ICYMI: Is Canada’s population too small? My review of Doug Saunders’ Maximum Canada 

For those interested, my take in Policy Options on Doug Saunders’ Maximum Canada.

Source: Is Canada’s population too small?


Acknowledging that Canada’s hate groups exist

Good assessment and commentary on Canada’s right-wing hate groups by Amarnath Amarasingam and Ryan Scrivens:

The results of a three-year national study published last year — involving interviews with Canadian law enforcement officials, community activists and current and former right-wing adherents, triangulated with analyses of open source intelligence — suggested that the foundations of hatred are complex and multifaceted, grounded in both individual and social conditions that strengthen and weaken the movement. Understanding these conditions, from a policy perspective, will provide us with a starting point to counter right-wing extremism in Canada.

Some of the factors that strengthen the hate movement include: Canada’s history of racism; a political climate of intolerance that arises from time to time (for example, during Quebec’s Charter of Values debate); media (mis)representations of particular minority groups (for example, Muslims depicted as terrorists after 9/11); and a weak law enforcement response to hate groups. In many respects, it is Canada’s national political and social climate that enables bigotry and hatred to exist in the country, a climate that provides right-wing extremists with a backdrop against which they can recruit new members and spread their radical beliefs.

On the other hand, factors that weaken or destabilize this already unstable movement include a general lack of ideological commitment in hate groups and infighting and transiency within them, as well as strong and visible law enforcement response in certain localities, resilient communities and the presence of an antiracist movement. In other words, hate groups in Canada are generally unorganized and lack the ability to strategize and sustain themselves, and law enforcement officials who put pressure on these groups are generally successful at dismantling them. This is particularly the case when antiracist movements and communities work closely with law enforcement and share intelligence on hate groups or their adherents.

It is difficult to know exactly what the policy response in Canada should be to right-wing extremism, but, in general terms, we need to acknowledge that hate groups do exist in Canada and that they do pose a threat to the safety and security of our communities. Coming to terms with this is a first step in developing policy initiatives to resist the radical right. Discussions about counterterrorism or counterextremism policy cannot focus solely on jihadism. The Trump administration has rightly come under criticism for its decision to cut federal funding for organizations that are fighting right-wing violence, such as Life After Hate.

Second, we must directly exploit the strengths and weaknesses that are inherent in hate groups and their environments in order to disrupt their growth and sustainability, through an approach that includes individuals from different sectors of society. In other words, policy initiatives must include the voices of key stakeholders who have unique insight into right-wing extremism, including law enforcement officials, community activists and former right-wing extremists.

Information about Canadian hate groups is fragmented. Law enforcement officials, for example, may have one important piece of information about a particular hate group while community activists or former extremists may have another. Policy initiatives must bring these stakeholders together to develop effective responses to the threat from the radical right in Canada. We mustn’t look at the violence in Europe and the United States and complacently conclude that we are somehow immune. We are not.

Source: Acknowledging that Canada’s hate groups exist

The pendulum swing on government service fees: C-44 Service Fees Act proposal

The recommendations from my  brief to the House and Senate Finance Committees and the related article in Policy Options, based in part of how the previous government was able to increase fees twice within a year with minimal scrutiny:

While it is unlikely that the Commons and Senate finance committees will undertake a serious review of the proposed “Service Fees Act,” the following suggestions would reduce the possibility for potential government abuse of fee setting:

  • Insert a provision that explicitly allows for public interest considerations, rather than just cost recovery, to be applied when fees are set. The Treasury Board included public interest considerations in its guidelines for the User Fees Act. But as a fundamental principle, this should be written into the Act itself, rather than relying on subsequent regulations or guidelines.
  • Require that any proposed increases that are twice the annual consumer price index adjustment, and that directly impact the public (e.g., passport fees, park fees), be referred to the relevant Parliamentary committee for review in advance.
  • Ensure that Treasury Board Secretariat regulations and guidelines reflect these two points as good practices, even if the government chooses not to amend the Act.

While there may have been a need to streamline the consultation process for fee increases, the proposed “Service Fees Act” makes it too easy for government to raise fees without any meaningful public consultation and debate. The government needs to ensure a reasonable balance between efficiency and consultation, particularly for those fees that affect the general public.

Source: The pendulum swing on government service fees

House/Senate Brief: Bill C-44 Division 21: Risks and Implications of the Service Fees Act

Diversity in the Senate – My latest in Policy Options

My latest, analyzing the diversity of Senators. Intro teaser below:

With the large number of Senate appointments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a more independent role for individual senators, a look at the current level of diversity in the Upper Chamber is timely.

In essence, the Trudeau appointments have made the Senate more diverse in terms of gender, visible minorities, and Indigenous peoples and thus more representative of the people it serves.

However, when viewed from the perspective of education and occupation, there is less diversity: more senators with higher degrees, and more senators with an activist background and less with a business background.

Given the increased independence of senators, the increased ethnic and gender diversity and decreased educational and occupational diversity    may play a role in terms of how the Senate responds to legislation and plays its sober second thought role.

This analysis contrasts the various aspects of diversity between the 43 non-affiliated senators (33 form the Independent Senators Group, of whom 28 were appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau),  and the 41 Conservative and 21 Liberal senators (December 2016).

Source: Diversity in the Senate – Policy Options

Will changes to the Citizenship Act affect the naturalization rate? – Policy Options

My piece in IRPP’s Perspectives on the need for the Senate to consider the decline in the naturalization rate in its review of Bill C-6’s changes to the Citizenship Act.

Source: Will changes to the Citizenship Act affect naturalization rate? – Policy Options

Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options

Having never been comfortable with the “two-way street” metaphor for immigrant integration, I finally got around to articulating my reasons more formally, and proposing some alternatives and stimulating debate and discussion.

The following article in IRPP’s Policy Options is the result.

Some other alternatives that I have received to date include: Wittgensteinian sailing a boat while always renewing the planks, in economics, the supply and demand model in setting prices and achieving a new equilibrium, big river with little streams, and the Norwegian metaphor of samspill, or play together.

I welcome additional suggestions and comments:

When immigration officials and advocates talk about the integration process for new Canadians, often they reach for the metaphor of a “two-way street.” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada notes that “the focus of the integration programs at CIC is on operationalizing the ‘two-way street approach’…through assisting individuals to become active, connected and productive citizens.” The Canadian Index on Immigration Integration talks about the “metaphorical meeting of the immigrant and the receiving population somewhere in the middle of the street.” Former Immigration minister Jason Kenney used the phrase in speeches, where he emphasized the duty of newcomers to adapt to their new home and the responsibility of Canadians to accommodate them.

But does a metaphor matter? It does, given Canada’s increasingly diverse population and the challenges of ensuring successful integration of immigrants and their children. Getting the metaphor right will convey expectations to newcomers and the host society alike regarding their respective roles in the integration process.

The “two-way street” is handy shorthand. With integration, immigrants and the host society both adapt to each other’s presence, instead of the assimilationist expectation that immigrants will completely adopt the values, attitudes, norms and lifestyles of the host. The aim of integration is for immigrants and their children to obey Canadian laws and eventually and voluntarily to adopt Canadian values, attitudes, norms and lifestyles, most notably gender equality and acceptance of other groups. The ultimate goal is that they eventually enjoy economic, social, health and political outcomes that are broadly comparable with those of “old-stock” Canadians. Accommodation by the host society aims at facilitating that integration process.

While diversions from this norm exist; for example, voluntary exclusion as in the cases of Mennonites or other religious communities, or involuntary exclusion because of racism and discrimination (separation or segregation, to use psychology scholar John Berry’s terms), the overall emphasis is on this integration process.

However, in order for metaphors to be successful, they have to speak to the broader population, not just the specialists, and they have to resonate in a visceral way. They have to be simple and easy to grasp, but they also have to avoid being simplistic. The “two-way-street” metaphor is unsuccessful for a number of reasons.

Streets are for cars, not people. Cars do not meet on a two-way street, they drive past each other (and if they do meet, usually it is in a crash!). Integration is about mingling, interacting and adapting.

The integration process is asymmetric: it is more important for immigrants and new Canadians to adapt to Canadian laws, norms and values than it is for the host society to adjust to them. The meeting point is not “somewhere in the middle” between the host society and the newcomers, but much closer to the host society (80/20 percent, in my view).

And integration is dynamic and ever changing, not linear. What is deemed acceptable evolves through the democratic, legal and political processes, as newcomers assert their identities and their rights and the host society responds. What was originally considered unacceptable (e.g., turban-wearing Mounties) becomes normal; what might initially be considered acceptable (e.g., sharia family law in Ontario) is deemed unacceptable following public discussion and debate.

It also must be noted that the values of the host society are dynamic and change over time; for example, attitudes toward gender equality, homosexuality and same sex marriage have undergone a sea change in Canada and elsewhere over the past generation. Immigrants and new Canadians are expected eventually to follow suit.

The metaphor also fails to capture the diversity and multilayered identities in Canadians, and how these can change with contexts and individual preferences. Ethnicity, religion, gender, age, generation, and lived experiences all play a part at the individual and group levels.

So, what are better phrases that describe this process and dynamic, and how do these capture the roles of newcomers and the host society?

Similar to the multiculturalism dynamic, the integration/accommodation dynamic captures the fact that newcomers integrate into the host society while the host society accommodates and adjusts to newcomer needs and identities. A combination of push and pull between newcomers and the host society, mediated through political, judicial and everyday socio-cultural processes, finds an equilibrium point, which evolves over time. Individuals and groups provide the push that forces the host society to respond. And, of course, as the host society itself becomes more diverse and its values evolve, this mediation happens between not only the “old stock” Canadians of the host society but also the more established and more recent groups of immigrants.

A more sophisticated version of this characterization can be seen in Harald Bauder’s description of integration as a process of Hegelian dialectic: thesis, antithesis, synthesis, or the host society (thesis) being challenged by newcomers (antithesis), resulting in a new balance and accommodation (synthesis), hence reducing the difference between the “newcomer ‘other’ and the Canadian ‘self’.”

Another concept used by some academics and policy-makers in a multiculturalism context, is that of harmony/jazz. Harmony is provided by the legal and constitutional framework that applies to all Canadians — it is the underlying melody. Jazz reflects improvisation in dealing with accommodation requests within that overall context. Again, the underlying harmony predominates. This approach has the advantage of being more flexible in dealing with accommodation pressures.

So what best describes integration and multiculturalism? Passing each other on a two-way street or “making music together?” My preference is the latter, as it describes the dynamic, complex and varied nature of how we, in our ever more diverse society, continue to search for a new and hopefully improved equilibrium.  Perhaps just as every jazz band interprets a musical composition in new and unanticipated ways, so does a healthy, diverse multicultural society.

I would like to thank Michael Adams and Harald Bauder for their helpful comments and suggestions on integration definitions and metaphors.

Source: Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options

Diversity among federal and provincial judges

This article appeared originally in IRPP’s Perspectives:

With the federal government’s general commitment to increased diversity in appointments, and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s current review of the judicial appointment process, there needs to be a baseline of information about the current diversity situation in order to measure implementation of these commitments.

Overall, women, visible minorities and Indigenous people are under-represented among the over 1,000 federally appointed judges (65 are in federal courts, the balance are in provincial courts). There is a similar but less pronounced pattern of under-representation among the over 700 provincially appointed judges.

Does this matter given that judges by are expected to be objective, impartial and neutral? Their legal education, training and experience prepare them for this end. However, judges are human and, like all of us, they are influenced by their past experiences, influences and backgrounds. We know from Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking, Fast and Slow) and others that no one is completely neutral and bias-free, even if the judicial process does represent “slow” or deliberative thinking, and thus greater objectivity, rather than “fast” or automatic thinking. Diversity of background and experience is another way to improve neutrality in decision-making.

Moreover, given the over-representation of some groups who are tried in the courts, such as Black people and Indigenous people, a judiciary in which these groups are significantly under-represented risks being viewed as illegitimate to those communities. The current debate over murdered and missing Indigenous women and police carding practices exemplify this risk.
Figure 1 highlights the extent of this under-representation: there are no visible minority or Indigenous judges in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, no visible minority judges in the Federal Court and no Indigenous judges in the Tax Court. In all the courts except for the Supreme Court, women are significantly under-represented.

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.009Figure 1

If we look at federally appointed judges to provincial courts (figure 2), the picture is slightly better in terms of both visible minority and Indigenous judges, but in both cases the representation is significantly lower than these groups’ population shares. In the superior courts/Queen’s Bench women are particularly under-represented, but they are better represented when the representation is compared with that of the federal courts.

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.010Figure 2

The picture for provincially nominated judges to provincial and territorial courts (figure 3) varies by province, but overall the provinces resemble each other in their under-representation of these groups. The Atlantic provinces, with the exception of Nova Scotia, have no visible minority or Indigenous judges. In the North, despite the large Indigenous population, there are no Indigenous judges. Quebec has relatively few visible minority judges and no Indigenous judges. Saskatchewan and Manitoba, despite their large Indigenous populations, have relatively few Indigenous judges.

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.012Figure 3

In the next series of charts federally and provincially appointed judges are compared for each under-represented group, by province, starting with women (figure 4). Here there is no overall trend: the federal and provincial appointment of women is similar in British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador; in Saskatchewan, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and the North, provincial appointment of women is higher; and in Alberta the appointment of women is significantly lower, given the relatively large share of part-time and supernumerary appointments that are men (about a third of full-time judges are women).

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.013Figure 4

Looking at visible minorities (figure 5), when we compare federal and provincial appointments by province, we see a trend in all provinces except Saskatchewan: provincial judicial appointments are more representative of their populations than federal nominations, although visible minorities are still significantly under-represented.

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.014Figure 5

Lastly, with respect to Indigenous appointments (figure 6), we see the same pattern: provincial appointments are more representative of provincial populations than federal appointments in all provinces and territories, except, surprisingly, in the North, where there are no Indigenous territorial judges.

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.015Figure 6

Looking at senior judges (chief and associate-chief justices), there are no federally appointed visible minority or Indigenous judges, and there are only a handful number of provincially appointed senior judges (figure 7).

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.011Figure 7

While judicial diversity is low, particularly for visible minorities and Indigenous people, the number of visible minority lawyers continues to increase. Figure 8 presents the proportions of visible minority lawyers aged 25-64 Canada-wide and in the largest provinces, which gives an idea of the size of the pool that can be drawn from. Given that visible minorities are, in general, younger than the general population, visible minority lawyers are also likely to be younger and, therefore, the percentage who would be aged 45 years old or older, the usual age people are considered for these positions, would be lower.

Judicial Diversity 2016 - DRAFT.016.pngFigure 8

As part of its review of the judicial appointment process, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs should expand the existing information on the gender of judges and include visible minorities and Indigenous people. With this information, the government could be held to account for its diversity and inclusion commitments, and it would be easier to track its progress over time.

The provinces and territories that do not already do this should do so, and they should use Ontario’s annual reports on appointments as a model, ensuring that the annual reports cover the overall diversity of the entire bench.

*A few notes on methodology. The federal government publishes statistics on gender but not on visible minority or Indigenous appointments. All provinces except Alberta and Saskatchewan indicate gender through the use of “Mr.” or “Madam” justice (the departments of justice provided the number of women judges). Gender information is thus complete.

To identify visible minority and Indigenous origin name checks, appointment announcements and, when available, photos and biographies were used. All provincial judicial councils or departments of justice were approached (only Ontario reports publicly but Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia provided the breakdowns used). The Canadian Bar Association, national and regional branches, and law societies were approached and a number of individual lawyers also helped improve the quality of the data collected. I believe this provides a reasonable assessment of current diversity.

Seeing the Same Canada? Visible Minorities’ Views of the Federation

IRPP - Visible Minorities and the Federation.001A useful report by IRPP researchers Antoine Bilodeau, Luc Turgeon, Stephen E. White and Ailsa Henderson on the views regarding the federation of visible minorities, divided into both immigrants and second or more generations.

These regional differences, while not terribly surprising, nevertheless are revealing in that they reflect the overall regional perspectives (similarity between visible minority and majority population in Ontario, weaker regional grievances in the West among visible minorities, and greater support for national institutions in Quebec among visible minorities).

While the authors note that the federal model of multiculturalism is attractive to visible minorities is not new, it highlights the failure of Quebec’s efforts to create an alternative interculturalism narrative, along with the all too often exaggeration of the nuanced differences between the Quebec and federal approaches).

As to their recommendation that the Quebec government should adopt a formal interculturalism policy, while sensible in some respects, this would likely reopen some of the less productive debates of the past (e.g., the PQs Quebec Values Charter). Ironically, it also might undermine the rhetoric of the Quebec model of interculturalism, given its subtle differences with multiculturalism.

One of the weaknesses of CIC/IRC citizenship program was precisely its lack of stronger citizenship promotion in Quebec, which reflected more processing and efficiency concerns rather than reinforcing Canadian identity. This will likely continue, even if it is one of the few IRC programs in Quebec, one that can play an important role in reinforcing the federal presence in Quebec.

The transfer of multiculturalism back to Canadian Heritage will provide scope for more multiculturalism programming in Quebec and thus reinforcement of Canadian identity.  (Within CIC, there was a feeling that under the Cullen-Couture agreement, which transferred immigrant selection and settlement services to Quebec, that multiculturalism program funding for Quebec was not needed – missing an opportunity to assert federal presence.):

The authors show that, compared with the majority population, members of visible minority groups as a whole have a stronger sense of loyalty to the federal government than to provincial governments, express greater support for Canada’s national policies, and are less inclined to endorse historical grievances about the Canadian federation. As for competing national and provincial visions of Canada, members of visible minority groups embrace a national vision more strongly than the majority population.

However, the extent to which members of visible minority groups hold distinctive views about the Canadian federation depends on the province they live in and whether or not they were born in Canada. In Ontario, visible minorities’ views are almost indistinguishable from those of the majority population. In Alberta and in British Columbia, visible minorities born abroad hold somewhat weaker regional grievances than the majority population. However, those born in Canada see the federation in similar terms as the majority population.

The greatest difference between visible minorities and the majority population is in Quebec, where visible minorities born abroad and those born in Canada express considerably stronger support for a national vision. The differences in outlook on the federation between non-French speaking members of visible minority groups and the rest of the Quebec population are particularly striking.

The findings suggest that the federal government’s multiculturalism policy offers a model that appeals to members of visible minority groups. Its highest level of support is among visible minorities in Quebec, whose government has never supported multiculturalism policy and has yet to offer a formal and official alternative.

[conclusion] … If the attractiveness of the federal model appears to exert an influence over visible minorities in Alberta and British Columbia, it might be enhanced in Quebec because of the alternative narrative proposed by the Quebec government. The Quebec government has never officially supported the federal multicultural model and has instead proposed a model of interculturalism that has yet to be stated formally in an official policy and remains unfamiliar to most Quebecers (Gagnon and Iacovino 2007). Our findings thus lend support for those arguing for the Quebec government to adopt an official policy of interculturalism (Rocher and White 2014). A formal policy positioning of the Quebec government on matters of ethnocultural diversity would stand as a symbolic gesture recognizing the contribution of diversity within Quebec society and would promote increased interaction between minorities and the broader population. By so doing, the government could favour a rapprochement between the narrative adopted by visible minorities in Quebec and the dominant one found in Quebec and hence appease some of the tensions that have marked Quebec society over the last few years.

Our final observation concerns an exception to the patterns for all four provinces just discussed. Visible minorities in all four provinces are substantially more prone to see a positive impact of the policy of multiculturalism on Canadian identity than the majority population. This finding is not necessarily surprising considering that, more than any other issue examined in this study, the policy of multiculturalism speaks to the contribution of ethnocultural minorities to the construction of Canadian identity. Moreover, as we argued, the federal government’s multiculturalism policy might be the pivot around which the more federally oriented narrative of visible minorities is structured. Should the growing presence of visible minorities have one significant and consistent impact, it may well be to further strengthen acceptance of the country’s multicultural heritage — in the process further strengthening this pillar of Canadian identity.


Canada’s ethnic enclaves more diverse than you think, study finds

Toronto Star coverage of the Dan Hiebert IRPP study:

The report by the Institute for Research on Public Policy found neighbourhoods with a dominant ethnic population are actually places of cultural diversity rather than cultural isolation. In fact, the average number of cultural backgrounds represented, even in enclaves, is close to 15, the study found.

And surprisingly, it also found that members of visible minorities who live in modern-day enclaves in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are less likely to experience poverty than their counterparts who live outside them.

“The accelerated development of enclaves in Canadian metropolitan areas does not pose a threat but should instead be seen as an opportunity and a challenge,” said the study to be released by the Montreal-based think tank on Wednesday.

“Any assumption that enclaves are monocultural is decidedly incorrect. We see that in Montreal, enclaves are more diverse than other parts of the city, and in Toronto they are just as diverse as other parts of that city. Even in Vancouver, enclaves tend to be highly diverse social settings.”

Based on census data for 1996 to 2006 and the 2011 National Household Survey, University of British Columbia professor Daniel Hiebert examined whether enclaves are becoming more prominent in Canada’s urban landscape, the demographics of residents of these enclaves, and their relationship with poverty.

Greater Toronto’s social landscape changed rapidly between 1996 and 2006, when nearly two-thirds of the visible minority populations lived in areas where more than half of the population identified with a visible minority background.

In all, 3 million people in the GTA live in white-dominant areas, 1 million in mixed and visible-minority-dominant areas and 1.4 million in enclaves.

Canada’s ethnic enclaves more diverse than you think, study finds | Toronto Star.

Link to the study: Ethnocultural Minority Enclaves in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver

Filipino-Canadian youth’s English fluency, hard work not enough for upward mobility — study | Inquirer Global Nation

Worrisome trend of downward mobility (see earlier coverage of same study Understanding Intergenerational Social Mobility: Filipino Youth in Canada » Institute for Research on Public Policy):

Canadian-born Filipino men present a somewhat similar picture, graduating from university at rates that exceed Canadian averages,” Kelly said. “However, they are well behind several other groups.”

“It is notable that Filipino men perform considerably worse than Filipino women in terms of university education, and in terms of failure to attain any certification at all including high-school graduation, but this is a gendered pattern of uneven achievements that holds true for all population groups,” Kelly added.

Kelly found that 37 percent of Filipino parents are degree holders, but only 25 percent of their daughters and 13 percent of their sons graduate from university. This contrasts with the fact that while only 23 percent of Chinese parents that are degree holders, 68 percent of their daughters and 58 percent of their sons graduate from university.

Kelly is not the first to present this trend. In 2009, another study using the 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey “found that intergenerational upward mobility in terms of rates of university education, occurred between the first and second generations in all immigrant communities except for the Filipino and black visible minorities.”

Another study in 2011 using Ontario census data from 1996 and 2006 showed that Filipinos and Americans were the only groups in which second generation youth “did not tend to surpass their fathers in terms of educational attainment although in both cases, the fathers were very well-educated.

….Kelly presented occupational data suggesting this apprehension about English may be a factor in Filipino parents’ low level of involvement in their children’s education. In addition, the shift schedules of nanny mothers and manufacturing worker fathers contribute to the poor educational attainment level, he wrote.

“The downward mobility and de-professionalization experienced by parents upon arrival in Canada has an impact on parenting style and authority,” Kelly wrote. “One respondent poignantly explained that his father had been an executive in the Philippines; security guards saluted as he arrived at his office each morning. On arriving in Canada, he had to take a job cleaning toilets.”

Fil-Canadian youth’s English fluency, hard work not enough for upward mobility — study | Inquirer Global Nation.