Various articles of interest: urban Indigenous peoples, how Canada has changed, explaining Canadian immigration to Americans

A number of articles I found particularly interesting over the past few weeks.

Starting with Joe Friesen of the Globe’s overview of how increased numbers of urban Indigenous peoples are shaping our cities, particularly but not exclusively in the Prairies:

Look around Winnipeg’s downtown and it’s clear the city is in the midst of a demographic shift. In the elevated walkways that offer shelter from the legendary winds, it seems roughly half the people shopping, walking or stopping to chat, are indigenous. In fact, more than 70,000 residents identify as aboriginal. Like many the other cities with a growing indigenous population, Winnipeg has seen more than its share of racially charged conflict, but the signs of an increasingly prominent indigenous community are apparent.

Storefronts in Winnipeg’s downtown now bear messages of greeting in indigenous languages, ranging from Cree to Dakota, Michif and Inuktitut, distributed by the local business association. At the University of Winnipeg, students who began their studies this year are now required to take a course on indigenous peoples and culture. A community group is petitioning to rename a street in Ojibwe. The national aboriginal broadcaster, APTN, headquartered on Portage Avenue, plans to expand to the United States. On the main street of the predominantly aboriginal North End, Selkirk Avenue, once the heart of the city’s Eastern European communities, schools of social work and urban studies from the province’s two largest universities offer off-campus degree programs for indigenous students, producing a stream of graduates and nourishing a growing middle class.

Every home game for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets now opens with an announcement recognizing that the MTS Centre is located on Treaty One land, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. It also pledges that the Jets ownership, True North Sports and Entertainment, is committed “to a spirit of reconciliation for the future.” Winnipeg’s mayor, Brian Bowman, is Métis. In the provincial legislature, speculation about who might lead the Official Opposition has swirled almost exclusively around several indigenous contenders.

Just 10 years earlier, in 2001, there were only 17 communities with indigenous populations of that size. The list will almost certainly grow once the results of the 2016 long-form census are available, and not just because indigenous people living off-reserve were among the groups considered at risk of being undercounted in 2011. First Nations and Inuit people tend to have higher fertility rates than the rest of the population: In 2006, it was 2.7 children per woman for Inuit women and 2.4 for First Nations women, compared to 1.8 for Métis women, and 1.6 for the population overall.

The city with the highest proportion of indigenous people in Canada is Prince Albert, Sask., a community of roughly 35,000 located 140 kilometres north of Saskatoon. It’s considered a hub for many Northern communities, including 12 nearby First Nations reserves in the Prince Albert Grand Council. Over the decade, the city’s indigenous population grew by 37 per cent, far faster than growth in the city overall.

On the city’s police force, a little less than 40 per cent of officers self-identify as indigenous, and the chief of police is Métis. One member of the eight-seat city council is Métis, and in the last election there was an indigenous candidate for mayor, though he did not win, the city manager, Jim Toye, said.

“The relationship with First Nations is very important to us,” Mr. Toye said. “This is their lands that we are operating on.”

He said the city acknowledges the Treaty relationship at public gatherings and, in its 2016 cultural plan, recognizes its history as a meeting place, known by its Cree name Kistahpinanihk, long before European arrival. The city officially defines itself as a multicultural community with indigenous roots.

As I start to think about my update to Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote with 2016 Census data, I plan on using more economic, social and political data at the municipal level to help me incorporate this development.

Source: Canada’s growing indigenous population reshaping cities across the country – The Globe and Mail

Next, a good long read by Doug Saunders arguing that 1967 marked the emergence of the new Canada, driven largely by the changed and increased diversity by post-war immigration:

Yet to look back from Canada’s 150 th year is to realize that this feeling is not just solipsism: 1967 is the hinge upon which modern Canadian history turns and, in certain respects, the key to understanding the challenges of the next half-century.

Today, we live in the country shaped by the decisions and transformations of 1967, far more than by the events of 1867. Anniversaries are usually symbolic moments of reflection, but Canada’s hundredth was a very real bid to create an almost entirely new country, and, to a large extent, it succeeded. If you spend some time immersed in the Canada of a few years before 1967, and then in the Canada of a few years after, you feel like you’ve visited two countries – the former still colonial, closed, dependent, paternalistic and pretending to be homogeneous, a place whose sleepy streets you’d have to leave if you wanted to make something of yourself; the latter a country of self-invention and iconoclasm, a North American place whose several peoples began to build something much bigger, more complex, but also safer and more educated and urban, and something entirely their own.

Pierre Berton, the historian, famously referred to 1967 twenty years ago as “The Last Good Year” – a book title that appealed to a nostalgic belief in a placid antediluvian Canada that even he admitted had never existed. The centennial euphoria, he argued, gave way in later years to “the very real fear that the country we celebrated so joyously … is in the process of falling apart.”

There’s a better way to express that thought: After the centennial, we started to confront seriously the schisms and divisions and gross inequities that had been masked before beneath a patina of colonial gloss. We would have, over the next 50 years, two secession crises, a battle over our North American economic identity and a hard-fought political reawakening of our indigenous nations. Yet, these were the crucial struggles of becoming a real country, of finding a governing mechanism and a common culture to bring together those long-disparate peoples.

Let me make the case, then, that 1967 was Canada’s first good year. We should spend this year celebrating not the 150 th year of Confederation, but the 50th birthday of the new Canada.

But let me also make the case that our conventional story about the birth of second-century Canada is largely wrong. We like to believe that starting in the late 1960s, a series of political decisions, parliamentary votes, court rulings and royal commissions descended upon an innocent, paternalistic, resource-economy Canada and forced upon it an awkward jumble of novelties: non-white immigration, bilingualism, multiculturalism, refugees, indigenous nationhood, liberation of women and gays, the seeds of free trade, individual rights, religious diversity.

But the explosions of official novelty that were launched in and around 1967 weren’t a cause; they were an effect of profound changes that had taken place in Canadians themselves during the two decades after the war, in their thinking and their composition and their attitude toward their country, in Quebec and English Canada and in indigenous communities.

Canada was not remade by the decisions of 1967; it was reflected by them, for the first time. What began in 1967 was official Canada beginning to catch up with the real Canada. And that is also the lesson to be carried forward to 2017: Canadians tend to be ahead of their institutions, and every few decades it is time for a dramatic catching up, like the explosion of adjustment we saw in ‘67.

A War of Symbols

…Consider the ripples of change that took place on the day of my birth, as the centennial bash roared on.

Eight hours after I was born, the directors of the Canadian National Exhibition filed into a banquet hall for their annual luncheon. The exhibition’s president, W.H. Evans, asked them to remain standing to sing the national anthem – and then chaos ensued, as half the audience broke into God Save the Queen before the pianist had struck the first note of O Canada. A debate over Canada’s true national anthem, begun in 1964, had been winding its way through a special House of Commons-Senate joint committee all year and filling the media with debate. It wouldn’t fully be resolved until a law was passed in 1980, and many people (especially in Toronto) still considered the British national anthem “official.”

National symbols remained subjects of heated contention in 1967. The flag debate had officially been resolved two years earlier with the choice of the Maple Leaf, but defenders of the old colonial Red Ensign remained outspoken in Parliament, the press and even at Expo 67. Everything about the way Canada represented itself to the world was up for grabs.

But something deeper was taking place, involving not just the symbols but the realities they represented.

The postwar decades were defined by large-scale decolonization around the world: Across Africa, Asia and the Americas, scores of countries were freeing themselves from centuries of control by European masters, and struggling, sometimes violently, to find ways to represent and govern themselves as independent entities. People were learning to think of themselves not as colonial subjects but as autonomous individuals within self-created states.

In that light, 1967 can only be seen as the apex of Canada’s postcolonial moment. The wars over symbols were one small manifestation of a larger shift.

It’s worth remembering how new this all was. We still remained, in important ways, a colony. In 1967, Canadian citizenship had only existed for 20 years – before January 1, 1947, everyone in Canada was a British subject and had to travel with a United Kingdom passport. But it still didn’t quite exist: That 1947 law creating Canadian citizenship declared in its main clause that “a Canadian citizen is a British subject” (this would remain in place until 1977).

That idea was still hotly defended by many in the Ottawa of 1967: The Progressive Conservative leadership still opposed Canadian citizenship, and the flag, and the anthem. There was still a sizable political faction in Canada who supported the idea that all Canadians were simply a slightly different, less important flavour of British people.

But the great majority of Canadians had moved on – or moved in – and you could see the centennial struggling to catch up with them.

Two, Three, Many Canadas

The morning of my birth, opposition leader John Diefenbaker (still sitting, anachronistically, in the House four years after his prime ministership had ended) denounced prime minister Lester B. Pearson for having declared the previous week that “we are a nation of two founding peoples” (in French, the prime minister went further and called them “nations”).

Mr. Diefenbaker considered this a catastrophic blow to a country he had always insisted was purely British: “Adoption of the two-nation concept,” he explained to his fellow MPs that day, “would lead to the breakdown of confederation.” But he was swimming against his own party’s tide: a few days earlier, a Progressive Conservative policy conference had gone further than the Liberals by concluding that Canada should be seen as a federal state “composed of two founding peoples (deux nations), with historic rights, who have been joined by people from many lands.”

In other words: A hundred years into Confederation, the leader of the official opposition still did not seem to believe that French Canadians existed. The notion that Canada contained more than one language and people was still hotly contested in some circles.

But that era was ending fast. A day later, Ontario Premier John Robarts would announce that his province was to build a system of French-language secondary schools. This was not an act of expansive idealism: He was recognizing the reality of a population, including millions of Francophones outside of Quebec, who were no longer capable of seeing themselves, or their children, as subjects of a homogenizing foreign ruler.

These debates sprawled across Canada’s newspapers and TV screens all year. Everyone taking part in them knew there was a looming transformation about to take place. There was a name for it: “Bi and Bi,” the household name for the mammoth Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, the largest and most powerful government inquiry Canada had seen. It had been established by Mr. Pearson in 1963 to find a way to address growing Quebecois disenchantment with a Canada that tended to ignore its French fact, and was widely expected to endorse some version of the “two nations” model so hotly discussed that week.

On Oct. 8, 1967, it released its first report – a national event almost rivalling Expo in its media and political attention. And to the great surprise of many, the idea of Canada as two peoples and nations was not its most dramatic proposal – though it certainly did call for a fully bilingual country. That was expected. What was not expected was the very large part of the report, and the subsequent reports over the next two years, devoted to what the commission’s original mandate had called “Other Cultural Groups.” People who were neither British nor French in identity or origin had become a significant share of the Canadian population during the 20 th century.

And while the commission was clear in calling for two official languages, it found a Canada that could no longer be described as having merely one or two or three founding “peoples,” “nations” or “races” (a term still used to describe English and French communities in 1967). Its implication, not quite spelled out, was that Canada was becoming a place that could no longer be defined by its colonial origins.

Over the next several years, that reality would become impossible to ignore. So that when, in 1971, prime minister Pierre Trudeau first used the word “multiculturalism” to define Canadian policy, it was not simply a political ploy to defuse French-English rivalries and rising separatist sentiment (though it was certainly that). It was an inevitable, and perhaps even somewhat late, recognition of what Canada had already been for a long time.

While I would argue that it was a mix of the underlying realities and conscious political decisions that resulted in these changes, not just these realities as other countries were less successful in managing this transition, the contrast is clear.

Source:  In 1967, change in Canada could no longer be stopped 

Lastly, a good primer for Americans trying to understand Canadian immigration and related policies, and their relative success in integrating newcomers by Paul May in the LA Times:

To a lot of commentators, Canada looks like a sanctuary for progressive thinking on immigration, an exception to the nativist wave sweeping the United States and Europe.

A recent cover of the Economist put a maple leaf crown on the Statue of Liberty and proclaimed Canada “an example to the world.” Famously, on election day, the Canadian immigration website crashed because of the number of Americans reportedly considering a move to their northern neighbor as Donald Trump won the presidency. Year after year, polls show that Canadians are, by far, more open and more optimistic about immigration than the citizens in any other Western country.

But such optimism is perhaps easier to achieve in Canada than in other nations: For historical and geopolitical reasons, Canada does not have to cope with the same immigration challenges as the U.S. and Europe.

To start, Canada has pursued a much more selective immigration policy than the United States or any western European country.  It accepts far more immigrants legally than most Western nations, but under a policy designed primarily to dovetail with the economic interests of the nation.

In consequence, Canada accepts far fewer immigrants on the basis of family ties than in the U.S., for example, and the proportion of skilled immigrants is much higher. Further, the country sets a higher education standard for immigrants than the U.S. (which is in turn more demanding than Europe). This more-selective immigration policy is likely to lead to fewer integration problems and easier access to jobs.

Canada’s selectivity is helped by its geographical position. It does not share a border with a country where wages are much lower (as the U.S. does with Mexico), and it isn’t next door to unstable regions (as Europe is to North Africa and the Middle East). The result is that few undocumented migrants move across the country’s southern border, as is the case in the U.S.; and few migrants land on its shores by boat, as in Europe.

The points system and geography also have a noticeable effect on where Canada’s immigrants come from.

Official data show that the leading countries among foreign-born residents in Canada are the United Kingdom, China and India. In the U.S., 28% are Mexicans and 24% are from other Latin American countries. In Europe, foreign-born residents originate mainly from the Muslim world (in the Netherlands, for instance, Turkey, Suriname and Morocco; in France — Algeria and Morocco). Consequently, Canada does not have to deal (at least not on the same scale) with the complex problems associated with integrating newcomers from a rural and conservative Muslim background into a highly secular environment.

Not that Canada hasn’t welcomed Muslims. Between November 2015 and November 2016, it resettled more than 35,000 Syrian refugees; most European countries have been much more reluctant to extend permanent status to these immigrants. But again, Canada can and does exert a great deal of control over the process.

Europe’s Jews have reason to fear today’s political climate: Saunders

Interesting column by Doug Saunders:

To understand this, it’s worth following the work of Yascha Mounk, a Harvard University scholar. Mr. Mounk made headlines this week with a new study, co-authored with Roberto Stefan Foa at the University of Melbourne, which found that voters in most European countries and the United States are increasingly less likely to believe it is “essential” to live in a democracy. This effect is stronger among younger people and right-wing voters.

For Mr. Mounk, this is part of a larger phenomenon. Two years ago, he published Stranger in My Own Country, a memoir of his life as a young German Jew. It noted that the Christian Europeans around him, while professing liberal tolerance, were continuing to treat Jews such as himself as different, other or outside. In an essay titled “Europe’s Jewish Problem,” he linked these observations to the rise of the new right-wing populist movements.

“Europe’s political climate is more hostile to Jews now than at any time since the second intifada,” he wrote. But he concluded that it wasn’t Muslim anti-Semitism leading the trend; rather, it was the far larger populations of Christians. As he noted, the number of Spanish citizens who express unfavourable views of Jews is almost 50 per cent; Muslims make up less than 3 per cent of Spain’s population and aren’t growing fast. So “a European anti-Semite remains far more likely to be Christian than Muslim.”

The larger problem, he concluded, is “the tendency of wily politicians to play Jews and Muslims against each other for purposes of their own.”

A recent large-scale survey of French attitudes toward Jews by political scientist Dominique Reynié found that anti-Semitism in general is declining, but the country’s Muslims do indeed have higher rates of anti-Jewish beliefs than the general population. What really stood out, though, were the many people who support Marine Le Pen’s National Front party: They were even more likely than Muslims to agree with Jewish-conspiracy claims such as “Jews use their status as victims of the Nazi genocide for their own interest” or “the Jews are responsible for the current economic crisis.” And they were almost equally likely to support statements such as “there is a Zionist conspiracy on a global scale,” at rates twice as high as the general population. Muslims make up only 7 per cent of the population of France, but Ms. Le Pen commands at least one-fifth of the population, and her support is rising fast.

These parties and movements, Mr. Mounk concluded, attract those who are hostile toward both Muslims and Jews. “The very same revival of nationalism that has been fuelled by their invocation of Jews [as foils for their politics],” he wrote, “can, in this way, quickly turn into anti-Semitism.” And that, combined with a growing group of voters who don’t care about democracy, is something that Europe ought to fear.

Source: Europe’s Jews have reason to fear today’s political climate – The Globe and Mail

Trump win reveals new white extremism in middle America: Saunders

Good long and sobering read by Doug Saunders on white extremism/radicalisation (exit poll data indicates that Trump did slightly better with minorities than Romney but still the white/minority divide is striking):

“You’d better watch yourself – I wouldn’t go anywhere near there,” she said. It was the source of fear, the inner-city “hell” of Donald Trump’s speeches. That Ybor City has become an upwardly mobile place has escaped notice. (It was also, not coincidentally, the site of peaceful anti-Trump protests this week.)

Her anxieties fall into one of the biggest mysteries of far-right support among white people: the phenomenon that has traditionally been called the “halo effect.”

By contrast, white people who live in areas where they’re immersed in longstanding populations of immigrants and minorities – that is, in big cities – don’t generally tend to vote for the politics of racial intolerance. That’s called the “contact effect” – you don’t get anxious about immigration if you live around immigrants. But people who live in mainly white areas that adjoin cities with greater diversity often show very high levels of support for people like Mr. Trump.

“The general consensus in the literature is that you get the strong anti-immigration sentiment when you have a relatively low local share of minorities and immigrants coupled with a high rate of change,” says Eric Kaufmann, a professor of politics at the University of London and author of The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America: The Decline of Dominant Ethnicity in the United States. “That is, if you live in a very white area but you’re close to an increasingly diverse area.”

Prof. Goodwin’s research suggests that it is instead white people in areas with sudden changes in immigration numbers who tend to become intolerant. But Prof. Kaufmann says this is an initial effect, after which they typically become more tolerant after a few years, when the contact effect has been able to kick in.

In other words, proximity is a bigger driver of extremism than is actual experience: It is not economic decline or immigration that cause people to become right-wing radicals, but proximity to those things, from a vantage of white security that feels threatened by the unknown.

…The propensity of white people to turn to radicalization does seem to be much more rooted in deep psychological anxieties than in anything material or economic.

“It all largely comes under the rubric of cultural and social identity motivations, and not personal economic circumstances – the notion of the ‘left behind’ voter is quite flawed in my mind,” says Prof. Kaufmann.

What is particularly surprising is that the personal circumstances of most Trump voters have improved during recent years: His movement is not a knee-jerk reaction to an actual economic setback (which would have been more the case in 2008 or 1980, when different sorts of U.S. politics prevailed). Rather, it is based on a deeper psychic sense of loss, one not so solidly moored in lived reality.

Carol Anderson, a historian at Atlanta’s Emory University who recently published the book-length study, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide, sees the turn toward Trumpian extremism as a psychological response among many white people not to any actual loss – the Trump voters are typically more well-off people, who have gained in recent years – but to a sense of relative loss of influence caused by the increasingly equal status of black and brown Americans.

“When you’re talking about the angst and anxiety and feeling of being stifled and that kind of despair, what I see is that, as African-Americans advance in this society in terms of gaining their citizenship rights, that there is a wave of what I’ve been calling ‘white rage,’ which are the movements within legislative bodies and within the judicial sector in terms of policies and laws and rulings that undercut that advancement,” Prof. Anderson said during a panel last month organized by the online publication, Politico.

“You know, if you’ve always been privileged, equality begins to look like oppression,” she said, in what may be the most definitive phrase to describe the crisis of white extremism. “That’s part of what you’re seeing in terms of the [white] pessimism, particularly when the system gets defined as a zero-sum game – that you can only gain at somebody else’s loss.”

Of course, the American experience has not been zero-sum: The inclusion of minorities and immigrant groups into the middle-class economy over the last five decades has not diminished living standards or earnings; they’re better than they were in the 1950s. Trade with Mexico and China did hurt employment in the 1990s, but it is not doing so today; the economic precariousness of the Rust Belt is caused by technological change, not by trade or immigrants.

But a psychology of wounded ethnic pride – and often of wounded virility – has overtaken a large part of the white community, and not generally the part that is actually feeling economic pain. If those of us worried about the extremists in our midst want to root them out and turn them around, we need to speak to this underlying sense of loss. It may not be rational or realistic, but it has become profound enough that it has provoked the most extreme and dangerous political event of the century.

Source: Trump win reveals new white extremism in middle America – The Globe and Mail

Where to find school bullies? Not where you might expect: Saunders

Interesting study noted by Doug Saunders on the positive correlation between number of immigrant children and lower levels of bullying (and higher levels of academic achievement). End comment on Fraser Institute studies and real estate agents pushing the opposite view of note:

A few years ago, I found myself in the vice-principal’s office at a Toronto elementary school with a majority of recent immigrants and refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East in its student body. I was struck by all the posters in her office, and in the hallway outside, devoted to anti-bullying campaigns. “I guess schoolyard bullies are a big problem at a school like this,” I said.

“Oh no,” she said, visibly surprised, “not here – we’re required to run those campaigns, but bullying is really something for the white schools. You don’t get much of it at schools like this.”

I later heard similar remarks from teachers and education experts in other cities: that it’s the “white” schools with mainly non-immigrant populations where bullying and psychological distress are serious problems.

I assumed, for a while, that this was a matter of perception. After all, bullying is a current obsession of middle-class white parents. New-Canadian parents, lacking fluency and time to monitor their kids, might not be able to perceive or report schoolyard abuse when it takes place, I guessed.

And then I ran into Kathy Georgiades, a clinical psychologist at McMaster University’s Offord Centre for Child Studies, who happened to be conducting a series of large-scale studies of exactly this question, and finding surprising results.

In 2007, she and her team of researchers conducted a study based on interviews with 14,000 primary-school students, their parents and their teachers. They found that children living in neighbourhoods with higher immigrant populations experienced “lower levels of emotional-behavioural problems” – including those problems that are usually classified as “bullying” and “being bullied” – than those in mainly non-immigrant neighbourhoods.

That study had its limits: The interviews were only conducted in English and French, leaving out non-fluent families who might be more vulnerable. And they were classified by neighbourhood makeup, not by actual school experience. Her results had doubters among education officials, who had always classified non-fluent immigrant kids as “at-risk” – extra vulnerable to emotional and behavioural problems. Her results suggested the opposite.

So Dr. Georgiades assembled a larger, better-funded team and spent the past couple of years conducting a more comprehensive study. It held lengthy, structured interviews with students, parents and teachers at 36 primary schools in the Hamilton area’s public and Catholic boards, in nine languages, on the details of their experiences, feelings and actions; and cross-tabulated the interviews with the students’ academic, standardized testing, counselling and disciplinary records.

She told me that the study results (to be published later this year) show conclusively that more immigrant-heavy schools have a lot less bullying, as reported by students, teachers and parents – especially if more than 20 per cent of the students are foreign-born.

“In schools with a higher concentration of first- and second-generation migrant students, immigrant students are less likely to report bullying other kids, and less likely to report being bullied,” she said.

This extends to all emotional and behavioural problems. The more immigrants in a school, the better the mental-health outcomes for the newcomers. It appears to be an example of what some scholars call the “protective effect of migrant density” – newcomers and their children are more likely to help each other out than to turn against others.

If immigrant-heavy schools are good for mental health, it appears they may also be good (or at least no worse) for educational results. Research in the United States and in Britain has shown that the introduction of significant numbers of immigrants and students not fluent in English tends to improve educational outcomes in schools – not just for the immigrants themselves, but for the native-born students, who appear to have better grades and higher graduation rates than they would if they attended a school with mainly native-born students.

This may be because immigrant-heavy schools have more resources, such as teaching assistants, and because they’re forced to abandon front-of-class lecturing and offer lessons at multiple levels and tailored to multiple learning styles and paces – which is good educational practice for everyone.

Given such findings, it may be time to rethink the way we judge schools. School rankings, such as the Fraser Institute database popular with real estate agents, tend to rate schools higher if they have fewer foreign-born students. It appears that they may have it backward.

Source: Where to find school bullies? Not where you might expect – The Globe and Mail

When public prejudice can serve the greater good: Saunders

Usual interesting and sensible commentary by Doug Saunders on how the request from an exemption from music classes led to a good result and defence of a neutral and inclusive space where all can live together:

Many religious concessions are uncontroversial. Few Canadians object to cafeterias offering non-pork options for observant Jews and Muslims. After a period of debate, most people have come to accept public officials wearing Christian crosses, Jewish yarmulkes, Islamic head coverings or Sikh turbans while on duty. These things may offend logic and aesthetics, but they do no harm and don’t interfere with anyone else’s life.

But some concessions to the religious aren’t benign or harmless. When spirituality infringes on the working of the legal, educational or medical systems, we have a problem – even if we don’t notice at first.

Most shockingly, Canadian provinces allow religious exemptions to the requirement that children be vaccinated in order to attend school.

These exemptions, generally granted to people who claim to be members of ascetic Christian or Jewish denominations, are far, far more dangerous than a pass from music class.

Mr. Dasu is harming only the minds of his children (and mortifying most Canadians of Muslim faith). But if even 10 per cent of a community’s children escape vaccination, they endanger the lives of every child in their city, including those who are vaccinated. This is not a reasonable accommodation.

Groups of Christians and Muslims in Ontario have spent the past year trying to withdraw or exempt their kids from public schools because they’ve come to believe that the province’s rather anodyne reproductive-health curriculum is contradictory to their faith. As harmful as this is to their kids, the province can do little to complain because in the 1980s it granted Canada’s most extensive religious concession by allowing Roman Catholics to withdraw their children from public school entirely and self-segregate with a fully taxpayer-funded religious school system.

It’s unfortunate that people only began to notice these incursions when Salafi Muslims began requesting them. But it’s one instance where public prejudice can serve the greater good.

We saw a great example of this in Ontario’s 2005 decision on quasi-judicial tribunals. These tribunals, known as “faith-based arbitration,” had been created in the early 1990s to reduce the cost and workload of courts by letting churches and synagogues rule on family-law and property disputes. Their rulings, and rules, were often contradictory to Canadian values and laws. But people only began to notice in 2003, when mosques wanted in on the action: Suddenly, those tribunals, applying nearly identical religious laws became known as “sharia courts.”

Ontario responded wisely, by stripping all faith-based tribunals of legal authority. It was a rare moment when the ugly voices of Islamophobia helped secure a neutral, secular public sphere in which people of all faiths and backgrounds can live together. If we’re lucky, Mr. Dasu’s musical tastes will give us another.

Source: When public prejudice can serve the greater good – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: Saunders – Why black Canadians are facing U.S.-style problems

Saunders on the similarities between the Black experience in Canada and the USA, and the associated risk of not addressing some of the underlying issues:

So the emergence of the Black Lives Matter campaign against police discrimination in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver is not some copycat echo of a far more violent U.S. crisis; it is a reflection of the lived experiences of many black Canadians, which are measurably different, on average, from those of white and other minority Canadians.

“Although there are certainly some differences in terms of broad historical contours, demographic patterns and patterns of migration, there are some really profound similarities,” between Canada and the U.S., says Barrington Walker, a legal historian at Queen’s University. “I do think that the history of anti-black racism that exists in Canada, that there is a kind of long, institutionalized state memory, the old idea that blacks do not belong as part of the Canadian landscape.”

Dr. Walker’s research has found a consistent pattern in Canadian courts of sharply different treatment of black defendants in trials, judgment and sentencing, and in likelihood of running afoul of the law.

These findings have been confirmed over and over. In 1995, a high-profile Ontario government commission (struck in the wake of the 1992 Yonge Street protests and riots against police discrimination) reported that black and white citizens were treated dramatically differently in policing, charges, court procedures, sentencing and imprisonment. For example, when faced with identical drug-crime charges in similar circumstances, 55 per cent of black defendants but only 36 per cent of white defendants were sentenced to prison – a difference that could not be accounted for fully by non-racial factors. A 2002 Toronto analysis found that black drivers were disproportionately more likely to be pulled over by police without evidence of an offence; they are 24 per cent more likely to be taken to the police station on minor charges and more than twice as likely to be held in jail while awaiting a hearing. (This was strictly a black phenomenon: the data for suspects listed as “brown” was nearly identical to that for whites.) And research in the last two years has shown that random police stops without evidence (“carding”) happens to black Canadians to a hugely disproportionate degree.

What’s the root of this discrimination, which takes place even when officials are racially diverse and liberal-minded? In part, it’s institutional path dependency: Police and judges have always responded to suspects based on traditional patterns (and on patterns learned from the U.S. media and justice system), and it’s hard to break those ugly traditions.

That’s dangerous, because black Canadians are also inordinately excluded from home ownership, neighbourhoods with good public transit and key employment markets. That’s partly due to the timing and economic circumstances of Caribbean immigration, partly due to racism.

Either way, it creates a spiral of discrimination: A group of Canadians who live in fringe rental-only neighbourhoods, with less secure employment and access to resources, who face a more hostile police and justice system, hurting their chances of advancement. It’s not too late to stop this spiral. If we want to be different from our southern neighbours, we need to stop reproducing their most infamous form of inequality.

Source: Why black Canadians are facing U.S.-style problems – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: Isolationism and the fear of the foreign: Saunders

Saunders largely nails the electoral calculations of political figures:

What caused a complete reversal of positions in 2016? It certainly wasn’t logic or ideological coherence. Rather, it was electoral calculation: In 1975, fear of economic ruin was a potent driver. In 2016, fear of outsiders was equally strong.

Arguments in favour of cutting off trade and political relations have almost always been, at root, election bids based on fear of the foreign. That doesn’t mean that every trade agreement is a good idea, or that policies to protect or bail out national industries are wrong. But exits, prohibitive tariff walls, or complete isolation are never rational or principled.

The original free-trade battles of the 1860s pitted isolationist segregationists and colonialists against movements that linked free trade with peace and anti-slavery campaigns. The 1930s isolationism was tightly linked to the exclusionary nativism of the time. A large part of the opposition to Canada-U.S. free trade in the 1980s was pure anti-Americanism. Donald Trump’s pitch to completely cut off China and Mexico has nothing to do with economic logic, or conservative values, but with a manipulated hatred of the foreign.

The fact that left and right have traded positions so many times shows isolationism for what it is: not ideology or economics, but a reflex appeal to fear.

Source: Isolationism and the fear of the foreign – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: How my book on immigration became the voice of Germany at the Venice Biennale

Good account by Doug Saunders on how art based upon his book Arrival City helps communicate the issues and challenges:

This put us at the centre of Europe’s most urgent and politically challenging crisis. In an architecture biennale that is often given over to the most abstruse and ephemeral of ideas and visions, we had been asked to create the least abstract pavilion of them all.

After all, the 2016 Biennale’s theme, selected by the acclaimed architect Alejandro Aravena, is “Reporting from the Front”: He wanted exhibitions to focus on the architecture of “the margins,” not the pricey mega-structures that tend to dominate architecture fairs.

The stuff in this pavilion is really happening. And there is real money on the table. Germany is in the midst of an enormously controversial and difficult process of settling around a million refugees who’ve fled the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere – almost half the refugees arriving in Europe – and housing them in dozens of cities.

For the many thousands of people who have passed through our pavilion during the past two weeks, it has been a break from capital-A architecture and a swift plunge into the most turbulent debate in Europe’s modern history. ( Kirsten Bucher)

This has resulted in Berlin’s federal administration spending unprecedented sums on new buildings for this process: Shortly after the committee she sits on chose our “arrival city” exhibition in January, Ms. Hendricks announced that her government will fund the construction of 300,000 to 400,000 new units of social housing each year (for both refugees and established Germans), year after year, for the foreseeable future.

No other government in the Western world is spending this kind of money on housing – and it has been decades since any government has deployed architectural solutions to social problems on this scale. When finished, it will be the equivalent of having created a second Berlin, largely with public funds.

So Europe’s largest demographic and social crisis has suddenly become an architectural and urban-planning crisis: There is an urgent need to learn from the best lessons of the past seven decades of public-housing construction – and, more importantly, to avoid the many design failures of that period, the horrid “projects” and council flats and plattenbau districts, some of which led directly to impoverished and isolated immigrant districts prone to crime and extremism.

A core component of our pavilion is a database, available online, which documents more than 400 refugee-housing projects currently under way in Germany (many are intended to be turned into social or student housing once the refugee emergency abates). Some of them are awful. Some are ingenious. After standing in a room surrounded by these examples, the notion that architectural design has large-scale social consequences becomes far less abstract: These designs, for better or worse, will affect the lives and outcomes of families, communities and cities for generations.

Open to the elements and the passing crowds, the pavilion becomes an informal, improvised place, a teeming marketplace not just of ideas but of real-life things(Kirsten Bucher)

Other rooms, and the pavilion’s main chamber, are devoted to the “eight theses of the arrival city” we developed in a series of meetings in Frankfurt. These, distilled from my research conclusions, are emblazoned on the walls and illustrated with case studies of districts and projects in European cities:

The arrival city is a city within a city. The arrival city is a network of immigrants. The arrival city is affordable. The arrival city is close to business. The arrival city is informal. The arrival city is self-built. The arrival city is on the ground floor. The arrival city needs the best schools.

For the many thousands of people who have passed through our pavilion during the past two weeks, it has been a break from capital-A architecture and a swift plunge into the most turbulent debate in Europe’s modern history. Some, like Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, have lingered to take notes. Some have started arguments, sketched designs or told us they suddenly see their city’s kebab-shop district very differently. Others have just hung out, had a bite and soaked up the simultaneous sense of comfort and unfamiliarity – in the process, experiencing a small version of the sort of place we’re chronicling here.

Source: How my book on immigration became the voice of Germany at the Venice Biennale – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: Offing the boss: Does killing terrorist leaders make us safer?

Another interesting piece by Doug Saunders:

But does it work?

One reason why Mr. Obama’s Taliban-termination received hardly more attention than his other acts on Monday is because people increasingly feel like it doesn’t. The Taliban appointed another leader, its third. Al-Qaeda has sprung back to life. Some have likened decapitation policies to Whac-a-Mole games: Bash a bad guy, and another one springs up.

Boss-offing is not a mysterious topic: In recent years, an entire science of decapitation analysis has sprung up.

The most influential number-crunching was conducted in 2009 by Jenna Jordan, a researcher at the University of Chicago (she is now at Georgia Tech). She analyzed 298 incidents of “leadership targeting” over six decades and looked at their impact on the organizations whose leaders were the recipients of these abrupt terminations.

Her results were far from encouraging. Her data showed that decapitation, on average, “does not increase the likelihood of organizational collapse beyond a baseline rate of collapse for groups over time.”

In fact, the extremist groups most likely to fall apart (that is, to stop being able to commit attacks and wage war) are actually those whose leaders have not been killed: Hitting the head honcho actually seems to help groups keep fighting longer – perhaps because it rather literally injects some fresh blood into the organization.

More recent analyses have questioned these findings. Certain groups have indeed self-imploded following the untimely demise of their figurehead: Peru’s Shining Path faded into irrelevance after its leader Abimael Guzman was captured; Italy’s Red Brigades did not outlast its founding leaders; the capture of Abdullah Ocalan disempowered Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party for a decade.

In a big-data study last year, Bryan Price of the U.S. Military Academy analyzed 207 terrorist groups from 1970 to 2008, but instead of looking at their effectiveness, he examined their longevity.

He found that taking out the executives “significantly increases the mortality rate of terrorist groups, even after controlling for other factors” – but it often takes longer than we’d like. Counterterrorism, he concluded, is a long game. He also found that the groups most likely to implode after things blow up in the head office are nationalists. Groups that see themselves as religious, he found, are more tolerant of bloodbaths at the top. Of 53 religious groups, only 19 have ended – 16 of them after their boss was wiped out. But of the 34 such terrorist groups still in existence (including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State), 20 have endured a decapitation strike.

There are other good reasons to knock off the kingpins: Inspiring morale in your troops, hurting jihadi recruitment by looking all-powerful, sowing moments of chaos that can be exploited. But there’s no reason to think they’ll make the fight any easier, or the world less bloody.

Source: Offing the boss: Does killing terrorist leaders make us safer? – The Globe and Mail

Sweden’s rape crisis isn’t what it seems: Saunders

Doug Saunders provides the needed nuancing regarding Sweden and refugees:

But aren’t refugees and immigrants responsible for a greater share of Sweden’s sexual assaults?

In a sense. Statistics show that the foreign-born in Sweden, as in most European countries, do have a higher rate of criminal charges than the native-born, in everything from shoplifting to murder (though not enough to affect the crime rate by more than a tiny margin). The opposite is true in North America, where immigrants have lower-than-average crime rates.

Why the difference? Because people who go to Sweden are poorer, and crime rates are mostly a product not of ethnicity but of class. In a 2013 analysis of 63,000 Swedish residents, Prof. Sarnecki and his colleagues found that 75 per cent of the difference in foreign-born crime is accounted for by income and neighbourhood, both indicators of poverty. Among the Swedish-born children of immigrants, the crime rate falls in half (and is almost entirely concentrated in lesser property crimes) and is 100-per-cent attributable to class – they are no more likely to commit crimes, including rape, than ethnic Swedes of the same family income.

What also stands out is that almost all the victims of these crimes – especially sex crimes – are also foreign-born. But for a handful of headline-grabbing atrocities, it isn’t a case of swarthy men preying on white women, but of Sweden’s system turning refugees into victims of crime.

That is the real Swedish crisis. Refugee shelters are terrible, dangerous places, whoever is in them. When such shelters, then known as displaced persons camps, held millions of Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s, histories show they were at risk of sexual predation and organized attacks against Jewish refugees.

Because otherwise generous Sweden doesn’t allow refugees to seek work until they know the language, tens of thousands of people are stuck in these awful places, in similar conditions, or in welfare-dependent netherworlds.

There they become victims of violent crime, victims of economic exclusion and victims of a grotesque, viral story that portrays them as predators, entirely because of their skin colour.

Source: Sweden’s rape crisis isn’t what it seems – The Globe and Mail