our citizens and weakens our democratic institutions.

It has been deeply painful to watch the committee’s hearings about systemic racism and religious discrimination devolve into debates about technical terms, and to watch discussions about Muslim Canadians, even when we are the victims of violence, revolve around Islamic extremism and radicalization. 

For the sake of our citizens and the future of our democracy, I hope that the remaining committee hearings will focus on interrogating the ways in which systemic racism structures our society, privileging some while and disenfranchising others.

Only by recognizing how we are all complicit in systemic racism and religious discrimination, by looking at our systemic problems square in the eye, can we begin to think about addressing and eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination.

If we look away, if we squander this opportunity, then we know for sure; the problem it not the term “Islamophobia”, the problem is us. 

Source: Systemic racism encourages half of Canadians to fear Islam and Muslims | Vancouver Sun

Opinion: Jagmeet Singh fails to typecast easily, despite CBC’s best efforts

Jagdeesh Mann on the political nuances of younger generation Canadian Sikh  and Singh’s fumbled response to questions regarding his support or not for Air India terrorists (Milewski’s questions were valid just as Mann’s pointing out some double standards):

But even if Singh knows his history of 1980s Sikh separatism, was he being asked to denounce the personal views of other Sikhs who venerate Parmar because Singh himself is a baptized Sikh?

Or was he being asked because there are such followers in his political base?

Either way, these questions lead to a troubling double standard when compared to CBC’s treatment of other politicians, such as the Conservative Party’s new leader Andrew Scheer. In an interview earlier this year, Scheer was asked about his views on same-sex marriage and abortion, but at no point was the devout Catholic asked to openly condemn his fellow Catholic congregants who view same-sex marriage as an abomination.

Meanwhile, other Canadian politicians with a significant following in the Sikh community have also been spared Milewski’s rough treatment. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has never been asked to condemn the portion of his Sikh base who view men like Parmar as martyrs. In the 2015 election, Trudeau benefited mightily from the Sikh vote, delivered to him by organizers from the World Sikh Organization — a group that once advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh homeland, on the heels of the Air India bombing. The WSO has also delivered for past Liberal leaders, including Jean Chretien.

Media hypocrisy, however, reaches its apex each spring in Surrey, when dozens of federal, provincial and municipal politicians, along with senior representative from the armed forces, RCMP, major banks and other federal bodies congregate at the Khalsa Day Parade on 128th Street. The event, which drew 300,000 attendees this past year, is hosted by Dasmesh Darbar, the largest Sikh temple in B.C. At this temple, a kind of Sikh version of the Yasukuni Shrine, Parmar and other Sikh separatists are lionized through posters and photo memorials.

In the years since the Air India bombing, mainstream media has leaned heavily on a false, and self-perpetuated, binary of “moderates” versus “fundamentalists” when reporting on news with a Sikh angle. This was partly the consequence of non-diverse newsrooms in the 1980s and 1990s struggling to decipher the inner-workings of a complex community with which many were unfamiliar.

So media outlets created go-to contacts, such as temple presidents and politicians, who became the default spokespeople for an entire range of issues, regardless of their familiarity on these topics. These individuals, in turn, used their privileged positions to perpetuate this divide in which “moderates” became seen as forward-looking secularists who, typically, didn’t wear turbans, while fundamentalists were orthodox in religious practice and ardent supporters of an Sikh homeland independent of India.

In the three decades since Air India, two generations of Sikhs have grown out of the shadow of the separatist turmoil. These youth tend to speak English and French better than they do Punjabi and they are politically active through social justice causes.

Singh is part of this new educated generation which continues to advocate — arguably with more passion and idealism than their parents — for redress on behalf of the 10,000-plus Sikhs systematically murdered by government supported pogroms in Delhi in 1984. Singh, and other young Canadian Sikhs, however, are equally as impassioned by other Canadian-based causes such as attaining meaningful reconciliation for this country’s Aboriginal communities and protecting the environment.

This complexity, however, becomes lost in translation for reporters like Milewski because they still insist on viewing the Sikh community through the tenuous lens of Air India and the separatist struggle that long ago withered on the vine. The community has changed but their narrative framework for reporting has not evolved.

Consequently, Singh’s social activism and even his belief in self-determination becomes recklessly conflated as support for a man accused of terrorism three decades ago. And it happens on national television, as it did on Power & Politics where CBC got caught judging a book by its cover as Milewski shamelessly tried to pin down Singh as a Sikh “fundamentalist.” 

If there was any extremism in Canada that day, it was in the manner by which CBC treated the new leader of the NDP.

Singh won his party leadership and the support of the party grassroots because he is a person who embodies the modern nuances of multicultural Canada. Until CBC figures out how to articulate that, Canada’s state broadcaster will continue to foster uncomfortable exchanges that do little to bring together Canadians of all backgrounds.

Source: Opinion: Jagmeet Singh fails to typecast easily, despite CBC’s best efforts | Vancouver Sun

Islamic school’s gender segregation is unlawful, court of appeal rules | The Guardian

Sound, although same rationale could be applied to single sex schools:

Schools in Britain will no longer be able to substantially segregate boys and girls, after the court of appeal ruled that a co-educational faith school in Birminghamhad caused unlawful discrimination by separating the two sexes.

The court overturned a ruling by the high court last year involving Al-Hijrah school, a voluntary-aided mixed-sex state school that had been strongly criticised by Ofsted school inspectors for failing to uphold British values.

On appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act by strictly segregating pupils from the age of nine, teaching them in different classrooms and making them use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy was also applied to clubs and school trips.

About 25 other mixed schools in England have similar rules and they now face having to overhaul their policies in the wake of the ruling by Sir Terence Etherton, the master of rolls, Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Beatson.

Ofsted said it would now look closely at the other schools with similar policies, which includes several Orthodox Jewish and Christian faith schools.

“Ofsted’s job is to make sure that all schools properly prepare children for life in modern Britain,” said Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, after the ruling was announced. “Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favourably because of their sex, or for any other reason.

“This case involves issues of real public interest and has significant implications for gender equality, Ofsted, government, and the wider education sector. We will be considering the ruling carefully to understand how this will affect future inspections.”

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We welcome today’s confirmation by the court of appeal that it is unlawful for a mixed school to segregate girls and boys completely. Socialisation is a core part of a good quality education, just as much as formal learning and, without it, we’re harming children’s life chances right from the start.”

The appeal court judges said segregation had been tacitly approved by the Department for Education and Ofsted in the past, so the schools involved should be treated sympathetically and given time to adjust their policies.

“The relevant central government authorities should not pivot in the way they have gone about this without recognising the real difficulties those affected will face as a consequence,” the judges said in their ruling.

The ruling applies only to co-educational schools. Single-sex schools are given a specific exemption from discrimination claims related to admissions under the Equalities Act, although it is unclear if the provisions would extend to arguments that both sexes suffer from the absence of the other.

In ruling that Al-Hijrah had unlawfully discriminated against its pupils, the court stated: “An individual girl pupil cannot socialise and intermix with a boy pupil because, and only because, of her sex; and an individual boy pupil cannot socialise and intermix with a girl pupil because, and only because, of his sex. Each is, therefore, treated less favourably than would be the case if their sex was different.”

Source: Islamic school’s gender segregation is unlawful, court of appeal rules | Education | The Guardian

Norway’s government wants to allow dual citizenship – The Local

The last hold-out among the Nordics:
Norway’s government is to pave the way towards allowing dual citizenship in the Scandinavian country, with a proposal to be put to parliament this autumn.

The proposal will give new rights to thousands of people with connections to both Norway and a second country.

“We will notify in the state budget that there will be a hearing on the proposal to allow dual citizenship,” immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug told NRK.

For pro-dual citizenship NGO Norwegians Worldwide, which has long campaigned for a law change in the area, the announcement represents a positive change in the government’s position on Norwegians with an international outlook.

“We are extremely happy that the government wants to change an outdated and unfair law that has huge consequences for Norwegian families worldwide. This is a key issue for us and we are delighted on behalf of all those affected by the law against double citizenship,” Norwegians Worldwide general secretary Hanne K. Aaberg said in a press statement.

Donna Fox, co-founder of lobbying group ‘Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap’ (Yes to dual citizenship) also welcomed the announcement.

“This announcement is fantastic news. After three years of lobbying for the principle of dual citizenship in Norway, Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap has succeeded in convincing the government to change its outdated mono-citizenship law. Thousands of Norwegian families with connection to two countries, long term permanent Norwegian residents, and future generations will benefit from the right to vote, live and reside without restriction between their countries of citizenship,” Fox told The Local.

Norway is currently the only Nordic country and one of only a small handful of European nations that does not allow dual citizenship, although exceptions to citizenship rules do provide for it in some cases.

Source: Norway’s government wants to allow dual citizenship – The Local

RCMP questionnaire for asylum seekers targeted Muslims, asking them about head coverings, terrorist groups

Kellie Leitch’s value testing in action:

The emergence of an RCMP questionnaire targeting Muslim asylum seekers in Quebec sparked criticism Thursday that the Liberal government mismanaged last summer’s massive flow of migrants from the United States.

The questionnaire was used at the Quebec border crossing that saw an influx of thousands of asylum seekers from the U.S., many of them of Haitian descent who were concerned about the Trump administration’s decision to cancel a program that allowed them to stay in the country.

Among other things, the questionnaire asked opinions about religious practice, head coverings associated with Muslim women and terrorist groups with mainly Muslim members.

Toronto immigration lawyer Clifford McCarten said he obtained a copy of the document from a client seeking refugee status, who had been given the three-page, 41-question document by mistake.

“He was shocked by the questions,” said McCarten, who provided a copy to The Canadian Press.

The man was originally from a Muslim country, he added.

“Canada is a very liberal country that believes in freedom of religious practice and equality between men and women. What is your opinion of this subject? How would you feel if your boss was a woman? How do you feel about women who do not wear the hijab?” says the questionnaire, which also asked the same question about other head and body coverings, including the dupatta, niqab, chador and burka.

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government found out on Tuesday about the existence of the questionnaire from a “stakeholder” who takes an interest in the work of the department.

Public Safety Spokesman Scott Bardsley said the department was immediately concerned and the document is no longer being used by the RCMP.

“Some of the questions were inappropriate and inconsistent with government policy,” Bardsley said in an emailed statement.

Bardsley said the document was only used “locally,” but would not say whether there would be repercussions for any of the Mounties involved in its creation.

He referred those questions to the RCMP, but a spokeswoman said Thursday the Mounties would not be granting interviews on the topic. In a written statement, the RCMP said the “interview guide” was used by its Quebec C Division and “has been revised to better evaluate individuals coming into the country whose origin is unknown, while being respectful of their situations.”

McCarten said the existence of the document raises questions about the federal government’s competence in managing the sudden surge of arrivals from the U.S.

“If, in fact, this was a local detachment making this decision — which I find a bit hard to believe — then it’s deeply concerning that one of the most, if not the most problematic crisis spot in Canadian immigration and refugee policy right now . . . doesn’t have a federal strategy for how screening is happening.”

The New Democrats said the government needed to show more leadership in dealing with the influx of asylum seekers.

“Canadians need to be assured that security measures are in place, but this looks more like religious profiling,” Matthew Dube, the NDP public safety critic said in a statement.

“Either the minister was aware this was taking place and did nothing or he doesn’t have a handle on what practices are being used.”

Jenny Kwan, the NDP immigration critic, said the government needs to provide more answers on how the questionnaire was used.

“The number of times someone prays should have no bearing on their refugee status. That is not who we are,” she said.

Other questions asked the applicants to specify their religion and “how often” they practice their religion.

McCarten said the RCMP needs to conduct security screening, but the questions being asked don’t cover all potential threats to Canada.

“It appears to instruct RCMP officers to be asking questions to the exclusion of other types of concerns, specifically the right-wing, white supremacist violence happening in the U.S. and that we have a history of in Canada,” he said.

“It asks questions that are discriminatory, that reflect a kind of institutional bias and an institutional ignorance of the RCMP of the nature of risk.”

He said asking a Muslim their opinion of head coverings is “absurd” and akin to “asking a Jewish person what their opinions are about men who don’t wear the yarmulke.”

McCarten said the document reflects on the RCMP as a whole, and shows “a kind of Islamaphobic bias that is animating how it does its business.”

Source: RCMP questionnaire for asylum seekers targeted Muslims, asking them about head coverings, terrorist groups | National Post

Brexit vote creates surge in EU citizenship applications | The Guardian

Although the overall numbers are still relatively low, the increase is notable and to be expected. Good summary of the available data:

At least 17,000 Britons sought the citizenship of another EU member state in the year after the Brexit vote, a Guardian analysis shows.

While comprehensive figures for the previous year are not available, the larger countries surveyed all reported a jump in applications, suggesting a significant overall increase.

Figures collated from requests to London-based EU embassies and interior ministries across the bloc show that EU citizenship applications from UK residents and Britons living in other member states surged in the 12 months after the referendum

Responses received from 20 countries showed the greatest number of applications were for Irish citizenship with almost 9,000 applications from UK residents and Britons living in Ireland in the 12 months from July 2016, the month after the referendum took place.

The Irish embassy in London received 8,017 applications from UK residents between July 2016 and the end of June 2017 compared with just 689 in the full year of 2015. There was also a surge in applications from British residents in Ireland: 894 applications were made in the year from 1 July 2016, compared with just 104 the previous year.

An overall agreement on Britain’s article 50 withdrawal from the EU is far from settled, and the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Thursday that sufficient progress had not been made on the issue of citizens’ rights for the estimated 1.2 million Britons living in other EU countries and 3.6 million EU citizens who are residents of the UK.

Dora Kostakopoulou, a professor of EU law and European integration at Warwick University, said the main reasons for the surge in applications was because people wanted security of residence and were seeking to retain EU citizenship rights, including the right to travel and live in the 27 countries that will remain members of the EU after the UK leaves.

“They value European citizenship and therefore they do not wish to lose this status as a result of Brexit,” she said. “So gaining citizenship of (another) member state would guarantee their existing status and their existing rights.”

The Guardian contacted the UK-based embassies and interior ministries of the other member states requesting the number of citizenship applications made by UK residents and Britons living in the respective countries.

In the first eight months of 2017, 2,129 Britons living in France applied for French citizenship, figures from the interior ministry show. This compares with 1,363 applications in the whole of 2016 and just 385 in 2015. These figures exclude those made directly to the French embassy in London.

Just over 1,700 UK residents applied for German citizenship in the 12 months following the Brexit vote, compared with just 63 applications in the full-year 2015. About 90% of these were made under restoration of the basic law for the Federal Republic of Germany which confers citizenship rights on the descendents of people whose citizenship was renounced on political, racial or religious grounds in Nazi Germany.

One of them is London-based Jon Landau, the chief operating officer at tech startup Wazoku. He, his father, uncle and son all applied for citizenship on the grounds that Landau’s grandfather lost his German citizenship in the 1930s.

“As soon as the Brexit vote became clear, I started looking more seriously into the application process. Becoming a German citizen isn’t just about my future, but also about my young son’s opportunities. I want to ensure that he will see himself as a European citizen, with all the possibilities and freedoms of travel, study and work that I’ve enjoyed,” he said.

There was also a large increase in German citizenship applications among Britons living in Germany. The Federal Office for Statistics (Destatis) recorded 2,865 such applications last year, up from 622 in 2015. Figures for 2017 are not yet available.

The Swedish migration authority reported a steep increase in applications by British citizens: 1,965 Britons applied for Swedish citizenship domestically and abroad in the year to the end of June 2017, more than double the previous year.

British applications for Danish citizenship more than doubled to 604 in the same period compared with the previous year.

In Spain, where foreigners can apply for nationality after 10 years’ residence but must renounce their prior citizenship, the numbers seeking citizenship are relatively low: data on the number of people taking Spanish knowledge tests with the Instituto Cervantes shows there were 579 applications in the year after the Brexit vote.

As the test was only made compulsory in October 2015, it is not possible to compare this with the previous year period, but the average number of applications per month shot up from nine to 58 after June 2016.

One of the largest proportionate increases was recorded in Italy where the number of applications rose more than eightfold from 70 in the 12 months to the end of June 2016 to 593.

Applications for Finnish citizenship trebled to 115 applications while the number of applications for Cypriot and Greek citizenship quadrupled to 306 and 45 respectively.

There were about 170 applications in the Netherlands in the 12 months after the vote compared with just 40 in the full year of 2015.

Dawn MacFarlane, who has lived in Holland for the past 19 years and is awaiting a decision on her Dutch citizenship, said: “I actually considered myself a European citizen so I never felt the actual need to change my citizenship to Dutch even though I’ve been here a long time.”

However, she became concerned after the Brexit vote about her entitlements should she become unemployed and she said her feelings about the UK changed after the result.

“I just feel that being part of Europe is a very important part of my identity. For a large part of my life, I felt more European than British. I am Scottish first and I would have been British but the European feeling overpowered the British part.”

The Austrian embassy said it usually received about 10 applications per year, but that rose to 35 in the year following the Brexit referendum. A further 37 applications were received across the country’s nine states compared with just 15 between July 2015 and June 2016.

Other countries reported more modest increases in the number of UK residents seeking citizenship in the 12 months following the vote: the Czech republic recorded 27, up from 11, while Slovakia had 24 applications, up from 15.

No Britons were recorded as having applied for citizenship of Estonia and Slovenia.

The Guardian did not receive responses or got incomplete figures from Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Portugal, and a Belgian official said its figures were not centrally collated.

Citizenship applications differ from applications for passports which can only be obtained by existing citizens. Irish passport applications made by UK residentshave soared since Brexit: more than 100,000 Irish passports were issued in the UK in the first six months of 2017, up from 65,000 in 2016.

People born in other countries are automatically Irish citizens if they or either of their parents were born in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) before 2005. However, foreign-born individuals with an Irish grandparent or a parent who, although an Irish citizen, was born outside the country, must apply for inclusion in the foreign births register in order to gain citizenship.

Source: Brexit vote creates surge in EU citizenship applications | Politics | The Guardian