by Amanda Connolly

One of the directors of Canada’s terrorism research centre says statements made this weekend by the chair of the Senate national security committee suggest the senator may have missed some of the finer points of his recent testimony.

Conservative Senator Daniel Lang told a crowd of students at the University of Ottawa’s Public Policy Conference on Saturday that “we need to recognize that radicalized thoughts lead to radicalized actions.” But just last week Lorne Dawson, co-director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society, told the committee that research on radicalization consistently demonstrates that very few individuals who hold radical ideas ever actually graduate to committing violence and that generalizations about radicalization don’t help the fight to counter extremism in Canada.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]We need to recognize that radical ideas lead to radical actions. It does not mean we should criminalize ideas, but we need to identify them...[/quote]

“Research literature is overwhelmingly clear there is a very poor correlation between espousing ideas and engaging in action,” Dawson told iPolitics on Monday. “Obviously some people on the committee heard what we were saying and some didn’t.”

Dawson’s co-director, Daniel Hiebert, also said he disagreed with Lang’s point and noted it’s important to keep in mind the distinction between having radical thoughts and acting on those thoughts.

“You can’t perform a radicalized action unless you had a radicalized idea so yes, there is a connection between those things but nowhere near everyone who has radical ideas will perform radicalized actions,” he said.  “The literature on these issues is very clear that it’s another conversion process. There’s one conversion process that happens between thinking mainstream ideas and having extremist ideas – that’s a pretty big kind of hurdle to jump over, it’s a pretty big conversion process that happens there. There’s yet another conversion process that happens between having extremist ideas and thinking that violence is an appropriate way to propagate those extremist ideas. So there’s no simple linkage between those two things. There’s sort of a necessary linkage — as I said, you can’t have B without A but A does not necessarily lead to B. “

Lang’s office sent an emailed statement in response for a request for clarification of his comments.

The statement reiterates the text of his speech at the conference.

“To be clear, I stated: We need to recognize that radical ideas lead to radical actions. It does not mean we should criminalize ideas, but we need to identify them; state that they have no place in Canadian society, even at university campuses – where sometimes the cloak of free speech is abused; and denounce those promoting them and facilitating such ideas – even if they are done in the name of religious ideology or doctrine,” the statement reads.

“In response to those who suggested I be specific: I was intentionally specific in the content of the speech. Please refer to recommendations six and seven: 6) We need to examine and seek ways to stop the spread of radical religious ideology in Canada by going to the roots of those who are promoting, funding, and facilitating its dissemination; 7) We need to support those courageous Canadians who are speaking out – especially in communities at risk. There are many Sikhs like Balraj Deol; Ujjal Dosanjh and Dave Hayer – and Muslims who are doing a great job. Groups like <i>Muslims Facing Tomorrow</i> need our help. We need to engage with those who are challenging the radicals and provide them greater support and assistance so that we can successfully expose and denounce radicalizers before this extreme political religious ideology spreads.”

The committee’s deputy chair, Senator Grant Mitchell, said it’s important to keep in mind there is still a lot that is unknown about what motivates individuals to make the leap from holding radical thoughts to carrying out violence.

“I wouldn’t disagree with what Senator Lang said. What I would say is we have heard a range of input that doesn’t say that all radicalized thoughts lead to radical action,” he said. “But because very, very, very, very, few people are actually radicalized by the range of radicalized thoughts that are out there in the world, it’s certainly not a definitive link,” he said.

Mitchell noted he does not think Lang was implying holding radical thoughts is the only precursor to committing radical actions and that witnesses have so far told the committee that there is not enough understanding of the complex factors that come together to inspire individuals to act on their radical ideas.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]You can’t perform a radicalized action unless you had a radicalized idea so yes, there is a connection between those things but nowhere near everyone who has radical ideas will perform radicalized actions,...[/quote]

He also said he was unclear on another statement of Lang’s made during the same speech, in which he said Michael Zehaf-Bibeau attacked Parliament Hill as part of a plan to carry out jihad.

“Another radicalized Islamist attacked and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial and then entered Parliament Hill determined to carry out his own personal jihad,” Lang told the crowd.

Mitchell says he’s not quite sure from whom Lang drew that conclusion, given there has been no public confirmation from the RCMP that Zehaf-Bibeau was motivated by jihad.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said just one day after the attack that Zehaf-Bibeau’s motivation was likely linked to the Libyan embassy refusing him a passport.

While former co-workers have said Zehaf-Bibeau showed them videos of Taliban attacks back in 2007, they say his motivation for trying to go to Libya was to escape his struggle with drug addiction and that he did not come to Ottawa with the intent of attacking Parliament Hill — rather, it’s believed the attack was a backup plan if his application for a Libyan passport was denied.

“I really enjoy Dan Lang and he’s a great senator – (but) I don’t think we know that yet. It isn’t public. If the police know it, they haven’t said it,” said Mitchell. “I know Mr. Harper has been drawing the link between the Parliament Hill shooter and some sort of radicalized Islamic perversion but we have no public proof of that. Not yet.”

Re-published in partnership with

by Janice Dickson

Canada is lagging behind when it comes to prosecuting hate speech, terrorism financing and terrorism related activities, at least compared with other jurisdictions, according to Conservative senator Daniel Lang.

“A radicalized Islamist attacked and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and then entered Parliament determined to carry out his own personal jihad,” Lang said in his remarks to students attending the University of Ottawa’s Public Policy Conference.

Just last week, Lang explained, a number of young people slipped through the RCMP and CSIS nets to join ISIS.

“Many your age — at least one from your school has gone abroad to join ISIS,” he said.

Lang, who is chair of the senate committee on national security and defence, said there are a few cases in the courts — but when it comes to laying charges and prosecuting individuals for terror-related activities, prosecutions are very few and far between.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Canada has to have the ability to understand and detect threat trends and have the ability to respond. If we can’t do that, we are not serving our citizens very well,” said Colonel Tony Battista.[/quote]

“This has to be a concern,” he said.

Lang said that during its hearings, the committee has heard from experts on terrorism and many from Muslim and Sikh communities.

“They have been telling us about radicalization within their communities — being advocated in some cases in religious private schools, temples, in mosques and by preachers including foreign preachers — especially from Saudi Arabia,” explained Lang.

“We’ve also heard a testimony in our committee about foreign funding coming to Canada to spread the Wahhabi ideology,” Lang added that the committee has heard about radicalized Sikhs and Muslims.

Lang rattled off a number of recommendations “we can do” to prevent and discourage radicalization.

“We need to recognize that radicalized ideas lead to radicalized actions. It does not mean we should criminalize ideas but we need to identify them and state that they have no place in Canadian society — even at university campuses when sometimes the cloak of free speech is abused,” said Lang.

He encouraged the students to denounce those who are promoting and facilitating radicalized ideas “even if they’re done in the name of religious ideology.”

“We need to do serious due diligence when it comes to those who are speaking for communities and those who are preaching or speaking at universities and colleges — we have been told during the course of our committee hearings, that there are a number of Saudi-backed programs in many university and colleges.”

This is a concern, according to Lang, because of increased radicalization.

Colonel Tony Battista said that where Canada cannot afford to lag behind is in its response time to deal with terror threats.

“Canada has to have the ability to understand and detect threat trends and have the ability to respond. If we can’t do that, we are not serving our citizens very well,” said Battista.

A portion of the defence procurement strategy, Battista explained, has to be dedicated to the emerging problem of terrorism.

“It’s not only the Canadian Armed Forces that have to deal with [terrorism] – it’s a whole government issue,” said Battista.

After Lang’s extensive presentation on denouncing radicals in Canada, Battista described the challenges met by the Department of Defence.

“DND does not have sufficient staff – either military or civil servants with the right training and experience to effectively resource their own projects. The new defence procurement strategy is meant to increase the effectiveness of [DND’s] progress,” explained Battista.

Reducing the deficit is the government’s priority, according to Battista, which compromises Canada’s military capabilities.

“By the time we reach 2025, if we don’t get our act together within the next year or two or three we will have a significant problem with rust and equipment that we ought to have that we don’t have.”

Cyber security was the final area within the national defence and security program of the conference.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It’s not only the Canadian Armed Forces that have to deal with [terrorism] – it’s a whole government issue,” said Battista.[/quote]

Former chief of CSEC, John Adams, described cyber aggression’s four forms: terrorism, crime, war and espionage.

Assistant deputy minister of national and cyber security branch of Public Safety, Gary Robertson, also weighed in on the topic, explaining that unlike traditional crime, cyber intrusions may not show up for months — and that intrusive hacks are not easy problems to resolve.

Re-published in partnership with

Monday, 29 December 2014 13:14

Brown Canada 2020 Summit

Written by

by Thamina Jaferi (@ThaminaJaferi

On December 10, 2014, CASSA (Council of Agencies Serving South Asians) organized a conference titled ‘Brown Canada 2020 Summit’ at York University which also coincided with International Human Rights Day.

The summit commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru event of 1914 which saw Canada deny entry to 376 Indians aboard the Komagata Maru ship due to the discriminatory Asian Exclusion Act.

The purpose of the summit was to highlight the gains that South Asian Canadians have made since that event, but also to identify the many current challenges that these communities continue to face in the areas of education, employment, immigration, healthcare, and the criminal justice system. Participants also helped identify the outcomes they would like see for 2020.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Although the Komagata Maru incident has been acknowledged as a condemned racist stain upon Canadian history, the reality is that the same type of discrimination and exclusion towards South Asian and other racialized Canadians exists today.[/quote]

During the summit, it was emphasized that the terms “South Asian” and “Brown” do not refer to a homogeneous identity and that in addition to being contested concepts, CASSA uses them in an inclusive manner that recognizes the rich ethnic, cultural and spiritual diversity of this community. The summit also considered the intersectionality of South Asian identities, and the layers of hierarchy that impact our understanding of these identities.

Many of the issues identified highlighted the need for South Asian communities to engage in political activism and lobbying in order to hold their elected representatives accountable in serving the needs of their diverse constituents.

Some of the main points that came out of these sessions were:

  • It’s important to have people on school boards that reflect the community’s diverse populations and interests.
  • Schools need to be true “community hubs” that bring social services to local communities, families and children.

  • Many South Asian communities have expressed concern about school curriculums being Eurocentric. There is a need to incorporate and celebrate the histories of South Asian Canadians as well as their contributions to Canadian history. Public school enrollment also seems to be declining due to the appeal of private schools which meet the cultural and faith needs of different South Asian communities.

  • There is a critical need for both students and teachers to see people that look like them in positions of power in order to foster equity and trust in the public school system. This requires examining structural and systemic barriers that prevent South Asian teachers from being hired, retained and promoted.

  • Streaming of South Asian students into career paths that do not account for their potential is unacceptable.

  • The lack of mental health supports for students is a serious concern.

  • There are very real pressures that South Asian communities face in having to “assimilate” into dominant cultures in order to succeed at school, and in the workplace instead of developing their own unique identities and defining success on their own terms.

  • People should collaborate with the labour movement in advocating for better jobs, wages, and career advancement as these issues intersect with many of the barriers South Asian communities face in the workplace. Additionally, unions need to see diversity as a business model otherwise they will not survive.

  • Foreign-born and Canadian-born racialized youth are experiencing high rates of unemployment when compared with the Canadian average, and they have inadequate career guidance which affects their career prospects.

  • Social safety nets are being eroded and the focus of equity champions should be on not losing ground but also on having a shared, collaborative vision for going forward.

Although the Komagata Maru incident has been acknowledged as a condemned racist stain upon Canadian history, the reality is that the same type of discrimination and exclusion towards South Asian and other racialized Canadians exists today. Examples of this include cuts to refugee healthcare, the introduction of highly problematic laws such as Bill S-7 or the “Zero Tolerance for BarbaricCultural Practices Act” which unjustly targets specific cultural and faith communities, and citizenship restrictions, among others.

A big takeaway of this summit was the importance of collaboration and building solidarity amongst different equity-seeking communities facing the same barriers, as there is powerful strength in unity.

Thamina Jaferi, B.A., J.D., is an Associate with Turner Consulting Group with expertise in human rights and workplace discrimination and harassment prevention. You can read Thamina's original blog article here.

by Priya Ramanujam (@SincerelyPriyain Toronto

When it comes to research pertaining to immigration and new Canadians, things are definitely picking up quickly this fall. In the second installment of Research Watch we take a look at some important research coming out of other parts of the world on migration issues, as well as the upcoming Pathways to Prosperity research conference and an exciting new research collaboration between Ryerson University and the Maytree foundation.

The Ryerson Maytree Global Diversity Exchange

As of September 15, a section of the Maytree Foundation – projects, staff and resources – will have a new home: inside the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. Through what is shaping up to be a dynamic research collaboration that will focus on effectively bringing about increased inclusion of immigrants and racialized minorities in the Canadian business world, four specific projects will come to Ryerson with Maytree: DiverseCity onBoard, HireImmigrants, Cities of Migration and Flight and Freedom. It truly speaks to the important role immigrants play in our country’s economy, explains Wendy Cukier, founder of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute and Vice-President of Research and Innovation.

“I think that increasingly people are recognizing equity and diversity are grounded in a commitment to human rights and that it is the right thing to do from an ethical perspective,” Cukier says. “But, increasingly, they are recognizing the business case and how addressing [diversity] issues appropriately is critical for the competitiveness of businesses, for the effectiveness of government, and, in fact, for Canada as a nation.”

According to Cukier, the new initiative’s Executive Director Ratna Omidvar, and her team, is looking forward to being able to tap into Ryerson’s faculty and students to get involved in current projects. Cukier says this partnership will bolster the expertise, contacts, networks and partners Maytree has as a leading organization in reducing poverty and inequality since 1982. It will also further expand on Ryerson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]But increasingly they are recognizing the business case and how addressing [diversity] issues appropriately is critical for the competitiveness of businesses, for the effectiveness of government and in fact for Canada as a nation.[/quote]

Canada has a history of being a country of immigrants, and other countries are trying to catch up, Cukier explains. Leaders from countries around the world – she notes the president of Germany, Joachim Gauck, will be here later this month – come to Canada to find out how the nation has been so successful at inclusion of immigrants and racialized minorities.

At the same time, we know we can do better,” she adds. “I hope this partnership pushes that envelope.”

Misconceptions about migration to EU

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Interestingly, over 90 per cent of the children I interviewed have a family member in the U.S., with just over 50 per cent having one or both parents there.[/quote]

In recent years, the European Union (EU) has faced considerable economic turmoil. And as such, something has to be blamed. For many, that something is migration. Although political leaders once staunchly defended migration, since the 2008-09 financial crisis, defenders are few and far between. Views such as migrants-are-not-needed in the EU or migrants-take-up-all-the-jobs, run rampant. But, the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute challenges these notions with a new research paper: Is what we hear about migration really true? Questioning eight stereotypes, edited by researcher Phillipe Fargues. A combined effort of 10 authors and contributors, the 92-page report provides in-depth analysis that debunks eight specific stereotypes of migration in the EU.

Of the eight stereotypes, six are argued as point-blank wrong – we do not need migrant workers; migrants steal our jobs; we do not need low-skilled immigrants in the EU; migrants undermine our welfare systems; migration hampers our capacity to innovate and our southern coastline is flooded with asylum seekers. The authors counter these stereotypes with research proving otherwise; for example, an aging population and waning work force in the EU means immigrants will help stimulate the economy. The final two stereotypes – economic migrants are trying to cheat our asylum system and our children suffer from having immigrants in class are deemed complex issues that are not as cut-and-dried to easily proven or disproven.

The misconceptions of migration are not limited to the EU, it seems. In July, The American Immigration Council released a study by researcher Elizabeth Kennedy, No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children are Fleeing Their Homes, which worked to get to the bottom of the influx of unaccompanied child migrants in the United States coming from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Perhaps, what stood out the most about Kennedy’s findings was this passage, “Interestingly over 90 per cent of the children I interviewed have a family member in the U.S., with just over 50 per cent having one or both parents there. Most referenced fear of crime and violence as the underlying motive for their decision to reunify with family now rather than two years in the past or two years in the future. Seemingly, the children and their families had decided they must leave and chose to go to where they had family, rather than choose to leave because they had family elsewhere. Essentially, if their family had been in Belize, Costa Rica, or another country, they would be going there instead.”

Through this finding, Kennedy shows that it isn’t so much about the United States and the pursuit of the American Dream that brings the children across the border, as is widely reported, but rather it is serious issues such as organized crime, gangs and violence. The report also speaks to the fact that leaving their country is often a last resort for these young people and that the children and their families often don’t trust their own national governments to help them.

P2P's second annual conference in Montreal

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]A benefit of attending this conference is to receive up-to-date information from a variety of stakeholders about the latest research being done on cutting-edge issues[/quote]

Pathways to Prosperity (P2P), which unites university, community and government partners in the work of promoting the integration of immigrants and minorities across Canada, will bring together its researchers with policy and program officials from all three levels of government, graduate students and community service providers to set research priorities for the coming year. The 2nd annual conference, being held on November 24 and 25 in Montreal, builds off of last year’s success, which conference co-chair Victoria Esses says created real connections between community partners and academics, which led to meaningful work.

“A benefit of attending this conference is to receive up to date information from a variety of stakeholders, about the latest research being done on cutting edge issues,”says Prof. Esses, who is the Director of the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations.

Six main sessions are scheduled, themed around issues such as regionalization and immigration to communities outside of metropolises and changing entry pathways, including students, temporary workers and transition classes. Workshops and roundtable discussions will be held to set research priorities regionally – remote Northern communities, Quebec, Ontario, the Atlantic provinces, the Prairies and British Columbia are all focus areas, for example.

As Prof. Esses points out, not only will this conference help shape the priorities of P2P’s academic collaborators in the coming year, but it will also help finesse how projects are identified and how existing studies will be re-aligned to better suit community/government goals. The conference will also provide an excellent platform for graduate students to network and find out what’s new in the field, while they seek out possible thesis ideas or gain insight on how to narrow down broad thesis statements. Registration is now open.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014 16:22

Filipinos in Canada: Behind the Numbers

Written by

by Noel Tarrazona in Manila

The Canadian government forecasts that there will be one million Filipino immigrants in Canada by 2025, marking a 50 per cent increase from today. If immigration to Canada is a horse race between competing nations, China, India, the Philippines and Pakistan have the inside track, with Filipinos being the current “favourites.”

New Canadian Media decided to partner with the Asian Pacific Post (APP) - Filipino Post to go behind the numbers and see how newcomer Filipinos are doing. We also spoke to three academic researchers who study migration from the Philippines to understand this movement of people and what it means for Canada. Please click on the plus (+) signs to read comments by the researchers. Our main finding based on a few random interviews: While most Filipino immigrants have stayed and embraced Canada as their new home, some of them have gone back to practice their professions.

[toggle_item title="Dr. Philip Kelly, York University" active="true"]The Philippines was the #1 source country for immigrants to Canada in 2010 and 2011, but by 2012 it had fallen back to second place behind China.

There are two reasons for the recent prominence of the Philippines. One is that the numbers arriving in the Live-In Caregiver category spiked quite dramatically around 2010 -- reflecting an expansion in demand for the program around 2007-2008 (caregivers have to spend two years as temporary foreign workers before they can apply for PR [Permanent Resident] status, hence the time lag).The other reason is that the Provincial Nominee Program has expanded hugely in recent years, mainly in Western Canada. This has been a major channel for new arrivals from the Philippines, especially to Manitoba, which has a very large Filipino community.

The other factor that might be added is that language and educational requirements have been increased, which would favour applicants from countries such as the Philippines, where English is widely spoken and tertiary education is geared towards the needs of the global labour market. That said, the expansion in Filipino migration hasn't been in the federal skilled worker category, where such factors are most important, so it's probably not the most significant explanation.  Dr. Philip Kelly, Director, York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), Professor, Department of Geography, York University[/toggle_item]

This reverse migration is no different from trends for other nationalities, reported by StatsCan as far back as 2006.

Few case studies

Philippine dentist Mike Muin was a university dentist in the southern Philippines when he applied for a family immigrant visa. His family landed in Ontario as immigrants in 2013, but Mike’s credentials as a dentist were not recognized in Ontario unless he took a Dental Challenge Exam. For a year, he never practised dentistry and so he decided to fly back to the Philippines with their youngest son. According to Mike, he is happy working as an associate dentist in a Philippine city.

Muin told NCM-APP that he is still in a quandary whether or not to return to Ontario, where his wife, Rose, and their eldest son still reside. Rose says that for her the Philippines is still an ideal place to raise her children because parents have more time to monitor their children as they grow up. “If I were to choose between Canada and Philippines, I would still choose the Philippines to raise my children where families can spend more time together,” Rose said.

In another case, an assistant professor from the Philippines, who requested anonymity, saw Canada as a potential place for a social sciences academic. He landed as an immigrant in Vancouver in October 2011 and submitted his credentials to the University of British Columbia, Douglas College, Vancouver Community College and Simon Fraser University. Not one of the schools recognized his credentials. He was advised to take bridging courses. The graduate school professor ended up as a labourer for two months in a logistics company on Annacis Island.

[toggle_item title=Glenda Bonifacio, Ph.D., University of Lethbridge" active="true"]
Philippines is quite complex to compare with China and India. India has historical ties with Canada as a former  British colony. China is also different as it has historical roots with racialized labour prior to the institution of the points system. Philippines is a postwar (WWII) immigrant source nation for Canada, but has historical ties to US as a former colony. Restrictions faced by those initially planning to go to the US find immigration streams to Canada favourable at some point.

Chain migration is also a feature of Filipino permanent migration in Canada. As well, Filipinos are family-oriented and sponsor family members when they can to the country. By family, it means an extended family and sponsorship implicates many things -- direct sponsorship for parents and qualified siblings, or indirect sponsorship thru offering housing arrangements for relatives and fictive relations. When the path for those extended family members are clear, then another family chain of sponsorship begins. All source countries display similar patterns of chain migration.

Aside from this, Filipinos are highly educated and highly skilled that they most often comply with the independent skilled migration to Canada. They have higher adaptability of integration into Canada since English is the language of education and business in the Philippines, with no need for them to take language classes like other immigrants in Canada. In other words, Filipinos are ready workforce upon entry into Canada. As well, Filipinos are western-oriented into democracy and shared liberal values as coming from the 'showcase' country of U.S. imperialism. In short, Filipinos have higher adaptability to western lifestyle (including shared beliefs in western Christianity, women's empowerment) that enable them to maximize the opportunities in Canada. – Glenda Lynna Anne Tibe Bonifacio, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies, Research Affiliate, Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy, University of Lethbridge, and Collaborator, Pathways to Prosperity Partnership[/toggle_item]


Feeling demoralized, he flew back to the Philippines and went back to the university he used to teach at. He wrote scholarly publications and his internationally published publications were cited by North American university journals like the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and other best-selling books on security. Canada would have had that honour if the professor was absorbed by one of the schools he had applied to. 

When asked if he was willing to return to Canada, the graduate school lecturer said, “Probably, if most universities will start to recognize our credentials.”

Expert advice

Vancouver-based Filipino immigration analyst Manny Noel Abuel observed that Filipino immigrants return to the Philippines when they don’t find jobs similar to work they had before moving. “You must be willing to start a new life -- like a baby -- where you need to learn how to walk your way to success no matter how challenging the road is.

“When I came to Canada in 1988, I only have $1,000 (U.S.) in my pocket, with three children, but I had to face reality and was determined to succeed in this country,” Abuel said. She also head the media bureau of the Filipino Advent Believers in British Columbia and is a practising communications consultant.

The same advice was shared by Evelyn Yadao, an immigration consultant of Grand Migration Canada. She countered that skilled Filipino immigrants who have gone back to the Philippines should consider returning to Canada because in the long run they will appreciate what this country will do for them. Yadao is also the National Convenor of PLS (Progressive Learning Space) for Kids program, a Canada-based program helping educate displaced Filipino children caught in the war in the Southern Philippines.

Immigrants who stayed

While some Filipino immigrants returned to the Philippines, most Filipino immigrants have decided to stick it out. They have embraced Canada as their new home and have decided to pledge allegiance to Canada’s citizenship once they meet their residency requirements.

Working in the Middle East for years, Filipino Edwin Nodora landed in Canada with his family in 2011 and started working as a maintenance crew in a mall in Richmond. But three years later, he now works in a job where he can use his engineering background.  In his first year, he was tempted to return to the Middle East, but he resisted and eventually got the job he wanted.

Edilberto Javier landed the same year with his family and got employed as a cleaner at Lowe’s, a hardware store, but after three years, he was promoted to Product Service Associate.

[toggle_item title="Denise L. Spitzer, Ph.D., University of Ottawa" active="true"]Labour migration has been regarded as vital to the Philippine economy for decades, relieving pressure on un- and under-employment in the country and contributing to the economy through the receipt of remittances from overseas workers. The Philippine government has developed a highly sophisticated state apparatus whose aim is to facilitate labour migration. Among its activities, state agencies engage in ongoing surveillance of the global economy to determine emerging markets and to identify the types of skills that will be in demand in order to prepare Filipino labour migrants for overseas deployment.

Furthermore, the state regulates labour recruitment agencies who “sell” Philippine labour abroad and broker employment contracts across international borders. For their part, employers may express a preference for Filipino workers because of their facility in English and their generally high level of education.Denise L. Spitzer, Ph.D., Canada Research Chair in Gender, Migration and Health, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa, and Collaborator, Pathways to Prosperity Partnership[/toggle_item]


Jeanette Co- Lim faced a tough challenge when she landed in Canada in the same year, because she could not find the job she wanted, but in her third year, she finally found the right job as an assistant accountant.

“The toughest challenge is  when employers here doubt your credentials, so we have to prove to them that we can do the job, and from there the employer will assign you the job that rightfully belongs to you,” Co-Lim said.

Top ranking

The Philippines became the largest source of immigrants in 2010 when Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) figures show 36,000 Filipino immigrants came to Canada. The next two years have brought 35,000 and 33,000, respectively.

While young Filipino immigrants are helping to replace Canada’s ageing workforce, the Philippine economy in turn also gets over $2 billion (U.S.) in remittances every year.

Further, Tagalog is the fastest growing language in Canada and is the fifth most common non-official language spoken in Canadian households. Statistics show nearly 279,000 people reported speaking Tagalog most often in 2011, up from 170,000 five years earlier.

Canada has also remitted more than $20 million (U.S.) to help rebuild two major cities in the Philippines -- Tacloban and Zamboanga – after they were devastated by a super typhoon and attacked by rebel separatists in 2013.

Noel T. Tarrazona is a Filipino immigrant of Vancouver and is completing his Doctor of Pubic Administration in the Philippines. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Tuesday, 01 April 2014 00:27

Montreal as a City-State

Written by

by Yasmine Hassan 

Activists have launched a new movement to turn Montreal into a “city-state,” allowing it to govern itself, and distancing itself from the series of interesting and laughable steps taken by the Parti Québécois (PQ) government in their quest to preserve and protect the French language and culture in Quebec.

Michel David, president of the Montréal: City-State Movement and co-founder of David Landry Young Consulting Group, has watched the downward spiral that Montreal has been going through and proposed the idea of turning it into a city-state. “The Quebec approach and rules are toxic to Montreal and the result is obvious, Montreal is dying. If Montreal is to live, it has to be out of the toxic Quebec rules,” he explained.

Once granted the city-state status, Montreal has the potential to be the entrepreneurial hub of Canada. “Our traditional sources of wealth have taken a real dive. So you have to replace that with something,” said David. “The only thing I can see is entrepreneurship, a bootstrap approach where you get people who have a high desire, high capacity for work, high resistance for risk, and they come and start companies.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Once granted the city-state status, Montreal has the potential to be the entrepreneurial hub of Canada.[/quote]

Immigration hub

Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver have historically attracted the most immigrants to Canada, with Montreal being the second largest immigrant city. However, since the 1980s, Vancouver eclipsed Montreal, attracted 16 to 18 per cent of immigrants while Montreal attracted between 11 to 12 per cent.

David said his ideas would help restore Montreal as a major immigrant city. “The most likely person to want to start a business is someone who comes from the other side of the world, with ten dollars in his or her pocket and the only way to go is up and they are going to do whatever it takes,” he said. “Educated immigrants are a critical variable for Montreal’s city-state success.”

While Montreal would become its own independent entity, it would still be a part of the province of Quebec and would, in turn, be of great benefit to it by becoming its economic engine. The organizers say the city of Montreal has great potential but is currently being tied down with bogus bills and laws that are written for areas in Quebec (such as language laws limiting English in certain places and the new Quebec Charter of Values that bans all ostentatious religious symbols from public service offices) that are nothing like the unique environment in Montreal. The city is at particular risk, if Quebec Premier Pauline Marois wins a majority government in the upcoming April 7 elections.

A distinct society

Montreal boasts a multicultural citizenry, a bilingual twist, along with a huge potential to become a major cosmopolitan city. Some, like David, think of it as a “distinct society” within Canada that needs to be preserved.

In recent surveys of Canadian cities, Montreal has shown lackluster performance in terms of where it could be based on its size and number of residents, considering it has 50 per cent of Quebec’s total population. A study by the Bank of Montreal and the Boston Consulting Group reported that Montreal had a higher unemployment rate than many other areas in Canada, as well as the lowest GDP when compared to other Canadian cities of comparable size.

Based on the 2011 census, the third most spoken language in Montreal is Arabic (108,000 speakers) followed by Spanish and Chinese. Bilingualism is also on the rise with over three million Quebec residents who speak both official languages.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Based on the 2011 census, the third most spoken language in Montreal is Arabic (108,000 speakers) followed by Spanish and Chinese.[/quote]

At a crossroads

Montreal is now at a crossroads, with the upcoming elections and the plans that the PQ has for it, a strategy needs to be put in place in order to turn this city around. Based on a recent survey by Montréal: City-State and IPSOS, 74 per cent of Montrealers feel that the city needs to be granted special status. Ninety per cent of Montrealers feel that Montreal is different than the rest of Quebec while 91 per cent feel that in order to stop the city from declining further, drastic measures need to be taken. As a society, Montreal’s needs differ a great deal than those of predominantly French cities and yet the PQ comes in with bills and laws that affect Montreal as well and will only cripple the city and lead to its eventual demise.

Right now, the city is far from attractive for both local and international business owners. The long list of laws and bills that you need to consider when starting your company in Montreal will turn anyone off from the idea. “A lot of people are very quietly just leaving and making alternate arrangements,” said Gary Shapiro, President of the Canadian Rights in Quebec (CRITIQ) movement, which wants to prevent government encroachment of the civil liberties of Quebec’s French and English populations. “It’s not whether they will separate or not, the fact is that no one is coming here to start businesses, to expand their business or to grow their business here, so the economy is grinding to a halt, investment grinds to a halt and the quality of life keeps deteriorating.”

Without the PQ looming over the prosperity of the city, Montreal could become a city similar to Silicon Valley, opening doors to immigrants who wish to come and start a business in Canada. “The most important source of new entrepreneurs is educated immigrants, that is the key,” explains David. “If you need entrepreneurs, you have to become a friendly environment for them.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Without the PQ looming over the prosperity of the city, Montreal could become a city similar to Silicon Valley, opening doors to immigrants who wish to come and start a business in Canada.[/quote]

The Montréal city-state movement has garnered a great deal of interest among residents looking to change the course of their city. And with the upcoming elections, what better time to discuss the idea and potentially bring it to life, for the sake of Montreal and Montrealers alike?

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