Don’t Blame Diversity for Distrust – NYTimes.com

Good piece by Maria Abascal and Delia Baldassarri on disadvantage and unequal opportunities being more important to trust than diversity:

For his own part, Professor Putnam filed an amicus brief in the Fisher case objecting to the use of his findings in arguments against affirmative action. In the brief, he states his belief that diversity can be beneficial in the long term, despite its short-term drawbacks.

Our research reveals that even in the short term, diversity is not to blame. We independently analyzed the same data set Professor Putnam used, and we demonstrate that disadvantage, not diversity, is responsible for distrust.

At first glance, our results resemble those of previous studies: People in more diverse communities report lower levels of trust. Scholars and columnists alike have taken this to mean that diversity reduces trust, but we argue that this interpretation is flawed.

A thought experiment sheds light on what is going on. Imagine two schools: a homogeneous school with all Dutch students and a diverse school with half Dutch students and half Bolivian students. If we are studying student height, we would most likely find that students in the diverse school are shorter, on average, than students in the homogeneous school. Hardly anyone would then argue that attending a diverse school makes students shorter. Dutch people are taller than Bolivians, on average, and this explains the difference between the schools. Substitute trust for height and communities for schools, and, based on a similar association between diversity and trust, scholars have concluded that living in a diverse community makes people less trusting.

The analogy isn’t perfect, but it draws attention to an important possibility: Trust, like height, might be determined by pre-existing differences between groups, rather than exposure to diversity. In the United States, blacks and Latinos report lower levels of trust than whites, regardless of the communities where they live. The average homogeneous community (defined as a census tract) in the United States is 84 percent white, whereas the average diverse community is 54 percent white. Together, these patterns indicate that diverse communities do not make people less trusting. Rather, distrust is higher in diverse communities because blacks and Latinos, who are more likely than whites to live in one, are less trusting to begin with.

If diversity doesn’t reduce trust, what does? According to our analysis, disadvantage accounts for lower levels of trust. If you have a low income, or less schooling, or are unemployed or experiencing housing instability, you are likely to report lower trust. To make matters worse, if your neighbors experience similar disadvantages, this compounds your distrust. Taken together, this suggests that it is not the diversity of a community that undermines trust, but rather the disadvantages that people in diverse communities face.

This is why blacks and Latinos report lower trust than whites: Socioeconomic and neighborhood disadvantages are more common among these groups. We suspect that blacks and Latinos also report lower trust for other reasons, including continuing discrimination, victimization by the police and hostile political rhetoric.

Finally, our only finding related to diversity confirms a familiar story about white intolerance toward minorities. Whites who live among more blacks and Latinos report slightly lower trust than those who live in predominately white communities. This is a far cry from the claim that the minorities who are diversifying the nation are responsible for declining levels of trust.

This distinction has important implications for the affirmative action debate and social policy in general: If diversity is the problem, then policies should aim to protect or even promote homogeneity. If, instead, whites’ bias against blacks and Latinos is partly to blame, then policies should aim to allay these biases and their consequences for targeted groups. This was part of President John F. Kennedy’s original rationale for affirmative action: to address unequal opportunities across “race, creed, color.” Many of the conditions that motivated Kennedy’s directive persist today. Blacks, Latinos and members of other disadvantaged groups still face unequal treatment across a range of arenas, from the labor market to housing to education.

The current debate on affirmative action is playing out in the context of widespread anxieties about the changing face of the nation. Research that links diversity to negative outcomes legitimizes these anxieties. And it doesn’t help that this research has found its way into arguments against affirmative action. But disadvantage and unequal opportunities, rather than diversity, present the biggest obstacles to our getting along. By doing away with affirmative action and limiting access to higher education for blacks and Latinos, we will aggravate the disadvantages these groups face, while accommodating the intolerance of whites toward minorities.

Source: Don’t Blame Diversity for Distrust – NYTimes.com

With civil service shakeup, Trudeau brings youth, diversity to top jobs

Election 2015 and Beyond- Implementation Diversity and Inclusion.001Simon Doyle on changes to Deputy ranks but more anecdotal than evidence-based.

My count of the 19 Deputy appointments to date by PM Trudeau: 10 men, 9 women, 1 visible minority, no Indigenous people. Gender parity but weak visible minority and Indigenous peoples representation, reflecting in part weaknesses in ADM diversity as shown in the above chart:

Retirements of Ottawa’s highest-ranked bureaucrats have accelerated under the Justin Trudeau government as the Liberals shuffle the leadership of the public service after years of management under Stephen Harper.

The government has made a series of moves with its highest-ranked bureaucrats since coming into office last fall, most recently promoting senior officials who had worked on the Environment and Foreign Affairs portfolios.

…..David Zussman, a former senior government official and a professor of public-sector management at the University of Ottawa, said the number of appointments are high, with more than 20 changes in the senior ranks of the public service since late December, including retirements.

“I’m sure word would have gone out that: ‘We’re in a process of renewal, and any of you guys thinking of leaving, do me a favour and tell me now,’ ” Dr. Zussman said.

“A lot of them are really long-standing public servants who I think hung around for the election to help out [former clerk] Janice Charette, and now, six months into it, they decided to trigger their retirements. They’ve all got their 35 years,” he said, indicating they can collect pensions.

…“Some ministers may want a new deputy, and it’s their prerogative to say they would like someone new. The clerk may decide that he feels someone should move, or sometimes deputies will go and say they would like to move,” said C. Scott Clark, former deputy minister of finance and a senior adviser to the prime minister under the Jean Chrétien government.

“It takes time for a minister and a deputy to form what I would call a good relationship, a professional, working relationship. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t,” Mr. Clark said.

…The new deputies also reflect efforts by Mr. Trudeau and the clerk to renew the public service and, as with the makeup of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, introduce some youth and diversity into the government’s leadership.

“He’s been very clear about the importance he attaches to having a professional, non-partisan, responsive, agile, creative public service,” Mr. Wernick told The Globe and Mail in an interview earlier this year. “It’s the only way he’s going to accomplish the goals he put in front of Canadians.”

One senior government official said Mr. Trudeau, in late January, made a rare appearance at the Deputy Ministers’ Breakfast, a gathering of all the public service’s most senior mandarins who meet in Langevin Block. Prime ministers typically address the breakfast once or twice per year.

While it’s unclear what was said, the PM has been emphasizing with senior officials a program for getting results and revitalizing the public service. Mr. Trudeau attended the meeting shortly after he appointed Mr. Wernick as Clerk.

….Mr. Scott expects more changes in the fall after the government takes the summer to regroup. “I would expect there will probably be more moves coming,” he said. As Mr. Wernick said in a recent letter to the PM: “It is clear to me that we are entering a period of dramatic generational change in the Public Service.”

Source: With civil service shakeup, Trudeau brings youth, diversity to top jobs – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: The Choice Explosion – The New York Times

Interesting insights on decision-making in the book, Decisive, by  Chip and Dan Heath:

It’s becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well, to develop the techniques of self-distancing to counteract the flaws in our own mental machinery. The Heath book is a very good compilation of those techniques.

For example, they mention the maxim, assume positive intent. When in the midst of some conflict, start with the belief that others are well-intentioned. It makes it easier to absorb information from people you’d rather not listen to.

They highlight Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 rule. When you’re about to make a decision, ask yourself how you will feel about it 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now. People are overly biased by the immediate pain of some choice, but they can put the short-term pain in long-term perspective by asking these questions.

The Heaths recommend making deliberate mistakes. A survey of new brides found that 20 percent were not initially attracted to the man they ended up marrying. Sometimes it’s useful to make a deliberate “mistake” — agreeing to dinner with a guy who is not your normal type. Sometimes you don’t really know what you want and the filters you apply are hurting you.

They mention our tendency to narrow-frame, to see every decision as a binary “whether or not” alternative. Whenever you find yourself asking “whether or not,” it’s best to step back and ask, “How can I widen my options?” In other words, before you ask, “Should I fire this person?” Ask, “Is there any way I can shift this employee’s role to take advantage of his strengths and avoid his weaknesses?”

The explosion of choice means we all need more help understanding the anatomy of decision-making. It makes you think that we should have explicit decision-making curriculums in all schools. Maybe there should be a common course publicizing the work of Daniel Kahneman, Cass Sunstein, Dan Ariely and others who study the way we mess up and the techniques we can adopt to prevent error.

Source: The Choice Explosion – The New York Times

Minorités: des mots offensants retirés des lois américaines | États-Unis

Updating to reflect language and culture changes. Curious to know if anyone has examples of Canadian laws that need similar updating:

Les lois fédérales américaines ne comporteront plus de termes désuets et offensants utilisés autrefois pour désigner les minorités.

Le président Barack Obama a signé un projet de loi proposant de supprimer plusieurs de ces mots, dont «Nègre» et «Oriental», vendredi, a indiqué la Maison-Blanche.

Ces deux expressions seront remplacées par «Afro-Américain» et «Asio-Américain».

Le projet de loi a été adopté en février par la Chambre des représentants et la semaine dernière par le Sénat. Aucun représentant ou sénateur ne s’y est opposé.

Les termes visés par la législation apparaissent dans des lois des années 1970 tentant de décrire les minorités.

Dans la Loi sur l’organisation du département de l’Énergie, la phrase «un Nègre, un Portoricain, un Indien d’Amérique, un Esquimau, un Oriental ou un Aléoute ou un hispanophone d’origine espagnole» sera remplacée par «Asio-Américain, natif d’Hawaï, natif des îles Pacifiques, Afro-Américain, Hispanique, Portoricain, Amérindien ou natif d’Alaska».

Les mêmes mots seront aussi remplacés dans la Loi sur le développement et les investissements dans les travaux publics locaux, qui remonte à 1976.

Source: Minorités: des mots offensants retirés des lois américaines | États-Unis

The winners and losers of globalization, Branko Milanovic’s new book on inequality answers two important questions: Corak

Miles Corak’s review of Branko Milanovic’s Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization makes interesting reading, particularly  the section on immigration:

If we really can get into this global mindset that he is asking us to adopt, then we might think more creatively, and perhaps less dogmatically, about a series of challenges that we face as citizens of individual nations. There are a number of examples in the last chapter, but perhaps the most striking deals with citizenship and migration, examples that cut at the very core of the approach.

There remains a huge boost to incomes depending upon where an individual lives, and this creates big incentives for migration from poorer to richer countries. American politics has long been struggling with meaningful immigration reform, driven by the large inequalities between countries but also formed, informed, and misinformed by the large inequalities within the country.

The refugee crisis now afflicting Europe is partly geopolitical but also deeply economic. Better lives are to be had if one can make it to Germany or Sweden. “Physical walls between jurisdictions,” Milanovic tells us, “are being built, in part, because there is a huge financial wall between being and not being a citizen of a rich country.” In his view, this is because our national politics ties us to a binary notion of citizenship. He speculates that Americans and other citizens of the rich countries might be more amenable to immigration if there were what he calls an intermediate level of citizenship, a level that would have less economic value than full citizenship because it would entail higher taxation, less access to social services, or perhaps an obligation to return to the country of origin.

In other words, put aside the idea of a “path to citizenship” as a right. Americans have tolerated a de facto inferior form of residency, but in a way that keeps many immigrants and their children in the shadows. Milanovic is advocating bringing them out of the shadows through, for example, a legally administered program for temporary foreign workers, giving migrants the right to work in the country but also the obligation to return home.

This is something actually done in Canada, but the policy went afoul politically because it made the competition for jobs between natives and migrants more transparent. It may be a policy particularly appropriate to the European Union, where the walls are something more than metaphorical. This is context that Milanovic probably has in mind. But it is hard to imagine how much traction a temporary foreign-worker program, or the other variants he suggests, would have in the U.S., because the perception that immigrants compete for jobs and lower wages of the native-born will still bite.

Indeed, at the same time, Milanovic makes clear that he feels the “great middle-class squeeze” is not over, and will likely lead to more polarization in rich societies and their politics. This will not only ensure immigration policy will continue to be challenging, it may also be all the more troubling for policy directed to equality of opportunity.

In the coming years, the observed differences in the skills and abilities between the top echelons and everyone else will not be that great, with chance, family background, and inheritances playing a bigger role in allocating incomes. “The new capitalism will resemble a big casino, with one important exception: those who have won a few rounds (often through being born into the right family) will be given much better odds to keep on winning.” If this is so, then it will be harder and harder to sustain the story that inequality is somehow the precursor of opportunity, offering rewards and incentives for the more productive among us to contribute to higher growth and incomes for all. And the status quo will become politically less and less sustainable.

Source: The winners and losers of globalization, Branko Milanovic’s new book on inequality answers two important questions | Economics for public policy

Douglas Todd: Mixed motives fuel rise of foreign students

Not surprising that universities and other educational institutions view foreign students from an economic perspective and that foreign families consider not only the education but financial (shift money to Canada, invest in real estate) and political benefits (citizenship).

But, as in the case over the debate over housing prices, it raises policy issues:

Immigration Canada data shows about 72,000 foreign students from Mainland Chinese were accepted in 2014, 36,000 from India, 17,000 from South Korea and 13,000 from France. In total, one out of four foreign students in Canada is from China.
Canadian politicians talk in predictable ways about the increasing number of foreign students.

Wilkinson maintains Chinese and other foreign students bring “social, cultural and economic benefits.” And they pay full fees for their own educations, unlike subsidized homegrown students.

The federal Immigration Minister John McCallum often calls foreign students “the cream of the crop.”

But noted specialists in higher education, including Boston College’s Philip Altbach and Ontario’s Jane Knight, say the quality of foreign students is going down as their numbers inflate.

Most foreign students are now second tier, say Altbach and Knight. They’re generally not doing well in the schools in their countries of origin. But many have rich parents.

Given the trend, Knight argues that most Western foreign-student programs have lost their humanitarian origins and become elaborate cash grabs. They make it possible for governments like British Columbia’s to mask that they are tightening education funding.

What are some foreign students in Canada doing when they’re not studying?

Canada’s federal housing agency, looking for new methods to track foreign ownership in the country’s soaring real estate markets, has considering classifying foreign university students as foreign buyers as it steps up its investigation into global money-laundering.

Bloomberg News discovered that Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp., the Crown corporation that tracks housing data, is especially interested in how the red-hot housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver are partly fuelled by foreign students, some of whom live in multi-million-dollar homes near the UBC campus.

In a related study, urban planner Andy Yan, head of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, discovered that in a six-month period in 2015, about 70 per cent of 172 detached homes sold on Vancouver’s west side were purchased by Mainland Chinese buyers.

Yan’s research showed that, of all self-declared occupations among owners of the high-priced homes in the study, 36 per cent were housewives or students with little income.

Five of eight homes owned by “students” were bought outright with cash at an average value of $3.2 million.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, a frequent adviser to the federal parliament, said it’s clear that most children from around the world who are able to afford to live and pay full education fees in expensive cities like Toronto and Vancouver are from “elite families.”

One bonus of getting children into Canada as foreign students, Kurland says, is that those who are able can become players in real-estate investment. Students are being declared as property owners of Vancouver residential property because they aid in international money transfers, Kurland said.

Foreign students have the advantage of being able to appear as residents of Canada for income tax purposes, even as their declared earned income would be extremely low.

As principal resident of a dwelling, Kurland said, a foreign student does not have to pay capital gains when his or her home is sold at a profit. “Then, out of the goodness of their heart, they can send the profit back to their uncle in China,” Kurland said with irony.

In addition to aiding the movement of trans-national wealth, however, possibly the more common reason a well-off foreign family puts a great deal of effort into establishing their son or daughter in Canada is that it goes a long way to obtaining a second passport.
Canadian politicians often rank international students as prime candidates for immigration. Roughly three out of 10 foreign students have gone on to become Canadian citizens. And that proportion is expected to rise.

Kurland believes more foreign students from China are being flown to Canada at “younger and younger ages … in part because they’re a no-fit in the Chinese educational system.” They need to establish themselves early in Canada’s educational system if they’re going to make it.

The immigration lawyer, who publishes a newsletter called Lexbase, discovered that Mainland Chinese families have doubled the rate at which they’re sending their children to Canadian elementary and high schools. Four out of 10 foreign students in Canada, including those from Mainland China, now apply for “secondary school or less.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Mixed motives fuel rise of foreign students | Vancouver Sun

In Austria’s Jewish Community, Some Who Fear Muslims Are Drawn To The Far-Right : NPR

Interesting report regarding the political divisions within Austria’s small Jewish community:

KAKISSIS: Van der Bellen is the independent liberal-leaning candidate running against Norbert Hofer. Winkler, an Orthodox Jewish teacher, worries that Austria’s next president could be Hofer, someone from a party with Nazi roots.

WINKLER: Yes, they want to claim that they are OK. Yes, yes, of course. They want to disguise a little bit.KAKISSIS: She says the Freedom Party, which Austrians call the FPO, likes to blame outsiders for the country’s problems. And Muslims are just the current targets.

WINKLER: If there wouldn’t be a Youssef, it would be about Yosef. And if there wouldn’t be a Mohammed, it would about the Moshe. So if the – if wouldn’t have the Muslims to target, it would be us.

KAKISSIS: Vienna was once a mecca for Jewish intellectuals like psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. But the rise of Nazism forced many to leave. Tens of thousands of Austrian Jews who did not leave died in the Holocaust. About 15,000 Jews live in Austria today.But for some Austrian Jews, the government’s decision last year to accept 90,000 refugees, mainly from the Middle East and Afghanistan, is more of a worry than far right politicians. Michael Kaner is a Jewish web designer. And he believes Muslim immigrants are teaching their children anti-Semitic values.

MICHAEL KANER: The greedy Jew, the Jew with the big nose who’s always after the money, who’s controlling the economy and who wants to rule the world – these are anti-Semitic things we got rid of in Europe.

KAKISSIS: That’s why Kaner is supporting Hofer. The Freedom Party even has one Jewish number of Parliament, David Lasar, who has taken party members to Israel. Writer Peter Sichrovsky, a former member of the European Parliament was actually the first Jewish number of the Freedom Party. He joined in 1996, he says, because he was tired of Austria’s two mainstream parties dominating politics.

PETER SICHROVSKY: You couldn’t get a job without the support of one of the parties. You would join a sport club that was connected to one of the two parties. If you wanted a cheap apartment in Vienna, you had to become a member.

KAKISSIS: Sichrovsky left the Freedom Party in 2002 after populists took over.

SICHROVSKY: They don’t offer solutions in economics. They don’t offer solutions in education. All they do is using the anger and the frustration and pour oil into the fire, as you say.

KAKISSIS: His son Ilja Sichrovsky now organizes an annual conference that brings together Muslims and Jews from around the world. For NPR News, I’m Joanna Kakissis in Vienna.

Source: In Austria’s Jewish Community, Some Who Fear Muslims Are Drawn To The Far-Right : NPR

PMO ‘central control deepening far more than people know or seem to care about’

Good interview with Alex Marland, author of Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control;

Your book also examines political communications under the Harper Conservatives. Has political communications changed under the Trudeau Liberals? 

“The Trudeau brand is refreshing and engaging. Even those who cringe at the selfies and the blatant photo-ops should acknowledge that the change in tone is a welcome relief after the intense negativity that permeated Canadian politics dating to the early 2000s. Hopefully the showmanship will fall away, because a shameless desire for publicity and public adulation can turn many citizens off politics too. For someone like me, the issue is that the more that the media’s glare is on the prime minister, the more power that individual has. I believe that central control is deepening far more than people know or seem to care about. The creation of delivery units in the centre of the Liberal government are an excellent example of PMO control. It is not lost on me that if the Harper administration had created those we’d be hearing howls that Canada is becoming an authoritarian state. It is the role of academics to see beyond the public personas of political leaders, especially when everyone else is distracted by them.”

Why do you say the pursuit of political power is strategic as never before? What do you mean?

“The competition for power involves a level of strategic manoeuvering and tactical execution in ways that are exceedingly complex. Sure, there’s a lot of gut instinct involved—there just isn’t enough money in Canadian politics to enable the kind of data analytics found in the U.S.A. In any event, you cannot form government on the basis of marketing alone. It was sometimes said that Harper was playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers. I would suggest that everyone is forced to play chess now. Even the smallest political parties have supporter databases, are using social media, are familiar with market segmentation to bundle coalitions, and so on. Everything is quick, quick, quick—not only do you need to be sharp-minded, but you need to operate in a media cycle that churns multiple times per day. This is where branding comes in: if you have a core set of messages and values the brand mantra acts as a guide for spinning a message no matter what the circumstance.”

How has branding influenced democracy?

“Branding’s supporters, including in the government, will tell you that it saves money and makes things more efficient. Navigating webpages with a common look and feel is an example; cutting down on the number of sub-brands and logos throughout government is another. Templates for campaign signs, brochures and websites have done wonders for local campaigns, while simultaneously imprinting a central command ethos. Branding also simplifies things for electors—the same messages are repeated, we see the same visuals over and over. Only the most rabid politicos read campaign platforms, or care about policy discussions at party conventions. Most Canadians are busy with their daily lives and pay surface attention to politics. Branding connects with them. It also limits the potential for a brand ambassador to commit a gaffe or so-called “bozo interruption” that undermines the leadership team. So as a strategy it helps to move an agenda forward. The downside, of course, is that candidates and MPs, and even some ministers, become regional sales reps of a message set by people at the top. It becomes a serious problem when all messages align, bordering on state propaganda.”

Where is Canadian politics headed? 

“I am a cautious optimist. The proliferation of digital media means that traditional elite power structures are under stress to change and evolve. This is generally good. What is not good is that the online sphere has become a powerful interest group for the hyper-sensitive forces of political correctness. A healthy democracy is strongest when open-minded citizens carefully deliberate a variety of opinions. As a society, we need leaders who encourage thoughtful constructive debate, who are willing to challenge the wisdom of crowds, who question attachments to party labels, and who aren’t afraid to sometimes take a public punch from their own brand ambassadors.”

Source: PMO ‘central control deepening far more than people know or seem to care about’ |

How the Big Red Machine became the big data machine: Delacourt

As someone who likes playing with and analyzing data, found Delacourt’s recounting of how the Liberals became the most data savvy political party interesting:

The Console, with its maps and myriad graphs and numbers, was the most vivid evidence of how far the Liberal party had come in its bid to play catch-up in the data war with its Conservative and NDP rivals. Call it Trudeau 2.0. Just as the old Rainmaker Keith Davey brought science to the party of Trudeau’s father in the 1960s and 1970s, the next generation of Trudeau Liberalism would get seized with data, science and evidence in a big way, too.

And in the grand tradition of Davey, Allan Gregg and all the other political pollsters and marketers who went before them, this new squad of strategists set about dividing Canada’s electoral map into target ridings, ranked according to their chances of winning in them. In a 21st-century-style campaign, though, the distinctions would be far more sophisticated than simply “winnable” and “unwinnable” ridings. Trudeau’s Liberals divided the nation’s 338 electoral districts into six types, named for metals and compounds: platinum, gold, silver, bronze, steel and wood.

Platinum ridings were sure bets: mostly the few dozen that the Liberals had managed to keep in the electoral catastrophe of 2011. Gold ridings were not quite that solid, but they were the ones in which the party strategists felt pretty certain about their prospects. Silver ridings were the ones the Liberals would need to gain to win the election, while bronze ridings, the longer shots, would push them into majority government territory. Steel ridings were ones they might win in a subsequent election, and wood ridings were the ones where the Liberals probably could never win a seat, in rural Alberta for instance.

The Console kept close track of voter outreach efforts on the ground, right down to the number of doorsteps visited by volunteers and what kind of information they had gathered from those visits — family size, composition, political interests, even the estimated age of the residents. By consulting the Console, campaigners could even figure out which time of day was best for canvassing in specific neighbourhoods or which voters required another visit to seal the deal.

When the Liberal team unveiled the Console to Trudeau, he was blown away. He told his team that it was his new favourite thing. He wanted regular briefings on the contents of the program: where it showed the Liberal party ahead, and where fortunes were flagging and volunteers needed to do more door-knocking. Actually, he wondered, why couldn’t he be given access to the Console himself, so that he could consult it on his home computer or on his phone while on the road?

And that, Trudeau would say later, was the last he ever saw of the Console. “My job was to bring it back, not on the analysis side, but on the connection side — on getting volunteers to go out, drawing people in, getting people to sign up,” Trudeau said. Clearly he was doing something right on that score — Liberal membership numbers had climbed from about 60,000 to 300,000 within Trudeau’s first 18 months as leader.

Volunteers for the party would learn — often to their peril — that the leader was fiercely serious about turning his crowd appeal into useful data. Trudeau wasn’t known for displays of temper, but the easiest way to provoke him was to fall down on the job of collecting data from the crowds at campaign stops. Few things made Trudeau angrier, for instance, than to see Liberal volunteers surrounding him at events instead of gathering up contact information. “That was what I demanded. If they wanted a visit from the leader they had to arrange that or else I’d be really upset,” Trudeau said.

Source: How the Big Red Machine became the big data machine | Toronto Star

Azrieli and Herscovitch: Take the lead in Holocaust education, Canada

Commentary by Alice Herscovitch and Naomi Azrielli on the need for Canada to take a more active role on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the need to restore funding for the NGO experts. Agree – the value of IHRA discussions was more at the expert level and discussions than the governmental level during my time as head of delegation:

IHRA’s track record is excellent and includes the implementation of Holocaust education guidelines and a strategic, co-ordinated approach to teaching the Holocaust worldwide. IHRA also provides a critical opportunity for its members to reflect on universal issues – such as teaching without survivors.
The height of Canada’s involvement came during the 2013-2014 session, when we chaired IHRA. Following this, however, Canada’s commitment waned. Canada has not set a national agenda in two years, the delegation has not been given direction and it has lacked consistency and continuity in terms of participation and representation. The key developers of Holocaust education and remembrance initiatives in Canada are no longer the cornerstones of the delegation. This is a reflection of a government decision in 2014 to cease supporting delegate travel. The experts from voluntary organizations who contributed so much time and expertise sharing Canada’s innovative contributions internationally simply don’t have the financial means to assume additional responsibility for the country’s representation.  

This month, a new head of delegation to IHRA was appointed, Ambassador Artur Wilczynski. We welcome Wilczynski and, noting his personal family connection to the Holocaust and impressive track record of leadership, are hopeful that our international engagement will be renewed.

Wilczynski can do a number of things, such as regularly convening meetings between delegates, reinstating funding for delegate travel and, most importantly, defining, with the delegation, an agenda for Holocaust and human rights education in Canada and a set of national and international priorities.

The Holocaust survivors who settled in Canada have profoundly shaped our country. Survivors have been instrumental in creating Holocaust education centres and commemoration programs, and continue to contribute by writing memoirs, through video testimony and by speaking to thousands of Canadians each year. Their legacy directly connects to current discussions about the refugee crisis, respect for diversity and genocide prevention. 

It’s time for Canada to reaffirm its commitment to the Stockholm Declaration and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. With the community of Canadian survivors fast disappearing, we have a responsibility to honour their steadfast work and take it up as our own. 

Azrieli and Herscovitch: Take the lead in Holocaust education, Canada

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