How privileged are you? Take this test to find out – Wente misses some elements

An interesting privilege test by Margaret Wente, that focusses on non-ethnic origin or race factors:

  • Your family income – or your parents’ family income, if you’re young – is $120,000 a year or more. (That’s the approximate cutoff point for the upper one-fifth of earners.)
  • You grew up in a stable, two-parent household. (Children who grow up in stable families do much better than children in lone-parent or divorced families.)
  • Your mother graduated from university. (Maternal education is an important predictor of children’s educational attainment.)
  • Your folks took you to the museum/theatre when you were a kid.
  • Your family helped/will help you with a down payment on a house (or you helped your kids.)
  • You’ve been to Europe more than once.
  • You graduated from a good university. (Bonus point for each graduate degree.)
  • Most of your high-school friends went to good universities.
  • If there are two forks in a place setting, you know which one to use first.
  • You got an internship through family connections (or helped somebody else get one).
  • You can paddle a canoe.
  • You Tweet, or know people who do. (Tweeting is considered an elite activity.)

Wente scored 11 out of 13 (I got 10 out of 13).

Somewhat ironic, given Wente’s Chicago origins, that no racial factors included.

To get at ethnic origin/race factors, my suggestions would be (minus points):

  • Have you been stopped in the last year by the police for no discernible reason?
  • Has your bag/backpack been searched at a store for no apparent reason?
  • When passing airport security, are you regularly pulled aside for more detailed questioning or search?
  • Do people ask you: Where are you from?

Look forward to any other suggestions readers may have.

Source: How privileged are you? Take this test to find out – The Globe and Mail

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The barriers of nativism and fear: Let’s rethink the walls that divide us – Foran

Always a pleasure to read Charlie Foran’s ruminations, this time about the invisible walls that divide us.

Somewhat one-sided, as walls can and are also be built by the left, not just the right, and part of the challenge in inclusion is allowing uncomfortable but respectful conversations from a variety of perspectives:

A handful of political leaders recognize this, and are mounting counterarguments. “Diversity is our strength,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted after the Trump administration’s first attempt at a travel ban on Muslims. During his successful run for the French presidency, Emmanuel Macron thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for saving “our collective dignity” with her open-door refugee policy.

But the most incisive thinking about walls may be emerging from community-based activism. Movements clustering around Indigenous reconciliation and restitution, anti-racism, and LGBTQ rights – to name just the most prominent – are certainly asking tough, uncomfortable questions about the way things are.

No surprise, these groups, mostly associated with the political left, are especially cogent at pointing out the walls protecting careful constructions of dominance. They identify privilege based on race and prejudice; they query which history is being told, and who is doing the telling; they insist colonialism is alive and well in heads and hearts, along with colonial policies and practices.

For people on the outside of power, social, economic and political barriers aren’t invisible, and never have been. The walls have been right before their eyes for as long as they, or their ancestors, can remember. For those on the inside, meanwhile, such critiques can sound strident and totalizing, a threat to supposedly communal values, even to a way of life. They don’t see those structural barriers – or they just don’t care.

They also counterpunch. Proud Boys, believing their Canada to be under siege, attack an Indigenous demonstration in Halifax over the statue of Cornwallis. In a tweet, President Trump cites the “medical costs and disruption that transgender [sic] in the military would entail” as one reason to reinstitute the ban against their serving openly in the U.S. armed forces. He also mentions unspecified threats to “cohesion.”

The President is right about the disruption, if nothing else. Of late, noisy, public challenges have been garnering most of the attention. Black Lives Matter disrupts the 2016 Pride parade to address “anti-blackness” within the Pride Toronto organization. A ceremonial teepee is erected on Parliament Hill during Canada 150 celebrations as a symbol of unresolved grievances.

Such high-profile disruptions certainly garner reactions, often from those with actual power. Equally important, however, are the quieter provocations and challenges being framed by these groups about what, in effect, we need to talk about if we really want to talk about inclusion. Respect for difference, fairness, equality, restitution are all ultimately measures of how individuals negotiate each other as partners in the basic enterprise of living together. They are tools for honouring the people on either side of you – not, curiously, something humans are very good at.

The truest conversions are always the self-willed, and, thanks in part to the forceful thinking of these various groups, individuals of good will are slowly, steadily wanting to re-examine a list of assumptions and make right a list of wrongs. Our parents didn’t teach us particularly well about some things. Nor did our history books. We sure don’t always see the walls we live behind, and help reinforce.

This is a profound project, and it is unfolding in messy real time. For sure, there is a lot of new thinking for a lot of us to absorb. But I can’t imagine a more necessary or essential conversation. Necessary for its own sake, and essential for the health of liberal democracies, which count on engagement and introspection from their citizens to thrive.

The principal challenge for now may be to come up with a working definition of real inclusion, one that is widely agreed upon, and that can become shared ground worth defending. That, too, probably can’t happen easily or comfortably. We’re still identifying the correct terms and appropriate players to do the work. This conversation is just beginning.

Source: The barriers of nativism and fear: Let’s rethink the walls that divide us – The Globe and Mail

Trump Administration Changes Focus of USCIS Immigrant #Citizenship Training to Assimilation – Breitbart

Not an insignificant shift, if followed through by programming and other substantive changes:

The Trump administration has changed the focus of a Department of Homeland Security immigrant citizenship training program managed by USCIS to “assimilation,” a significant shift from the Obama era focus on “integration.”

The change of focus was made official in the announcement on Tuesday that “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for two competitive funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program.” (emphasis added)

“Both funding opportunities aim to prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. Through these two funding opportunities, USCIS will offer up to $10 million in competitive funding for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country,” the announcement said.

The program, which began in 2009, President Obama’s first year in office, was previously called the “Citizenship and Integration Grant Program” (emphasis added) and “has awarded $63 million through 308 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The program has helped more than 170,000 permanent residents prepare for citizenship.”

The name change appears to have taken place this month. A screenshot taken from the Internet Wayback Machine shows the word “integration” was used to describe the grant program as recently as July 3.

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiated the name change of the grants program. This change in language reflects one of the primary goals of USCIS, which is to facilitate the full assimilation of lawful permanents into society,” Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for DHS, tells Breitbart News, adding:

Through the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program, USCIS will ensure that lawful permanent residents seeking U.S. citizenship understand the fundamental civic values that unite all Americans. Through the teaching of English, U.S. history and government, and fostering a greater understanding and connection to key principles and institutions, the grant program strives to encourage a greater attachment to the Constitution and the American ideals that strengthen this Nation and secure our homeland.

As Breitbart News reported previously, “assimilation” into American culture by immigrants–the adoption of American mores, language, and culture, as well as the full fledged acceptance of our legal and political system–has been the hallmark of the American experience for two centuries.

That all changed in the early 1990s, when under the Clinton administration a phalanx of left wing social engineers were brought into top levels of the federal bureaucracy, especially the State Department and the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Homeland Security, where the word “integration”–with a markedly different connotation than what the word meant during the 1950s and 1960s–replaced traditional concepts of immigrant assimilation.

In his 1998 book, The Unmaking of Americans: How Multiculturalism Has Undermined the Assimilation Ethic, John J. Miller saw early signs of the damage this shift from “assimilation” to “integration” would have on the country.   “In his book, Miller contends that the United States is currently in the midst of an assimilation crisis—one brought about not by immigrants, but by American institutions that have surrendered in the struggle to help newcomers assimilate,” the Ashbrook Institute noted at the time.

Almost two decades later, the change of focus on the USCIS citizenship training program from “integration” to “assimilation” is a clear signal the Trump administration intends to reverse that damage.

The liberal establishment and mainstream media, predictably, has reacted unfavorably to the Trump administration’s bold move.

“Justin Gest, a Professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and author of The New Minority: White Working Class Politics in an Era of Immigration and Inequality, tells Newsweek that the two words have come to have quite different connotations,” Josh Lowe reported at Newsweek on Thursday:

“The history of the words assimilation and integration are not necessarily that different,” Gest says, but “through selective use, and adoption by different idealogues and commentators, they have developed divergent connotations.”

“Integration implies a two-way process, whereby the immigrant adapts to their new environment, and those in the new environment attempt to facilitate the adaptation and co-evolve with immigrants themselves.”

“Assimilation has come to connote a one-way process, where there is a monolithic understanding—a static understanding— of what society is like, and that the immigrants hold all responsibility for adapting to it, and society is subject to no obligation to change to welcome or facilitate the arrival of newcomers.”

Unlike most conservatives, Gest thinks this is a bad thing, and blames Donald Trump, Gest told Newsweek.

Donald Trump has overtly sought to re-establish a bygone era of what he portrays as safety, stability and prosperity, and in trying to re-establish that era there is the implication that that era A) existed, and B) was something that actually was stable and that was static. Whereas in reality, there has never been that kind of stability in the American identity or American society.

Gest’s criticism of assimilation is in line with other earlier criticisms of assimilation in America made by London mayor Sadiq Khan and the controversial Muslim/progressive Democrat activist Linda Sarsour.

Source: Trump Administration Changes Focus of USCIS Immigrant Citizenship Training to Assimilation – Breitbart

Polygamy should never be linked with religious freedom: Dueck

Good commentary by Lorna Dueck and how religious freedom is balanced against other rights and harm to vulnerable groups (women, children):

This matters to far more than a hidden-away community in southern British Columbia. Polygamy is actively practised across Canada by religious minorities. It’s not a private crime, but because of its hidden nature, we have little idea of the victimization of women and girls in polygamy. The fact that it takes escape or a hearing before a judge for us to find out the realities of polygamy should have us on alert to letting this crime pass under religious freedom accommodation.

The 2011 B.C. legal challenge that upheld Canada’s polygamy law put on record a scientific study led by University of British Columbia professor Joseph Henrich that detailed how polygamy increases sexual abuse, domestic violence, crime, substance abuse, higher infant and child mortality rates and intra-household conflict. It found polygamy decreased women’s rights because, in polygynous societies, women are seen as a commodity to be attained. The heartbreaking testimony of freedom lost under the lie of religion was summed up for me in an earlier interview I did with polygamy victim Irene Spencer.

“I looked around me and I had been threatened all my life that I would go directly to hell if I didn’t live polygamy and all of a sudden I woke up and realized that I already was in hell; they couldn’t send me any place any darker or further, I was in despair and hopelessness. And around me I saw many women that had nervous breakdowns. I have nine nieces and nephews and one first cousin that have committed suicide and when you see the despair and the heartache, and I myself succumbed to a nervous breakdown and reached the lowest point in my life…” Ms. Spencer said in that interview. Ms. Spencer went on to escape being one of nine wives and wrote her story in Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife. She passed away earlier this year, but not before following Canada’s debate on whether reasonable accommodation in the Canadian Constitution should be interpreted to allow religious people to hold more than one wife.

“It’s abuse when young girls are told who they have to marry and they marry men old enough to be their fathers or their grandfathers. And it’s abuse when mothers and daughters are married to the same man. And it’s abuse when these children have no education. They run the boys out of town so the older men can marry the younger women,” Ms. Spencer said.

If polygamy is an expression allowed because of the religious freedom we cherish, one has to ask, how can the social harm of polygamy be considered reasonably justified? The short answer is: It can’t. As part of religious freedom laws in Canada there are limits based on the notion of reasonable accommodation as it relates to public interest. Doing no harm to the vulnerable should always trump religious freedom. Normally I find myself fighting for religious freedom, but when freedoms start to hurt others, that’s when we reach for the greater good of love moving through law to protect those who need it most.

Source: Polygamy should never be linked with religious freedom – The Globe and Mail

White Economic Privilege Is Alive and Well – The New York Times

Good analysis:

Is the white working class losing economic ground because of policies intended to improve the lives of black people? Anxiety and resentment among some white voters about those policies certainly seemed to benefit Donald Trump’s campaign last year, with its populist, ethno-nationalist message.

The problem with this belief is that it is false. The income gap between black and white working-class Americans, like the gap between black and white Americans at every income level, remains every bit as extreme as it was five decades ago. (This is also true of the income gap between Hispanic and white Americans.)

In 2015 — the most recent year for which data are available — black households at the 20th and 40th percentiles of household income earned an average of 55 percent as much as white households at those same percentiles. This is exactly the same figure as in 1967.

Indeed, five decades of household income data reveal a yawning and uncannily consistent income gap between black and white Americans across the economic spectrum. Fifty years ago, black upper-class Americans had incomes about two-thirds those of white upper-class Americans, while the black middle class — those in the 60th percentile — earned about two-thirds as much as its white counterpart. Those ratios remain the same today.

The Income Gap That Won’t Close

These numbers should shock us. Consider that in the mid-1960s, Jim Crow practices were still being dismantled and affirmative action hardly existed. Yet a half-century of initiatives intended to combat the effects of centuries of virulent racism appear to have done nothing to ameliorate inequality between white and black America.

Conservatives like Charles Murray tend to blame either social welfare programs for sapping initiative and keeping black people poor, or black people themselves for being less intelligent than whites, or a “pathological” culture that now manifests itself in the white working class as well.

But the historical pervasiveness and contemporary persistence of racism in America offer more than adequate explanations for what should be considered a scandalous state of affairs in regard to race-based economic inequality.

Many black children, for example, attend schools that once again are as segregated as they were in the 1960s, and they are far more likely to become trapped in a prison-industrial complex that the scholar Michelle Alexander has called “the new Jim Crow.”

Research by the sociologist Devah Pager in 2009 also found that black job applicants for low-wage jobs receive callback interviews or job offers at half the rate of equally well-qualified white applicants and that black and Latino applicants with clean records “fare no better” than white applicants just released from prison.

It is important to remember the extent to which the civil rights movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was focused on economic injustice. Indeed, A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, who planned the March on Washington that culminated with Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, organized the event primarily to highlight and protest what they called “the economic subordination of the American Negro.”

And Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, which he was organizing at the time of his murder, was an even more explicit argument that racial and economic justice are inextricably linked.

None of this is intended to minimize the legitimate anxiety felt by white families at a time when wages for low-wage workers have declined and middle-class incomes have stagnated, even as the economy has boomed and upper-class incomes have soared. Between 1980 and 2014, the post-tax income of the bottom 50 percent of the population grew by 21 percent, while that of the top .01 percent grew by 424 percent.

But over that same time, black working- and middle-class households have seen their incomes stagnate in exactly the same fashion as those of their white neighbors — and from a base that was and thus remains little more than half as large.

A genuine populist movement would unite working- and middle-class Americans of all backgrounds, rather than dividing them by exploiting false beliefs about the supposed loss of white economic privilege.

An Ontario court has just affirmed that cultural norms that excuse violence have no place here: Editorial | Toronto Star

Indeed:

The woman, a recent immigrant from Iran, suffered brutal spousal abuse but didn’t even realize it was against the law.

After moving to Canada in 2009 her husband forced the woman, whose identity is protected by the court, to have sex with him by hitting her, pulling her hair, pinching her and forcefully removing her clothes. “She cried out quietly so the children would not hear,” court was told.

He also slapped, kicked and punched their two sons and hit them with a belt. Once he locked them outside the house on a snowy winter day wearing nothing but shorts and T-shirts until their mother came home and rescued them.

When the husband was convicted of sexual assault and assault, Justice William Gorewich of Ontario court sentenced him to 18 months, citing mitigating factors that included the lack of a criminal record. The judge also noted a “significant cultural gap” between behaviour that is accepted in Canada and in Iran, and the “cultural impact” of changing countries.

That didn’t cut much muster with the Ontario Court of Appeal, nor should it have.

On appeal by the Crown, Justices Mary Lou Benotto, Alexandra Hoy and David Doherty found the 18-month sentence to be “manifestly unfit”and they imposed a far tougher, and entirely appropriate, four-year sentence.

They also went out of their way to send a powerful, timely message to the lower courts and the public in general that “cultural norms that condone or tolerate conduct contrary to Canadian criminal law” must not be a mitigating factor in sentencing. “Cultural differences do not excuse or mitigate criminal conduct,” the appeals court held.

If that were the case “some women in Canadian society would be afforded less protection than others.” In effect “it would … create a second class of person in our society — those who fall victim to offenders who import such practices.”

“All women in Canada are entitled to the same level of protection from abusers,” the court reminded us.

This principled decision is in line with the United Nations, which has held that cultural practices do not excuse human rights abuses.

Justice for every woman. That is the norm in Canada, and it is good to hear Ontario justices spell it out so bluntly, and so clearly.

Barbadan distress at investment citizenship • Caribbean Life

A sensible voice in the region on the risks of citizenship-by-investment programs. Note the link to the criminal marketplace, AlphaBay and its founder, Alexandre Cazes:

The recent arrival in Barbados of two persons who exercised their CARICOM rights to a prolonged stay on the island, obtained through a member state’s Citizenship by Investment programme has Prime Minister Freundel Stuart uneasy.

The Barbadian leader has reported that the persons, who are nationals of non-Caribbean countries took advantage of a Citizenship by Investment programme offered in a CARICOM member country to obtain passports of that territory and exercised their right to remain in Barbados for least six months without question as guaranteed under the CARICOM Freedom of Movement convention.

Stuart over the last weekend spoke of the powerless position that local immigration authority found itself in when the two opted to remain on the island after the United States Embassy in Barbados, that covers the entire Eastern Caribbean, refused their applications for visas to travel to the United States.

“The American Embassy turned down the applications for the visas, but the persons involved said ‘we are not going back to where we came from, we have a right to six months stay in Barbados and we want to stay here under our six months stay under the Freedom of Movement regime,’” Stuart said.

Stuart said that the distress brought upon Barbados because of the uncertainty of motive these two CARICOM ‘nationals’ who are not welcomed in the United States is precisely what he has been fighting against when in the past he objected to the citizenship based on investment programmes offered by sister territories.

“I have fought them [heads of governments] at CARICOM over those programmes … because I say to them, when you grant these people citizenship of your country and Barbados is not a part of the transaction, those people become CARICOM citizens and have, based on our Freedom of Movement arrangements, the right to come into Barbados when they like and how they like although we don’t know them,” he said.

“In some cases the persons who are granted citizenship do not have to even come to the country in order to get citizenship or to be able to get a passport,” Stuart noted.

The Barbados prime minister’s outcry Sunday was purely on security grounds because he said he was not unsympathetic to the economic needs of CARICOM nations.

“That is what is going on in the Caribbean because all the countries of the Caribbean are under pressure,” he said, adding, “those programmes keep them [the CARICOM territories] going and allow them to pay their bills from day to day.”

“I have sat as head of government of Barbados at many regional CARICOM meetings and heard their leaders say that if they were not selling their citizenship, if they were not selling passports their countries would be basket cases.”

Stuart refrained from naming the original country of those two persons who received citizenship within CARICOM for money but hinted that, “you have to catch about six or seven different airplanes to get to where they came from.”

Stuart’s revelation of his country’s unease with the legal presence of two suspect persons comes against the backdrop of reports out of Antigua of a now deceased 25-year-old man who obtained Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship in February 2017 being alleged to have masterminded the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet, AlphaBay.

The Antigua Observed newspaper a week ago reported that, “Alexandre Cazes, who with his wife obtained citizenship through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), allegedly ran the dark website which the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said was used to sell deadly illegal drugs, stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices, counterfeit goods, malware and other computer hacking tools, firearms, and toxic chemicals throughout the world.”

“US Attorney General Jeff Sessions hailed the move to shut AlphaBay as the largest darknet shut down in history, and the DOJ is now turning part of its attention to seizing Cazes’ property, including Villa 302 at Nonsuch Bay Condominiums in St. Phillip’s South, Antigua which he purchased under the CIP,” the Observer also stated.

Source: Bajan distress at investment citizenship • Caribbean Life

Malaysia: Group decries govt’s move to ban book promoting ‘moderate’ Islam

Discouraging trend, as in Indonesia:

A PRO-MODERATION group comprising eminent ethnic Malays has questioned the Malaysian government’s move to ban a book it published on “moderate” Islam amid concerns of rising Islamic fundamentalism in the country.

The Home Ministry banned the book authored by the group of predominantly former senior civil servants, who call themselves G25, for being “prejudicial to public order”, reported Malay Mail Online on Thursday.

A notice on the Federal Gazette, dated July 27, listed the prohibition of the book, titled Breaking the Silence: Voices of a Moderation Islam in a Constitutional Democracy under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) (No 12) Order 2017.

The group’s spokesman Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin said she was shocked by the ban, given the government’s long-standing drive to promote the wassatiyyah (moderation) concept espoused in Islam.

“This is obviously an action intended to suppress free speech. The articles in the book were written by respected academics, lawyers and social activists,” she told Asian Correspondent when contacted.

“They are intellectual articles mainly discussing the place of Islam in the Federal Constitution. None of the articles have criticised Islam or touched on matters of Aqidah ( faith ).”

G25

The G25 group says it will appeal the government’s ban on the book it published. Source: Amazon

Noor Farida, a prominent former judge and diplomat, also suggested the questionable timing of the ban as the book was released back in December 2015.

“This does not make sense as in the nearly two years that the book has been on the market, we have not heard of any of the readers causing public disorder or a public nuisance as a result of reading the book!”

The government, she said, should instead favour the book due to its “moderate” stance. Malaysia promotes an image of moderate Islam internationally, despite the increasing implementation of Syariah law across the country.

The government gazette’s notice stated the printing, importation, production, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution, or possession of the publication is “likely to be prejudicial to public interest”, which led to the nationwide ban.

Noor Farida said the G25 group would seek an explanation from the ministry and appeal the ban.

“We are still discussing this among our group members, but we will appeal and ask the Home Ministry to point out to us what the offending passages prejudicial to public order are,” she was quoted by The Star as saying.

Civil society groups such as the G25 have recently expressed alarm over the northeastern state of Kelantan’s move to amend its religious Islamic laws to allow public caning against “criminals” who breach its strict Syariah code.

At the end of this month, Malaysia’s lower house of Parliament is expected to debate a Bill to amend Act 355 of the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as the controversial RUU355.

The Bill – commonly known as Hadi’s Bill after the man who proposed it – would increase the Syariah punishment caps in Malaysia to a maximum 30 years’ imprisonment, RM100,000 (US$22,400) fine and 100 lashes of the cane – far harsher sentences than those currently implemented under the civil system.

Noor Farida said the G25 promotes moderation and peace and harmony among our people of various faiths and ethnicities.

“We believe in promoting respect for the beliefs of others. And we firmly believe in upholding our secular Federal Constitution against any attempts by religious bigots to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state.”

Australia – Citizenship crisis: MP Julia Banks denies being a Greek citizen amid speculation over her heritage

Given the numbers involved, appears that a review of the current policy may be warranted:

The fallout over MPs’ citizenship rights in foreign countries has widened to engulf more than 20 federal politicians, placing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s majority government under threat.

Investigations are today underway to determine whether Victorian Liberal MP Julia Banks holds Greek citizenship [later confirmed that she is not – see Banks isn’t Greek, Liberals avoid crisis).

The liberal backbencher was born in Melbourne to parents of Greek heritage.

But she said she has never taken up Greek citizenship, as speculation swirls around her heritage status.

Ms Banks is added to a list of twenty-one other members of the House of Representatives who have spoken of their migrant bloodlines – many during their maiden speeches – The Australian reported.

They include frontbenchers from both the Coalition and Labor such as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, Liberal MP Julia Banks, deputy Labor leader Tanya Pilbersek and Labor MP Steve Georganas.

The resignation from the cabinet of Nationals senator Matt Canavan, after it was revealed he had gained Italian citizenship without being born in, or visiting the country, has shown how vulnerable MPs who could be entitled to foreign citizenship are.

Now MPs such as Joyce, whose father was born in New Zealand and Ms Banks, whose father was born in Greece, face scrutiny over their family heritage.

With speculation over Ms Banks’ Greek heritage, the federal government is bracing for wider political ramifications.

The Coalition holds a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives which bans anyone who is a “citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power”.

The High Court could be asked to determine if Ms Banks’ entitlement to Greek citizenship makes her ineligible, and to rule on whether she should have renounced any citizenship entitlements before nominating.

A disqualification of a member in the lower house would likely lead to a by-election and put a big cloud over the future of the government.

Last night, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts became the latest federal politician to become embroiled in the citizenship furore.

He said he did not receive confirmation he had renounced British citizenship until months after the federal election, but is confident of surviving any challenge to his eligibility.

Senator Roberts said he wrote to British officials on May 1 last year asking if he was a UK citizen, given he was born to a Welsh father in India.

He had no reason to believe he was British, but thought it best to double-check while filling out a nomination form for the Senate.

Five weeks later he hadn’t received a response, so wrote again on June 6 – three days before nominations closed – saying that if he had British citizenship, he fully renounced it.

“I’ve taken all steps that I reasonably believe necessary,” Senator Roberts told Sky News.

Source: Citizenship crisis: MP Julia Banks denies being a Greek citizen amid speculation over her heritage

Years after two ships brought 568 migrants to Canada, seven acquittals and one conviction

After all the public outcry – understandable given public concerns about queue jumping but pumped up by then CIC Minister Kenney – only one conviction, although the prosecuting the case may have acted as a deterrent for other ships:

The first vessel — undersized and not built for ocean voyages — laboured toward the B.C. coast in October 2009 with 76 Tamil asylum-seekers onboard.

Then in August 2010, a larger ship — but with the same questionable seaworthiness — was intercepted off the coast with 492 Tamil migrants.

The Ocean Lady and Sun Sea passengers all claimed they were fleeing the ravages of civil war in Sri Lanka. But the Conservative government at the time took an aggressive stance — detaining and building cases against many of the asylum-seekers — as part of a campaign to deter future “irregular arrivals.” A handful of passengers from each ship were also charged with being part of criminal human-smuggling operations.

However, on Thursday, four accused from the Ocean Lady were found not guilty, bringing to seven the total number of acquittals. There has been only one conviction.

“The government has spent years and huge amounts of money to fight the passengers of the Ocean Lady and the Sun Sea — in the courts, in the refugee hearing processes, detaining them as long as they could. All for what?” said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

“The charges of criminality and security risks have been shown to be without foundation. … At least we can take pride in the fact that Canadian institutions and courts continue to treat people fairly.”

In the Ocean Lady case, the Crown had tried to argue that Francis Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, Hamalraj Handasamy, Jeyachandran Kanagarajah and Vignarajah Thevarajah played significant roles during the voyage — captain, engine room worker, chief engineer and transportation provider — and thus helped to organize, aid or abet a smuggling enterprise.

But in a decision released Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman said while there was evidence of organized criminal activity, the Crown had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the activities of the four men were connected to it or helped to further it.

“There is circumstantial evidence from which it can be argued that common sense dictates that this vessel and voyage could not have been mounted without the assistance of persons involved in organized crime,” Silverman said. “However, there is little evidence of a connection or a furthering ‘through acts’ of the four accused.”

The Supreme Court of Canada helped pave the way for Thursday’s outcome when it found in 2015 that Canada’s human-smuggling laws should not extend to people who are simply assisting family members or providing humanitarian or mutual aid to refugees.

In Thursday’s ruling, Silverman said: “I am satisfied that all of the conduct performed by the four accused was performed in pursuit of that mutual goal and amounts solely to mutual aid.”

All four men smiled, laughed and shook hands in court after the decision came down, The Canadian Press reported.

Mark Jette, a lawyer for one of the accused, said the courts have sent an important message.

“If you’re an internationally active people smuggler or trafficker who’s engaged in this for profit, you’re going to be prosecuted. If you get on a boat and assist yourself and others to get across safely, you’re not a criminal.”

While Thursday’s ruling does not mean the four accused’s refugee claims will automatically be accepted, it does give them a “fighting chance,” he added.

Speaking outside court, Kanagarajah described how he and the other migrants were convinced partway through the ocean journey that they would not survive.

“Most of the refugees believed that we were going to die, because there were so many storms, and the sea was very rough,” he said. “Fortunately we are here today.”

Kanagarajah said he still wants to become a Canadian citizen and plans to go to college to study business.

Earlier this year, three of four men accused of human smuggling in the Sun Sea case — Lesly Emmanuel, Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam — were similarly acquitted by a jury. The jury, however, could not reach a decision regarding a fourth man, Kunarobinson Christhurajah.

Following a retrial, Christhurajah was found guilty in May.

According to the most recent figures available from the Immigration and Refugee Board, eight men from the Ocean Lady were deemed inadmissible and received deportation orders, 36 refugees claims were accepted, and 21 claims were rejected.

In the Sun Sea cases, 22 were ordered deported after being found inadmissible, 230 refugee claims were accepted and 107 claims were rejected.

Source: Years after two ships brought 568 migrants to Canada, seven acquittals and one conviction | National Post