Former MP and Minister Roy Cullen on the Service Fees Act (Budget 2017 Bill C-44)

Former Minister Cullen’s submission to the Finance Committee’s hearings on the omnibus Budget Bill C-44 and the User Fees Act/Service Fees Act:

It is disappointing and somewhat disconcerting that C 212, An Act respecting user fees, will be repealed and replaced by the Service Fees Act. It took me roughly two years to steer my Bill through Parliament where it received unanimous consent.

I am told that since C 212 received Royal Assent in March 2004, only roughly nine user fee proposals have followed the process outlined in that piece of legislation. For me it begs the question, did Departments/Agencies not believe their proposal would meet the criteria laid out in C-212, or were the user fee proposals not that important? Some parts of C 212 may be somewhat cumbersome and I support any streamlining that will improve the efficiency of the legislation.

With respect to performance standards, will the Treasury Board and TB Secretariat ensure that the performance standards that are proposed by Departments and Agencies are realistic stretch goals and not unambitious targets? Will these performance standards be benchmarked against jurisdictions with similar fees? While I appreciate that, consistent with C-212, consultations with interested persons and organizations are required (Art. 12) and that complaints will be reviewed by a panel (Art. 13), Bill C-212 calls for the department or agency to “establish standards which are comparable to those established by other countries with which a comparison is relevant and against which the performance of the regulating authority can be measured”. {Art. 4(1)(f)}.

Departments will be inclined to set performance standards that they can meet, and in many cases they will be inclined to argue that comparisons with other jurisdictions cannot be made.



Who’s Afraid Of A Diverse Cast? : NPR


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a brilliant, scalding and essential play that is often revived. But the Complete Works Project in Oregon won’t present the play this fall because the estate of the playwright, Edward Albee, won’t give permission for them to cast an African-American actor in the featured role of Nick, a young professor.

The play’s director, Michael Streeter, refuses to fire an actor for the color of his skin.

“I am furious and dumbfounded,” he wrote on Facebook.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf won a Tony Award in 1963. Edward Albee died last year at the age of 88.

The reasoning, if that’s quite the word, of the Albee estate doesn’t seem to be simple racism. It sound like convoluted racism.

A note sent by Sam Rudy, who represents the Albee estate, says, “Mr. Albee wrote Nick as a Caucasian character, whose blonde hair and blue eyes are remarked on frequently in the play, even alluding to Nick’s likeness as that of an Aryan of Nazi racial ideology.” He adds that putting an interracial couple into a 1962 play implies an aspect to the plot that is not in Albee’s script.

But Michael Streeter responded: “I believe casting Nick as black adds depth to the play. The character is an up and comer. He is ambitious and tolerates a lot of abuse in order to get ahead. I see this as emblematic of African Americans in 1962,” Streeter wrote to the OnStage theater blog.

I don’t know if the Albee estate grasps that when they refuse permission for an African-American actor to appear in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, they turn a great play into a controversy. Any respected theater company who wants to stage Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf will now be asked if they agreed to cast white actors only.

I also wonder if the Albee estate belittles the ability of audiences to see characters onstage, not just skin color. After all, Hamilton, the biggest hit in modern theater, casts actors who are not white as white, slave-owning Founding Fathers.

I’m going to see an eighth-grade production of Hamlet next week. I don’t believe that our daughter’s classmates, who are of all races, can’t put on Shakespeare’s play, or that the story and poetry is lost on them, because none of those eighth graders are Danish. For that matter, I like to think theater audiences now know that a great playwright who was gay, like Edward Albee, could write with empathy and grace about straight married couples.

The Albee estate may believe they are protecting a great play from harm. But in so doing, they may also risk making the play disappear.

Source: Who’s Afraid Of A Diverse Cast? : NPR

Do babies show bias? Researchers seek the roots of racism

Interesting research and related debate:

Is your brain racist?

The answer may not be simple.

For decades, sociologists and scientists have been studying racism and racial bias. And it turns out, human brains may be at the root.

There are two types of bias: explicit, which is obvious, and implicit, where preconceived ideas of which people are unaware influence their behaviour.

While people may hold the steadfast belief that they aren’t racist, it’s still likely they exhibit implicit bias.

There have been many examples of how racial bias creeps into everyday life, from hiring practices to police actions to basketball.

There’s even a test for it, the Implicit Association Test. Developed by researchers at Harvard University, it measures people’s automatic associations between concepts and evaluations.

The test measures responses when sorting black and white faces while connecting them with words. The key is hesitation. A person may try to associate good with a particular race, but it might take them longer to respond, a sign that subconsciously, a person’s brain associates unpleasantness with a particular race.

Babies’ brains

So when do people begin to exhibit signs of racial bias? Some studies suggest it begins when babies are mere months old.

Kang Lee, a developmental neuroscientist who studies social cognition and behaviour at the University of Toronto, has done several studies on racial bias.

Most recently, Lee published two studies in the journal Child Development. One study suggested that racial bias may be present in babies between six and nine months old.

The study concluded that between these ages, babies begin to associate faces from their race with pleasant music and faces from other races with sad music.

“Basically, at three months of age, they like to look at things that are familiar, like food,” Kang said. They like familiar formula or prefer to hear their mother’s voice over someone else’s.

“This is purely experiential and based on perception cues,” he siad. “But there is no bias; they don’t attach negativity to people they’re not familiar with. But by six months of age they start to do that.”

In his second study, Lee concluded that babies are more likely to learn faster from people of their own race than from others.

The tendency to prefer own-race faces, or associate them with pleasant experiences, may be left over from early human evolution, Lee said. Before globalization, humans existed in more homogenous societies. They rarely encountered those from other races, and when they did, often they’d battle over food or territory.

Another researcher disagrees

But not everyone agrees that children so young exhibit racial bias. Andrew Baron, an associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of British Columbia, has also extensively studied bias. He doesn’t believe children just months old are necessarily exhibiting racial bias.

Many of the tests for babies, including Lee’s, measures the time a baby looks at an individual. But Baron says that’s not a fair measure.

“They look at things they like,” Baron said. “Total looking time doesn’t tell you what they’re thinking. In [Lee’s] study, they reported longer looking time, but there’s no reason to think that longer is due to race.”

Instead, they could be looking longer because an object is new to them, he said.

“My take is that it could be that own race is paired with positive,” Baron said. “But they could be looking at other race because it’s new and strange; there could be other interpretations.”

Reversing the process

Children’s apparent preferences for those of their own race don’t necessarily last, and they don’t mean the babies will become racist.

But there are ways to limit racial bias in children.

“Introduce kids to have experiences with other-race individuals, either face-to-face or with media,” Lee suggests. Parents could also avoid labelling people by race.

Source: Do babies show bias? Researchers seek the roots of racism – Technology & Science – CBC News

Précarité des jeunes migrants: Ottawa et Québec se font rassurants

Interesting discussion regarding young refugees and the degree to which settlement and related services are adequately meeting their needs:

Tandis que l’organisme Dans la rue constate un nombre grandissant de jeunes nouveaux arrivants en situation précaire, les autorités se font rassurantes quant à l’intégration des immigrants, réfugiés et sans-papiers au

Tandis que l’organisme Dans la rue constate un nombre grandissant de jeunes nouveaux arrivants en situation précaire, les autorités se font rassurantes quant à l’intégration des immigrants, réfugiés et sans-papiers au Canada.

Réunies vendredi à l’occasion d’une soirée-bénéfice pour l’organisme et son nouveau partenariat avec le Haut-commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR), la ministre fédérale du Développement international, Marie-Claude Bibeau, et la ministre provinciale de l’Immigration, Kathleen Weil, ont surtout imputé ces cas «qui tombent entre les mailles du filet» à des traumatismes vécus par certains demandeurs d’asile dans leur pays d’origine.

La ministre Weil dresse un portrait élogieux de la prise en charge des nouveaux arrivants par le gouvernement, puis par le milieu communautaire et la société civile.

En entrevue avec La Presse canadienne, Marie-Claude Bibeau a pour sa part tenu à souligner qu’avec quelque 46 700 réfugiés réinstallés l’an dernier, le Canada n’en accueille qu’un nombre «relativement modeste».

«J’ai été au Liban et en Jordanie où, dans certaines villes, la population a doublé, a-t-elle illustré. Vous imaginez la pression que ça vient mettre sur les services publics?»

Au-delà de la compassion, l’aide humanitaire relève d’un «enjeu de paix et de sécurité mondiale», a avancé la ministre, dont les propres parents avaient accueilli une famille de Vietnamiens à l’époque de la vague de «boat people».

Mme Bibeau rétorque en outre à ceux qui remettent en question l’utilité de l’aide humanitaire que celle-ci permet d’éviter que des conflits prennent de l’ampleur et exacerbent la crise des migrants.

La ministre Weil renchérit qu’il s’agit d’un enjeu qu’il faut approcher «en amont comme en aval».

Quant aux sans-papiers – qu’elle aborde comme un dossier totalement distinct -, Mme Weil assure qu’on ne leur bloque pas totalement l’accès aux réseaux de la santé et de l’éducation.

«Mais c’est un peu normal qu’il y ait des gens qui tombent entre deux chaises», croit-elle.

«Arriver en tant que réfugié dans un nouveau pays est toujours une gageure», fait valoir Jean-Nicolas Beuze, de HCR Canada.

Si certains parviennent à tirer profit des services sociaux ou bénéficient déjà d’un réseau de proches, d’autres se heurtent à la barrière de la langue et parfois à un puissant choc culturel, a-t-il poursuivi.

M. Beuze souligne également la précarité économique de bon nombre de réfugiés, tandis que, globalement, la moitié d’entre eux sont en fait des mineurs.

«Les gens arrivent sans un sou en poche, surtout quand ils se sont déplacés à travers le monde. Ils ont souvent dépensé toutes leurs économies», a ajouté M. Beuze.

Le représentant de HCR au Canada félicite lui aussi le gouvernement québécois pour son système qu’il juge «très solidaire vis-à-vis les nouveaux arrivants».

Dans le cadre du partenariat avec Dans la rue, l’agence onusienne combinera son expertise au soutien psychosocial apporté par l’organisme qui vient en aide aux jeunes en situation d’itinérance ou de précarité. Cette association entre «un organisme qui oeuvre au coin de la rue et un autre, à l’autre bout du monde», dans les mots de Julien Nepveu-Villeneuve, de l’Association du jeune Montréal, vise à améliorer les interventions auprès des nouveaux arrivants, comme les cinquante jeunes qui ont fait appel à Dans la rue l’an dernier seulement.

La directrice générale de Dans la rue, Cécile Arbaud, fait état de la grande complexité des cas de certains jeunes qui ne parlent parfois ni français ni anglais, et qui ne sont pas dotés des papiers d’identité nécessaires pour avoir droit à l’aide sociale ou trouver un logement.

Agency that oversees immigration consultants appears to be in turmoil

This was a fairly high profile initiative of the previous government, meant to improve the integrity of immigration consultants. Better to use immigration lawyers who have stronger – but not perfect – codes of conduct and regulation:

The council that oversees thousands of immigration consultants in Canada is in the midst of what many describe as a crisis, beset by resignations, infighting and harsh criticism from lawmakers and lawyers.

The chief concern about the apparent crisis confronting the ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council) is that those who will suffer most are the immigrants and refugees who often use consultants in their efforts to live in Canada.

The regulatory council, which was set up in 2011,  sets the rules for how immigration consultants conduct themselves, providing education, licensing and discipline. It’s needed to help and protect those who want to come to Canada, overseeing approximately 4,000 consultants. It is run by a 15-member board of directors.

“The council is there to protect the public,” said immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. “It’s not going after the crooked consultants adequately and at risk is the public — the immigrants, refugees and vulnerable visitors.”

Everyone agrees that most immigration consultants do a good job of representing their clients.

“I am deeply, deeply concerned about the status of operations and governance with the board (of directors) right now,” said Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, a member of the Commons immigration committee that has been looking into the immigration consultant industry.

When board representatives appeared before the committee last month, Rempel upbraided them for allowing internal disputes to spill over into their professional work, labelling one letter submitted to the committee by the board of directors “garbage” that was “deeply disappointing.”

ICCRC board chair Christopher Daw told committee members in March that the council “is fulfilling its mandate to protect consumer by effectively regulating the immigration and citizenship consulting profession.”

No one from the ICCRC’s executive would agree to an interview, but acting president and CEO Lawrence Barker did respond to written questions.

‘Turnover can be challenging’

In an email Barker defended the organization, says it is “financially sound.”

“With respect to governance, the board of directors is elected by the membership and the resulting turnover can be challenging at times,” said Barker, noting the agency is undertaking a review of the way it’s governed.

The parliamentary committee is considering what changes to recommend to the government. The suggestions range from retooling the council to having the government take over regulation of the industry to scrapping it, allowing only lawyers or public servants to deal with immigrant and refugee clients.

Asked for a comment, Jennifer Bourque, a spokeswoman for the Immigration Department, told CBC News in an email:

“The department is following this issue carefully. We remain confident that the ICCRC will resolve any internal issues. The department is in regular contact with the ICCRC and there are reporting requirements that the ICCRC must follow. The department will continue to monitor and will provide support as necessary.”

Source: Agency that oversees immigration consultants appears to be in turmoil – Politics – CBC News

Jagmeet Singh’s challenge: substance over style: Kurl

Shachi Kurl asks the question: are Canadians ready for a Sikh Canadian political party leader given overall discomfort with religious headgear and related symbols?

My sense is that discomfort will affect some potential voters but agree with her assessment that his performance will be more significant with most:

Canadians are by now used to seeing turbaned Sikhs on every party’s bench. Lost to the annals of history is the fact that Gurbax Malhi’s election as the Liberal MP for Brampton-Gore-Malton nearly 25 years ago prompted a rule change on Parliament Hill. Prior to that, it was forbidden to wear “headgear” in the House of Commons.

Nor did Canadians bat an eye when Harjit Sajjan, also an orthodox Sikh, was named Defence Minister, in part because there was more to his story. He had been a soldier and a police officer, so he brought (notwithstanding the Operation Medusa mess) a credibility to the job.

In the same way, some of Jagmeet Singh’s political advantages and liabilities will be equally banal. On the plus side, he’s a bike enthusiast and a human-rights activist, which will stand him in good stead with urban New Democrats. In the minus column, he isn’t well known outside his home province, a problem shared with the rest of the pack.

But let’s not forget for a moment how judgy Canadians can be when it comes to politicians’ appearances. Stephen Harper was fat-shamed over his fondness for root beer. Chrystia Freeland takes heat for often wearing the same dress. And if Tom Mulcair’s beard was a topic for the last federal campaign, it’s certain Mr. Singh’s beard, turban, and kirpan – all tenets of his faith – will be the subject of discussion at the coffee shop, the ice rink, and on talk radio.

He will have to overcome Canadian discomfort with some of that religious symbolism. Angus Reid Institute polling on the subject from April (totally independent of Mr. Singh’s entrance into the race) shows that, while the vast majority have no issue with the wearing of turbans, they object to the display and wearing of the kirpan. Indeed, two-thirds of those polled oppose it, rising to more than three-quarters in Quebec, where the issue wound its way into the courts in a divisive, high-profile case. One can only imagine what Quebeckers, who once returned a large mandate for “le bon Jack” Layton, would make of Mr. Singh. Would they be prepared to embrace “le bon Jagmeet?”

He’s given interviews saying he doesn’t mind Canadians talking about his looks. Well that’s good, because it will be talked of, a lot. The key to overcoming barriers and discomfort will be education, familiarity, and Mr. Singh ensuring his narrative is about more than religion. By education, he will need to tell and tell and tell again why he choses to wear the kirpan and why it’s important to him. Familiarity is just that, getting voters used to him and the way he looks, a task made easier by fashion spreads and appearances on national comedy shows.

I firmly believe Mr. Singh the politician is more than the sum of his religion and appearance. However, his ability to convince Canadians coast to coast to look past the visible symbols of his faith and assess him as a potential prime minister is yet undetermined. Urban, younger voters will be more receptive than older, rural ones. But no demographic is a monolith, and much will depend on Mr. Singh’s own performance as a credible alternative to his federal Liberal counterpart, all while putting the capital “V” in visible minority.

Source: Jagmeet Singh’s challenge: substance over style – The Globe and Mail

Douglas Todd: New approaches to the ‘astronaut’ phenomenon | Vancouver Sun

Todd covers the views of David Lesperance, a tax and immigration lawyer, on how best to ensure that ‘astronauts’ contribute their fair share in income taxes (they pay property tax and GST).

Although I agree on the need for measures to curb the abuse and “free-loading”, his ideas do not strike me as particularly realistic in terms of implementation if they are not resident in Canada:

It’s clear astronaut families have brought cultural diversity, international connections and foreign currency to Canada: They’ve fuelled not only real estate development, but also automobile sales and private schools.

While many astronaut families exhibit as much integrity as others, some taxation and immigration specialists believe Canada needs new ways to counter the downsides of circular migrants — particularly unaffordable housing and uncollected taxes.

An anti-corruption agency, Transparency International, recently released a report calling Metro Vancouver one of the hot spots for a globalized “corrupt elite” intent on making their dirty wealth look clean by laundering it through real estate; exploiting gaping tax loopholes.

What can be done? The short answer is better taxation and immigration policy — and rigorous enforcement.

David Lesperance, a tax and immigration lawyer with offices in Toronto and Europe, has striking ideas for reform.

They would bring fewer “ghost immigrants” to Canada, he said, and more of what he calls “Golden Geese,” well-off migrants who intend to pay their fair share of taxes.

“The problem is there is large-scale immigration of relatively wealthy people to Canada who are not contributing significantly, if at all, to the Canadian tax base,” says Lesperance.

“They have bid up the local housing market in Vancouver and Toronto. In addition, they are receiving the benefits of Canadian permanent residence, such as cheap and excellent schooling, free medical care and security.”

Unfortunately, Lesperance says, Canada is not obtaining its full measure of property or income taxes from these newcomers. There is both a real and perceived lack of enforcement of Canada’s tax laws.

“Theoretically, each of these wealthy immigrants should be paying Canadian tax on their worldwide income and capital gains. But the reality is the Canada Revenue Agency has not been enforcing this regime and this news has spread through the immigrant community,” Lesperance says.

“Astronaut families are those who were granted permanent residence status for their families and, after buying homes and installing children in schools, the principal breadwinner then tries to claim no Canadian tax liability — often by relinquishing their immigration status (or by) claiming they’re non-residents of Canada for tax purposes.”

To change the global perception that it’s easy to get away with not paying taxes in Canada, Lesperance says there is a need for well-publicized tax audits of such “ghost” immigrants.

It wouldn’t be hard to catch cheaters, said Lesperance.

The first group to audit, Lesperance said, is the 40,000 would-be immigrants who have, in the past two years, renounced their permanent residence status in Canada, often to avoid taxes.

Renouncers and others should be subjected to “lifestyle audits,” Lesperance said. Tax auditors should dig into whether astronaut fathers, but also their spouses and children, continue to own Canadian properties and spend lavishly on cars and private schools.

Those who are caught evading taxes should be publicly exposed, he said.

“The impact of news of such an effort will resonate like a thunderbolt within the immigrant communities. The fallout will be that each family will have to determine whether (staying in Canada) is valuable enough for them to pay the proper (taxes).”

Lesperance offers another idea, which is more unorthodox.

There is nothing wrong with creative rich people travelling the world to work, invest and run businesses, argues Lesperance. Many are his clients, whom he calls the “Golden Geese.”

They would be satisfied, he says, holding two passports while still paying their share of income taxes to Canada, in return for “a stable and safe place for their global operations.”

Canada is losing out on these entrepreneurial newcomers, he says, because its “antiquated” immigration policy focuses on migrants proving a sustained “physical presence” in the country.

Lesperance turns things around by suggesting we not worry so much about whether such wealthy would-be immigrants are physically present in Canada.

Instead, Lesperance recommends rating them on whether they pay significant income taxes in Canada — regardless of which country they spend most of their time in.

It’s a counter-intuitive way to think about immigration policy, which has traditionally expected newcomers to show a physical loyalty to their new land. I’m not saying I necessarily endorse it. There are other ways to tax the properties of astronaut families.

But at least a new “tax-residence” approach to business immigrants would help Canada become less of a haven for those circular migrants who are determined to avoid or evade taxes the rest of us are expected to pay.

Source: Douglas Todd: New approaches to the ‘astronaut’ phenomenon | Vancouver Sun

Steep Rise In Interracial Marriages Among Newlyweds 50 Years After They Became Legal : NPR


Close to 50 years after interracial marriages became legal across the U.S., the share of newlyweds married to a spouse of a different race or ethnicity has increased more than five times — from 3 percent in 1967, to 17 percent in 2015, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Chart: Intermarriage among newlyweds has risen from 3% to 17% since 1967

The Pew report comes about a month before the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia. Mildred Loving, a part-Native American, part-black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, landed in a Virginia county jail for getting married. Today, one in six newlyweds marry someone outside their race, which appears to allude to a more accepting society.

Among adults who are not black, there’s a shrinking share of those who say they would be opposed to having a close relative marrying someone who is black — from 63 percent in 1990, to 14 percent in 2016. The share of people who oppose marriages with Asian or Hispanic people has also dropped from about one in five to around one in ten adults not in those groups. Among those who are not white, the share opposed to a relative marrying a white person has dropped from 7 percent to 4 percent.

Here are some of the other interesting findings from Pew about interracial and interethnic marriages:

Asian and Latino newlyweds are more likely to marry outside of their race or ethnicity than black and white newlyweds

More than a quarter of Asian newlyweds (29 percent) and Latino newlyweds (27 percent) are married to a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. Those rates go up even higher for those born in the U.S. — to 46 percent for Asian newlyweds and 39 percent for Hispanic newlyweds.

Interracial and interethnic marriages are more common among college-educated black and Latino newlyweds, but not among white or Asian newlyweds

While educational level is not a major factor for white newlyweds, black and Latino newlyweds with at least a bachelor’s degree are more likely to have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity than those with some college experience or less education. That educational gap is starkest among Latino newlyweds. As the authors of the Pew report, Gretchen Livingston and Anna Brown, write: “While almost half (46 percent) of Hispanic newlyweds with a bachelor’s degree were intermarried in 2015, this share drops to (16 percent) for those with a high school diploma or less – a pattern driven partially, but not entirely, by the higher share of immigrants among the less educated.”

But among Asian newlyweds, those with some college experience (39 percent) are more likely to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (29 percent) or with a high school diploma or less (26 percent). “Asian newlyweds with some college are somewhat less likely to be immigrants, and this may contribute to the higher rates of intermarriage for this group,” the Pew report suggests. But it also notes that this trend also holds true for Asian newlyweds who were not born in the U.S.

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say that the increase of interracial marriages is good for society

There is a stark political split in how people feel about interracial marriage. About half (49 percent) of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say that growing numbers of people marrying others of different races is good for society, compared to more than a quarter (28 percent) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Most Republicans (60 percent) say the rise of interracial marriages doesn’t make much of a difference.

Reyhana Patel: Don’t believe the smears. Here’s what Islamic Relief Canada is really all about

Patel on the work her organization does and the Middle East Forum attacks (see Sam Westrop : A call for Trevor Noah to support tolerance and withdraw from Toronto event):

We’ve done some incredible work in the last ten years helping millions of individuals around the world — including in Canada — regardless of their religion, race, gender or sexuality. We’ve been amazed at the generosity of Canadians — those who are Muslim and those of different faith backgrounds who support our work and are strong advocates for the efforts we undertake. For instance, we raised over $100,000 for the victims of the Fort McMurray wildfire, supported Syrian refugee resettlement programs, worked at empowering disadvantaged youth in the Greater Toronto Area, and launched an appeal for the Quebec mosque attack victims that raised thousands of dollars for the families left without their fathers.

This track record stands in stark contrast to the false image painted of Islamic Relief Canada in a one-sided and unsubstantiated article that was published recently in the National Post.

Sam Westrop, writing on behalf of the Middle East Forum (MEF), labelled Islamic Relief Canada a “terrorist organization which regularly gives platforms to preachers who incite hatred against women, Jews, homosexuals and Muslim minorities.” This defamatory statement was removed after our organization contacted the newspaper, along with community members who were justifiably angered by this casual smear of a reputable and valuable charity. The revised article is now online, but for me, it still represents the dictionary definition of fake news: “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.”

In my view, Westrop’s article represents the dictionary definition of fake news: ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.’

Let’s step back for a moment to understand where this is all coming from. The MEF has been named in a well-researched report called Fear Inc. as one of America’s most notorious anti-Muslim think tanks. This is an organization with US$4.6 million in annual revenue that uses some of its resources to paint a negative picture of Islam and Muslims.

The MEF’s piece further reflects the National Post’s unfortunate pattern of allowing Canadian Muslims and their institutions to be unfairly represented as threats to society, rather than highlighting what the vast majority of them truly are: a credit to the community and a positive force for good, working tirelessly to provide a good life not only for their families, but also for many others.

Mr. Westrop is known for inciting fear by using false information. In 2017, he was ordered to pay more than $174,000 in damages to Mohamed Ali Harrath, the CEO of a British Muslim TV Channel, after Westrop wrongfully labelled Harrath a “convicted terrorist.” Westrop also has connections to senior people in the right-wing UK Independence Party. UKIP’s political opponents have condemned some of the party’s policies as “full-throttled Islamophobia.”

The MEF’s president, Daniel Pipes, has publicly supported the internment of the Japanese-American community during the Second World War, an abhorrent act for which the U.S. government under President Ronald Reagan apologized.

It has become the norm for anti-Muslim groups to find any excuse possible to target Muslim institutions.

It is ironic that those who falsely claim that Muslims are all about shutting down freedom of expression do not recognize their hypocrisy of trying to suppress the voices of those who wish to freely discuss religious dogmas. One of the many reasons I love this country is that, at its best, it is a beacon of free speech and diversity, whose people will not tolerate oppression of minorities or attempts to demonize others. Our core common values are of tolerance and inclusion — as long as violence is rejected unequivocally and no one is advocating harm against anyone else.

It has become the norm for anti-Muslim groups to find any excuse possible to target Muslim institutions. Not only do these tactics lead to distrust and alienation but they also undermine valuable work for the most vulnerable communities of this world. Sadly, the National Post still gives the fear-mongers a platform.

Our organization is focused on bringing communities and faith groups together to encourage generous support for the poor and disadvantaged and to promote a message of acceptance and diversity. The publication of harmful innuendo that seeks to undermine this work only proves why events like the one we’re holding with Trevor Noah are so necessary.

Source: Reyhana Patel: Don’t believe the smears. Here’s what Islamic Relief Canada is really all about | National Post

Too white, too old, too late? Quebec’s immigration problem

Martin Patriquin on Quebec’s challenges.

However weird logic in citing a Quebec city example and stating the difficulties in getting drivers licences as a major factor, given that theys are administered by the province (the overall rates cited, and differences between francophone and allophone pass rates, are province-wide):

Attracting immigrants to Canada is, above all, a show of demographic pragmatism. The math is simple:

Those of us who have been here longer tend to have fewer babies. Without immigration, the vaunted social safety net designed by young boomers becomes untenable as those very boomers get old and begin to shuffle off to the great Margaritaville in the sky.

Of course, divorcing this simple equation from the stinking politics surrounding it is a nearly impossible task. Visible and linguistic minorities make for fantastic scapegoats for many seeking office, if only because a scared voter is a motivated voter. Tell him that his country is slipping away into a darkening slurry of veiled faces and foreign tongues and he will run, not walk, to the ballot box.

Fortunately, Canadian cities have been relatively successful in attracting immigrants. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver all do it with gusto and relative success. Seventy per cent of immigrants who have come to Canada have settled within the boundaries of these three cities, according to Statistics Canada. Again, the math is simple: Those immigrants who settle here create a precedent for others to come.

Then there are places like Quebec City. Located just 260 kilometres to the east of Montreal, Quebec City is about as far from Montreal’s feel-good multiculturalist Babel as it possibly can be.

Quebec City has five universities, a clutch of head offices, proximity to the U.S. border and an international cachet due largely to its tourism industry. Despite all of this, the city of about 530,000 is almost entirely white and — like much of Quebec beyond Montreal’s shores — is rapidly falling behind the demographic curve as a result.

The Chhetri family is a perfect example of why Quebec City — along with Quebec in general — has difficultly attracting and retaining immigrants. As reported by the CBC,this Nepalese family of three arrived in Quebec City eight years ago, joining those 19,000 people living in the city whose mother tongue isn’t English or French. And soon they will move to Ontario, following in the footsteps of an estimated 150 Nepalese families from the city who already have left.

The reason? They can’t get driver’s licenses.

open quote 761b1bDiversity begets diversity, and there simply isn’t much of it in Quebec City. In fact, the city is more culturally and ethnically homogenous now than it was 100 years ago.

According to numbers from the province’s public auto insurance bureau, somewhere between 70 to 80 per cent of francophones passed the ministry’s written driving test between January 2015 to September 2016. Just under 50 per cent of Spanish speakers passed. Arabic speakers had a 38 per cent pass rate. The Chhetri family runs a store that specializes in Nepalese and Asian foods. They believe potential customers don’t shop at their store because they can’t physically get to it — or anywhere else, for that matter.

This cockup is probably bureaucratic, not political; many immigrants say the written exam — available in French, English, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin — is confusing. Family patriarch Saroj Chhetri, who himself passed the test, told the CBC that the translation was dodgy. (The Quebec government is reviewing the test.)

But the end result is the same: Out of frustration or something else, immigrants leave. The province has had a net outmigration of its population to other provinces since at least 1986, according to a Statistiques Québec report published last year. Quebec saw a net outmigration of nearly 15,000 in 2016, the highest in two decades.

The reason why immigrants tend to come to Montreal is a largely one of economic imperative. So why don’t more of them go to Quebec City? The provincial capital is stuck in the Catch-22 faced by many much smaller towns: Diversity begets diversity, and there simply isn’t much of it in Quebec City.

In fact, the city is more culturally and ethnically homogenous now than it was 100 years ago, when it had vibrant Irish and Chinese communities alongside a hearty pack of Scots. Jews were tolerated almost as much as they were in Montreal — which is to say they had a fighting chance to thrive. A century later, almost all have voted with their feet.

There is a predictable end result to all of this. At 43.5, Quebec City has the oldest average age of any city in the country — older than St. John’s, older than Charlottetown — older even than Victoria, that charming retirement community on the country’s left coast.

It’s tempting to blame all of this on the province’s nationalist movement, which has become demonstrably more ethnic in nature over the last two decades. Certainly, that hasn’t helped. But it’s governments that set policy, not opposition parties — and the Liberal party has governed Quebec for all but 18 months of the last 14 years. The Parti Québécois only sees cultural communities as lost causes. For the Liberals, it’s far more insidious: to them, immigrants are guaranteed votes.

Earlier this year, Quebec’s Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil gave a speech at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. It was a 30-minute tribute to the Trudeaupian wet dream of diversity and inclusion, and it would have been fine stump speech had she not been part of a government that has systematically ignored the plight of immigrants within its borders for years.

The Liberals took power in 2003. Since then, the province has seen a net outmigration of over 110,000 people to other provinces. In 2016, Quebec had far and away the highest rate of unemployment among very recent immigrants — at 15 per cent — and tied oil-sick Alberta for highest overall immigrant unemployment rate.

Let’s be clear. Immigration is a lovely show of tolerance and inclusion and diversity and all that. But there is an economic bottom line underlying it. We need immigrants to make babies and generate tax dollars to support and fund this very dream.

It is sad Saroj Chhetri will no longer sell Nepalese goods in Quebec City’s lily-white sea. It’s also sad that Quebec will lose the tax dollars he generates, which are now decamping to Kitchener, Ontario.

Source: Too white, too old, too late? Quebec’s immigration problem