“What do you think of Bill C-33 and how do you think it will improve Canadian elections?” 

Interesting that neither any of the party spokespeople (“What do you think of Bill C-33 and how do you think it will improve Canadian elections?”) or the Minister (‘My job is to strengthen and safeguard the pillars of Canada’s democracy’: Gould) mention the provision to expand expatriate voting without restriction.

Confirms that this is boutique issue and not one of the selling points of the bill (see earlier piece by Rob Vineberg and me: Canadian expats shouldn’t have unlimited voting rights.

(all articles paywall protected)

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Someone should take the fall for Ottawa’s botched Phoenix pay system

Hard to disagree with Barrie McKenna: the lack of accountability at both the political and bureaucratic level, the inability of government to manage large-scale IT projects and the miss match between those who “sold” the project and those responsible for delivery are of broad concern, not just in the case of Phoenix.

IT in government is complex given the myriad of requirements and groups involved.

My experience with IT in government is a mixed bag. My most successful project, done with a small group of PCO policy types, was the creation of an Access database to manage the then Chrétien government annual priority setting exercise. Delivered on time, it worked  and ensured consistent tracking rather than the previous time-consuming and error prone Word-based process.

My second experience, also at PCO, but on a larger scale (more data, more users) and thus involving IT folks, was replacing the previous Cabinet meeting planning system with a more up-to-date platform with more flexibility. The IT folks and the consultant never got it to work during my time there.

Lastly, at Service Canada, we partnered with Service New Brunswick to deliver, on Transport Canada’s behalf, a system for pleasure craft licensing. When it went live, it crashed but we were able to identify and fix the problem within a few days (the data link capacity was too small, something missed in all the preparations, by all involved). After that it worked well (Service Canada eventually decided to end its involvement and focus on core services to ESDC):

The mess that is Phoenix is a story of misguided political objectives, bungled management of a major technology project and a complete failure by anyone in charge to take responsibility for mistakes.

The fiasco raises troubling questions about the government’s ability to perform one of its most basic functions – paying its bills and taking care of employees. The Phoenix system is just one of the major information-technology projects, totalling billions of dollars, now under way in the government.

Centralizing the multitude of separate payroll systems was the brainchild of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which was convinced it could wring huge savings out of the bureaucracy. In charge were then-public works minister Rona Ambrose (now interim Conservative leader) and Tony Clement, former president of the treasury board. Neither has expressed any remorse for the fiasco.

The Conservatives eliminated 700 payroll jobs in dozens of departments, mainly in Ottawa, and created a new centralized pay centre in Miramichi, N.B. – political compensation for the shuttered gun registry. Most of those offered positions there refused to move, leaving the running of Phoenix in the hands of hundreds of untrained new hires.

The problem now belongs to the Liberal government, which could have delayed deployment of the system to work out the inevitable bugs. To his credit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged his government initially didn’t take the problem seriously.

“I’ll admit it,” Mr. Trudeau told a frustrated civil servant at a town hall in Kingston, Ont., earlier this year. “This government … didn’t pay enough attention to the challenges and the warning signs on the transition we were overseeing.”

But the mea culpa came three months after the government had promised to resolve the payroll mess. Now, it’s not even offering a target.

Just as troubling is the lack of accountability within the upper ranks of civil servants. Many of those responsible have retired or moved to other jobs in the government. No one has been fired.

Nor has there been a thorough investigation by Parliament of what went wrong. Deputy Minister of Public Works Marie Lemay, who inherited the payroll problem, appeared before the House of Commons government operations committee last year. But none of the original architects of the system have had to answer for their roles.

And then there is IBM Canada, which Ottawa hired to design and implement the system. It appears the government, not IBM, is on the hook for fixing the problems. So why, one wonders, would the government sign a contract that left it so dangerously exposed to financial and technical risk?

Phoenix was supposed to save Ottawa $70-million a year. Instead, the government has spent $50-million fixing the problem, including an extra $6-million paid to IBM, and there is no end in sight.

This isn’t just a story of a botched payroll system. It’s about the chronic inability of governments to manage major purchases, including technology projects.

Unless Ottawa gets to the bottom of what went wrong on Phoenix, it will keep making the same mistakes elsewhere in the government.

That should worry all taxpayers, not just government workers.

Source: Someone should take the fall for Ottawa’s botched Phoenix pay system – The Globe and Mail

Shared Services Canada, already having resulted in the resignation of the Chief Statistician (INSERT), now comes under fire from the RCMP:

CBC News has obtained a blistering Jan. 20, 2017, memo to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in which Commissioner Bob Paulson details how critical IT failures have increased by 129 per cent since the beleaguered department took over tech support for the entire government five years ago.

Not only that, the memo says, the duration of each outage has increased by 98 per cent.

“Its ‘one size fits all’ IT shared services model has negatively impacted police operations, public and officer safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system,” reads the memo.

The document appears to respond to a request for more information after a series of CBC News reports on the RCMP’s long-standing dissatisfaction with Shared Services Canada (SSC).

Despite the agency’s creation of special teams and committees to address shoddy service and repeated computer outages, Paulson said minimal progress has been made.

The commissioner bolstered his arguments by enclosing an appendix of recent critical incidents to show just how little appreciation or understanding there is for operational law enforcement requirements.

RCMP commissioner warns continued IT failures will have ‘catastrophic’ consequences

Islamophobia in the age of Trump: Flora Toronto Sun

One of the more relatively balanced commentaries in the Toronto Sun by Surjit Singh Flora that, while not in support of mentioning islamophobia, goes much further than the committee study and recommendations of M-103:

Meanwhile, here in Canada, we have two recent, troubling incidents, which illustrate a very different response from our government.

First of all, recently in Toronto, anti-Semitic notes were found on the doors of several units at a Willowdale condo building in Toronto.

In addition, notes with the statement “No Jews” were found on the front doors of several Jewish residences in another Toronto building.

Some of the notes contained anti-Semitic slurs and some neighbours reported that their mezuzahs – blessings traditionally posted on the doorways of Jewish homes – had been vandalized.

Toronto Mayor John Tory condemned the hate-motivated vandalism and said those actions do not reflect the city’s spirit. “Anti-semitism has no place in Toronto,” he noted. “Our Jewish residents should not have to face hatred on their doorsteps.”

This comes after the recent tragic murder of six Muslims at prayer in a Quebec City Mosque. Our government’s response to this tragedy was to debate M-103 in Parliament.

Introduced by Iqra Khalid, the motion asked MPs to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

Meanwhile, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said, “Eliminating systemic racism, religious discrimination and Islamophobia is a national call to action. No one should ever have to think twice about calling Canada home.”

While I feel this is a well-meant act in the face of unspeakable violence and tragedy, it is short sighted of our government to single out Islamophobia in their motion.

Racism is in itself an act of violence and the murder at the Quebec City mosque is that racist violence made manifest.

Our government should condemn all discrimination equally. Symbolic acts like M-103 should be backed up with a new, comprehensive review of the legislation and enforcement powers that can give meaning and force to such well-intended symbolic gestures.

I know from personal experience the sting of distrust, disrespect and prejudice that racism inflicts on those who are new, or different, or who worship in a different way.

President Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigration and refugee rhetoric may not, in itself, lead to the rise of Islamophobia and xenophobia.

But the fact a sitting President has given such clear voice to its cause should be reason for great concern for us all. The response of our Canadian government should be one of substance, not symbol.

Source: Islamophobia in the age of Trump | guest column | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto

For a more diverse Oscars, Hollywood must go back to high school

Despite the major improvement in the diversity of those awarded Sunday night, a needed and good initiative for the next generation of film makers:

Over the last two years, much of the talk around Oscar season has been about the lack of diversity. The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, now headed by an African-American woman, has made several high-profile moves to increase the number of diverse Academy members. But to truly transform the industry, Mowat says, Hollywood has to go back to high school.

The program at Washington Prep helped the now 19-year-old Mariah Green land an internship at CBS, where she shadowed sitcom writers. Without the mentorship from Mowat and the other professionals, she says there’s almost no way she would be at Cal State Northridge, where she has founded a student production company.

“Most communities don’t have to feel discouraged, feeling like I don’t have time to pursue this because I could lose my life tomorrow,” Green says.

The problem, Mowat says, is that mentoring programs are surprisingly rare. The one that brings him to Washington Prep is organized and funded by the British film academy BAFTA; he says neither the American nor Canadian academies have anything comparable.

“Canada and the US … seems to be a lack of ability to train or willingness to mentor,” Mowat says. “Not everyone can go to school and go to those three- and four-year programs.”

Rachel Miller, a partner at the L.A. production company Haven Entertainment, is the founder of a year-old mentorship program called Film2Future that gives high school students the chance to make a short film with real pros. She says when it comes to diversity, the industry talks a good game, but often isn’t willing to fund initiatives that would actually address the problem.

Talk easier than action

“I think there’s a lot of inertia,” Miller says. “I think that it’s easy to talk about something than to do something. Doing something is hard. It’s tough.”

And it’s short-sighted, according to Franklin Leonard. He founded the Black List, a highly regarded yearly collection of top scripts that haven’t been made into films.

“These communities are historically being shut out of opportunities that would allow them to prove their talent,” Franklin says.

Bringing students from diverse backgrounds into the pipeline at a young age isn’t just good for their individual futures, it’s good for the industry as a whole, Franklin says, referring to a recent UCS study that suggests movies with diverse casts make more money at the box office.

“It’s good for the bottom line, and I think that when you look at Hidden Figures being the top box office grosser of the Best Picture nominees and you look at the extraordinary success of Moonlight, I think it’s really hard to argue,” Leonard says. “The least expensive and most significant thing that the industry could do to change its economics in a radical fashion is to embrace diversity wholeheartedly.”

But when many young students from poor backgrounds can’t access university arts programs, Miller says there’s a very limited window to really effect change.

“We really have to address the pipeline issue and the only way to do that is to start in high school; if we’re waiting until college, it’s just way too late,” Miller says. “People have either dropped out of high school or gone into more traditional fields. While I was at NYU I taught a public school in Manhattan, and the lack of resources are shocking. So I think this idea in Hollywood that we’re suddenly going to find diverse kids that go into Harvard or NYU or USC is a bit crazy. We have to start in ninth grade and help kids who are going to public schools who don’t have computers or don’t have Wi-Fi, who don’t have art programs to help them be competitive, help them find their way through, and help them find the spark.”

Just ask Elgin James. Not many directors in Hollywood come from as troubled a background as he. In his youth, he ended up homeless. In 2009, he served a year in prison for gang-related activities. But he found his escape in movies and, as an adult, moved to Hollywood where the 45-year-old has written and directed for television and film.

“I would have killed to have this program when I was a kid,” James says. “To know that there’s another way to be seen and to be heard in the world rather than just causing damage and havoc or just disappearing. So if there’s anything that I can give it’s that if I can do this, anybody can do this.”

Source: For a more diverse Oscars, Hollywood must go back to high school – Entertainment – CBC News

Muslim Refugees Were Admitted at a Lower Rate During Trump’s Refugee Ban – The New York Times

Numbers tell the story:

During the week when President Trump’s refugee ban was in effect, refugees were allowed in on a case-by-case basis. Just 15 percent of the 843 refugees who were admitted during this time were Muslim, compared with a weekly average of 45 percent in 2016.

Only two refugees were allowed in from the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by President Trump’s travel ban. About 1,800 refugees from these countries had arrived in the United States every week on average since 2016.

Canadian citizenship must be a constitutional right: Chapman misses the mark

While I have a great deal of respect for Don Chapman and other advocates who successfully pushed the previous government to address the issue of “lost Canadians” in C-37 (2009) and C-24 (2014), I find his latest op-ed misses the mark, arguing for opening up the constitution to add citizenship as a right in the Constitution.

Apart from the fact that no government in their right mind would open up the Constitution given the divisive process that would result (been there, done that!), their column makes assertions about numbers (“many”) without any real serious look at the data.

The data we have primarily consists of the demand for citizenship proofs. The 2009 and 2014 changes to the Citizenship Act addressed the majority of the potential cases; however, the number of annual proofs did not change significantly, suggesting less demand than Chapman and other advocates claimed.

citizenship-proofs-2010-15

That is not to say that some cases remain, but that they are best dealt with individually through consideration for a discretionary grant of citizenship (s 5(4) of the Act).

Moreover, as one of my former colleagues noted:

mark-on-chapman

Chapman also engages in fear mongering with respect to Canadian dual nationals living in the US being forced to renounce their US citizenship in order to avoid potential revocation in cases of acts of terrorism or treason. C-6, currently in the Senate, will repeal this provision and thus address the major Charter violation that treats dual nationals separately from “mono-nationals”:

The practical implication is that the more than 100,000 Canadian casualties from the First and Second World Wars never lived to become citizens, and many of their children have spent decades fighting for their right to citizenship, denied them simply because their fathers did not survive the war. The hallmark of former minister of citizenship and immigration Jason Kenney was the consistency with which he denied these applicants. Although many of these Canadians eventually regained their citizenship through parliamentary victories, too many died as they were simply waited out by Ottawa.

Particularly heinous is the untold number of Indigenous Canadians that are currently stateless because their parents never registered their births, rightfully fearing their children would be sent to a residential school. Now adults, these Canadians have no rights or benefits. They are citizens of nowhere, unable to legally work, marry, attend school, buy a home, get a loan, drive a car or even take a bus, train or plane without identification. They are ghosts in their own land, forced to live in the shadows.

Even recent amendments that reinstated citizenship to some have left many others stateless, and did nothing to prevent that reinstated status from being stripped in the future.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s policies further complicated citizenship rights, making second-class citizens of anyone with dual-citizenship status. With the current political turmoil in the United States, thousands of these dual citizens – especially targeted professionals such as journalists and human-rights workers – now face the painful option of renouncing their U.S. citizenship, fearing their second-class status in Canada could, on a whim from our leadership, force them to live in Mr. Trump’s United States.

Our national identity has no foundation if we have no inherent rights, and Mr. Trump’s idle threats against his own people prove how urgent it is to give serious thought to our Canadian citizenship – what it actually is, how we get it and how it’s lost.

As we approach our 150th birthday, this is the perfect time to focus on defining and protecting our identity. It is time to make citizenship a constitutional right. Pierre Trudeau gave us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Wouldn’t it be fitting for the Prime Minister to take the final step to true nationhood: an inviolable, constitutional right of citizenship.

Source: Canadian citizenship must be a constitutional right – The Globe and Mail

Where’s Jonathan Swift When We Need Him? – The Daily Beast

Nice piece by John Stubbs on Swift’s enduring relevance in a “post-truth” and “alternative facts” world (George Orwell is also worth re-reading):

Jonathan Swift’s “Essay upon the Art of Political Lying” tells us that “post-truth” statements are nothing new. “As the vilest writer hath his readers, so the greatest liar hath his believers: and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work.” He was writing in 1710, but his words have been borne out by much that has happened in the last year. Swift also begged a question that many are asking now: Will there be any room left in politics for those who aren’t prepared to lie?

Swift’s hatred of falsehood sat oddly, in fact, with his love of a good fib. Some of his most celebrated works were elaborate hoaxes: His best known book, Gulliver’s Travels, was presented to the public as a voyager’s genuine memoir, and large numbers of readers were apparently taken in. Swift is generally regarded as the foremost satirist in English. It’s mentioned less often, though, that he was also a master of the primary art of getting facts in order and checking sources. By the time Gulliver emerged into the world, Swift had already made a formidable name for himself as a journalist as well as a satirist.

Satirists of course have license to exaggerate and distort; but Swift insisted that there was an absolute link between verifiable fact and moral truth. He had a devastating way of letting figures speak for themselves. In one of his first publishing sensations, an anti-war work called The Conduct of the Allies (1711), he used secret information provided by friends within government. The Conduct was an epoch-shattering critique of the corrupt means being used to prolong Britain’s war against France. Swift exposed a political and financial elite set on warfare for the sake of profit, and demonstrated that “Shock Doctrine” tactics were in use long before 20th century economists figured them out. His astounding book, staggering for its deployment of research and privileged information as well as lethally brilliant writing, helped end a long and largely senseless campaign.

Swift often wrote of satire as holding up a mirror or magnifying glass to reality. Before Swift, the word “satire” was often synonymous for “libel,” the idea being that satirical writers could say more or less anything they wanted about someone they hated. Swift was not at all timid when it came to voicing his dislikes, but sought to restore a higher purpose to his chosen mode of writing. For it to carry weight, satirical mockery had to be based on solid claims. And it was important, then as now, that satire scored the points it needed: for by making people of influence seem ridiculous when they acted wrongly, it made them seem a little less frightening, and opened a space in which there could be meaningful free speech about what such people were doing.

As a protest writer in the 1720s and ’30s, Swift laid bare the injustice of British rule in Ireland. He was an Irishman himself, born in Dublin in 1667, but to English parents. To give his writing substance he went to inordinate lengths in checking the situation in the Irish countryside, where people were starving as a result of exploitative land practices and repressive legislation. He made sure that he was fully up to date with the most reliable trade figures and consulted widely with well-placed sources in business and administration.

His subsequent approach to writing itself was a dangerous one, namely to take a “post-truth” mentality as far as it could go. He fought hypocrisy by creating a series of masks. The most memorable specimen in his portfolio was his Modest Proposal, a short essay of 1729. In this he assumed the voice of an entirely sincere and indeed socially concerned psychopath. Swift’s “proposer” argues calmly that poor Irish children could be sold as delicacies for wealthy tables. The essay’s power comes partly from Swift’s vision of where callousness might lead, but also from a ruthlessly detached observation of reality. He described scenes of deprivation that all his readers could recognize.

Many of the great satirical hits in Gulliver’s Travels also take their strength from Swift’s honesty about facts that his fellow Britons and Europeans preferred to ignore or view differently. One such moment comes when Gulliver explains to the gigantic king of Brobdingnag how politics and war work in Europe. Nothing he says is very sensational; Swift’s readers could deny none of it. And so the king of Brobdingnag concludes that most of them must belong to a really horrible species of “vermin.”

A large part of Swift’s cultural legacy is his way of showing how even morally developed people can be brought to accept horrifying practices. The secret is tied up with what those people assume to be the truth. In the Travels, a morally “superior” race of horse-beings—Swift loved horses—share their land with rather brutal, dishonest and undeniably filthy humans, the Yahoos. The horses decide they have no choice but to exterminate their two-legged neighbors. This “final solution” is arguably the punishment Swift is saying we humans will ultimately deserve—for our violence to each other and contempt for the environment. But he leaves a less than inspiring image of those killer horses, which had recognizable counterparts in Swift’s actual world.

The scale and daring of “post-truth” politics might lead some to think that lies can only be fought with lies. The work of Jonathan Swift should make us pause at such a moment: the moral case, Swift urged, is undeniable when the empirical case has clear validity. This unparalleled creator of satirical fiction demonstrated that those concerned with truth should keep faith with it.

Source: Where’s Jonathan Swift When We Need Him? – The Daily Beast

Former religious freedom ambassador warns conservatives that ‘Canadian values’ talk is full of pitfalls

Sensible comments by Andrew Bennett (of course, the challenge occurs when religious freedom clashes with other rights, and the case-by-case balance of rights):

Kellie Leitch’s opponents have largely rejected her rhetoric around immigration interviews, and the idea all immigrants should be tested for “Canadian values,” with some accusing her of sowing division and inciting hatred.

Leitch has connected such ideas to protecting Canada against terrorism and, specifically, Islamist terrorists, although she has also repeated that she believes hate speech is wrong.

Her message resonates with some in the Conservative base who feel their concerns have been muzzled by a Liberal government that preaches inclusivity.

In Bennett’s view, “values” talk confuses, however, and religious freedom should be defended. Bennett was ambassador for religions freedom and ran the Office of Religious Freedom within Global Affairs Canada from 2013 until the Liberal government dismantled it about a year ago. Now, he is a senior fellow with Cardus, a faith-based think tank that does work on religious freedom.

He expounded on the virtues of plurality to a room of about 70 conference attendees Saturday morning. The talk followed several sessions Friday that had been devoted specifically to the issue of Islamist extremism, part of a weekend agenda largely focused on populist sentiments that led to Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump.

“To champion religious freedom is also to implicitly accept that there are those in our common life who will hold and will promote beliefs, theological and philosophical, moral and ethical, that many of us will vehemently reject,” Bennett said. “And that’s OK. It’s OK to oppose. It’s OK to differ.”

But “marginalization of people of faith and the beliefs they possess,” he said, “leads to an impoverishment of our public debate.” And, he told the room during a Q&A session, hate speech provisions in the Canadian criminal code are “essential” in cases where any group incites hatred and violence.

Moreover, Bennett told the Post, a major lack of understanding about Islam has underpinned recent debate over an anti-Islamophobia motion in the House of Commons.

“I think we should absolutely stand against anti-Islamic bias and anti-Islamic statements. And if the House of Commons wants to pass a motion in that regard, that’s great. That’s a good thing. I think it’s also important to recognize that we need to stand up against any type of anti-religious bias,” Bennett said, noting, for example, that anti-semitism persists in Canada.

Source: National Post

Chris Selley: Conservatives need pressure release on Islamic extremism, but Manning panel on terrorism was bonkers

Good commentary by Selley:

Goodness knows conservatives could use some pressure-release on the question of Islamic extremism. Ten days ago, four leadership candidates — including two former cabinet ministers — attended a rally whose premise was that a private member’s motion in the House of Commons was a step toward Sharia law and an attack on free speech.

Alas, the terrorism panel released no pressure at all.

“Motion 103 … is essentially akin to the blasphemy laws,” said Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. (M-103 isn’t a law of any sort, and never will be.) She took umbrage at the suggestion by M-103’s sponsor, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, that “more than one million Canadians … suffer because of Islamophobia … on a daily basis.”

Raza: “Seriously? As though in Canada racism and bigotry, only against Muslims, is an everyday issue?” (Six parishioners were recently murdered in a Quebec City mosque. M-103 condemns “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”)

Thomas Quiggin of the Terrorism and Security Experts network then rattled through a deck of slides that would have left an uninformed viewer thinking most every mosque in Canada — including the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, site of the massacre — was funnelling funds to extremist groups. He suggested the English-language media didn’t report on a pig’s head having been delivered to the mosque a year earlier. (They did. Why wouldn’t they?) He suggested intelligence officials should have known about the pig’s head, and that the mosque was supporting extremists, and that the gunman was intending to take his revenge — Quiggin suspects — for that support.

“The cycle of violence has come to Canada as it has in France, Belgium, Germany, the Middle East, and we can no longer deny this,” said Quiggin, and that’s bonkers. The facts in evidence were the attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (one dead), Parliament Hill attack (one dead) and … Quebec City, where the victims were Muslims at prayer!

There are things being said in some Canadian mosques that would cause outrage if they were more widely reported. Why they are not more widely reported is a good question; political correctness is a very plausible answer. But Manning attendees were promised a sober look at the problem, including an effort to “define how serious (it) really is.” What they got were two alarmists. Policy has never been the Manning conference’s forte, but I swear panellists used to mildly disagree with each other now and again, and to have vastly superior resumes.

Four years ago, after Tom Flanagan’s comments about child pornography and Wildrose candidate Alan Hunsperger’s “lake of fire” missive, Manning warned conservatives against “intemperate and ill-considered remarks by those who hold … positions deeply but in fits of carelessness or zealousness say things that discredit the family.” The first question from the audience at the terrorism panel was whether Raza thought it should be illegal to call Muhammad a pedophile.

She didn’t. Neither do I. But this kind of nonsense has great potential to harm the Conservative Party, Michael Chong said Friday in an interview; the last place it should be happening is at Manningstock. And Chong is fairly emblematic of the mess the party now confronts. He supported M-103, a meaningless motion. But he also supports doing away with the hate-speech section of the Criminal Code, a very meaningful restriction on free speech. He supports a simple, revenue-neutral, Economics 101 carbon tax to fight emissions, instead of command-and-control regulations.

He was roundly booed for the later during Friday’s leaders debate. Mainstream Conservatives, never mind the new fringe, sneer that he ought to run for the Liberals.

Source: Chris Selley: Conservatives need pressure release on Islamic extremism, but Manning panel on terrorism was bonkers | National Post

Shannon Proudfoot has an only slightly more gentle take:

The Manning Centre Conference, the pre-eminent gathering of Canadian conservatives, opened in Ottawa on Friday morning with a panel discussion that sounded a stark note of alarm, with a contrarian streak: Islamic extremism exists in Canada, and to believe otherwise is dangerous naiveté.

The discussion was billed as “Leading the Response to Islamist Extremism and its Ideology in Canada,” one of the break-out sessions planned by the Manning Centre, which provides research, training and networking for Canadian conservatives.

The morning panel featured Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, which describes its mission as “oppos(ing) extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion,” and Thomas Quiggin, a self-styled security and terrorism expert who runs the Terrorism and Security Experts network.

….But regardless of his inaccuracies and misleading connections, Quiggin’s arguments seemed to resonate with at least a segment of the Manning Centre audience. They indulged him by turns with disapproving murmurs and incredulous gasps as he theatrically laid out the supposed creeping influence of Islamist extremism in Canada.

As Quiggin worked himself into high dudgeon over what he claimed was the Islamization of Canada’s public schools, out in the audience, the 50-ish woman once again sighed and shook her head in disgust.

At the Manning Conference, an alarming view of Islam

A tougher refugee border pact? America said no. Former Minister Kenney

Useful to hear former immigration minister Kenney’s comments and history of earlier discussions, although his reassurances of the safeguards in the US system, while generally correct, understate some of the significant differences between the Canadian and American approaches (even pre-Trump):

The sometimes tragic phenomenon of asylum-seekers crossing fields in Manitoba and ditches in Quebec has prompted many immigration experts and some politicians to call for changes to the Canada-U.S. pact that makes border hopping the only choice for people urgently seeking refuge. That is: stop shuttering our front doors, our border entry posts, to those desperate for safety and legal protection they want in Canada.

There are those on the other side of the status quo who wish for a way not only to keep the door shut, but to press down on the windows people are finding their way through. One of them is Jason Kenney, Canada’s former immigration minister.

In the face of pressure on the Liberal government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, Kenney has called on Ottawa to instead demand renegotiation with the U.S. to eliminate the de facto exemption which lets people making so-called “irregular” border crossings into Canada’s refugee determination system. Irregular crossing, in this case, means getting one’s feet on Canadian soil somewhere other than an established port of entry.

If it granted such a request, the Trump administration would take pressure off Canada’s asylum program in a way the Obama White House refused to do. Kenney told Maclean’s he made this pitch when he was minister; his counterpart in Washington said no.

“I approached then secretary of homeland security (Janet) Napolitano with a request to reopen the STCA for renegotiation to remove this and other exemptions,” he said in an interview Friday on the sidelines of the Manning Centre Conference. “They basically refused to do so, because I quite frankly think they cynically saw these exemptions as operating in favour of the United States. To put it bluntly, if people whom they regard as illegal aliens go to Canada, they don’t have to worry about them any more, or remove them.”

If the Obama administration was unwilling to change rules to keep asylum seekers on his side of the border, what chance is there the new U.S. government would? Among the administration’s policies is a recent order from John Kelly, the new Homeland Security secretary, which would deport undocumented immigrants to Mexico even if they hailed from other Central American countries—a signal this White House is unconcerned about immigration conventions or norms, as long as foreigners perceived as problematic are out of the country.

…His meeting with Napolitano came about while he was crafting new policies to overhaul refugee laws to deter questionable claimants. While he failed to enact a border crackdown, he did speed up the hearing process, create new options to detain asylum seekers and, controversially, limit their health benefits.

Still, refugee advocates in Canada continued their long-standing criticism of the safe third-country agreement, and have amped up their calls in the wake of Trump’s wide-ranging crackdowns on the immigration system, which included a suspension of refugee resettlement and beefed-up deportation and detention systems. These moves have prompted a spike in migrants crossing over to Canada, in hopes of a fair shake at becoming refugees here. Advocates argue that American bellicosity toward newcomers and refuge seekers puts lie to assertions the U.S. is a safe third country (though many of these critics opposed the border deal even before Trump entered politics).

Ministers in the Trudeau government have said they see no reason to abandon the agreement. Their position has gotten new support from the UN High Commission for Refugees. Jean-Nicolas Beuze, its new representative in Canada, told Maclean’s that the asylum conditions in the U.S. and Canada today are not sufficiently different from 2004, when the safe country pact was established, to warrant a change to the agreement. Having spoken recently to dozens of refugee claimants who entered Canada near the border post at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., Beuze said their “perception” of the Trump actions and rhetoric are prompting their escape north. But the agency, he said, will continue monitoring the situation.

Kenney said there’s no reason refuge-seekers currently in the U.S. should not seek asylum in that country, arguing that “hysteria” has driven the recent trend. “The United States has one of the world’s strongest, fairest asylum systems. It’s not administered by Donald Trump. It’s administered by the independent American judiciary and tribunals,” he said.

There are, in fact, substantial differences between how U.S. and Canada treat refugee claimants, some of them predating Trump. In the U.S., detention is vastly more common; in Canada, claimants have easier access to legal aid for refugee status hearings. Canada has an interim health-care program and gives readier access to work permits, among other benefits. The sharpest emerging contrast, however, is that of image: Trump has boasted of walls and ejections, and has particularly stigmatized Muslims (especially from certain countries) as potential terrorists. Trudeau has highlighted Canada’s openness, both through the Syrian refugee resettlement program and a globally rebroadcast tweet declaring welcome to those fleeing persecution, “regardless of your faith.”

The vast majority of border-hopping refugee claimants have been Muslims from Somalia, Syria, Yemen (all countries targeted by Trump’s now-suspended travel ban), as well as Turkey, Ghana, Djibouti and other countries.

Kenney said the Liberal government should bid to renegotiate the agreement as he previously tried to, as its current limitation “almost incentivizes these irregular crossings.” A sharp increase in the flow would massively burden our system “and blow a hole in the integrity of our immigration system,” he says—particularly if illegal immigrants fearing Trump-ordered deportations start joining the overseas migrants. “I think we need to be soft-hearted but hard-headed about this,” Kenney said.

“This is why I think it’s unhelpful for leaders like Prime Minister Trudeau to muddy the waters with what sounds like an open invitation for foreign nationals of the United States to come north,” Kenney went on. “We have immigration laws for a reason, so we can have an ordered, fair, compassionate, law-based system.  It really doesn’t help if you create the implication that Canada has open borders. We don’t, in our law.”

Source: A tougher refugee border pact? America said no. – Macleans.ca