Opinion: There’s no link between terrorism and multiculturalism – Jedwab

Jack Jedwab of ACS notes the many fallacies in Farid Rohani’s piece on multiculturalism and radicalization (Opinion: Multiculturalism should not be misused to justify divisions: Farid Rohani):

Yet Rohani makes a pernicious link between these heinous acts and Canadian multiculturalism. He establishes this false association by suggesting that the Canadian multicultural framework has seen “activists promote group traditions as having more importance than individual freedoms,” and suggests it creates an environment that enables terrorists to propagate their views. He further states that multiculturalism “is being used to create different groups that contest our tolerant democracy.”

It has been increasingly common for detractors of multiculturalism to make such claims without identifying the culprits. Rohani does precisely this and, regrettably, contributes to the spread of what he describes as “quiet intolerance,” the very thing about which he expresses concern. His observation will end up inviting unfair generalizations about minority religious groups that will fuel the divisions that he suggests he seeks to remedy.

Rohani implies that such things as forced and arranged marriages, honour killings and teaching of hate toward other religions or toward homosexuals or death warrants against apostates are also to be attributed to flawed communications about what pluralism and multiculturalism entail. In general, such things are far more prevalent in non-democratic societies that reject diversity and multiculturalism. The individuals who engage in such egregious acts for the most part wish to erode multiculturalism and replace it with a model of society that would limit individual freedoms and undermine intercultural harmony.

Rohani specifically singles out newcomers to Canada as being particularly exposed to distortion about our national identity and values. So what would he make of the fact that the killings in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu were carried out by individuals born and raised in Canada? Indeed, newcomers value the opportunity to live in our democracy and there is no evidence that they are more likely than non-immigrants to want to undermine it.

Opinion: There’s no link between terrorism and multiculturalism | Montreal Gazette.

Clear case of ‘multicultiphobia,’ to use Phil Ryan’s phrase.

Jedwab also cites the recent polling done for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation as supporting this view (report-on-canadian-values), as do most polls that I have seen.

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Fakih and Khan: Canada’s Muslims should expand charitable efforts beyond their own communities

Good message by two Canadian Muslim businessmen, Mohamad Fakih and Kashif Khan, one that applies to many communities, in terms of the balance between supporting their own as well as the broader community:

Many first- and second-generation Muslim immigrants have shared our success. They’re lawyers and doctors, entrepreneurs and business executives. But a gap has existed between the causes supported by Muslim-Canadian immigrants and those supported by the broader Canadian public. Now, we’re challenging our fellow Muslim business leaders and professionals to widen the scope of the charities our community supports and help narrow that gap.

This is why we’ve partnered with TPL. In its six years of existence, TPL has been an enormous source of support for Canadian soldiers, veterans and their families. Specifically, the Salaam-TPL fund will support the needs of military children, including children with special needs, tutoring for military children struggling at school, and such community programs as youth drop-in centres and camps.

Since we launched our fund-raising drive, we’ve heard from many successful members of the Muslim community — and they share our sentiments. The Salaam-TPL fund is acting as a catalyst to encourage our fellow Muslims to support broader Canadian causes.

The fund also provides the Muslim community with the opportunity to demonstrate their pride of, and support for, Canada’s military families and veterans. Such donations, from successful Muslim-Canadian business leaders to Canadian charities like this, signal to our fellow citizens that we are enthusiastic and vociferous supporters of the democratic and diverse ideals that Canada represents, and those who defend them at home and abroad. Fellow Muslims, please hear our challenge and give what you can.

Fakih and Khan: Canada’s Muslims should expand charitable efforts beyond their own communities

Glavin: Canadians have no reason to be smug about race | Ottawa Citizen

Interesting piece by Terry Glavin comparing the situation of African-Americans to Canadian Aboriginal people:

Things are going downhill, too. Over the past decade, the Aboriginal population in federal prisons has grown by more than 50 per cent. In Western Canada, two-thirds of the inmates in federal and provincial institutions are Aboriginal people.

About 28 per cent of African-Americans are stuck with something less than a high school education – half again higher than the rate among white people. In Canada, about 29 per cent of Aboriginal people have less than a high-school education, compared to 12 per cent of non-Aboriginal people.

While a third of African-American children entering high school will drop out – twice the rate of white kids – current drop-out rates indicate that more than half of Canada’s Aboriginal kids probably won’t finish high school. That’s a drop-out rate roughly six times higher than among non-Aboriginal kids.

On reserves, 74 per cent of schools are so dilapidated they lack such basic amenities as drinking water. More than half the schools function without a library, a gymnasium, a science laboratory, or a kitchen. Of Canada’s nearly 1.5 million Aboriginal people, about half are under 15 years of age.

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Martin Luther King proclaimed all those years ago.

African-Americans might be forgiven for every once in a while losing patience with how long it’s taking that arc to fully bend towards them. For Canada’s young Aboriginal people, it’s not clear that the arc of the moral universe is even bending in their direction at all.

Glavin: Canadians have no reason to be smug about race | Ottawa Citizen.

Benjamin Perrin: The Supreme Court of Canada won’t want this award

Again, as mentioned in my earlier post (Think tank names Supreme Court of Canada ‘policy-maker of the year’), would not Perrin be in a position to know?

What should the federal government do going forward? A post-mortem of these cases, as a whole, should be conducted within the federal government to determine the factors that may have contributed to these losses. Was the legal advice received by the government unreasonable or was reasonable advice not followed? Could the federal government have been more pro-active in participating earlier in important litigation, marshalling evidence, conducting outreach to potentially friendly interveners, and retaining eminent external counsel? While there are a range of factors that contribute to a record of the type that the federal government has recently endured, a detailed internal review could expose systematic weaknesses with the federal government’s litigation strategy that could be addressed for future cases if it wants to preserve its agenda.

Benjamin Perrin: The Supreme Court of Canada won’t want this award

Ezra Levant, Sun News Network host, ordered to pay $80,000 in libel case

Accountability. Words (and facts) matter:

But [Judge) Matheson found that at trial, Levant “repeatedly tried to minimize his mistakes and his lack of diligence.”

“The defendant makes a general assertion that none of the words complained of were defamatory due to the defendants reputation,” she wrote. “There is, however, ample evidence before me demonstrating express malice on the part of the defendant.”

Levant also appeared to have little regard for the facts, Matheson found.

“He did little or no fact-checking regarding the posts complained of, either before or after their publication….and with one exception, when he learned that he got his facts wrong, he made no corrections,” she wrote.

The fact that Levant himself is a lawyer ought to have made him aware of the “serious ramifications” of his words on Awan’s reputation, Matheson added.

“Yet, at trial, he repeatedly tried to minimize his mistakes and his lack of diligence,” she wrote.

Levant, meanwhile, wrote on his website that he is reviewing the ruling with his lawyer but plans to appeal “all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

He called the ruling a “shocking case of libel chill” and asked supporters to help him foot the bill for his appeal, which he estimates will cost at least $30,000.

Ezra Levant, Sun News Network host, ordered to pay $80,000 in libel case – Canada – CBC News.

And Jon Kay on Ezra’s ‘business model’ of serial slander:

Jonathan Kay: The weirdest thing about Ezra Levant is he still thinks he’s right

Think tank names Supreme Court of Canada ‘policy-maker of the year’

Interesting comments coming from Benjamin Perrin, former legal adviser in PMO:

Mr. Perrin said the government’s biggest concern from its year of overwhelming defeats will be that its agenda is grinding to a halt. If that agenda “continues to be unravelled by the courts, it’s actually not governing the way that it wants to. It’s also politically quite embarrassing, and if people begin to think that the government is not understanding what the law is, and it’s not able to govern effectively, that becomes a very serious concern.”

Clarissa Lamb, a justice department spokesperson, defended the government’s record in court cases. “The federal government is involved in over 50,000 litigation cases every year. Our government is proud of our litigation record.”

The report sheds some light, if indirectly, on Prime Minister Harper’s decision last spring to accuse Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of inappropriate conduct. Mr. Perrin called the Prime Minister’s decision to engage in a public dispute with the Chief Justice “a symptom of the frustration that’s likely setting in.” The International Commission of Jurists criticized Mr. Harper over the accusation, which it found baseless.

Chief Justice McLachlin was the sole author of four of the 10 rulings, and wrote opinions in two more.

Mr. Perrin suggests the problem might lie in the quality of legal advice from the justice department or whether the government is heeding that advice. The government might consider retaining “eminent outside counsel” to argue some cases, he said. Until an internal review is done of its litigation strategy, it would be premature to conclude the losing streak is caused by a “fundamental rift in values between the federal government and the court,” the report said.

As Justice legal opinions are protected by ATIP, we will never know the degree to which the problem is the legal opinion or political willingness to accept it.

Perrin, given his experience in PMO, should have been able to provide some insights on where the ‘blame’ lies.

Not convinced that hiring outside counsel will improve things if the government is not willing to listen.

Think tank names Supreme Court of Canada ‘policy-maker of the year’ – The Globe and Mail.

Don’t cut social assistance for newcomers to Canada: Omidvar

Ratna Omidvar correctly calls out the Government on the omnibus budget bill provision allowing provinces to deny social assistance to refugee claimants:

Future citizenship is both policy and public philosophy. There is a clear and relatively quick pathway to citizenship for immigrants to Canada, although the waiting time is set to get longer in 2015. As for public philosophy, immigrant children learn in public schools from a young age that “you’re just as Canadian as anyone else.” Because this message is in our books and infused in our day-to-day, the idea that immigrants are future citizens actually becomes lived expression.

In the last of her Massey Lectures on citizenship, Adrienne Clarkson explains why the Canadian mindset works using the theory of Hans Vaihinger, who thought that to act “as if” something is true is a practical way to get there.

Because we treat newcomers as future citizens, serious investment is made in their health, well-being and skill level from the start, often regardless of immigration status. Canada has a robust settlement sector, we pay for language courses, we extend health care and social services to non-citizens, and some cities invite non-citizens to sit on local boards. The Canadian mindset is why our school boards and police services follow a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, so that status does not determine access to essential services. When we act as if newcomers are citizens, they truly are citizens in the making.

But this core trait that makes us work — and that’s exportable to countries like Germany where the citizenship laws are under revision — is being chipped away by policies introduced by this government. I alluded to one of these changes already: the coming increase in residence time from three to four years before applying for citizenship.

But there is another change buried in a thick new omnibus bill and it is far worse. It would allow provinces to restrict refugee claimants and others without permanent status from accessing social assistance by lifting a ban on minimum residency requirements — a ban that said we don’t care if you’ve been here for two years or 24 hours, if you’re a refugee claimant or other temporary resident, you will be treated humanely. In the worst-case scenario if this law is passed, people without permanent status would lose social assistance, which for some is their only source of income.

Don’t cut social assistance for newcomers to Canada | Toronto Star.

Jonathan Kay: Opposition to covered faces is not a sign of Islamophobia

Canadian_Multiculturalism_Integrated_Book_DraftJon Kay on the latest Angus Reid survey on Muslims and radicalization, and the general questions on religious garb:

The Angus Reid numbers on religious garb were even more interesting — since they allow for religion-by-religion comparisons. Seventy-three percent of respondents support the right of women to wear a hijab (head and neck covering, with the face exposed), 88% support a nun’s habit, 80% a Jewish man’s kippa, 86% a star of David pendant, and 89% a crucifix.

Those last two numbers are telling: If anti-Semitism truly were an acute problem in mainstream society (which I don’t believe is true), then one would not expect to observe a mere three-point difference between the approval rate on stars of David and crucifixes.

And even that tiny three-point blip may actually overstate the amount of anti-Jewish bias in Canada — because in the three largest Anglo-majority provinces (B.C., Alberta and Ontario), there is no statistically significant pro-crucifix bias at all. In fact, in Alberta — that supposed bastion of evangelical Christianity and small-mindedness —  more people support the star of David than the crucifix (93% compared to 90%).

In Quebec, on the other hand, 81% support the crucifix, versus 71% the star of David. Both numbers are somewhat lower than anywhere else in the country — a symptom of that province’s fixation on secularism. But the 10-point gap between Jewish star and christian cross is hardly shocking: Many Quebec cultural nationalists (rightly) view the aesthetic trappings of christianity as part of their heritage. As Pauline Marois showed us during her brief and disastrous run as premier, the political expression of this view can be cranky and bigoted. But it typically does not rise to the level of “anti-Semitism” in the way that I would use that serious term.

It also is interesting to compare the national numbers on support for a woman’s right to wear a hijab (73%) versus a nun’s habit (88%), since the two forms of dress are, above the shoulders at least, aesthetically similar.

Jonathan Kay: Opposition to covered faces is not a sign of Islamophobia

Link to Angus Reid survey here.

The truth about race, the police and Ferguson – Macleans.ca

Sobering look at the enduring prevalence of racism, and how engrained attitudes are:

Yet, a look at the research suggests the problem of police officers killing unarmed black men is not all about white police forces. In 2002, University of Chicago psychology professor Joshua Correll published The Police Officer’s Dilemma, a landmark study testing racial bias. Correll and his team devised a video game-type experiment in which test subjects were shown images of black and white males, some armed, some not. The subjects had to decide when and when not to shoot.

The results speak for themselves. “Participants fired at an armed target more quickly if he was African American than if he was white, and decided not to shoot an unarmed white target more quickly than an unarmed African American target.”

Here’s the kicker, though: Correll found little difference in the willingness or not to shoot between black and white test subjects. In 2007, he replicated the study with actual police officers, and came to a similar conclusion: A young black male is as likely to be a target of a black police officer as his Caucasian partner.

….In a sense, Michael Brown was victim to the most deadly demonstration of how black males (and blacks in general) are less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. Even if his life doesn’t end at the hands of a cop, a black youth will face myriad examples of as much throughout his life.

Statistically, as a recent Kirwan Institute study suggests, he is more likely to be singled out as aggressive, mean and/or intellectually deficient for similar behaviour than a white kid. Should he enter into the justice system, he is more likely to be charged with a greater crime than someone with lighter skin; even if he isn’t, the black kid is more likely to be treated more harshly by judges and jurors.

Several studies have shown how blacks are more likely to be sentenced to death when their victims are white; yet another shows a correlation between death penalty sentences and typically black features. In America, the darker your skin and the fuller your lips, the higher the likelihood you will be sentenced to die for your crimes.

The truth about race, the police and Ferguson.

Much more serious than Barbara Kay’s piece:

Barbara Kay: Ferguson is the exception, not the norm in U.S. race relations

Controversial Knesset bills could revoke citizenship

The debate over citizenship revocation in Israel:

“In my opinion, even if the interior minister has the power to revoke residency status, it is an illegal and undemocratic action. In any event, the accomplice driver [Nadi] was already tried and punished; what’s the point, then, in divesting him of his social rights all of a sudden; and why present it as a showcase?” Meretz Knesset member Issawi Frej, the only Arab Knesset member for a Zionist party, told Al-Monitor. Frej is furious at Erdan’s [the Israeli Interior Minister’s] resolution, and argues that, like all other nationalist and racist legislative initiatives of the current Knesset, this initiative, too, is driven by political considerations.

Frej said: “If Erdan is so keen on fighting terrorism, why doesn’t he take on for starters the case of Yigal Amir [the Israeli assassin of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin]? Ultimately, whatever way you look at it, these bills all go against the Arabs. What I have to say is quite simple: Israel is governed by law. Whoever perpetrates an act of terrorism is tried and punished, and all are equal before the law, Arabs and Jews alike. Why, then, should Erdan blow his own horn about [his initiative for] the revocation of residency status, and thus keep fanning the flames? Because he wants to win points among his supporters. It will surely benefit him in the Likud primaries. There is a trend now of going against the Arabs, and what we are witnessing these days is no less than a crisis of values. There is no other way to describe it.”

Controversial Knesset bills could revoke citizenship – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.