Liberals fall short with first gender-based federal budget

Erin Anderssen’s analysis of the government’s first foray in including gender-based analysis in budget-making.

Like all early efforts, imperfect, but the template and accountability that goes with it is being set:

But it’s in their flagship programs – parental and caregiving leave, and child-care spending – that they flounder. The Liberals are keeping a campaign promise to allow more flexibility in maternity and parental leave; women will be able to take leave 12 weeks before giving birth, stretch one year of employment insurance benefits over 18 months, or work sporadically. The government is also adding a new caregiver leave, which allows people to take employment insurance for 15 weeks to care for a critically ill relative.

But that’s only for the lucky Canadians who can afford it. Those programs will charm upper-middle-class women who can get by on EI and are significantly more likely to have their wages topped up by an employer. But a study published last year by researchers at Brock University and the University of Montreal found that outside of Quebec, 38 per cent of mothers are excluded from parental leave as they don’t make enough or haven’t worked long enough to qualify for EI. (In Quebec, where the government tops up benefits and has expanded eligibility, it’s a different story: 85 per cent of mothers earning less than $30,000 a year take provincially funded leave.) Unlike under the federal proposal, new dads in Quebec also get their own use-it-or-lose-it time at home – a policy that research suggests helps to gender-balance both caregiving and workplace expectations on parents.

There’s an economic argument for gender-based budget analysis: Done properly, it should increase the labour-force participation of half the population. In Canada, women’s employment has stalled at about 81 per cent for a decade, and, as the budget itself notes, the country continues to have one of the highest gender wage gaps in the OECD. That’s where affordable, accessible, high-quality child care comes in, creating an environment that enables women to work while raising a family. (And however often the government tweaks these programs, low-income mothers can hardly take advantage of job training or university loans if they can’t find or afford child care.)

This Liberal budget isn’t going to make that happen in Canada anytime soon. Ottawa is promising $7-billion in child care but only spending about $500-million a year during the government’s current mandate. The budget suggests this funding “could” create 40,000 subsidized spaces over the next three years, depending on how the provinces spend it. For a frame of reference, consider that Quebec’s $20-a-day child-care plan costs more than $2.4-billion. There are currently about 500,000 regulated centre-based spots in the entire country – enough for only one in four children under the age of five. The country needs a lot more than 40,000 might-happen spaces.

Give the Liberals kudos for referring to women on nearly every page of the budget, for showing that the federal government knows its own statistics. But Canadian families – especially low-income mothers striving to join the middle class – already know where they’re crunched and what might help. They should expect Canada’s first feminist government to pick up a gender-balanced share of the check where it will help most and provide the analysis to back it up. There’s always next year.

Source: Liberals fall short with first gender-based federal budget – The Globe and Mail

Anne Kingston’s take in Macleans:

Gender-based analysis (GBA) isn’t new. Canada committed to implementing it in 1995, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. More than two decades later, we’re still not there; a 2016 government  audit found GBA employed spottily at the federal level, if at all. A Status of Women committee called for mandatory adoption of GBA across all government departments and agencies by June of this year. The tally of what that will cost has not been provided.

The usefulness of GBA was in fact highlighted even earlier: in the 2016 budget, the first tabled by a government lead by a self-declared feminist Canadian prime minister. Kate McInturff, a senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, conducted her own GBA in a withering appraisal: in one instance, she drilled into the $11.6 billion in job creation measures the government expected to add some 143,000 jobs, concluding that women comprised only 36 percent of beneficiaries.

Budget 2017 brings us a new twist: “GBA+,” with the “+”  referring to “the intersecting identity factors that must be considered in public policy along with, and in relation to, gender (e.g. ethnicity, age, income, sexual orientation).” The section on gender-based violence highlights the need. While Indigenous women, children and youth, and LGBTQ2 and gender non-conforming people are at higher risk of violence, it noted, women who live with physical and cognitive impairments are at even higher risk. Senior women, it adds, are the most frequent targets of “family violence”—at a rate 24 per cent higher than that of senior men. (Lest anyone think that GBA is intended only to assist women, the Gender Statement also notes inequities experienced by men, pointing to evidence that the suicide rate for men is three times higher than the rate for women, yet women attempt suicide three to four times more often than men).

Many of the statistics presented in the Gender Statement have been well-publicized. Women make up 47 percent of the paid workforce in Canada, and are more likely to have post-secondary training, yet earn, on average, some 30 percent less than men. That wage gap has been declining over the past decades, yet the country “continues to have one of the highest wage gaps among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries,” the report noted.  Women are disproportionately represented in lower-paying occupations across the retail, health and social-service sectors. They’re twice as likely as men to work part-time, more likely than men to cite caring for children as the reason they are in part-time work, and perform more hours of unpaid work in the home. The repercussions can be cascade-like, in keeping women from getting jobs, qualifying for Employment Insurance and falling below the poverty line.

Given the known pivotal role access to childcare has in enabling women’s access to the workforce, eyes were on the government’s  childcare initiatives. Morneau delievered a big number: $7 billion toward early learning and childcare to increase the number of “high-quality child care spaces available across the country” (the minister also spoke of creating up to 40,000 new subsidized child care spaces over the next three years working with the provinces and territories; it’s also a big number but it doesn’t being to fill the need). Here, there was no deviation from the government’s much-publicized Canada Child Benefit. More significantly, these monies are backloaded over the next decade—to 2028—thus designed as an incentive to vote Liberal at least twice.

Parental leave after a baby’s arrival has also been extended to 18 months, at a cost of $152 million over the first five years, $27.5  a year thereafter. This appears good news for women, who make up 92 percent of those taking leave. A closer look, however, shows it’s just extending the current 12-month leave for another six months with no additional funds given.

The budget’s big, headline-making news was a $101-million commitment over five years—just over $20 million a year—to support a “National Strategy to Address Gender-Based Violence”  like those seen in Australia and Ireland.  Yet given the economic cost of violence against women, the commitment seems miniscule.  Justice Canada estimates spousal abuse and violence against women costs the economy an estimated $12.2 billion per year.

The budget did, however, appear to honour “caring labour,” as economist Nancy Folbre terms it. There’s a proposal to consolidate the existing caregiver credit into into a new “Canada Caregiver Credit” that would allow caregivers to claim tax credits up to $6,883 on expenses arising from caring for a relative with “infirmities” including those with disabilities. There’s also a new “caregiver leave,” which permits people caring for a critically ill relative to  take employment insurance for 15 weeks. More women than men are caregivers, according to Statistics Canada (some 54 per cent in 2012). Yet a higher proportion of men claim caregiver tax credits (55 per cent of all individuals claiming the Caregiver Credit and 59 per cent of those claiming the Infirm Dependant Credit).

Inequities at the upper employment echelons were also noted by Morneau, a former Bay Street executive. In 2016, women comprised only 26 percent of senior management jobs in the private sector and occupied only 19.5 percent of seats on boards of Financial Post 500 companies. Morneau’s stated solution was to rely on advice from the high-profile squad of businesswomen who accompanied Prime Minister Trudeau on his first meeting and photo-op with Donald Trump at the White House: “We’ve asked the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders to quickly advise us on how we can better empower women entrepreneurs, and remove barriers for women in business,” Morneau said.  Given that the group’s second meeting has yet to be announced, just how quickly, or even if, that advice will be delivered remains a major question mark.

On a day of “gender-based analysis” one would be remiss not to notice that the new approach was delivered by a constant in Canadian political life: a male finance minister. The much-celebrated new shoes purchased for the occasion, (this year’s are symbolically “NAFTA-correct”) have always been brogues or oxfords. Even in Trudeau’s much-vaunted gender equal cabinet, the money man remains a man.

Today, however, Canada’s male finance minister appeared willing to break one gender stereotype, with his government, in asking for new  directions, even if he didn’t always follow them. The Gender Statement ended with the admission that there’s more to learn. There are “current gaps in data and understanding” it conceded, adding there’s “still much work to be done.” On that point, it’s impossible to disagree.

Source: The hope and hype of a ‘gender-based’ budget

Canadians doubt anti-Islamophobia motion will have any effect, even if they support it: poll

Not surprising but not particularly relevant either (see Andrew Coyne’s excellent Andrew Coyne: Politicians need to forget about polls and do the right thing):

As MPs prepare to vote Thursday on a controversial anti-Islamophobia motion, Canadians — regardless of whether they support it or not — are skeptical whether the symbolic vote will have any effect, a new poll shows.

Almost nine out of 10 of Canadians have little faith M-103, a motion condemning anti-Muslim sentiment and to strike a committee to study systemic racism, will accomplish anything though they are split as to whether it’s worth passing even symbolically. According to the Angus Reid Institute poll of 1,511 Canadians, 31 per cent say the motion “should not be passed” because it’s a threat to freedom of speech, another 31 per cent say it’s work passing even for symbolic reasons “but it won’t have any real impact,” and 26 per cent say, “not worth passing because it won’t do anything and so it’s a waste of time. Only 12 per cent said they felt the motion is “worth passing” and “will help reduce anti-Muslim attitudes and discrimination.”

“Canadians are asking the question, ‘Is this the best way to be fighting Islamophobia?’” said Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute.

And, if it were up to the citizenry, M-103 would likely fail.

Source: Canadians doubt anti-Islamophobia motion will have any effect, even if they support it: poll | National Post

Drivers are less likely to brake for black pedestrians, study finds | Toronto Star

Interesting and revealing study that is careful to include the needed caveats to its results:

A new study appears to offer additional evidence that drivers are less likely to brake for African-American pedestrians trying to cross the street, a phenomenon known as “walking while black.”

Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas also found that the disparity is greater depending on whether the pedestrian is in a high- or low-income neighbourhood: the average number of vehicles to pass by a black pedestrian who was already in the crosswalk was at least seven times higher compared with a white pedestrian in the wealthier neighbourhood, the study’s lead researcher said.

“Sadly, it wasn’t surprising,” said Courtney Coughenour, an assistant professor in the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

But there are also several factors in the Las Vegas study that suggest the results should be interpreted with care.

In three scenarios that the researchers used, they found little statistically significant data to suggest a difference in the way motorists reacted to the pedestrian, whether black or white. In one of those, in fact, more cars passed the white pedestrian than the black pedestrian when they were waiting to step off the curb in the high-income neighbourhood.

What’s more, the roadways between the high- and low-income neighbourhoods differed in design, both in the number of lanes the pedestrian had to cross and the posted speed limit, as the study acknowledges. The researchers also noted, citing other research, that the disparity between yielding rates in the different neighbourhoods could be explained by several factors, such as people in high-income areas more often having private cars and driving more compared to people in low-income neighbourhoods, where there are also generally more pedestrians.

More than 4,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing the most recent figures available. The Las Vegas study, also citing CDC data, says fatality rates for black and Latino men are more than twice as high as for white men.

The Las Vegas study, which was published online in January in the journal of Accident Analysis and Prevention, involved observing what happens when two female students — one black, one white — cross a street where there is no traffic light.

The experiment was conducted in one neighbourhood located on the west side of Las Vegas where the median household income was $55,994, and in another in the east where the median was $32,884. (Coughenour declined to identify the two neighbourhoods further.)

Both pedestrians in the experiment were students and both were of similar height and build. Each wore similar clothing. They took turns crossing the street about 126 times, or approximately 34 times in the high-income neighbourhood and 30 times in the low-income neighbourhood. (Two crossings were spoiled by observer error.)

The researchers first counted how many cars passed while the pedestrian stood on the curb waiting to cross. After the first car stopped in the nearest lane and the pedestrian stepped into the street, observers continued to count vehicles that failed to stop in the remaining lanes on that half of the street. (The observers did not count traffic moving in the opposite direction on the other half of the roadway.)

What the researchers found was that drivers yielded to the pedestrian waiting at the curb to cross about 52 per cent of the time in the high-income neighbourhood and 71 per cent of the time in the low-income neighbourhood.

After factoring in race, the researchers found little statistical significance in whether drivers yielded for black or white pedestrians waiting at the curb in either neighbourhood — although drivers in the high-income area were less likely to yield for the white pedestrian. (And a higher percentage of drivers in the low-income neighbourhood stopped for the white pedestrian.)

But Coughenour said she was much more troubled by the what happened when the pedestrians stepped off the curb and began walking in the crosswalk — both because of the more dangerous circumstances and because the statistical significance was higher: The average number of drivers who continued moving with a black pedestrian already in the crosswalk was at least seven times higher than for the white pedestrian in the high-income neighbourhood, she said.

Among the several caveats worth noting are these, however:

Nevada law is ambiguous about when drivers are required to stop for pedestrians. Under state law, when there is no traffic light, for example, a driver is obliged to slow and yield the right of way “if need be” when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk on the same half of the highway, the study says. They are also required only to “exercise proper caution” when observing a pedestrian on or near the roadway.

The crosswalk in the high-income neighbourhood was on a street with six lanes and a speed limit of 45 mph (72 km/hr.); the street in the low-income neighbourhood had four lanes with a 35-mph speed limit.

The observers were aware of whether a black student or a white student was crossing. To control for possible observational bias, however, the observers followed a protocol for making observations and counting passing cars, Coughnenour said.

The sample size is relatively small.

Coughenour, while acknowledging the study’s limitations, said she believes the results confirm what researchers found in a study conducted by researchers at Portland State University in Oregon and the University of Arizona. She said the findings are also in line with a large body of literature that suggests people react differently to others based on “implicit bias” that may not be conscious. “We all have some sort of innate bias,” she said.

Source: Drivers are less likely to brake for black pedestrians, study finds | Toronto Star

Refugee board’s plea for assistance with growing backlog ignored: Assessment of Budget 2017 Immigration-related policies and programmes

As usual, the Star and Nicholas Keung provide the best coverage:

Despite a worsening backlog and surging number of land-border asylum claims via the U.S., the beleaguered Immigration and Refugee Board will not be getting any relief from the Liberal government.

Although the 2017 budget provides $62.9 million over five years — and $11.5 million per year thereafter — for legal aid services for asylum claimants, it ignored a recent plea from IRB chair Mario Dion for additional money to deal with its rising backlog of refugee claims, which is expected to hit 30,000 cases this year.

“It is discouraging,” said Janet Dench of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “We are expecting the number of claims to go up dramatically. This is going to hurt everybody.”

The number of refugees arriving in Canada went up by 48 per cent to 5,520 in the first two months of this year, including 2,145 who crossed the land border via the United States.

Instead of ensuring there is money to hire enough refugee judges to hear asylum claims, the government said it will spend $29 million in the next five years to make permanent an unpopular “reviews and interventions pilot project.”

Launched in 2012, the project assigns representatives from the Canada Border Services Agency and the Immigration Department to intervene in refugee hearings by raising concerns over the credibility of claims.

A 2015 internal evaluation of the program identified operational challenges because of causes confusion and redundancy around responsibilities between the two government departments.

“It is inefficient, wasteful intervention that causes delays. Their submissions are often poorly thought out,” Dench said.

On the immigration front, critics said little change was made to improve the temporary foreign worker program, other than a new permit exemption for short-duration work terms for intercompany exchanges, study exchanges or the entrance of temporary expertise.

The budget also proposes to eliminate the $1,000 labour market impact assessment for families seeking to hire foreign caregivers to care for people with high medical needs and for families with less than $150,000 in annual income looking for a nanny.

“The problem with the temporary foreign worker program is it’s been poorly managed. It’s not about writing stricter rules but actually investing into the system to vet and make sure the rules are followed. The government needs to step up on the expenditures for enforcement,” said Professor Jeffrey Reitz, director of ethnic, immigration and pluralism studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Chris Ramsaroop of Justicia for Migrant Workers, a grassroots advocacy group, said the budget fails to address the vulnerabilities faced by foreign workers in Canada.

“The refusal to implement a policy of permanent residency on arrival for migrants send a strong message that Canada refuses to acknowledge the invaluable social and economic contributions that migrant workers provide toward our society,” he said.

Also missing are additional resources to address immigration backlogs for qualified live-in caregivers applying for permanent residency and family reunification for parents and grandparents, said MP Jenny Kwan, immigration critic for the opposition NDP.

“The processing time is taking so long that for many families, their medical, criminal and security checks have expired,” said Kwan. “Canada is contributing to breaking up families.”

Source: Refugee board’s plea for assistance with growing backlog ignored | Toronto Star

Peel school board issues fact sheet to ‘quell misinformation’ on religious accommodation

While unlikely to change the minds of those spreading misinformation, it is nevertheless appropriate to counter misleading or inaccurate information:

The Peel District School Board issued a fact sheet Wednesday to quell “misinformation and errors” it says are circulating in the community and on social media regarding religious accommodation.

It’s the school board’s response to a campaign to end the accommodation of Muslim prayer in schools, launched by self-described “concerned parents” and Canada First, a group whose mission is to protest M-103, the federal Liberals’ “anti-Islamophobia” motion.

“The issue around religious accommodation and the legal requirement to provide prayer rooms has become confused, shall we say, by many people who are intentional in spreading misinformation,” board chair Janet McDougald told the Star.

“By putting it out in print . . . and communicating the actual facts, we’re hoping it will clarify the issue.

“But we are under no delusions that those that wish to spread prejudice and hate will continue to do so. I believe they have intentionally targeted this issue around religious accommodation to create unease.”

Parents behind the online petition declined to comment to the Star.

“Quite frankly, our board meeting agendas have been monopolized and disrupted by these very loud, albeit a minority, of people,” said McDougald. “There’s so much noise around this subject that people haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and say what this is really about.”

The school board doesn’t track how many Muslim students take part in Friday prayers.

“It varies by school,” said board spokesperson Brian Woodland. “Some have none, some have a few, some might have a hundred. Not all Muslim students request (to participate). It’s not a significant number compared to the student population.”

Religious accommodation, the fact sheet says, is required under the Ontario Human Rights Code. McDougald said the board has also had “several legal opinions about it and we’re on very firm ground here.”

The fact sheet points out that religious accommodation has been taking place in Peel schools for over 15 years.

“The Peel board does not tolerate any campaigns that discriminate against a faith,” the sheet says.

It has been “frustrating and disheartening” to see hatred and prejudice toward a single faith group disguised in a supposed campaign about religion in schools, the board said in a public statement.

“This is a campaign against Islam — counter to the laws of the country, the Ontario Human Rights Code and our board values.”

Source: Peel school board issues fact sheet to ‘quell misinformation’ on religious accommodation | Toronto Star

Metropolis 2017: Workshops of Interest – Notes

These rough notes capture the sessions that I either organized or attended to give others a sense of the topics and perspectives covered.

Integration – The Search for a New Metaphor: This session, prompted by the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI) discussions on the meaning and definition of integration (and my Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options) drew a good crowd(60-70 persons).

I opened with my critique of the “two-way street” metaphor by emphasizing that it did not capture the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of immigration, the Hegelian dialectic between thesis (host society) and anti-thesis (newcomers), resulting in a synthesis, and presented my preferred metaphor, harmony/jazz, where harmony represented the underlying framework of laws and institutions, and jazz the improvisation involved in resolving accommodation demands.

Mort Weinfeld of McGill drew from the personal experience of his parents and talking to cab drivers, noting that integration of the second generation was key. His preferred metaphor was the roundabout, with multiple points of entry and exit, with traffic moving smoothly.

Richard Bourhis of UQAM provided a Quebec perspective, looking at how Quebec language policies were characteristic of an assimilationist approach.

Elke Winter of UofOttawa drew from her analysis of European policies and practices and noted a third dimensions, that of outside actors and transnational forces (e.g., other countries, home communities of immigrants), and that integration was more a three-way than two-way process

The presentations prompted considerable discussion (although no one jumped to the defence of the ‘two-way street.’ The particular points I found most interesting were Richard’s noting the advantage of institutional diversity in terms of integration and others noting the need for metaphors and definitions to include indigenous peoples.

Thinking about next year, this is a topic that merits further exploration, perhaps involving some literary descriptions or metaphors (see the notes for Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions).

Citizenship – Factors Underlying a Declining Naturalization Rate: In the only session on citizenship, Elke WInter opened the workshop with an overview of how Canadian citizenship has evolved over the last 150 years, setting out four phases: colonized citizenship (pre-1947), nationalizing citizenship (1947-76), de-ethnicising citizenship (1977-2008) and re-nationalizing citizenship (2009-15) with a possible fifth phase emerging under the Liberal government. She presented some preliminary findings from an interview-based study.

I followed with my usual presentation of citizenship statistics, showing the impact of previous policy and administrative changes along with an assessment of the 2014 Conservative changes and Liberal partial repeal of these changes (currently in the Senate).

Jessica Merolli of Sheridan presented the key MIPEX naturalization indicators and data from the European Social Survey comparing immigrant/non-immigrant attitudes on issues such as self-sufficiency, interests in politics, LGBT acceptance and others and how over time in the country of immigration differences declined. The most striking exception was with respect to interest in politics, where immigrants, no matter how short or long the time, were more interested than non-immigrants.

Questions of note included do we need a citizenship knowledge test given that it presents barriers for some groups, and the impact that the  physical presence requirement has on families when one parent has to work abroad given difficulties in obtaining well-paying work in Canada.

Other workshops that I found particularly of interest included:

Inclusion, engagement partagé, participation – comment en rendre compte: Elke Laur of Quebec’s Minister de l’Immigration, de Latin American Diversity et de l’Inclusion presented their integration strategy and related measurement approach. Quebec has invested considerable time and resources on both aspects.

Of note is their definition below, capturing the complexities and dynamism of integration:

“Une participation réussie résulte d’un partage d’engagement mutuel de la personne et de la société dans son ensemble. Ainsi, la participation des personnes de minorités ethnoculturelles est conceptualisée sous forme d’un espace participatif dans lequel ces deux modalités se croisent dans une matrice. Cette matrice rend compte de l’articulation de différents degrés (allant de faible à fort), d’engagements individuels et de dispositions sociétales.”

Those interested in indicators should check out their report 2016 Mesure de Latin American participation des Québécoises et Québécois des minorités ethnoculturelles, an impressive report.

Enhancing the Potential to Analyze Immigration – Adding the Admission Category to Census Data: Laetitia Martin of Statistics Canada presented the detailed methodology of linking post-1980 IRCC administration data on immigrant admission categories, complemented by Lorna Jantzen of IRCC outlying the potential and challenges. Dan Hiebert of UBC provided an example for refugees of how this linkage could be used to analyze the economic outcomes of refugees, showing that in the long-term, economic outcomes are comparable to the Canadian average.

Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions: A mix of a case study (Punjabi media by Syeda Bukhari where she noted the ethnic media was getting more sophisticated in comparing what politicians said to English and ethnic media and thus holding them to account) and the overall contribution ethnic media does and can make to integration (Madeline Ziniak, current chair of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA)).

Myer Siemiatycki of Ryerson gave a fascinating presentation regarding the person and poetry of Julian Tuwin, a Polish Jew (or Jewish Pole) whose loyalty and identity were attacked by both sides.

An example, Tuwin’s Poem, We, Polish Jews (1944)

I am a Pole because I want to be. It’s nobody’s business but my own. I do not divide Poles into pure-stock Poles and alien-stock Poles. I leave such classification to pure and alien-stock advocates of racialism, to domestic and foreign Nazis.

To be a Pole is neither an honor nor a glory nor a privilege. It is like breathing. I have not yet met a man who is proud of breathing.

A Pole – because I have been told so in Polish in my paternal home, because since infancy I have been nurtured in the Polish tongue; because my mother taught me Polish songs and Polish rhymes; because when poetry first seized me, it was in Polish words that it burst forth; because what in my life became paramount — poetical creation — would be unthinkable in any other tongue no matter how fluent I might become in it.”

A Pole – also because the birch and the willow are closer to my heart than palms and citrus trees, and Mickiewicz and Chopin dearer than Shakespeare and Beethoven.

A Pole – because I have taken over from the Poles quite a few of their national faults.

A Pole — because my hatred of Polish Fascists is greater than my hatred of Fascists of other nationalities. And I consider that particular point as a strong mark of my nationality.

He also presented Yolanda Cohen’s deck on the Sephardic press and diaspora identities.

Negotiating “fit” – Connections Between Employer Mindsets/Practices and Labour Market Success of Newcomers: Kelly Thomson of York provided an overview of the issue of “fit” and presented a case study of foreign-trained accountants. Aamna Ashraf of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (near Toronto) presented the results of a study on soft barriers, with focused and practical recommendations. Madeline Ng of Autodata and Nancy Moulday of TD Bank presented how their respective organizations encourage and facilitate diversity in their workforces. Unfortunately, Thomson took far to long for her presentation, reducing the time available for discussion with the practitioners.

Fitting In: Identity and belonging among second generation Canadians: Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto of MacEwan University organized  this roundtable discussion focussing on the second generation. A number of second generation (and generation 1.5) participants shared their experiences, challenges and identities.

‘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.


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.


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

Nearly half of Canadians support deporting people who are in Canada illegally, poll finds

Not surprising, one of the factors that underlies overall Canadian support for immigration is that the public perceives this as managed and controlled. Irregular arrivals undermine that trust:

Undocumented immigrants in the United States are fleeing to Canada. But Canadians may not want them, a new survey finds.

Nearly half of Canadians support “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Monday.

The same share said they supported sending migrants that crossed from the United States right back over the border, while just 36 percent said Canada should accept them and let them apply for refugee status.

Read more:Trump, tighter air travel rules behind surge of refugees at Canada-U.S. border, experts say

The popular sentiment could pose a challenge to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who champions a pro-refugee and pro-immigration policy as a stark foil to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump’s anti-immigrant “build-a-wall” rhetoric helped launch him into the White House, but since getting there, he has faced significant political backlash and legal scrutiny over his policies.

The debate is spilling over into Canada, where Trudeau is taking a political hit for keeping his country’s door opento refugees and immigrants.

Forty-six percent of poll respondents disagreed with how Trudeau is handling immigration, while 37 per cent agreed.
The poll shows the national debate on immigration is heating up. Nearly a quarter of Canadians believe immigration-control is a leading national issue, compared to 19 per cent in a December poll.

Some 40 per cent thought accepting those fleeing from the United States could make Canada less safe.

Undocumented immigrants began fleeing to Canada in record numbers after Trump’s political rise.

In 2016, 1,222 fled the United States to Quebec alone, a five-fold increase.

Source: Nearly half of Canadians support deporting people who are in Canada illegally, poll finds | Toronto Star

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid addresses critics of anti-Islamophobia motion

I don’t remember these kinds of objections with respect to the earlier motion on Islamophobia or Antisemitism:

The Liberal MP whose private member’s motion condemning Islamophobia has divided the House of Commons used her final submission on Tuesday to address what she called “outrageous” arguments being made about her proposal.

During the final debate in the Commons, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid said her motion, M-103, does not give one religion or community special privileges, or restrict free speech.

“This motion is not legally binding. In fact, M-103 serves as a catalyst for Canadians to speak out against discrimination and be heard where they may not have been heard before,” she said.

“Some other outrageous claims were made about M-103 and to that in simple and clear words, M-103 is not an attempt to create sharia law. I vow to be the first person to oppose any motion or law that negatively impacts our multicultural, secular society. I assure you, M-103 does not.”

Most Conservatives appear set to vote against Ms. Khalid’s motion, with only one leadership candidate, Michael Chong, saying he’ll support it. The NDP will also support it, but MP Jenny Kwan criticized both the Liberals and Tories for “politicking” on the issue.

Ms. Khalid’s motion calls on the government to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination,” to study the issue at the heritage committee, collect hate-crime data and report back to the House of Commons within eight months with recommendations.

The motion will be voted upon on Thursday. With the Liberal government’s support, it is expected to pass.

Ms. Khalid’s motion was originally supposed to be debated on April 5, but she traded her slot with another Liberal MP to move it up in the calendar. The second hour of debate fell on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Conservative MP David Sweet said Tuesday that M-103 could have been made better by including all faith communities rather than singling out one group, and it could have clarified the definition of Islamophobia and affirmed the right to freedom of speech.

“Instead of pursuing these changes, in an effort to have a meaningful, inclusive and non-partisan study on the matters of racism and religious discrimination, a debate that should unify us, the Liberals have decided there are more political points to win by ramming this motion through regardless of legitimate concerns I’ve articulated,” he told the Commons.

Last fall, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s motion condemning “all forms of Islamophobia” passed unanimously in the House, although it wasn’t a recorded vote and it’s unclear how many MPs were in the chamber.

“I can’t believe that people are still trying to find reasons to vote against motion M-103, which is simply an expression of what Parliament already said in the fall,” Mr. Mulcair said Tuesday.

Source: Liberal MP Iqra Khalid addresses critics of anti-Islamophobia motion – The Globe and Mail

David Akin covers the protests:

More than two dozen police officers had to separate duelling mobs on Parliament Hill Tuesday afternoon after the two groups spent their lunch hour hurling loud and often profane epithets at each other in support of or in opposition to an anti-Islamophobia motion debated in the House of Commons Tuesday evening.

A handful of men in each group nearly came to blows but for the clutch of RCMP officers standing between them.

One group of about 35 people perched itself on the steps in front of Parliament’s Centre Block to protest Motion 103 or M-103, introduced in the House of Commons by Iqra Khalid, a Pakistan-born Liberal MP from Mississauga, Ont.

A handful of the anti-M-103 protestors were wearing “Soldiers of Odin Canada” sweatshirts.

Soldiers of Odin, on its Facebook page, says it is a non-profit dedicated to defending the charter of rights and freedoms but its critics allege it is an anti-immigrant, anti-refugee group.

The counter-protest mob of about 25 called out the Soldiers of Odin protestors as “Nazis” and “fascists” and chanted “Soldiers of Odin, go back to Sweden.”

In response, the counter-protest group was called “Communists” and “anti-Canadian” by the group  protesting M-103.

The demonstration dissipated peacefully with the assistance of the police and, hours later, MPs debated M-103. It will be put to a vote on Thursday afternoon. Given that the Liberal majority in the House of Commons supports M-103, it is certain to pass.

Source: Ahead of M-103 debate, duelling mobs clash on Parliament Hill over Islamophobia

USA: Bid to Strip Terrorist’s Citizenship May Mark New Trump Way – Bloomberg

While the motivation is revocation for terrorism convictions, the rationale is fraud or misrepresentation in Faris’ citizenship application:

The Department of Justice has taken the rare step of seeking to strip a convicted terrorist of his U.S. citizenship as he serves the last several years of a 20-year prison sentence for plotting to destroy New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.

Some national security experts suggested Tuesday the move might signal a new, tougher line under President Donald Trump.

The case involves Iyman Faris, 47 and born in Pakistan, who was sentenced in 2003 for aiding and abetting the al-Qaida terrorist group with his plan to cut through cables that support the iconic bridge. At the time, it was among the highest profile terrorism cases in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

A 17-page filing Monday in U.S. District Court in southern Illinois where Faris is imprisoned launched a revocation process that is likely to take years. The court filing argues that Faris lied on immigration papers before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1999 and that his terrorist affiliations demonstrated a lack of commitment to the U.S. Constitution.

Faris, known as Mohammad Rauf before becoming a U.S. citizen and who once worked as a truck driver in Ohio, is scheduled for release from the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, on Dec. 23, 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Karen Greenberg, director of the Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security in New York, said the federal government has been aggressive in previous decades about revoking the citizenship of accused Nazis living in the United States. But she says it’s largely unheard of for revocation proceedings to be launched against naturalized U.S. citizens imprisoned for terrorism.

Most Americans would almost certainly back steps to strip citizenship from someone like Faris. Prosecutors have also accused him of meeting with Osama bin Laden in 2000 and alleged that the planned attack on the bridge could have been designed to be part of a second wave of attacks to follow those on 9/11.

But Greenberg said making the revocation of a terrorist’s U.S. citizenship established policy would only add to a trend since 9/11 of treating accused terrorists differently than other suspects. Stripping someone’s citizenship, she said, also appeared to be a way of adding on extra punishment not in the criminal statute itself.

“Why isn’t it enough that we put him in prison and give him the sentence he was given?” she said. She added that the effort against Faris could be seen as another example of how the Trump administration “tinkers with the established way we do things.”

Source: Bid to Strip Terrorist’s Citizenship May Mark New Trump Way – Bloomberg