Chris Selley: Most Canadians support ‘values screening’ — which is neither surprising nor concerning

Good observations by Selley:

Of course we can’t empirically test for violent tendencies, misogyny and indolence. There are many good practical reasons not to pursue these policies. The consensus among bien-pensant campaign watchers is that this is nothing more than a populist “dog whistle” appeal to nativists and xenophobes who believe immigrants are more likely to be violent, misogynist and indolent.

But most Canadians aren’t watching the campaign at all, and couldn’t pick Leitch out of a lineup. If you ask them whether Canada should screen immigrants for objectively undesirable traits, then of course most are going to say yes. It’s absurd to hold that up as evidence of a surge in anti-immigrant sentiment, especially when the poll in question provides plenty of evidence to the contrary: 78 per cent think immigration makes Canada a better place to live or makes little difference; 83 per cent think we have much to learn from other cultures; 79 per cent have no desire to see a Trump-style figure in Canadian politics.

If you were inclined to worry about anti-immigrant sentiment, there’s plenty you could latch on to in this 61-page poll that’s far more disquieting than support for “values screening.” But that’s the genius of a wedge issue like this: it provokes a level of outrage and condemnation that to those not following closely would seem unhinged, which in turn makes the policy and the candidate seem all the more reasonable by comparison.

“Leitch’s proposal to screen every immigrant and visitor is nothing but Donald Trump’s executive order, disguised as Canadian values, and crafted to keep Muslims out of Canada,” leadership candidate Deepak Obhrai said in a statement last week. He suggested it could incite racists to murder, such as in Kansas last month.

I’m disgusted by Leitch’s campaign and even I think that’s crazy. But more to the point, it won’t help. Fighting populism with hyperbole is like fighting fire with kerosene, and it’s strange how few anti-populists seem to realize this. If Leitch’s proposal weren’t surrounded by a bunch of exploding heads and people screaming “Trump! TRUMP!” at her, it would just be one silly, unpractical and unnecessary idea among dozens in play in this campaign.

At times Leitch’s campaign has seemed less like an actual leadership bid and more like a clinical trial of Trump-brand populism in the Canadian body politic. Perhaps it will yield useful data for its architects to use with a less terrible candidate in future. But moderate Conservatives and others arguing in good faith against her really need to up their anti-populist game. Leitch is an intensely unlikable and uninspiring campaign presence who will probably lose. But some day a populist candidate with an ounce of sincerity and charisma might come along with some truly dangerous ideas.

Source: Chris Selley: Most Canadians support ‘values screening’ — which is neither surprising nor concerning | National Post

Australian Senator proposes a tough new citizenship test | Starts at 60

For those advocating values vetting such as CPC leadership contender Kellie Leitch, this example of an Australian Senator’s idea of what should be asked is revealing.

And perhaps those proposing values vetting might consider what their questions would be, not to mention the broader question is whether this is needed or implementable:

At the moment the citizenship test consists of questions about Australia’s government and justice systems.

But many politicians and other commentators have argued the test is too easy and want it to focus on more people’s ability to integrate into society.

It’s a plan that has been discussed by many politicians including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and One Nation senator Pauline Hanson, and now Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm is weighing into the debate.

He’s proposing a new citizenship test with questions that focus more on people’s beliefs than their knowledge of Australia.

Senator Leyonhjelm told NewsCorp he believed there needed to be “extreme vetting” of applicants for citizenship.

“It is only citizens who elect our government and determine what kind of society we create,” he said.

“We should therefore only grant citizenship, and the rights that come with it, to those who have contributed to and assimilated into our society, and who share our values.”

He’s provided a list of his questions, which have been published by NewsCorp and they’re getting plenty of attention.

The questions are:

1. Should there be a law banning slavery?

2. Should tax obligations differ depending on a person’s religion?

3. Should there be a law banning female circumcision?

4. Should there be a law banning women from:

– voting?

– being elected to government?

– driving?

– showing her head hair, arms or legs in public?

5. Should there be a law banning a husband from:

– hitting his wife?

– having sex with his wife without the wife’s consent?

6. Should there be a law banning a wife from:

– leaving the home against the wishes of the husband?

– driving against the wishes of the husband?

– showing her head hair, arms or legs in public against the wishes of the husband?

7. Should there be a law banning adults from:

– drinking alcohol?

– gambling?

– having sex with a child?

– having sex outside marriage?

– holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex in public?

– homosexual acts and relationships?

– owning or viewing pornography?

8. Should there be a law banning children being married?

9. Should there be a law banning a person from refusing to marry according to a parent’s instruction?

10. Should there be a law banning divorce?

11. Where a mother and father of a child are not married, should there be a law granting custody to the father?

12. Should there be a law giving preference to men over women regarding the receipt of inheritances?

13. Should there be a law banning the schooling of boys and girls in the same class room?

14. Should there be a law banning:

– the charging of interest on loans?

– people abandoning their religion?

– blasphemy?

15. Should the punishment for killing be reduced if the killer says it was done for family honour?

So, how do you know what the right answers are?

Well, Leyonhjelm provided NewsCorp with those too.

1. Yes

2. No

3. Yes

4. No

5. Yes

6. No

7. No, except for 7(iii) Yes

8. Yes

9. No

10. No

11. No

12. No

13. No

14. No

15. No

Controversially, he is also arguing that only those who pass the test should be given welfare.

But his citizenship test and comments about welfare have been slammed by some.

Australian Council of Social Services CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie told NewsCorp that Senator Leyonhjelm’s proposal would “take us back to 1909”.

“Australia has the most targeted system of income support in the world and there are already strict rules around eligibility for payments,” she said.

“This proposal would take us back to 1909 when people had to show they were of ‘good character’ to get a pension and automatically exclude large numbers of people from social security and throw them into destitution.”

Source: Senator proposes a tough new citizenship test | Starts at 60

Andrew Coyne: The common threads of intolerance behind anti-Muslim atrocities | National Post

One of Andrew Coyne’s stronger columns and message for those playing identity politics – see last two paras:

It began just minutes after the first reports surfaced online. Though the killings had taken place at a Quebec City mosque, though the victims had all been Muslim, nevertheless it was asserted, with all the authority that anonymity confers, that the killers were Muslim. “Police reports” were disseminated claiming they were two Syrian refugees, just admitted the previous week. Fake news sites supplied fake names. The failure of the English-language news networks to go live with the story was attributed, not to a lack of resources or competence, but to their involvement in a cover-up.

This is how we do things now. This is the ritual we have learned, after every such outrage: not to mourn the dead or to draw, after due consideration of the facts, the appropriate lessons, but to lay the blame, in advance of the facts being known — as if it were a kind of race, in which the first to find fault wins. Both sides do it, and while the evidence this time would seem to support the alternate theory, not Islamist but Islamophobe — there are, as we have since learned, one suspect not two, the other arrestee, the one with the Arab name, proving to have been not a shooter but an engineering student who was helping the wounded — those who leapt instantly to that conclusion had no more evidence to support them on the night than their brothers-in-preconception.

In fact, we do not know what the suspect’s motive was, even now. We have rather more basis on which to draw intelligent inferences, but certainty, if ever it is given to us, must await his trial. We have even less grounds to state who or what planted that motive there, though again that has not stopped people from trying. At any rate, it is a fool’s errand. We do not need an atrocity to tell us that something has come unstuck in society of late, and we are on firmer ground, if evidence of that we seek, to look not to a single act on the part of (as I suspect we will find) a particularly disturbed individual, but rather to a more generalized wave of intolerance: to the surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes across Canada in recent months and years, to the increasingly open advocacy of anti-Muslim (and anti-Semitic, and other species of racist) sentiments, online and elsewhere. It is still no more than a small minority taking part, but it is more than it was.

I don’t know what set off Alexandre Bissonnette and neither, if you are honest, do you. But wherever we see large numbers of people acting in the same foul ways, repeating the same foul lines, we are entitled to look for common threads. That does not lessen the individual culpability of each. But people do not act in a moral vacuum. They take their cues from those around them, from what is considered acceptable in the circles in which they move, and the larger the circle in which it is considered acceptable to do and say certain things, the more likely they are to do and say the same. There are such things as cultures, which may wink at things like bribery and tax evasion — and prejudice — or, as one hopes, frown on them.

Once, not long ago, the person who harboured a certain bigotry would have had go to some lengths to find validation in others: a photocopied pamphlet, an anti-Semitic hotline, and such. Now they have merely to go on Twitter, or to visit certain websites. There they discover they are not alone, or even, as it seems, unusual. This is reinforced, in the case of anti-Muslim prejudice, by the tensions aroused after the horrifying Islamist terror attacks across the western world in recent years. The Islamophobe believes that only he is willing to see things as they are, to call things by their proper name, and that those who insist on drawing a distinction between Islamism and Islam, between Muslim terrorists and Muslims, are blinded by political correctness.

This is not in any way to suggest these views should be censored. We would not convict an accused person on a hunch; neither is the supposition, however logical, that open advocacy of prejudicial views might lead to hate crimes sufficient to warrant their suppression — not if we take free speech seriously. There are legitimate fears raised by terrorism, and legitimate debates to be had about how to fight it. Islam must be as open to criticism as any other religion or ideology.
But if we lack enough proof of cause and effect to prosecute, that does not mean we cannot draw reasonable inferences; if we would not restrict others’ speech, that does not mean we should not govern our own. We are all of us engaged every day in the construction of a moral order: by our accumulated individual examples, the words we use, the acts we condone, we can make it one that encourages decency and compassion towards others, or the reverse. This is particularly true of those in positions of leadership, political or other.

I do not think it is fair, then, to lay the murders at the Ste. Foy mosque at the feet of Kellie Leitch or Donald Trump or any other individual besides the murderer. I do think it is fair to ask them, and others, to look inside themselves, to consider what kinds of attitudes they are encouraging, what risks they are taking, and what fire they are playing with.

Is Kellie Leitch for real? When the Tory insider pushes her Trump-light message, who’s listening?

Good long read by Richard Warnica on Kellie Leitch’s leadership strategy, and the degree to which there is a ‘market’ for her use of identity politics, both within the party and the country more generally. Her campaign is a bit of a litmus test of Canadian resilience to xenophobia and anti-immigration messages:

Her appeal, then, is to a narrower slice of the Trump constituency, one engaged more by identity issues and immigration than economics and jobs. The question for Leitch is whether there are enough of those voters to carry her to victory in the Conservative race, let alone in a general election.

Pollsters and analysts from all three major parties are generally skeptical, though few rule out the idea entirely. Many see her values campaign more as a tactical attempt to stand out in the early going of the race than a genuine expression of belief. “She’s running against the mainstream, which helps her get headlines and raise money in the short term,” said Brad Lavigne, a longtime senior NDP campaign official. “But the bet is the short-term exposure that she’s getting now will come to haunt her if she were to win, because there is not a significant audience for this among general election voters.”

That’s not to say there is no constituency at all for that message in Canada. Compared to Europeans and Americans, Canadians are still relatively open to things like foreign investment, immigration and multiculturalism, according to pollster Frank Graves, the president of Ekos Research. But that support is not as strong as it once was, and it’s been going down for years. “A lot of people think Canada doesn’t have the same forces that produced Trump or Brexit,” Graves said. “It absolutely does. They’re a little bit muted, but they’re here.”

That audience is also disproportionately concentrated among Conservative supporters, the people Leitch needs to capture the leadership. Graves polled Canadians on support for Trump in November. A significant majority of Liberal, NDP, Green and Bloc supporters disapproved of the job he was doing as president-elect. But a majority of Conservative supporters — 57 per cent — approved. So when the Leitch team flicks at Trump’s themes or parrots his campaign, they aren’t necessarily poisoning the well, at least not the one they need to drink from right now.

Tim Powers, a longtime Conservative strategist and outspoken Leitch critic, believes at the very least she could use the Trump message to sell memberships. “I probably have responded as strongly as I have because I believe that they have the potential to win by playing off fears and discontent and misunderstandings,” he said. “I think I’m not alone in that. There is still a good portion of Canadian society that harbours an older, traditional version of the country. And some of that traditional version is good and some of it is not so good.”

There are also those in other parties who will admit, quietly, that Canadians of all stripes are not nearly as allergic to nationalist anti-immigrant messages as some would like to pretend. One senior Liberal said the party’s own internal polling shows that Canadians on the whole don’t love immigration, and that even on the refugee issue that captivated and helped turn the last election in the Liberals’ favour, the polling was pretty mixed.

Lietaer believes Leitch may find particularly fertile ground for her message in Quebec, where debates over cultural values, immigration and assimilation have raged for years. The Conservative Party actually won more votes and more seats in Quebec in 2015 than it did in 2011. Many attribute that marginal bump, concentrated in the Quebec City region, to the prominence of the debate over the niqab in the campaign.

“A student of mine told me, a few months later, that he had been working as an election worker and he said that the words at the end of the campaign were “niqab, niqab, niqab,” said Louis Massicotte, a political scientist at Laval University. “The general feeling here was that it was a good idea for the Conservative candidates to raise this issue.”

All of that said, the general consensus among the dozen or so strategists, pollsters and party insiders interviewed for this story, was that while Leitch may find an initial, vocal audience for her anti-Canadian values and anti-elite message, her potential for long-term growth is probably limited. “I don’t see what the second ballot strategy is here, because it’s such a polarizing issue,” said Lietaer.

Indeed, several strategists suggested Leitch’s best hope is to win on the first ballot, an exceedingly difficult task in a race with 14 candidates, a preferential ballot and an arcane system of dividing points between all of Canada’s 338 ridings. For Leitch, that job will be made even harder by the fact that, according to multiple Conservative sources, her campaign strategy has offended wide swaths of the party.

“Among the rank and file of the party, and frankly anybody I talk to in the party, anybody I know in the party, everybody is really, really right pissed off at her for doing this,” said Yaroslav Baran, who ran communications for Stephen Harper’s 2004 Conservative leadership campaign. Officially neutral at the time of his remarks, Baran announced his support for Michael Chong, one of Leitch’s rivals, this past week.

Source: Is Kellie Leitch for real? When the Tory insider pushes her Trump-light message, who’s listening? | National Post

Leitch echoes Trump – and a Canada we left behind: Ibbitson

Good commentary by Ibbitson, recalling past debates over removal of ethnic quotas for immigrants:

By calling on immigrants to be screened for adherence to “Canadian values,” Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has reopened a very old and tired debate over who makes a good Canadian. She may not remember that the answer for many used to be: someone who’s white.

A reader sent an electronic clipping of an article from Legion Magazine printed in 1974, three years after Pierre Trudeau first declared multiculturalism – the celebration and preservation of distinct cultures within a united Canada – as the official policy of the federal government. The Liberals were working on a new immigration plan and sought the Legion’s input. As the organization that represented veterans at a time when there were many more of them, the Canadian Legion was a powerful voice. That voice called on the government to shut the doors.

From Confederation until the 1950s, this country had imposed quotas and other measures to encourage European and prevent Asian immigration. Those quotas “permit a greater flow of immigrants from countries that have historically given fine citizens to Canada,” wrote Robert D. McChesney, the society’s executive vice-president, in a report that was reprinted in the magazine.

But the Diefenbaker government started dismantling those quotas, and the Pearson government replaced them with the colour-blind points system still in use today. Since Europe was now prospering, this meant most new immigrants would have to be recruited from what was then called the “Third World.”

The Legion believed this was a mistake. “Precedents already exist to restrict immigration from certain parts of the world,” McChesney wrote. The Legion’s members “are not yet prepared to see these restrictions lowered, and indeed there is some evidence that they should be extended.”

Rather than using a points system, immigrants should be selected based on “the ethnic composition of the country as recorded in the census.” Since Canada was still overwhelmingly European, this would ensure a European-based intake.

Not wishing to appear intolerant, the 1974 report stressed that “the quality of a prospective immigrant is of prime importance, and that the place of origin and ethnic background should be of a secondary consideration.”

The Legion also opposed admitting refugees because of the impact they might have on “the cultural well-being of the country,” and because “their interest in becoming Canadian citizens is remote or at the best incidental.”

Finally, the report recommended “some system must be devised to screen the applicant more efficiently.”

In 1974, the Legion represented more than 367,000 Canadians, many of them veterans of the Korean War and the First and Second World Wars. Those veterans sacrificed for their country and when the wars ended they built the Canada we live in today.

But the country was changing in ways they found difficult to accept. Already, demographers were warning that the birth rate had fallen to the point that more immigrants from developing countries would be needed to sustain the population in the long term. They were right. Today, one Canadian in five was born elsewhere, and population growth is almost entirely reliant on immigration.

It is only human nature that the Boomers’ parents resented the ethnic transformation of their country. But in demanding strict screening of all immigrants coming into Canada for “Canadian values,” Kellie Leitch is not simply echoing the preachings of Donald Trump; she is evoking a Canada that was already in eclipse half a century ago.

How can she hope to win the party or the country by being so far outside her time?

Source: Leitch echoes Trump – and a Canada we left behind – The Globe and Mail

Donald Trump could happen in Canada. It’s already begun. – Macleans.ca

Some good analysis and questions regarding the resilience of Canadian politics to Trump-style politics, focussing on the ugliness in the Alberta PC leadership campaign and the Leitch/Blaney campaign approaches.

Starting with Charlie Gillis:

The question, say experts, is whether support for such ideas could galvanize into a Trump-style movement. Ice-breakers like Blaney and Leitch are exploiting the same rural-urban cultural divide that Trump did in the U.S., acknowledges Clark Banack, a Brock University political scientist who studies populist movements. But the kind of anti-elitist discontent that moves votes is seldom seen in Canada outside the West, Banack notes, and when it arises elsewhere, it tends to be short-lived. “We have sporadic examples of people emerging for a short time around a specific issue,” he says, citing Rob Ford’s rise to the Toronto mayoralty on the strength of working-class, suburban anger. “But overall, Canadian political culture is less susceptible to populism than American political culture.”

Another mitigating factor: the relative absence in Canada of a dispossessed working class in a mood to punish its leaders. David Green, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, believes Trump’s support base of white men with no college degree would be hard to replicate in this country because the commodities boom sustained Canada’s blue-collar workers, even as the financial crisis crushed the dreams of their counterparts in other countries. Between 2003 and 2015, he notes in a forthcoming paper, mean hourly wages for Americans with a high school education or less fell by six per cent; for the same demographic in Canada, they climbed eight per cent. The effect, he says, was to slow the growth of the economic gap that has fed voter rage in the U.S., the U.K. and parts of Europe. Last year, our top 10 per cent of earners made 8.6 times on average what the bottom 10 per cent pulled in—a ratio that, while high, falls beneath the OECD average and far below the U.S. ratio of 19 to one.

But all that could change, Green warns, if oil prices remain low—especially if the housing market weakens at the same time. The country’s residential construction boom, he notes, has maintained job centres around the country’s large cities, putting more than a few displaced oil patch employees to work. “What do you do with that set of less-than-university-educated guys—the demographic that switched over to Trump?” Green asks. “That’s a potentially worrying connection.”

More so, agrees Banack, if you have a high-minded central government that overlooks their misfortune while pursuing its own pre-occupations. Running against Ottawa, he notes, is a time-tested stratagem for populist movements in Canada, and these days, few national governments are more closely identified with the globalist program of trade, labour mobility and climate-change action than Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Something like Trudeau’s promised national carbon tax, which will be felt keenly in the West, could be enough to trigger a populist insurgency in Alberta, he says, though it’s safe to assume the federal Conservative party would do everything it could to stop such a movement, given the outcome of the Reform party experiment: “Another vote split, and you could forget about a Conservative federal government for another 10 or 15 years.”

Maybe, but experienced political players are no longer sure economic logic and conventional political calculus are in force. Carter, the Alberta strategist, notes that the online communities where so-called “alt-right” voters congregate—Facebook groups, or conspiracy-fuelled sites like Infowars—don’t traffic in that sort of information. In its place: a strain of fanaticism typified by the onslaught that ran Jansen off the PC stage, which Carter believes is sure to spread. “I don’t know if it’s Trump or social media or just belief that they’re correct that gives a sense of permission,” he says. “But this is not normal.”

Gary Mason in the Globe picks up similar themes:

The Premier and her party are now sitting at 14 per cent in the polls. The party receiving the most support in recent public opinion surveys is the Progressive Conservatives, the same entity Mr. Kenney plans to destroy if he wins the leadership. He wants to build a new political organization that Wildrose members will feel comfortable joining as part of an overarching bid to unify conservative forces in the province.

Either way, Alberta seems to be preparing to make an ideological course correction.

There’s little doubt the rise of Donald Trump has emboldened many in the province. One of those would appear to be Derek Fildebrandt, a Wildrose MLA and one of the most powerful conservative voices in Alberta.

He has little patience for the likes of Ms. Jansen and others complaining about online trolls and provocateurs. “Hypersensitive, politically correct, victim-as-virtue culture is creating a leadership class of wimps,” he wrote in a tweet that could have been sent out by The Donald himself. “People are sick of it.”

After Mr. Trump was elected, Mr. Fildebrandt tweeted: “The biggest lesson that we should learn from the election of Trump: smug, condescending political correctness will spark a backlash.”

I’m not sure what is happening in Alberta, but on almost any level it’s not good. Trump-style politics could well be making its way north of the border. At the end of the day, however, society gets the politicians it deserves.

Source: Not so progressive: Trump-style politics seep into Alberta

It’s a good year to be a racist creep: Note to Leitch: Maybe now is not the time to be sucking up to Trump – Kheiriddin

 Good column:

Is Donald Trump’s presidency paving the way for the ascent of the alt-right around the world — including Canada?

From French politician Marine LePen to British leader Nigel Farage, to a host of far-right European parties in between, the jubilation in certain circles is palpable. Le Pen, leader of the French far-right National Front (FN), told the BBC that Trump had “made possible what had previously been presented as impossible.”

“A new world is emerging,” she tweeted. “The global balance of power is being redefined because of Trump’s election.”

Farage, whose UKIP party exploited anti-immigrant sentiment to push the United Kingdom out of the European Union, met privately with Trump in New York on Saturday — to the great consternation of British Prime Minister Theresa May, whom Farage accused of “betraying the national interest” by not giving him an official go-between role.

Here at home, Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch swiftly congratulated Trump on his victory. “Tonight, our American cousins threw out the elites and elected Donald Trump as their next president … It’s an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well.”

Trump’s message wasn’t simply anti-elitist, of course. It was anti-minority, anti-women and anti-democratic. Fast forward a few days, and Leitch was reduced to insisting she’s “not a racist” when defending her position to CTV News.

Not exactly the sound bite of the year, Kellie — and not an easy one to walk away from. Leitch might want to reconsider her vocal support for Trump’s message just as it’s being so wholeheartedly embraced by the American white supremacist movement.

However one describes Trump’s style of government (populist? fascist?) one thing is clear: It’s notconservative.

Andrew Anglin, proprietor of the Daily Stormer, a leading far-right website popular with neo-Nazis, said of Trump: “Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor. Make no mistake about it: we did this.” In a similar vein, former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke said, “We won it for Donald Trump.” The KKK is planning a victory parade in North Carolina to celebrate Trump’s victory.

Trump himself is doing little to allay concerns that extremist views will animate his government. Instead, he appears to have swung the White House doors wide open to the alt-right. On Monday, Trump appointed Stephen K. Bannon as his senior advisor, to work “as equal partners” with new Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Bannon was executive chairman of the Breitbart news website, which featured a headline that called conservative commentator Bill Kristol a “Republican spoiler, renegade Jew” and publishes a columnist named “Milo” who claims that feminism makes women ugly and birth control makes them “Unattractive and Crazy”.

However one describes Trump’s style of government (populist? fascist?) one thing is clear: It’s notconservative. Conservatism — of the Edmund Burke, William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan variety — is dead. Those who condemned the French Revolution for its murderous rampages, championed the cause of individual liberty and decried the dictatorial regime of the former Soviet Union would be permitted to say little in the new Trump universe. The Republican party is now headed by a narcissistic demagogue who talks of reinstating the Assad regime in Syria, tearing up free trade agreements and teaming up with Russian President Vladimir Putin on foreign policy.

Buckley, considered the philosophical godfather of American conservatism, actually wrote about Donald Trump in 1990:

“What about the aspirant who has a private vision to offer to the public and has the means, personal or contrived, to finance a campaign? … Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.”

It is wrenching to contemplate how the party of those great achievements, from Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan, has come to be the party of a bottom feeder like Trump.

Source: It’s a good year to be a racist creep

‘I am not a racist,’ Conservative contender Kellie Leitch says

Breaks one of the basic rules of political communications: don’t repeat the accusation and thus draw more attention (for the record, I don’t believe Leitch as a person is a racist but she and her campaign are deliberately stoking xenophobia and racism in their identity politics):

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch says her enthusiasm for Donald Trump does not make her a racist.

During an exchange on CTV’s Question Period, rival candidate Michael Chong suggested Leitch was importing the divisive style practised by the U.S. president-elect.

Leitch proposes screening newcomers for Canadian values, and says she shares some ideas with Trump on immigration.

The exchange comes as candidates for party chief prepare to debate today at a conference centre just south of Ottawa.

They sparred earlier this week in Saskatoon over immigration, carbon pricing and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Twelve people are running to be the next Conservative leader, who will be chosen in May.

Leitch has attracted headlines – and some barbs from other leadership contenders – for her immigration screening proposal, which she has yet to flesh out. She denies endorsing the controversial Trump.

“I am not a racist,” Leitch said during the CTV segment aired today. “I am not a person who’s out groping other individuals. I do not do those things and I don’t think that the Canadians who support the ideas I’m talking about do those types of things.”

Source: ‘I am not a racist,’ Conservative contender Kellie Leitch says

Kellie Leitch misses the point about immigration: Vic Satzewich

Worth reading in its entirety. Point regarding some of weaknesses of standardized language testing also relevant to citizenship:

It is gratifying to know that Kellie Leitch has read my book Points of Entry: How Canada’s Visa Officers Decide Who Gets In, holding it up and referring to it in Wednesday night’s Conservative leadership debate and featuring it on her website. She focuses on two of several findings from my research: that visa officers conduct very few face-to-face interviews and that they are under pressure to meet processing targets. But she missed the broader point of the book, which is pro-immigration.

Her interest in creating policy to screen immigrants for Canadian values sounds like a return to a time when visa officers assigned points for what was then called “personal suitability.” But there was little consistency in how immigration officers assigned such points.

Not surprisingly, applicants and their immigration lawyers and consultants appealed refusals because they felt those points were inappropriately assigned and, during the 1980s and 90s, the Federal Court was clogged with hundreds of appeals.

By 2002, the difficulty of defending those appeals was so high that judgments about personal suitability were taken out of the assessment. Senior officials within the immigration department were also uncomfortable with the lack of consistency and transparency by which those points were applied. There is little reason to believe that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will be better positioned to standardize what they look for when it comes to screening for conformity with “Canadian values.”

Even if it were practical to screen for “Canadian values,” coming up with a universal set of our nation’s values would be impossible.

The French had considerable difficulty doing this in 2009 when Nicholas Sarkozy launched a “national identity” debate. After three months of divisive debate that involved more than 100 townhall-style meetings, no consensus emerged. The only concrete policy recommendation that resulted from the debate was that the French flag ought to be flown in schools.

Likewise, interviewing every applicant for a visa would bring our immigration system to a grinding halt because interviews take time and resources. The immigration processing system is already slow, and to interview the 1.3 million people who apply every year for a visa to test for Canadian values would be a logistical nightmare.

Do I think we need more and better screening of immigrants and should we do more interviews with visa applicants?

In my research I did find it surprising that we do not interview many visa applicants any more. In some cases, more interviews would be useful, but not as a blanket policy, and not as a way to screen for Canadian values.

One place where interviews might be useful is with language assessment. The immigration department has yet to find the perfect mechanism to assess language skills. Today, it uses standardized language tests administered by third parties. Whether a passing grade on such a test gives a true indication of English or French language abilities is of some debate. Language skills make an obvious difference in terms of how successfully individuals make out in the job market and in school. Can interviews with applicants be used to help inform decisions about an individual’s language abilities? Perhaps, but even that has its pitfalls when it comes to transparency and consistency of decision-making.

One thing that the immigration department does not do very well, however, is to prepare newcomers for life in Canada, particularly in terms of how difficult the first few years will be.

We select immigrants for high levels of education and training and they come already prepared to work hard to achieve their dreams, but we do a woefully bad job telling them how difficult it will be to get a job that they are trained to do once in Canada.

Interviews with skilled worker applicants could have value if those interviews focused on giving detailed and practical advice and directions about how to negotiate the credential recognition process and the vagaries of the Canadian job market.

What Ms. Leitch is proposing is a solution in search of a problem. I would encourage her to read more academic research by social scientists, and even “commit sociology.” If she does, she will find that there is considerable evidence that immigrants do actually integrate into Canadian society.

Source: Kellie Leitch misses the point about immigration – The Globe and Mail

And a good interview with Satzewich in iPolitics:

Author cited by Leitch torpedoes her pitch for immigrant ‘values’ screening

Jason Kenney on life after Ottawa and uniting Alberta’s right [comments on ethnic vote and Leitch]

Worth noting:

Q: Within the Conservative party, you were known as someone who connected with multicultural voters. But most recently, support for the party has melted away in those communities. What do you think is going on there?

A: I would challenge that assertion: it has not melted away. When we started this project in the 2004 election, the Conservative party was at just over 20 per cent of support of new Canadians, and by the 2011 election we were at about 42 per cent—a higher share of the vote than of native-born Canadians. We are the only centre-right party in the world of whom that is true. But I never had the hubris to imagine that we would have a kind of permanent lock on the plurality of that share of Canadian electors. I think what we’ve done through our hard work in cultural communities is to create a competitive political environment. No longer can any party, such as the Liberals, take for granted the support of new Canadians or cultural communities, as though they are some kind of a passive vote-bank.

Q: With the federal Conservative leadership race, you’ve made a few critical comments about Kellie Leitch’s immigrant-values test proposal. What’s your take on the screening people have to go through?

A: I have an enormous amount of experience in this area as multiculturalism minister for 10 years, then being minister of immigration responsible for screening and selection, and minister of citizenship. I find her approach to be disingenuous. I don’t think she’s ever thought deeply about these questions. She never raised these questions in Parliament, in public, in caucus or in cabinet. She seemed only to latch on to this as a theme after her campaign was circulating some questions on an online poll that was probably designed to generate email addresses. I just find the whole approach a bit slapdash. What concerns me is that these are extraordinarily sensitive questions that must be addressed with a great deal of nuance and prudence. Having said that, I do believe there is absolutely space for legitimate debate in a liberal democracy about immigration selection, screening and integration.

Q: You previously spent a lot of your time touring and campaigning with multicultural groups, and now you’re visiting smaller, rural areas in Alberta that must be a lot more homogeneous. What are you taking from those communities and hearing from people?

A: Rural Alberta is a lot less homogeneous than it used to be, partly because of my immigration policies. You go to a lot of small communities in rural Alberta and you’ll find a degree of diversity that probably hasn’t existed in terms of immigration for a century—you’ll find the Filipino grocery store, and the African Pentecostal church and maybe a mosque. Albertans are pro-immigration; they’re also pro-integration. In my years in this province I cannot recall more than a handful of expressions of xenophobia or nativism that I’ve encountered. It’s the land of new beginnings and fresh starts—it is rare Albertans who trace their roots here back more than a generation or two. It’s extraordinarily welcoming.

Source: Jason Kenney on life after Ottawa and uniting Alberta’s right – Macleans.ca

For the full, non-edited, comments on Kellie Leitch, see

Jason Kenney on Kellie Leitch’s values test