Smothering the burning embers of terrorism: Sears 

Good and balanced commentary:

Canada had been astonishingly blessed to be mostly free of all but a few murders by angry young men mimicking serious terrorists — so far. But that is surely not a predictor of our future. Those more brutally stung by repeated attacks have moved far ahead of us in radicalization prevention, at-risk youth outreach, monitoring and countering incitement rhetoric online, in school, and in the community.

It is way past time that we made compulsory again the study of civics, in every elementary school year. A program of learning on the responsibilities of citizenship, on why a socially tolerant Canada is the only path to a safer Canada, on the story of the giants of our history on whose shoulders we stand, having been bequeathed this blessed, but always fragile, new nation.

This is not about attacks on other communities, other cultures, disguised as a “discussion about Canadian values.” Nor is it jeremiads like Supreme Court Justice Abella’s against “narcissistic populism” as powerful as they have been. It’s about demonstrating to everyone the meaning of the shared responsibilities of citizens in our democracy, and those we have to each other. What Toronto political sage Bill MacDonald has so elegantly dubbed the “Canadian culture of mutual accommodation.”

As we celebrate our 150 years of success in building a new form of nationhood, we cannot let our pride blind us to its perennial fragility. Canadian religious and public safety leaders, for example, need to deepen their conversations about the boundaries between acceptable and illegal hate speech, develop stronger models of shared engagement focused on mutual education and prevention, not merely surveillance and arrest.

Perhaps most important of all, Canadian business, civic, and community leaders need to make it clear to politicians and pundits who use racial, religious and ethnic divisions for votes or clicks, just how certain will be the destruction of their reputations and careers.

For it is not insensitive to the suffering of the Manchester families of the children who were victims of this latest atrocity to remember this: it is how we react to attack that is the path to less terror. We invest in prevention, we make punishment certain, and we double down on the peddlers of hate.

Perhaps with a deeper commitment to prevention our day will never come. But as the Japanese cliché has it, “People don’t learn from experience, only from catastrophe.” If, despite all our efforts, the one-time we fail leads to tragedy, we must ensure that our defiance in the face of attack includes a resolute commitment to the open inclusive Canada that so much blood was shed to build and to guarantee.

Source: Smothering the burning embers of terrorism: Sears | Toronto Star

USA: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : NPR

Good analysis, showing ongoing stratification in post-secondary education and an interesting nuance of the Asian American ‘myth of being a model minority’:

Today, more Americans graduate high school and go on to college than ever before. But as the country becomes more diverse — the Census Bureau expects that by 2020 more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group— are colleges and universities ready to serve them?

“If you look at the past 50, almost 60 years, you see we have made a lot of progress as a country in terms of high school seniors deciding to go to college in the 1.5 years after graduating,” says Andrew Nichols, director of higher education research and data analytics at the Education Trust, a nonprofit. “And that isn’t just white students. It’s also for black and Latinos. You’re seeing that increase for everybody.”

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2015, 88 percent of seniors – nearly 3 million students – graduated high school. By the following October, 69 percent of them – or more than 2 million people – were enrolled in college.

But where are they attending? And do they graduate?

The same is true for Asian Americans, says Robert Teranishi, a professor of education at UCLA and the director of the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE). The largest concentration of Asian-American students – about half – attends community colleges, he says. It’s also where enrollment of Asian Americans is increasing the fastest.

But because community colleges have low six-year graduation rates (39 percent according to a report by the American Association of Community Colleges), this means that few of those students will actually earn degrees. “The problem is there’s not a lot of expansion in higher education,” Teranishi says. As a result, some students end up in subpar schools where they may never earn a degree. “A lot of students are relegated to two-years or they’re ending up in four-year institutions that are not doing a good job at helping students succeed and earn a degree,” he says. “They’re being set up in a bad situation.”

Meanwhile, the nation’s selective institutions — the Ivy Leagues and flagship public universities — are becoming even more selective, and remaining mostly white. According to the 2013 report “Separate & Unequal” from the Georgetown Center for Higher Education and the Workforce, since 1995, 80 percent of America’s white college students have enrolled in the country’s 468 most well-funded, selective four-year colleges and universities. These schools spend two to nearly five times as much per student as do the 3,250 less resourced, open-access colleges (which do not require applications) where students of color are concentrated.

The study also found that while inequalities of race and class overlap quite a bit, race has a distinctive negative effect. Even after controlling for academic achievement in high school, black and Latino students attend selective institutions at far lower rates and drop out of college more often.

As a result, whites have higher graduation rates and are more likely to attain advanced degrees and higher future earnings, even among equally qualified students. Anthony Carnevale, the director of the center and one of the authors of the report, told NPR in 2013 that, “We found … that while more and more minorities are going on to college, that the system itself was becoming even more unequal. That is, we were getting more and more access, and access was bringing more and more inequality, and the inequality mattered.”

For Asian Americans, a false perception persists that they’re universally high achieving. Teranishi says that they’re treated as a homogenous group even though there are many ethnic subgroups, and that there’s not enough data tracking subgroups. A 2011 report by CARE found that up to two-third of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States don’t have any form of post-secondary education and that for the ones who do enter college, half drop out.

“They’re generally overlooked and underserved when it comes to college opportunity programs, college access, or even student services or programs on campus,” Teranishi says. “And really, it’s rooted in this model-minority myth. There’s not a lot of understanding about their actual experiences or outcomes.”

Teranishi finds it disconcerting that Asian Americans are used as a wedge group against other people of color and says these claims of discrimination have scant evidence. “It’s not like Harvard can admit every student who is in the top of their class with a 4.0 GPA or who has a perfect SAT. That outnumbers the number of students Harvard admits each year. There’s a lot more criteria involved in the selection process,” he says.

“The other thing that concerns me is that this narrative … removes Asian Americans from the broader discourse about the importance of diversity and equity in higher education. So that’s concerning because Asian Americans, like other students, they benefit from being exposed to students of other racial backgrounds.”

Several studies have shown that diverse student bodies benefit students of all races by improving intellectual engagement, citizenship, and cognitive skills. The positive effects stay with them even after they graduate college.

Source: Why Colleges Already Face Race-Related Challenges In Serving Future Students : Code Switch : NPR

New Jersey Town Used Zoning to Discriminate Against Islam – The New York Times

Courts worked:

At issue was an official demand that the mosque provide 107 parking spots for its 150 worshipers, instead of the ratio of one spot for every three users required of the township’s churches, synagogues, restaurants and auditoriums.

The Planning Board’s parking requirement for the mosque set off an avalanche: If the Islamic Society were to devote as much of its land to parking as the board demanded, it would not be able to comply with mandates for drainage and lighting.

“Are both synagogues and mosques considered churches under the definitions that the township operates under?” Judge Shipp asked.


Mohammad Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, at the site of the proposed mosque last year. CreditKarsten Moran for The New York Times

Mr. Mankoff: “No.”

Judge Shipp: “Is a mosque considered a church?”

Mr. Mankoff: “No.”

Judge Shipp: “So it is different?”

Mr. Mankoff: “Yes, your Honor.”

How so, the judge wanted to know. Mr. Mankoff said that mosques were busy on Friday evenings, rather than on Sundays.

Judge Shipp probed the implications of that answer.

“Is the board, in essence, adopting a policy that expressly applies different standards based on religion?” he asked.

“It’s not based on religion,” Mr. Mankoff said. “It’s based simply on the parking needs of the applicants.”

The judge did not accept that. “Counsel, you just stood there and told me that when you look at a mosque, you’re looking at a Friday worship,” Judge Shipp said. “When you look at Christian churches, you’re looking at a weekend worship.”

A lawyer for the Islamic Society, Adeel A. Mangi of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, pointed out that the township’s synagogues did not have the same severe parking requirements. “They pray on a Friday, too,” Mr. Mangi said.

Over nearly four years, the proposed mosque was the subject of 39 hearings. Beneath the technical land-use discussions in public, a sulfurous tone was captured in emails that the Justice Department uncovered.

“As a religion, Islam owes its size and influence to a tradition from Day 1 of forced conversions through violent means,” wrote John Malay, who served on both the Planning Board and the Township Committee. Members of the two bodies discussed ways to exclude the president of the Islamic Society, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, a former mayor of the township, from a Sept. 11 commemoration. John Carpenter, a member of the Township Committee, wrote of President Obama: “Man child. The product of fools, raised by idiots and coddled by affirmative action. Behold the beast.”

None of these materials were part of Judge Shipp’s decision, which was based entirely on the filings made by the township itself.

Michael Turner, a spokesman for the township, said that many people served their township without compensation. They have the power and responsibility to shape the place where they live. In the case of Bernards Township, Judge Shipp found, it was too much.

“The Parking Ordinance unambiguously provides the Planning Board with unbridled and unconstitutional discretion,” he wrote.

Quebec byelection poster denouncing Canadian multiculturalism upsets some people – 660 NEWS

Fringe party but reflects some of the popular misconceptions about multiculturalism (not unique to Quebec):

A candidate in a Quebec provincial byelection has triggered controversy with a campaign poster that criticizes Canadian multiculturalism and shows a photo of a woman wearing a niqab.

Alexandre Cormier-Denis is running for the Parti independantiste in the Montreal riding of Gouin.

The poster has the slogan Choose Your Quebec above two photos of the same woman — one in which she is sporting a blue tuque with the Fleur-de-lis and the other in which she is wearing a niqab.

Below the photos it is written Canadian Multiculturalism, No Thanks.

Police withdrew the poster from outside a subway station after they received complaints but it was put back up outside another one because Cormier-Denis is a registered candidate in the May 29 vote.

Cormier-Denis says multiculturalism ghettoizes immigrants in their own communities.

“So while an election should be the time to give voters real choices, it is considered scandalous for a candidate to dare question the multiculturalist order that Ottawa imposes on Quebec,” he wrote on Twitter.

“The journalistic caste seems incapable of imagining it is possible to get out of this multiculturalist model without it being morally reprehensible.

“Yet, by shutting them off in their communities of origin, English-Canadian multiculturalism is actually closer to real racism.”

Haroun Bouazzi, co-president of a Muslim and Arab group that is in favour of secularity, called the poster anti-Muslim and said he believes voters in Gouin will categorically reject Cormier-Denis next Monday.

“But if he gets five per cent it would be enormous, a disaster,” Bouazzi said in an interview. “But we’re urging people in Gouin to show that Quebec isn’t ready to import racist slogans and posters from France.”

Bouazzi called on Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Premier Philippe Couillard to launch a concerted anti-racist campaign.

The byelection is being held to replace Quebec solidaire’s Francoise David, who quit politics earlier this year. Former student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois is hoping to retain the seat for the left-wing party. His opponents include the Liberals’ Jonathan Marleau and the Green party’s Alex Tyrrell.

Source: Quebec byelection poster denouncing Canadian multiculturalism upsets some people – 660 NEWS

Korea: ‘Teachers need multicultural education’

Numbers still small: 100,000 compared to over 9 million but likely concentrated in cities:

Korea’s multicultural population continues to grow, but the government has yet to establish a law that requires teachers to receive training to better address a racially diverse classroom.

In 2010, a multicultural education class was introduced in the university curriculum for students aspiring to become teachers, but under the current system it is not compulsory.

Mo Kyung-hwan, president of the Korean Association for Multicultural Education (KAME) and professor at Seoul National University (SNU)’s Department of Social Studies Education, teaches this class, but only seven students are taking it this semester.

“If only seven students signed up for a class taught by a part-time instructor, it would be canceled. As dean of the department of social studies education, I was not required to teach the class, but decided to as students need to learn about multiculturalism,” Mo told The Korea Times in an interview at SNU, Tuesday.

Classes on school violence and special education are mandatory, but those on multiculturalism are not.

Classes teaching multicultural education were initiated at universities and departments of education with government funding, but the education ministry has cut subsidies and many schools no longer offer the classes.

Teachers who attended university before the classes were introduced in the curriculum have even less opportunities.

Since 2008, the Seoul and Gyeonggi offices of education started offering classes on multiculturalism for teachers. However, they are limited to 15 hours a year, which is far from enough, Mo said.

“The number of Korean students is shrinking, but that of multicultural students is growing. Students’ receptivity of multiculturalism has improved, but multicultural students still face prejudice and bullying at school,” he said, pointing to the need for teacher training to be made mandatory under the new Moon Jae-in administration.

Data from Statistics Korea shows the number of school aged children stood at 9.38 million in 2016, a 10.4 percent decrease from 10.5 million in 2010.

In contrast, the number of school-aged multicultural children stood at 99,186 in 2016, more than a 200 percent increase from 31,788 in 2010.

Multicultural children, who accounted for 0.44 percent of the student population in 2010, now accounted for 1.68 percent in 2016.

Korea’s efforts to embrace multiculturalism

Korea was mostly homogeneous up until the 1980s, but it saw an influx of immigrant workers in the 1990s and immigrant brides in the 2000s. Due to the growing population of immigrants and their children, the government drew up its first policy to support them in 2006.

In line with the policy, the education ministry revised the school curriculum so that textbooks would help students enhance their receptivity of multiculturalism.

In the meantime, schools aid multicultural children in learning Korean and building their academic skills, and assist them in planning their careers.

“Multicultural education has grown tremendously both in quantity and quality in the past decade,” Mo said.

“In the next decade, as the multicultural population grows further, their countries of origin, reasons for immigration, socio-economic status and Korean language abilities will be diversified _ and education for these students will be specialized to accommodate their needs.”

Learning from immigrant nations

Countries such as the U.S. or Canada, which began as immigrant nations, have far more advanced policies for immigrants.

“What we can learn from these countries is the premise they had of immigrant policies _ that they were not merely welfare for minorities but for the nation as a whole,” Mo said.

This is because immigrants contribute to the economy with the labor they provide, and with the taxes they pay. Young immigrants and their children can also provide a solution to countries with low birth rates, he said.

“When neglecting them, they could pose instability to the nation, but providing them support will lead to social integration,” Mo said.

He added these countries regarded policies for immigrants as important as defense, economic or labor policies.

“In the long-term, Korea will need a government body solely dedicated to immigrant affairs,” he said.

Source: ‘Teachers need multicultural education’

Never forget the lessons of Europe’s concentration camps: Justice Abella

Powerful commencement address by SCC Justice Abella:

You see before you a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada who is deeply worried about the state of justice in the world. I was born right after the Second World War. That was the devastating war that inspired the nations of the world to unite in democratic solidarity and commit themselves conceptually, aspirationally, institutionally and legally to the promotion and protection of values designed to prevent a repetition of the war’s unimaginable human rights abuses.

Yet here we are in 2017, barely seven decades later, watching “never again” turn into “again and again,” and watching that wonderful democratic consensus fragment, shattered by narcissistic populism, an unhealthy tolerance for intolerance, a cavalier indifference to equality, a deliberate amnesia about the instruments and values of democracy that are no less crucial than elections, and a shocking disrespect for the borders between power and its independent adjudicators like the press and the courts.

It is time to remind ourselves why we developed such a passionate and, we thought, unshakeable commitment to democracy and human rights, to remember the three lessons we were supposed to have learned from the concentration camps of Europe: Indifference is injustice’s incubator; it’s not just what you stand for, it’s what you stand up for; and we can never forget how the world looks to those who are vulnerable.

Two hundred thousand European Jews survived the Holocaust. Three of them were my parents and grandmother. My mother’s family manufactured roofing materials. My father graduated with a master’s in law from the Jagiellonian law school in Krakow. My parents spent three years in concentration camps. Their two-year-old son, my brother, and my father’s parents and three younger brothers were all killed at Treblinka. My father was the only person in his family to survive the war. He was 35 when the war ended. My mother was 28. As I reached each of those ages, I tried to imagine how they felt facing an unknown future as survivors of an unimaginable past. And as each of our two sons reached the age my brother had been when he was killed, I tried to imagine my parents’ pain at losing a two-year-old child, and I couldn’t.

After the war, my parents went to Stuttgart, Germany, where the Americans hired my father, who taught himself English, to help set up the system of legal services for displaced persons in the Allied zone in southwest Germany. In an act that seems to me to be almost incomprehensible in its breathtaking optimism, my parents and thousands of other survivors transcended the inhumanity they had experienced and decided to have more children. I think it was a way to fix their hearts and to prove to themselves and the world that their spirits were not broken. I was born in Stuttgart on July 1, 1946, 30 years after Louis Brandeis was appointed to the Supreme Court, and my sister two years later.

My father, who was the head of our displaced persons camp, applied to emigrate to Canada, but was refused because his legal training wasn’t considered a useful skill. He eventually was permitted entry as a tailor’s cutter and as a shepherd. Within days of arriving in Toronto, my father went to the Law Society to ask what tests he would need to take to become lawyer. “None,” they said. Non-citizens could not be lawyers. Waiting the five years it took in those days to become a citizen was impossible. There was a family to feed. So he became an insurance agent for the next 20 years, happily. I never heard him complain.

The moment I heard that story as a child about my father not being able to be a lawyer was the moment I decided to become one. I was four. I had no idea what being a lawyer meant, but I did have an idea that I wanted to carry on what I thought he was unfairly prevented from doing. My father died a month before I graduated from law school, and he never lived to see his inspiration take flight in the daughter he raised to fear only injustice, indifference and cowardice, or in his two grandsons, both of whom became lawyers. And he never had a chance to see the marriage he had exuberantly celebrated with me the year before he died flourish into a miraculously joyful partnership with one of Canada’s most brilliant historians.

But my mother did, and carried me proudly into the future on the shoulders of her unwavering confidence for the next 40 years, until she died in 2010. This extraordinary honour [of an honorary degree] from Brandeis is for me above all a tribute to her unwavering resilience, inspiration and courage.

A few years ago, she gave me some of my father’s papers from Germany that I’d never seen before. In those papers I found the answer to why he always spoke so respectfully and appreciatively of Americans. I saw letters from American lawyers, prosecutors and judges he had worked with in the U.S. zone in Stuttgart. They were warm, compassionate and encouraging letters, either recommending, appointing or qualifying my father for various legal roles in the court system the Americans had set up in Germany after the war. These Americans believed in him, and as a result they not only restored him, they gave him back his belief that justice was possible.

I found one of the letters written to him by an American lawyer in 1947 to be particularly poignant. It said, “Under extreme difficulties, you contributed your share in helping to make life bearable for your friends, co-nationals, and those of other nationalities. It is hard to be a refugee, and it is twice as hard to be a refugee and a lawyer. You were battered, but you did not allow yourself to be beaten. You continued to fight for your human rights and for those of your fellows in fate, like brave fighters for a new society.”

And here I am 70 years later, a member of that new society he fought and hoped for, and the beneficiary of generosity and opportunities he would never have dreamed possible, including, amazingly, an honorary degree from Brandeis, a university he venerated, and all because the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Auschwitz was justice – beautiful, democratic, tolerant, compassionate justice.

My life started in a country where there had been no democracy, no rights, no justice and all because we were Jewish. No one with this history does not feel lucky to be alive and free. No one with this history takes anything for granted, and no one with this history does not feel that we have a particular duty to wear our identities with pride and to promise our children that we will do everything humanly possible to keep the world safer for them than it was for their grandparents, a world where all children – regardless of race, colour, religion, or gender – can wear their identities with dignity, with pride and in peace.

Source: Never forget the lessons of Europe’s concentration camps – The Globe and Mail

Demands asked of Write magazine go too far: Kate Jaimet

Hopefully but unlikely the last post on this subject but Kate Jaimet’s overall take and her critique of the equity task force “fundamentalists” is largely on the mark:

Like many writers I know, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching recently about questions of freedom of speech and cultural appropriation.

To me, it’s not a simple issue. While I’m sick to my stomach that white editors in positions of considerable power would “jokingly” tweet about funding a “cultural appropriation prize,” it also nauseates me that Hal Niedzviecki would lose his job as editor of Write (the magazine of the Writers’ Union of Canada) for penning a controversial opinion piece.

It’s been a bad week for intercultural respect. And for freedom of speech.

Niedzviecki’s opinion piece, “Winning the Appropriation Prize,” which appeared in an issue of Write dedicated to Indigenous writers, was ham-fisted and offensive — in parts. In other parts, it was a timely plea for writers to step outside the box of their own ethnicity and culture, learn about other people, and write about them.

Having read the entire article, I don’t think that Niedzviecki meant to suggest that Indigenous cultures had never been exploited by imperial colonizers, nor that it was OK to do so. But his article could legitimately be read and interpreted in that way. And it was — which led to the fallout we’ve witnessed.

I don’t know Niedzviecki. But I do know that over the past few years, he transformed Write from a boring union newsletter to a vibrant publication with more diverse contributors than before his tenure. And I know enough about how small magazines work, (IE. on a shoestring) that I’d lay money on a bet that Niedzviecki either originated, or strongly backed, the idea of an issue dedicated to Indigenous writers, and worked hard to solicit contributions and get them into print.

The feelings of anger and betrayal expressed by Indigenous writers who were blindsided by Niedzviecki’s article are completely understandable and we, as fellow writers, must take them to heart. But I also believe that the List of Demands published by The Writer’s Union’s Equity Task Force in reaction to Niedzviecki’s article went completely beyond the pale.

Not only did the list call for a retraction and an apology, it also demanded (No. 6) that the next editor of Write must not only be an “Indigenous writer or writer of colour,” but also, “active and respected in Indigenous sovereignty or anti-racist cultural movements for at least three years;” and (No. 7) that all future Writers’ Union office staff be “active and respected in anti-oppression cultural movements for at least three years” with priority given to “Indigenous writers, racialized writers, writers with disabilities and trans writers.”

Further, the Task Force demanded (No. 4) “Protocols for editing all issues of Write that build in accountability to issues of race and colonialism.” Accountability, it seems, would be monitored by (No. 9) a new in-house Equity Officer “active and respected in Indigenous sovereignty or anti-racist cultural movements for at least three years.”

I’m sorry if people are offended by what I’m about to say, but to demand that all staff of the Writer’s Union must hew to a certain political line — and that all content of Write must be vetted in accordance with that line — smacks of totalitarianism.

Just as cultural appropriation evokes a strong reaction in Indigenous people, political totalitarianism evokes a strong reaction in many people of European descent — people sometimes labelled by the “anti-racist cultural movement” as simply “white.”

Many Canadians of European origin have experienced — or have parents or grandparents who experienced — repression for their political or artistic beliefs under 20th century totalitarian regimes. People were imprisoned for expressing opinions deemed politically unacceptable. Some lost their lives.

Freedom of speech is not just a megaphone used by the powerful to shout down their voiceless opponents (though it can be misused this way). Freedom of speech is a fundamental principle that we, as writers, must defend.

I believe more Indigenous journalists should be hired in Canadian newsrooms. I believe journalists who are not Indigenous should strive to learn about Indigenous issues and cover them with fairness, accuracy, and empathy. I believe more books, poems, plays and films by Indigenous creators should be published and distributed. I believe novelists who are not Indigenous should, respectfully, include Indigenous characters in their works; because leaving Indigenous people out of stories can be as racist as falsely portraying Indigenous people within stories. I believe that people shouldn’t lose their jobs for expressing their opinions.

I want to believe that I can believe in both: intercultural respect, and freedom of expression. I hope that’s possible in Canada today.

Source: Demands asked of Write magazine go too far | Toronto Star

Martin Regg Cohn also has a good piece: Why the debate over cultural appropriation misses the mark: Cohn – Wouldn’t social critics find a wider audience — beyond literary and journalistic circles, or the echo chamber of Twitter — by distinguishing between cultural exploration and exploitation?

Commission on missing, murdered Indigenous women has become a fortress of bureaucratic incompetence

Neil Macdonald on what appears to be a morass.

His alternative solution of giving money to the RCMP to do an investigation has its appeal but doesn’t acknowledge the the RCMP’s management challenges:

Indeed, as of March 23, the commission had spent about ten per cent, or about $5 million, of its $53-million budget. Of that, 29 per cent was spent on salaries, and 71 per cent, about $3.6 million, was sucked up by travel ($500,000) and, more expensively, administration, a lot of it provided by the Privy Council Office, in the form of “corporate overhead, legal services, interpretation and translation.”

Whatever that means.

Still, the commission is largely the master of its own house.

It could be subpoenaing police records, and compelling police executives to testify about how the Mounties and other forces deal, or don’t deal, with reports of missing or murdered Indigenous women, or explaining accounts of gross abuse and neglect of victims.

It could be talking constantly to the Indigenous public, reassuring and reaching out to them. It could be holding public hearings across the country and holding governments accountable.

Instead, it’s apparently decided not to undertake any hearings this summer, knowing its interim report is due in the fall, a deadline it will almost certainly miss.

So, again, let me suggest a more direct approach.

Prime Minister Trudeau could, if he wished, call in RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and his senior management team, and tell them something like this:

“Don’t bother sitting down, officers, this will just take a few minutes.

“Here’s $10 million. And it’s just a down payment. I want you to form a cold case unit. Put some of your best investigators on it.

You have some good Indigenous officers. Use them. Get in touch with Indigenous police departments across the country.

“I want you to re-investigate every case of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on your files. I want results. I want you to be able to tell families: ‘This is what happened to your daughter or mother. This is who did it. He’s either in prison or he’s going to prison.’

“And I want it done now. If it isn’t, the RCMP will have a different management team in a few months. Get to work.”

That might not be culturally sensitive, or even very sensitive at all, and it might take some guts, but it would probably work.

And finally, some of those families might get the justice they want.

Magnitsky bill advances with a strongly Ukrainian flavour

Diaspora politics have always been part of modern Canadian politics.

The Ukrainian Canadian community, given its numbers and long history in Canada, has played a major role in recent history (e.g., former PM Mulroney recognizing an independent Ukraine in 1991).

So it is less about the personalities involved than the fundamentals about the history, size and influence of a particular community:

The “Magnitsky Law” is a piece of Canadian legislation, not yet enacted, that seeks to hold governments and individuals to account for human rights abuses.

It’s named after Russian businessman Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail in 2009 after accusing officials of tax fraud. It could help to bring sanctions to other rights abusers in other countries.

In late 2012, the United States adopted the so-called Magnitsky Act, which imposes travel bans and financial sanctions on Russian officials and other individuals believed to have been involved in Magnitsky’s death.

But there’s something about the way the bill is moving forward in Canada that should perhaps give pause to legislators.

Two versions exist: a Commons version written by Conservative James Bezan, and a Senate version written by Raynell Andreychuk. That second version yesterday obtained the support of Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who says the Trudeau government will help to push it through the House.

What do Bezan, Andreychuk, and Freeland all have in common?

All three are active members of Canada’s Ukrainian community. And all three happen to be among the 13 Canadians sanctioned by Russia for their supposed hostility to the country.

Diaspora politics

The situation may allow the Kremlin to tell its citizens that the bill is not really about rights abuses, but rather part of a campaign motivated by ethnic animus towards Russia.

Pro-Kremlin news media and bloggers often portray Canada’s Ukrainians as this country’s version of Miami Cubans, a community calling the shots of Canada’s foreign policy on the one issue that obsesses it.

Last year Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Canadian government of “blindly following the demands of rabid representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.”

Canada’s response perhaps did little to defuse that Russian suspicion.

“We will not tolerate from a Russian minister any insult against the community of Ukrainians in Canada,” then-Global Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion responded in the House of Commons. “Ukrainian Canadians, we owe so much to them. We will always support them.”

Magnitsky Bill not just about Russia

Human rights groups have welcomed the Magnitsky Bill, and it has enjoyed support from Russian dissidents Gary Kasparov and Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

It’s also intended to reach far beyond Russia, says MP Bezan.

“This will apply to all countries, whether it’s organ-harvesters in China who are falsely imprisoning Falun Gong practitioners to harvest their organs and tissues for sale around the world, whether it’s people in the Iranian regime that are denying justice and freedom to their own citizens, or even in the case of Saudi Arabia, where they’re targeting people who’ve tried to speak out against the government, this law has global application.”

Source: Magnitsky bill advances with a strongly Ukrainian flavour – Politics – CBC News

Globe editorial on the what they see as the overly broad reach of the Bill: Globe editorial: Senate’s proposed Magnitsky bill needs a rethink

Italy’s casual racism is out of place in town where migrants are helping economy

Two examples, one bad, one good:

It is an aging country with towns and villages emptying of their young, and a country where racism is never far below the surface. When it explodes, it is often tolerated.

It is also a country with tens of thousands of potential new citizens sitting on its doorstep. With a few exceptions, however, Italy is very reluctant to try to integrate them.

Sulley Muntari has been around. He’s 32 and has played for several top Italian teams as well as teams in Britain. He’s also played for Ghana’s national team 84 times.

He knows how the game is played in Italy, he knows the corrosive power of fans called “ultras” and their penchant for racist abuse. But in early May he snapped. He had appealed to the referee to do something about the unrelenting chants. The referee did nothing. So Muntari left the game.

Sulley Muntari — Italian soccer player

Sulley Muntari of Pescara remonstrates with football fans during a Serie A match April 30 in Cagliari, Italy. (Enrico Locci/Getty)

For this, the Italian soccer federation suspended him for a further game. It said the abuse was minor, coming from a minority of just 10 or 15 fans.

Meanwhile, in the mountains of the south, the town council of Sant’Alessio rents out eight apartments which house 35 migrants — an Iraqi Kurdish family, and people from Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.

The town gets up to 45 euros ($70 Cdn) a day for each migrant from the national government to house, feed and help train them. There are vocational classes and legal and medical aid.

The mission began as humanitarian aid, Mayor Stephano Calabro said. “But there are significant economic benefits, too.”

The subsidies are helping to keep the town’s dying shops and services alive.

Most migrants aren’t so lucky. Over the years, people on the southern island of Lampedusa have worked heroically to rescue and welcome thousands of new arrivals who risked their lives in the sea crossing.

But now at least 170,000 migrants languish in makeshift government camps, waiting for months, even years, while their asylum requests work their way through the slow, tortuous, complicated bureaucratic process.

Source: Italy’s casual racism is out of place in town where migrants are helping economy – World – CBC News