‘The rose-coloured glasses are off’: Why experts, students suspect racism under-reported on campuses

But low numbers are, of course, better than high numbers, and overall university graduation numbers are higher for visible minorities than non-visible minorities (not to discount the issue):

CBC News investigation has found many Canadian universities received few or no complaints of racial discrimination on campus over the past five years, but experts and students — and even a couple of the universities — say the low numbers aren’t necessarily a sign of racial harmony.

Instead, they say the data might suggest students are reluctant to come forward with official complaints. Experts also say significant barriers exist for students who do pursue complaints.

Back in October, Julia-Simone Rutgers of King’s College in Halifax was concerned about a hip-hop-themed night planned for the campus pub because she was disturbed by what she witnessed at a previous event with a similar theme.

“It created a space where people felt kind of comfortable using racial slurs and kind of celebrating a music and a culture that was not critically discussed anywhere else on campus,” she said.

Despite her concerns, she said her first instinct wasn’t to make a complaint.

Dua

York University professor Enakshi Dua says students are sometimes discouraged from pursuing the formal complaint process. (CBC News)

“I just didn’t feel like they would be able to understand that experience, and so I didn’t feel like it would be productive for me to go through that route.”

York University professor Enakshi Dua studies anti-racism policies at Canadian universities and says trust is important for racialized students looking for help.

“On the most basic levels, students want someone who can appreciate and understand, help them sort out the situation that they’re dealing with,” says Dua…..

Numbers not the whole story

CBC News asked 76 universities to provide their yearly totals for student complaints of race-based discrimination and/or harassment for calendar years 2011 to 2015. Forty-seven schools provided data, but the vast majority reported either no complaints or numbers in the single-digits over the five-year period (not all schools provided data by the calendar year).

“Over five years? To me, hard to believe that,” said Girish Parekh, a former investigator with the Canadian Human Rights Commission who worked as a complaint resolution adviser at Ryerson University in Toronto in 2014/15. “Even for one year I wouldn’t believe that.”

He says some cases aren’t counted because they’re resolved outside of the prescribed complaint process, without the involvement of a human rights or equity office.

But Parekh says many incidents don’t result in complaints because students don’t think they will be taken seriously.

“They say, ‘Well, there is no point wasting time unless it’s something extremely serious,'” he said.

Dua says that even when these complaints are brought to the attention of the appropriate office, students are often discouraged from pursuing the formal procedure for dealing with them because the process can be long, tense and emotional….

Students reluctant to file complaints

Western University in London, Ont., is one of almost two-dozen universities that reported zero complaints over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015. Jana Luker, the school’s associate vice-president of student experience, says the numbers don’t always reflect the reality on campus.

“I would say that this does not necessarily indicate that racism is not a part of our campus — our city, our country — at all,” she said.

Luker

Jana Luker, Western University’s associate vice-president of student experience, says increasing staff diversity is an important way to help make students comfortable coming forward with racial discrimination and harassment complaints. (CBC News)

Luker acknowledges that students aren’t always comfortable taking their experiences forward and points to staff diversity as an important part of making the process more welcoming.

Mount Royal University in Calgary, which reported 11 complaints over five years, raised the issue of under-reporting in a statement to CBC News: “We’re always looking for ways to cultivate a culture in which members of our community feel safe to share their experiences.”

Source: ‘The rose-coloured glasses are off’: Why experts, students suspect racism under-reported on campuses – Canada – CBC News

Reevely: Massive collection of race-based data part of Ontario’s anti-racism strategy

It all starts with having more and better data and ensuring that the data is consistent and reliable.

While there will be differing interpretations of what the data means, without having good data, society is flying blind when dealing with complex issues. While data and evidence are never perfect, they do provide a sounder basis for policy choices and political discussion:

Ontario will start collecting masses of race-based data on the programs in its biggest ministries this year, hoping to use the information to find and help stamp out systemic racism.

That’s a big deal in the provincial government’s new anti-racism strategy, a three-year plan that took a year to create.

Much of the strategy is high-level stuff, scooping together things particular ministries were doing and calling it a plan. That includes a training program for staff in the courts system so they better understand aboriginal culture, trying to make the boards of Children’s Aid Societies more diverse and having the first black judge on the Ontario Court of Appeal assess the way police forces are overseen. All of it noble, some of it genuinely consequential, most of it already underway.

There’s also this: “To address racial inequities, we need better race-based disaggregated data — data that can be broken down so that we further understand whether specific segments of the population are experiencing adverse impacts of systemic racism,” the strategy says.

They’re going to start with health, primary and secondary education, justice and child welfare. That is, in the areas where government policy really makes and breaks lives.

The systems in those various ministries generate boatloads of data already, from wait times for surgeries to rates of readmission for patients in particular hospitals, from school occupancy numbers to results from Grade 6 math tests, from trial times to recidivism rates. “Disaggregating” that data means pulling apart the stats by race, routinely, in a way that typically raises more questions than it answers.

So if 15 per cent of the Queensway Carleton Hospital’s patients are back in hospital within 30 days of being discharged, we’ll monitor whether the stat is the same for members of different racial groups. If not, why is that?

Pulling all this together means devising a consistent approach so the information is collected, crunched and presented in a standard form, while protecting privacy. Which is hard enough, and that’s before we get to what we’ll do with the information.

This is, historically, very touchy. Systemic racism “can be unintentional, and doesn’t necessarily mean that people within an organization are racist,” the government says, but being accused of systemic racism sets off the same sorts of reactions as being accused of the traditional kind.

Here in Ottawa, the police spent two years tracking race-related data on their traffic stops, following a human rights complaint by a black teenager who said he’d been pulled over only because an officer was suspicious of him driving a Mercedes (which was his mother’s). When researchers managing the study released their findings last fall, they reported that drivers the police identified as black or Middle Eastern were stopped at rates many times their population shares.

A companion study found some officers deliberately misrecording the races of people they’d stopped, staying away from some parts of town and otherwise behaving differently to shift the stats so they’d suggest less racism. To whatever extent police officers changed their behaviour so as to actually behave less racistly when they knew their work was being measured, that’s a good thing in itself, of course.

Ontario’s chief human-rights commissioner Renu Mandhane argued the stats are consistent with racial profiling; Chief Charles Bordeleau of the police defended his officers, saying there’s nothing going on in the police force beyond what’s normal in society at large.

(Something similar happened when the Toronto police released statistics on the people they “carded” — stopped in the street to ask for their ID papers. Way more black and brown people than whites, for reasons that were argued about for years. Yasir Naqvi, the then-provincial minister responsible for policing, imposed new rules scaling the practice back.)

You can use such statistical findings in a lot of ways, including flatly racist ones. Maybe the police are irrationally suspicious of certain visible minority groups. Maybe certain visible minority groups are worse drivers. Maybe they’re more likely to be driving in areas patrolled by police — a possibility that opens whole vistas of speculation about why either of those things might happen. Maybe it’s a combination of things. Collecting the data doesn’t solve the problem.

We can argue about why people in different ethnic groups have different dealings with the authorities, and heaven knows we do. Sometimes to a fault. But at least with traffic stops and carding, nobody can say any longer that it doesn’t happen, and that’s a step forward.

Source: Reevely: Massive collection of race-based data part of Ontario’s anti-racism strategy | Ottawa Citizen

ICYMI: 82 per cent of BC minorities have experienced racism, survey finds

Not surprising, and likely similar in other major centres. No gradation regarding the degree or seriousness of racism encountered. These regional studies, as useful as they are, suggest the need for a new Ethnic Diversity Survey (the last one was carried out in 2002):

As multicultural as Canada may be, it appears we are not immune to racism.

According to a new survey conducted in B.C., 82 per cent of visible minorities say they have experienced prejudice or some form of discrimination, while 56 per cent of all respondents reported having overheard racist comments.

Of those who identified themselves as visible minorities, 46 per cent said they believe they face social disadvantages because of their background, and 33 per cent said they have been a target of abuse. Another 29 per cent reported facing discrimination simply based on their name, while 10 per cent have dealt with disadvantages because of their religious beliefs.

And 11 per cent said their experiences with discrimination were traumatic enough to prompt thoughts of moving to a new location.

“The majority of British Columbians are welcoming and embrace multiculturalism. However, it’s clear that racism is alive and well in our communities and we need to call it out when we see it,” said Catherine Ludgate, a spokeswoman with Vancity. The report was commissioned by the credit union as part of its community investment efforts.

 Some 82 per cent of all those who responded said they felt multiculturalism has been “very good” or “good” for Canada, though three-quarters thought the population of immigrants should remain the same. Just over a quarter thought the population should increase.

…The numbers are from a new report released today, conducted in January by Insights West and is in anticipation of a community roundtable series to be launched by SUCCESS B.C., an immigrant assistance organization, and sponsored by Vancity.

Dates for the roundtable series have yet to be announced, but the series follows a forum on immigration hosted by SUCCESS in February.

Queenie Choo, CEO of SUCCESS BC. According to a new report conducted in B.C., 82 per cent of visible minorities have experienced prejudice or some form of discrimination, while 56 per cent of all respondents have overheard racist comments being made.“We didn’t want to host the forum and the forget about it,” said Queenie Choo, CEO of SUCCESS, who was quick to note that it’s important to continue discussing these issues lest history repeat itself.

Choo said the discussions would be a chance for immigrants to share their experiences with social groups and government, which in turn could help shape programs and policy. She also noted it’s important to ensure Canadians speak up for social justice in light of events taking place in the U.S.

“I truly believe that we (Canada and the U.S.) hold shared values of diversity and inclusion. If those are no longer our shared values, then there is a big question mark,” she said. “We need to make a stand. By not raising the issue and creating this opportunity (to discuss racism), it will signal to people that it’s acceptable.”

For every individual that joins Vancity between now and May 30 and sets up a pre-authorized payment or deposit, the credit union will donate $100 to the Vancity Humanitarian Fund to support refugee families. The donations are in addition to $100,000 already donated to the fund, part of which has already helped refugees settling in Victoria and Abbotsford.

Source: 82 per cent of BC minorities have experienced racism, survey finds | Vancouver Sun

Ontario government unveils 3-year plan to battle racism

More ambitious and extensive than I had expected.

Particularly important is the emphasis on collecting race-based data as well as a race-based lens (the federal government could learn from this: Canadian Heritage, responsible for multiculturalism, to note):

The provincial government has announced a sweeping new plan for tackling systemic racism that includes Ontario’s first anti-racism legislation, $47 million for black youth, and a framework for collecting race-based data — something community activists have long demanded.

The “pan-government” strategy — developed over the last year by the province’s still-fledgling anti-racism directorate — was unveiled Tuesday at a crowded news conference attended by the Attorney General and several cabinet ministers.

In his remarks, Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau, who heads the directorate, promised “concrete steps” to end systemic racism in government institutions.

One of these steps is proposed legislation to be introduced this spring — which, if passed, will mandate the collection of race-based data across multiple sectors, including child welfare, education, health and justice. Another is a new framework to apply an anti-racism lens to future policies and programs.

The “A Better Way Forward” strategic plan highlighted specific barriers faced by black youth, who will become the beneficiaries of a four-year, $47-milllion “action plan” aimed at reducing disparities and helping them succeed. “I want black youth in this province to know that their lives matter,” Coteau said.

The plan also calls for education initiatives and public awareness campaigns — something Coteau believes is “especially needed when we talk about Islamophobia.”

“Our government is ready to take responsibility and to make change,” Coteau said. “It’s taken us decades to get to this point. And I believe that it’s never too late for us to correct our course.”

The anti-racism directorate was formed to “address racism in all its forms” in February 2016 — 10 years after the Ontario government first passed legislation that enabled them to create an office for tackling systemic racism.

The directorate fills a long-time void left by the province’s former anti-racism secretariat, which was killed in the mid-1990s by the Progressive Conservative government at the time.

In February 2016, Premier Kathleen Wynne said the need for an anti-racism directorate had “sharpened” in recent times, pointing to ongoing issues like police carding and the debate over Syrian refugees.

Arguably, the need has since become more acute. In the hours before the anti-racism strategy was unveiled, news broke of bomb threats made against Jewish community centres in Toronto and London.

Tuesday’s threats come on the heels of several other, troubling events: the Quebec City mosque shooting in January; last week’s bomb threat against Muslim students at Concordia University; and a string of racist and anti-Semitic vandalism attacks, to name a few.

The anti-racism directorate has spent the past year holding a series of emotionally-charged public meetings across Ontario, meeting with community members everywhere from Toronto to Thunder Bay.

Last July in Toronto — where the first of 10 meetings was held — a crowd of more than 1,000 people packed Daniel’s Spectrum in Regent Park. Some criticized the province for only allocating $5 million to the anti-racism directorate and the crowd periodically broke out into chants of “black lives matter.”

Attendees expressed frustration over what they described as an endless cycle of proposed — and failed — initiatives to address systemic racism in Ontario.

“There hasn’t been a time in the last 50 years when we have not marched on the streets of Toronto calling — calling out, calling out, calling out — to put an end to racism,” said Akua Benjamin, a longtime black activist and professor with Ryerson University.

“There hasn’t been a time when we have not faced (policymakers) — whether it is the Liberals, whether it is the NDP, whether it is the Conservatives — around this issue of racism. And so here we are again.”

On Tuesday, some community members again expressed skepticism of the new strategy, especially with a provincial election looming.

But the mood was markedly more optimistic. While Avvy Go was disappointed by the strategy’s lack of focus on employment inequities, she was heartened by the strategy’s embrace of race-based data collection.

“The collection of disaggregated data is foundational to the success of any anti-racism strategy,” said Go, a founding member of the Colour of Poverty campaign and director of the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.

“Without such data, we simply cannot properly measure the progress over time of any plan that the government might choose to adopt and implement.”

Donna Harrow, executive director of the Alexander Park Community Centre, also stood up to thank Coteau for his work with the directorate.

Harrow has seen many government promises come and go in her 40-some years of black activism. But this new strategy, she believes, “is different.”

“This is the first time that they have actually named systemic racism (and committed) funds to African-Canadian young people who have not had an equitable chance in our society,” she said.

“For the first time, I can say that someone from the Ontario government has listened and has acted for a specific group of people — my specific group of people.”

Source: Ontario government unveils 3-year plan to battle racism | Toronto Star

Black People Are Wrongly Convicted Of Murder More Often, Data Show : NPR

Speaks for itself:

A record number of people, at least 166, were exonerated last year after being wrongly convicted of crimes, according to the most recent annual report from the National Registry of Exonerations.

It’s the third year in a row that data collected by a group of law schools showed a record number of exonerations in the U.S. — with 149 in 2015 and 125 the year before that.

Using information on exonerations going back to 1989, the latest report also shows that black people continue to be more likely to be wrongly convicted in America than people of other races. There is no standardized reporting system for exonerations, but the registry is the most complete national data collected on the subject.

Take the crime of murder. Last year, the report collected data on 52 people who were exonerated of murder. More than half of them, 28, were black.

companion report on race and wrongful conviction, also released Tuesday, states:

“African Americans are only 13% of the American population but a majority of innocent defendants wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated. They constitute 47% of the 1,900 [total] exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations (as of October 2016).”

As NPR’s Joe Shapiro reported last year, “after almost nine years in prison, his conviction was overturned when a state investigation found that the real killer had later confessed to Wayne County police and prosecutors.”

Joe also reported that court fees, including a $1,500 bill for a public defender, nearly kept the now-23-year-old man from being released — even after he had been exonerated.

Last year, The Texas Tribune reported that the state had paid 101 people who were wrongly convicted nearly $100 million over the previous 25 years.

Barbara Kay: Actually, it turns out that you may be less racist than you’ve been led to believe

What Kay misses is the usefulness of the IAT for people to become more mindful of their implicit biases, and, in so doing, be more aware of their “thinking fast” mode to use Kahneman’s phrase.

It is not automatic that being more mindful or aware changes behaviour but it can play a significant role (and yes, the benefits can be overstated). Having implicit biases does not necessarily mean acting on them.

Kay did not mention whether or not she took the test. Given her biases evident in her columns, it would be interesting to know whether she took the IAT and what, if anything, she learned.

I certainly found it useful, revealing and most important, discomforting as I became more aware of the gap between my policy mind and views, and what was under the surface.

Anyone can take the test on the Project Implicit Website, hosted by Harvard U. By October 2015, more than 17 million individuals had completed it (with presumably 90-95 per cent of them then self-identifying as racist). Liberal observers love the IAT. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote in 2015, “It’s sobering to discover that whatever you believe intellectually, you’re biased about race, gender, age or disability.” Kristof’s tone is more complacent than sober, though. For progressives, the more widespread bias can be demonstrated to be, the more justifiable institutional and state intrusions into people’s minds become.

Banaji and Greenwald have themselves made far-reaching claims for the test: the “automatic White preference expressed on the Race IAT is now established as signaling discriminatory behavior. It predicts discriminatory behavior even among research participants who earnestly (and, we believe, honestly) espouse egalitarian beliefs. …. Among research participants who describe themselves as racially egalitarian, the Race IAT has been shown, reliably and repeatedly, to predict discriminatory behavior that was observed in the research.”

Problem is, none of this can be authenticated. According to Singal, a great deal of scholarly work that takes the shine off the researchers’ claims has been ignored by the media. The IAT is not verifiable and correlates weakly with actual lived outcomes. Meta-analyses cannot examine whether IAT scores predict discriminatory behaviour accurately enough for real-world application. An individual can score high for bias on the IAT and never act in a biased manner. He can take the test twice and get two wildly different scores. After almost two decades, the researchers have never posted test-retest reliability of commonly used IATs in publication.

It’s a wonder the IAT has a shred of credibility left. In 2015 Greenwald and Banaji responded to a critic that the psychometric issues with race and ethnicity IATS “render them problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination,” and that “attempts to diagnostically use such measures for individuals risk undesirably high rates of erroneous classifications.” Greenwald acknowledged to Singal that “no one has yet undertaken a study of the race IAT’s test-related reliability.” In other words, the IAT is a useless tool for measuring implicit bias.

In an interesting aside, Singal points to a 2012 study published in Psychological Science by psychologist Jacquie Vorauer. As her experiment, Vorauer set white Canadians to work with aboriginal partners. Before doing so, some of the participants took an IAT that pertained to aboriginals, some took a non-race IAT and others were asked for their explicit feelings about the group. Aboriginals in the race-IAT group subsequently reported feeling less valued by their white partners as compared to aboriginals in all of the other groups. Vorauer writes, “If completing the IAT enhances caution and inhibition, reduces self-efficacy, or primes categorical thinking, the test may instead have negative effects.” As Singal notes, this “suggests some troubling possibilities.”The IAT has potentially misinformed millions of test-takers, who believe that they are likely to act, or are routinely acting, with bias against their fellow citizens. Harbouring biases is part of the human condition, and it is our right to hold them, especially those warranted by epidemiology and reason. Our actions are all that should concern our employers or the state’s legal apparatus. Any directive to submit to the IAT by the state or a state-sponsored entity like the CBC constitutes an undemocratic intrusion into the individual’s privacy.

Source: Barbara Kay: Actually, it turns out that you may be less racist than you’ve been led to believe | National Post

Islamophobia in the age of Trump: Flora Toronto Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US: Low-Income PoCs Still Don’t Trust The Police, But Would Work With Them : NPR

Interesting study with identifying the problem (lack of trust) and opportunity (willing to work together):

While trying to catch a bus to school, Emilio Mayfield, 16, jaywalked. When he didn’t comply with a police officer’s command to get out of the bus lane, a scuffle ensued. Mayfield was struck in the face with a baton and arrested by nine Stockton, Cal. police officers. The arrest was captured on video by a bystander and the video went viral.

A police officer responding to a domestic violence call shot Jamar Clark, 24, in the head as he lay on the ground. He died the next day, sparking weeks of protests. A Minneapolis Police Department internal investigation later cleared the two officers involved in the shooting of any wrongdoing.

Devon Davis crashed his car and was running away from cops when they caught up to him. A witness says officers severely beat Davis in the legs before carrying him away. Police assert that Davis injured his legs in the car crash. Davis sued the city of Pittsburgh and six police officers.

These incidents — which all took place in 2015 — may have been on the minds of residents in these cities when they were asked to participate in a study of their views on the police.

The study, released Wednesday, reveals that while the majority of residents in high-crime, high-poverty areas have a negative view of the police, they also have great respect for the law and are willing to work with law enforcement to make communities safer.

The majority of residents surveyed hold a very negative impression of the police. Less than a third believe that the police respect people’s rights, “treat people with dignity and respect,” and “make fair and impartial decisions in the cases they deal with.” More than half of residents say that “police officers will treat you differently because of your race/ethnicity” and that officers act “based on personal prejudices and biases.” Survey respondents identified as black (66 percent), white (12 percent), and Latino or Hispanic (11 percent). The majority are female (59 percent). Most respondents live in extreme poverty, reporting a total annual income of less than $20,000.

Residents also expressed a firm belief in the law and a willingness to partner with police to improve community safety. Seven in 10 respondents believe that the “law should be strictly obeyed” and that laws benefit the community. More than half agree with the statement “the laws in your community are consistent with your own intuitions about what is right and just.”

And while only 38 percent of respondents say that they feel safe around the police or find them trustworthy (30 percent), they also say they would work with police. More than half are willing to attend a community meeting with police and close to half say they would volunteer their time to help the police solve a crime or find a suspect.low-income_pocs_still_don_t_trust_the_police__but_would_work_with_them___code_switch___npr

The Urban Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., conducted the study in partnership with local organizations in six cities: Birmingham, Alabama; Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Stockton, California. The focus on households located in the highest crime, lowest income areas — with predominantly residents of color — is a marked departure from most surveys about perception of law enforcement which sample the general population.

Using data from the U.S. Census and crime data provided by police departments in the six cities, researchers identified the areas with the highest concentrations of crime and poverty in each city. Focusing their research in this way allowed them to survey the “people who live in the areas where trust may be weakest, but who may benefit the most from increases in public safety.”

“General population surveys often mask differences between groups,” the authors said. “Those who are white and more affluent are the most likely to respond to general population surveys and tend to have relatively favorable views of the police.” Researchers conducted surveys in person, instead of using the more common methods of mail or phone because residents who are low income, have less education, or are racial or linguistic minorities tend to be underrepresented in phone and mail surveys.

The Tories approach a point of no return and other commentary on M-103

Terry Glavin’s usual trenchant commentary:

During the debate on the motion in the House, Khalid said she defines Islamophobia as “the irrational hate of Muslims that leads to discrimination.” That’s perfectly fine, too, but what makes no sense was Khalid’s statement that she refused Conservative MP (and party leadership hopeful) Erin O’Toole’s offer to help win unanimous consent for her motion by tightening it up, because that would have meant “watering it down.”

In a parallel topsy-turviness, Joly has objected to David Anderson’s alternative motion, which replicates Khalid’s motion except for the ambiguous term Islamophobia, because it’s a “weakened and watered down version.”

It’s true to say, as Scott Reid does, that seemingly benign injunctions against “Islamophobia” have been put to the squalid purpose of placing the Muslim religion and the practices of authoritarian Islamic regimes off limits to criticism. But it’s also fair to say that “anti-Muslim bigotry” doesn’t sufficiently capture the full-throated paranoid lunacy animating the nutcase wing of the Conservative support base these days.

“Racism” doesn’t quite cover it. “Hatred” doesn’t quite get at it. Whatever term you like, it’s more than merely ironic that those who make the most hysterical claims about clandestine Islamic conspiracies at the centre of Justin Trudeau’s government are also the ones shouting the loudest that an irrational fear of Islam isn’t even a thing.

It’s not as though the Liberals are blameless in all this. They could have welcomed O’Toole’s efforts at reaching out to find a compromise, but they didn’t. And the Liberals do seem quite content to have the Conservatives squirming and chafing against the appearance that the reason they object to the term Islamophobia is that they themselves are Islamophobic, whatever that might mean. It is not as though it bothers the Liberals that the Conservatives are stuck with the crazy talk coming from several of the leadership candidates these days.

Trudeau may have given away more than he intended last week when he was confronted at a community meeting in Iqaluit about why he reneged on his electoral reform promises. Raising the spectre of proportional representation opening the door to “fringe” parties, Trudeau asked, rhetorically: “Do you think that Kellie Leitch should have her own party?”

Clearly, Trudeau doesn’t want that. For starters, it would mean decent Conservatives couldn’t be tarred so easily with the indecencies committed by the party’s fringe factions. It would mean bigot-baiting the Conservative Party would be that much harder to do. In the meantime, it’s up to the Conservatives to get themselves sorted, and after the sordid events of the past few days, their options are limited:

Isolate, quarantine, amputate or purge.

Source: The Tories approach a point of no return – Macleans.ca

Campbell Clark in the Globe:

It’s one thing for MPs to say they oppose the motion. But it’s another to accept the bogus reasoning.

One is the slippery-slope argument. Mr. Levant is telling Canadians that once a Commons committee starts studying the vague notion of Islamophobia and what to do about it, they’re going to propose laws that make it illegal to criticize Islam, and restrict free speech.

The obvious weakness in that is that Motion M-103 doesn’t even ask the committee to propose laws, nor could it force them – let alone the kind that stifle free speech. If they ever did, MPs could vote against it then. And it still could not violate constitutional guarantees on free speech.

If Conservative objections really were about a vague term, some deal-making would be in order. There are arguments that in some countries the term has been used to refer to any criticism of Islam.

Of course, this motion calls for MPs to study it, so they could define it.

But Liberals were unwilling to compromise when the Conservatives asked them to change “Islamophobia” to “hatred for Muslims.”

But it’s not about the word. Ironically, it’s about fear.

All this began when Montreal-area MP Frank Baylis started a petition last year to assert that all Muslims should not be equated with a few extremists. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair later asked for unanimous consent for a motion condemning Islamophobia – and got it on his second attempt on Oct. 26.

Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen responded to Mr. Mulcair’s motion with her own, condemning religious discrimination.

Both were adopted. The word Islamophobia was fine for Conservatives then, before they got scared.

Source:  Conservative MPs are afraid of Motion 103, and things it can’t do 

The contrary view, and the conflation of Islamophobia/anti-Muslim hate with free speech concerns, comes from Farzana Hassan in the Sun, who appears not to have understood what the motion covers and what it does not:

When we challenge a certain Islamic practice, we are careful to exclude the moderate majority and focus our attention on a small segment of the Muslim community. Yet some claim that even such discussion conflates the radicals with the moderates.

If Khalid believes such discussions include all Muslims, she is unwittingly admitting that all Muslims are indeed like the fundamentalists.

Khalid is mistaken if she believes any rational discussion on Islamic practice castigates all Muslims. She must understand that any well-intentioned and constructive discussion on a religious practice or ideology is a fundamental right of every Canadian.

There is no phobia of Islam in Canada. There is genuine resentment toward orthodox Islam. But it has little to do with the usual public discourse.

Some practices, whether we discuss them in public or not, are commonly known to be associated with orthodox Islam, such as polygamy, wife battery and ostracism of religious minorities.

It is up to moderate Muslims to distance themselves from these outrages as much as possible. So far no robust public challenge to such practices has emerged from moderate segments of the community.

Without such a grassroots challenge any social observer, professional or amateur, can form any opinion on orthodox Islam, whether positive or negative.

We know some Muslims are working to institute gender equality, and others are partners with the government in fighting terror. However, these efforts need to become the norm rather than the exception. Once this takes place, the world will automatically begin to see Muslims in positive light.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has talked about finding the right balance between protecting a religious minority and also protecting our Charter rights.

The answer to his dilemma is simple: Do not put the slightest dent in our right to free speech.

To balance this, the prime minister can take more measures to protect the security of all minorities with tighter law enforcement and stricter punishments for alleged offenders like Alexandre Bissonnette.

Source: I’m a liberal Muslim and I reject M-103

Lastly, an article on Iqra Khalid’s reading out the hateful emails and tweets she has received, providing proof of the validity of M-103 and its specific reference:

The Liberal MP who tabled an anti-Islamophobia motion says she has been inundated with hate mail and death threats.

Mississauga, Ont. MP Iqra Khalid told the House of Commons today she received more than 50,000 emails in response to M-103, many of them with overt discrimination or direct threats.

“I have asked my staff to lock the office behind me as I now fear for their safety,” she said. “I have asked them not to answer all phone calls so they don’t hear the threats, insults and unbelievable amount of hate shouted at them and myself.”

She described a “chilling” video posted on YouTube that called her a terrorist sympathizer and disgusting human being.

“‘I’m not going to help them shoot you, I’m going to be there to film you on the ground crying. Yeah, I’ll be there writing my story with a big fat smile on my face. Ha ha ha. The Member got shot by a Canadian patriot,'” she read, quoting from the video.

And that, she said, was just tip of the iceberg. Here are some other messages she received and read in the House:

  • “Kill her and be done with it. I agree she is here to kill us. She is sick and she needs to be deported.”
  • “We will burn down your mosques, draper head Muslim.”
  • “Why did Canadians let her in? Ship her back.”
  • “Why don’t you get out of my country? You’re a disgusting piece of trash and you are definitely not wanted here by the majority of actual Canadians.”

Khalid said she has also received many messages of support.

Source: ‘Kill her and be done with it’: MP behind anti-Islamophobia motion reads out hate mail

Growing group of Tory leadership hopefuls oppose move to have House of Commons denounce Islamophobia

Funny, I don’t recall any Conservatives expressing concerns about singling out Antisemitism when they were in power and launched a number of initiatives (e.g., hosting an international conference on combatting antisemitism, jointing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) that were sometimes at the expense of general anti-racism and discrimination messaging and programming.

And was there not also a strong political aspect to the Conservative government’s efforts with respect to Canadian Jews? Interim Leader Ambrose should be mindful of stones and glass houses:

A growing number of Conservative leadership rivals are declaring their opposition to a Liberal MP’s motion to have the House of Commons denounce Islamophobia and other forms of systemic racism.

And the interim leader of the party, Rona Ambrose, is also likely to vote against the motion, which will be debated Wednesday, as she accuses the Liberals of purposefully trying to sow division in her party with the initiative.

The opposition to the anti-Islamophobia motion by Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier, Andrew Scheer and others is likely to play well with a Conservative base that, according to several polls, is more suspicious and wary of Muslim immigrants than other groups of voters.

But as more Tories oppose the motion, their political opponents will have more of a chance to charge that Conservatives are intolerant at best and bigoted at worse, a resurrection of criticisms that hurt them at the ballot box in 2015 after the party unveiled a promise to institute a “Barbaric Practices Snitch Line” and vowed to repeal citizenship for new Canadians in some circumstances.

“Voting against this motion is simply nonsensical,” said Karl Belanger, who spent 19 years as a top adviser to three leaders of the federal NDP. “‎No matter what the convoluted explanation is, you are voting against condemning Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. That will stick.”

The resolution at hand is known as M-103. It was put before the House of Commons in early December by Iqra Khalid, a first-time Liberal MP who represents Mississauga—Erin Mills, Ont.

The motion is scheduled for an hour’s worth of debate in the House of Commons late Wednesday afternoon. And while there is a chance a vote could be held during that hour, the more likely outcome from a procedural standpoint is that a vote will be put off until early April.

Ambrose said she believes the Liberals will want to keep the issue front-and-centre for weeks before bringing it to a final vote.

“We know they are doing this purely for politics,” she said.

Khalid, who was born in Pakistan, wants to accomplish three things with M-103: First, that the House “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination;” second, that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage be instructed to study the issue of “eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia;” and, finally; that the federal government collect data on hate crimes for further study.

Scheer, in a recent fundraising letter to his supporters, said one of the reasons he will vote against Khalid’s motion is that it could be construed as a move to stifle free speech. He also says the motion does not define “Islamophobia” and, in any event, he says he cannot vote for a motion that singles out one religion for special status.

“It is also important to note that we already have laws that protect Canadians against discrimination based on their faith. We also have laws against inciting violence,” Scheer said.

Bernier cites similar reasons for his opposition to M-103 but, in a Facebook post over the weekend, said he could support the motion if the word “Islamophobia” was removed from motion.

“We should reaffirm everyone’s right to believe in and criticize whatever belief they want, whether it is Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, atheism, or any other,” Bernier said.

MP Brad Trost, who is also running for the leadership, said Jews and Christians are more likely to be victims of faith-based intolerance. He called Khalid’s motion “a farce.”

Steven Blaney, too, will vote against the motion: “While I recognize the value of promoting respect for all religion, I intend to oppose M-103, a motion that is not well defined and clearly represents a threat to freedom of expression.”

For his part, Erin O’Toole, another leadership candidate, has reached out to Khalid with some suggestions to modify the amendment so that it might find more support among Conservative MPs.

Khalid was not available for an interview Monday but, when she tabled her motion last December, she told the House of Commons, ” I am a young, brown, Muslim, Canadian woman. When I moved to Canada in the 1990s — a young girl trying to make this nation my home — some kids in school would yell as they pushed me, ‘Go home, you Muslim,’ but I was home. I am among thousands of Muslims who have been victimized because of hate and fear.

“I am a proud Canadian among hundreds and thousands of others who will not tolerate hate based on religion or skin colour. I rise today with my fellow Canadians to reject and condemn Islamophobia.”

Her motion, if it passes, would not change any Canadian laws, as Bernier correctly noted in his Facebook post. Moreover, House of Commons standing committees are often asked to study a particular issue and make recommendations to the government on a course of action.

Governments sometimes act on committee recommendations, but they just as often ignore them.

But Ambrose, in an interview with the National Post Monday evening, said she worries her work trying to empower women and girls in Muslim communities could be branded Islamophobic if she criticizes the views of some Muslim men.

“Our members are really concerned about this as a freedom of speech issue,” Ambrose said. For Conservatives, it will be a “free vote,” which means they may vote as they choose. Ambrose said she is open to amendments that deal with her concerns about speech.

“We absolutely condemn all forms of hatred, racism and violence,” Ambrose said.

Source: Growing group of Tory leadership hopefuls oppose move to have House of Commons denounce Islamophobia | National Post

And David Akin’s latest update and interview with Iqra Khalid, the MP sponsoring the motion:

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid said she is keen to allay the “fear and anxiety” some Canadians have about her attempt to have the House of Commons denounce Islamophobia, systemic racism and intolerance.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday with the National Post, Khalid, a Pakistan-born first-time MP from Mississauga, Ont., said she is not willing to alter her  motion, which has been given the parliamentary designation M-103, even though some Conservative MPs have suggested she do so and even though she says she has been subjected to “a lot of hatred” and abuse since she first proposed the motion last December.

“Watering down the motion will not be in the best interests of Canadians who are working to fight this (intolerance),” Khalid said.

Debate on M-103 is expected to begin at about 5:30 pm ET Wednesday in the House of Commons and run for about an hour. And while it is procedurally possible that a vote could also happen Wednesday, it is much more likely that the vote will be put off until early April.

Khalid will find significant support from her own caucus colleagues and from the NDP but not as much from the Conservative benches. Rona Ambrose, the interim Conservative party leader, in an interview with the National Post Monday, said she is opposed to Khalid’s motion and several of the contenders to become permanent leader also oppose it.

Liberal MP keen to allay ‘fear and anxiety’ on anti-Islamophobia motion but will not change it in face of ‘hatred’