Catching up

The main story over the past few weeks has of course been the US presidential election and Trump winning the presidency. Far too much commentary both before and after to follow, with the full consequences to be seen once Trump selects his Cabinet and other senior appointments, and his initial acts in office (the appointment of Steve Bannon of Breitbart as chief strategist is hardly encouraging).

As chance would have it, we were visiting the Dachau concentration camp near Munich on voting day. While my knowledge of the Holocaust is generally quite good from books, film and Holocaust centres, along with my time as Canadian head of delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, nothing can bring the horror and scale of horror than visiting an actual site.

In the film Denial (well worth seeing), about Deborah Lipstadt’s legal battle against Holocaust denier David Irving, her lawyer takes time during his visit to Auschwitz to pace the  the camp, as he needs to come to grips with its scale  as part of his preparation of his strategy for the case.

But one of the more interesting moments in the current context was our guide’s discussion of the rise of Hitler and how both the political leadership and institutions failed to prevent his rise. While always aware of the perils of Godwin’s Law, there are some uncomfortable parallels with the rise of Trump, reinforced with Republican control of both houses of congress, and the related authoritarian and undemocratic tendencies among some.

Of course, one of the stories making the rounds is the degree to which Americans vowing to move to Canada will actually do so. Some articles that provide a good selection of immigration experts and lawyers essentially say unlikely (Don’t expect to just pack up and move to Canada, Americans told, Americans eye move to Canada, but immigration not so easy, and in the New York Times, As Americans Look North to Flee Donald Trump, Canada Peers Back in Worry, where I am quoted).

Other news items that I have been following include:

Immigration levels for 2017: Interesting, in contrast to the expectations of much higher immigration levels based on comments by the Minister and the recommendations of the Barton committee of 450,000 per year, the end result was more modest: a new baseline of 300,000, and increase of about 15 percent compared to the previous government. Moreover, there is some rebalancing towards the economic stream (58 percent compared to 54 percent in 2016, but still lower than the 63 percent under the Conservatives).

citizenship-data-slides-033There have been a number of articles pro or against a “big Canada” of 100 million by 2100. I am more convinced by the critical pieces, particularly those by Munir Sheikh, How can immigration improve our standard of living? and Tony Keller A supersized Canada is so 20th century.

Diversity of appointments: With the 41 judicial appointments and 28 Senate appointments in 2016, we can see that the government is largely living up to its commitment to improve diversity (56.1 percent women, 4.9 percent visibility minorities, 7.3 percent Indigenous with respect to judges; 57.1 percent women, 21.4 percent visibility minorities, 7.1 Indigenous with respect to Senators), with the government committing to diversity reporting.

Citizenship judge appointments: It appears that, along with other GiC appointments, there have been delays in appointing citizenship judges, with the result that the number of judges available has dropped to 13 from 26 in place September 2015. As C-24 largely reduced the role of judges to presiding over citizenship ceremonies, this likely has less impact than stated in the article, Waiting to become Canadian: Citizenship ceremonies delayed by judge shortage,
compared to the fee increase and other changes  I have flagged (The impact of citizenship fees on naturalization – Policy Options).

Support for immigration and multiculturalism: A series of somewhat contradictory polls and interpretations, starting with Angus Reid, CBC-Angus Reid Institute poll: Canadians want minorities to do more to ‘fit in’, where roughly two-thirds of Canadians believe immigrants should adopt Canadian values while a similar two-thirds believe immigration levels are just about right. Environics Institute’s Focus Canada – Fall 2016 Canadian public opinion about immigration and citizenship 20 year tracking of support for immigration shows little recent change:

Environics Focus Canada 2016

Environics Focus Canada 2016

Nick Nanos’s survey of What makes Canadians proud of their country? has the following results:

“Asked an open-ended question about what made them proud to be Canadians, the top unprompted response was our commitment to equality/equity/social justice (25.2 per cent), followed by our reputation as peacekeepers (19.4 per cent), multiculturalism (12.0 per cent) and respect for others (11.3 per cent).”

All of which helps explain the divergence of positions among Conservative leadership candidates, ranging from those openly playing identity politics (Blaney, Leitch) to those with inclusive approaches (Chong, Obrai, Raitt).

Candice Malcolm continued her obsessive coverage of Minister Monsef (see Jason Ling’s Some Folks Really Want to Deport Maryam Monsef) and the question of birthplace and possible misrepresentation by her mother in her immigration and citizenship applications. Malcolm legitimately asks whether the government is treating her case differently than other such cases, given a number of revocations in what appear to be comparable cases (Lawyers lose battle for moratorium on contentious part of citizenship law).

However, unless I have missed it, Malcolm has remained silent on whether she supports the C-24 changes that removed the previous right to recourse to the Federal Court, without providing any right to a hearing, unlike Farzana Hassan, who objects to the “unfairness of the law” while still questioning Monsef’s story (Monsef shouldn’t be above the law).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canadians turned off by Donald Trump’s inflammatory policies: poll

Canadians_turned_off_by_Donald_Trump’s_inflammatory_policies__poll___National_PostInteresting but not terribly surprising result that largely correlates with the Conservative Party base, providing a possible explanation for the wedge politics of the previous Conservative government and its election strategy:

Respondents were also questioned about Trump’s call for a ban on all Muslims entering the United State: 67 per cent said they personally disagree, while about 50 per cent “strongly” disagree.

However, the poll notes that still leaves a sizeable minority — a full one in three — who agrees with Trump, 13 per cent “strongly” so.

Women aged 35-54 and men 55 or older were mostly likely to agree with Trump — by 39 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

Responses varied across the country.

In every case, support for Trump was more apparent in rural settings, and at its lowest in urban centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Residents of central Canada and the west coast were most likely to dislike Trump, compared with 46 per cent of Saskatchewan residents who said they agreed with him.

Responses were also dictated by politics: people who voted Conservative in the last federal election were far more likely to support Trump, 55 per cent,

Respondents were also divided on whether or not Trump’s remarks are good or bad for society.

Unsurprisingly, the same minority that agrees with Trump’s police is also likely to say his rhetoric is good for society because it brings to light “timely issues without fear of political correctness, ” while 63 per cent disagreed, saying it “encourages fear and hatred towards Muslims.”

Kurl said that while the poll was clear a majority of Canadians do not support Trump, it is important to note the minority results, too.

“There is a significant number of Canadians who agree with Trump’s statements calling for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” she said.

“Two in three disagree. The majority disagree. But one in three agree and that is a significant segment of Canadians.”

The poll has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Source: Canadians turned off by Donald Trump’s inflammatory policies: poll | National Post

ICYMI: Antisemitism — The Facts and the Hope | John Gerzema

Comparative Religious Attitudes CitiesInteresting comparative study across religions and cities, with strong conclusion of how best to proceed:

The data shows that anti-Semitism, at least in the countries surveyed, is stubborn, deep-seated and chronic. It is worse than anti-Catholic bigotry but not quite as widespread as anti-Muslim feelings. Yet here’s a critical distinction: within nations, people act-out against Jews more often than they do against Catholics and Muslims. Some of this behavior seems linked to events involving Israel. However, it would be wrong to suggest a causal link between expressions of anti-Semitism and Israeli policy. Last Fall’s conflict in Gaza, for instance, may have “unleashed” anti-Semitism, acting as a false catalyst, but the feelings against Jews exist independent of the Middle East. After all, if someone predisposed to hate Jews cites Israeli policy to justify their anti-Semitism, he or she is still an anti-Semite.

Yet not all our findings were bleak. As part of our study we tried to determine whether people were affected by media mentions of Israel. When we asked our survey respondents last August to read an unbiased report on the ongoing events in Israel and Gaza we saw expressions of anti-Jewish feelings decline. People who told us they were “somewhat open” to new information moved from a 14 percent to 25 percent likelihood of sympathizing with Israel. Those that were “very open” moved from 35 percent to 42 percent likelihood of sympathizing with Israel. We saw related reductions in the number of people who said they had negative thoughts about Jews in general.

So the data offers hope that hearts and minds can be affected by honest, reliable, unadulterated information. We can inform instead of inflame. We can teach instead of just talk. We can exercise our freedom of speech and freedom of the press as a means to contest cultural boundaries. The alternative is watching bigotry of all kinds — against Muslim or Jew, Catholic and, sadly, a long list of other groups — dominate the discussions around the world. The evidence is there that we can create change and counteract the hate that occurred last week and continues to be so pervasive and pernicious. It is up to all of us to engage, enlighten and educate.

Anti-Semitism — The Facts and the Hope | John Gerzema.

Un sondage CROP confirme que les Québécois comptent sur une charte pour les protéger

Consistent with any number of previous polls, reflecting unease but matched with general support for immigration:

L’idée d’une charte qui réaffirme les valeurs communes aux Québécois conserve l’appui d’une majorité d’entre eux, avec 51%. Mais plusieurs de ceux qui y étaient auparavant défavorables se sont déplacés vers la catégorie des indécis. Il y a maintenant 23 % des gens qui s’opposent à la charte, et 26 % qui ne sont pas certains du pied sur lequel danser à ce sujet.

«Je pense que ce qui accrochait avec la charte du PQ, c’est justement que ça venait du PQ, analyse Youri Rivest, de la maison CROP. C’était plus le messager que le message qui était rejeté.»

La région de Québec est celle qui est la plus séduite par l’idée d’une charte avec 66 % d’appuis, contre 50 % ailleurs en région et 48 % à Montréal.

«À Québec, les gens sont plus réfractaires aux questions d’extrémisme religieux, constate M.Rivest. Mais ils ne sont pas fermés à l’immigration en général. Ils y sont même plus ouverts qu’ailleurs. Ce n’est pas un sentiment anti-immigrant; c’est vraiment anti-extrémisme religieux.»

Dans l’ensemble, les Québécois s’inquiètent d’abord et avant tout que les nouveaux arrivants refusent d’intégrer les valeurs de leur pays d’adoption. Ils sont 85 % à éprouver une crainte à cet égard.

…Un clivage sur ces questions s’observe selon la langue. Les francophones sont par exemple beaucoup plus favorables à la charte, à 57 %, que les non-francophones, à 27 %.

Il demeure que 67 % des Québécois craignent que l’intégrisme religieux menace la sécurité au Québec. À l’inverse, 33 % ne croient pas qu’il y ait matière à inquiétude.

À cet égard, les péquistes sont les plus soucieux de la menace, à 84%. Ils sont suivis par les caquistes à 73%, les libéraux à 63 % et les solidaires à 58 %.

Un sondage CROP confirme que les Québécois comptent sur une charte pour les protéger | Simon Boivin | Politique.

Majority of Canadians worry about domestic terrorism, according to new survey

Results are not that surprising, given recent events, and given that civil liberties rarely do well in public polling.

But encouraging that people recognize the importance of prevention and the contributing role of mental illness and marginalization:

Almost two-thirds of Canadians believe homegrown terrorism is a serious issue, but most do not perceive a threat from radicalized individuals in their communities, according to a new survey.

The national poll, conducted in the wake of deadly attacks on Canadian soldiers, found that just over half of respondents supported new anti-terror legislation that would boost the powers of Canada’s spies. Another 22 per cent said the government should go even further, suggesting they have not been swayed by civil liberties concerns.

At the same time, those surveyed recognized that there are many factors behind radicalization — religion, mental illness and marginalization — and seemed open to a range of preventative measures, not just punitive ones.

“People are sensitive to the fact this is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach,” said Christian Leuprecht, a security expert at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University.

Majority of Canadians worry about domestic terrorism, according to new survey.

‘Cloud of misperception’: Canadians don’t know their country as well as they think, online survey finds

Cloud_of_misperception__Canadians_don’t_know_their_country_as_well_as_they_think__online_survey_finds___National_PostNot terribly surprising:

Canadians might think they know a lot about other Canadians, and about Canada itself. But Canadians are profoundly confused, at least according to the results of a recent Ipsos Reid global survey, The Perils of Perception. The survey asked Canadians to answer a number of questions about Canada, and then compared their answers to the facts. And the facts, as revealed below, show that the Canada Canadians think they know, is a Canada that doesn’t exist.

“Canadians are flying blind in a cloud of misperception,” said John Wright, a senior spokesperson for Ipsos. “So let’s try and clear some things up.” The good news: we are most certainly not alone. People around the world get their countries wrong too.

‘Cloud of misperception’: Canadians don’t know their country as well as they think, online survey finds | National Post.

Canadian attitudes toward immigrants conflicted, CBC poll says

Despite the headline, overall confirmation of general welcoming attitude towards Immigration and multiculturalism. Some highlights:

  • 79 percent comfortable with employing or working for someone of different ethnicity;
  • 30 percent believe immigrants take jobs away from Canadians (meaning 70 percent don’t);
  • between 60 and 75 percent comfortable with being in a relationship with someone of another ethnicity;
  • between 70 and 85 percent are comfortable with neighbours of different ethnicity.

Canadian attitudes toward immigrants conflicted, poll says – Canada – CBC News.

The Powerpoint of the complete results is here:

CBC Discrimination Poll November 7 2014

The EKOS poll: Fear fades — values endure

Ekos - Law Enforcement and TerrorismFrank Graves of Ekos on public opinion regarding the threat of terrorism:

  • Virtually all responses made by Western governments to the threat of terrorism in the 21st century have been deemed failures in hindsight. Almost universally, the public sees these past interventions as having yielded nothing but a more dangerous world.
  • Overwhelmingly, Canadians want to see their leaders re-think their reliance on military and security-oriented approaches to the terrorist threat, in favour of approaches more in keeping with our core values as a nation.
  • Canadians have lost faith in the security agenda which says the problem can solved by restricting civil liberties even further, and want to see our leaders place more emphasis on the traditional tools of diplomacy and development.

The EKOS poll: Fear fades — values endure (pay wall)

Canadians in the dark about immigration numbers: survey

Not surprising that people don’t know the actual immigration figures. Common to many policy areas that most people don’t follow too closely and large numbers are fairly abstract in any case.

Government messaging walks the fine line between reassuring its base, and the broader public, that it is addressing fraud and the risk of over-dramatizing the extent of fraud (e.g., birth tourism) and thus contributing to reduced public confidence:

Ignorance of the facts, however, didn’t stop most of the 3,016 participants polled by Harris/Decima from answering when asked whether there were too many, too few or about the right number of immigrants coming to Canada every year.

Twenty-six per cent said there were too many, 10 per cent said too few and 52 per cent said the number was about right. The rest said they didn’t know.

After they were told the actual number admitted each year, the number who said there were too many jumped to 36 per cent. Nine per cent said too few immigrants were admitted, while 48 per cent thought the number was about right.

When asked if Canada should increase, decrease or maintain its immigration intake over the next five years, nearly half favoured the status quo, about one-third advocated a decrease and 15 per cent wanted immigration levels to rise.

Luc Turgeon, a University of Ottawa political scientist who has studied public attitudes toward immigration, said he wasn’t surprised by the widespread ignorance of actual immigration levels.

“In numerous countries it has been proven that people have no idea how many immigrants their countries are letting in,” he said.

Turgeon said the Conservative federal government has “sent a number of signals” to reassure its base that it’s keeping a close eye on people admitted to Canada.

Those signals include tightening the rules for refugees, making it more difficult for refugees to access publicly funded health care and hinting that changes are in the works to the live-in caregiver program.

Canadians in the dark about immigration numbers: survey | Ottawa Citizen.