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Monday, 16 January 2017 21:04

Making “Friends” Key to Integration

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by A Special Correspondent in Montreal

A new Concordia University study has found that making friends in Canada and being positive about the "new country" can go a long way in helping new immigrants integrate into communities. 

“[The study] shows that the early days after immigration are very important for newcomers. The dispositions and preferences expressed by people when they first arrive will set them off on different trajectories of social engagement in the new culture,” said a Concordia news release.

The study suggests it is important to invest in resources to support immigrants at the very beginning of their integration journey, especially those who may have misgivings about the environment they are entering into.
The study was conducted by recent Concordia graduate, Marina Doucerain. The researchers surveyed 158 international students who had just arrived in Montreal, whose native tongues were neither French nor English and who had not had much time to change and adapt to their new cultural environment.
New Canadian Media conducted this interview with Doucerain by email. 

1. Does Canada's policy of multiculturalism play a role in these predictors of integration?

We did not specifically test that idea, but we believe it does. In terms of social interactions and friendships, it takes two to tango. The fact that newcomers were able to form friendships in the mainstream society and interact regularly with Canadians likely reflects a welcoming Canadian climate that encourages contact between members of different cultural groups.

2. Does it matter if the "friends" are drawn from the same ethnic community?

For an immigrant, making friends with someone with the same cultural origin or with people in the mainstream society is quite different. For that reason, this study focused on predicting interactions and friendships in the mainstream society, so outside of people's own cultural group.

In addition, we selected only participants who had neither English nor French as their native language. We reasoned that making friends with well-established Canadians is very different for someone from China or Venezuela than for someone from the United States or from France.

 3. What percentage of those studied were successfully "integrated" over the course of the study?

This is really hard to say, as there are no clear cut-offs for what "successful integration" means. Does it mean having three, or five, or 10 Canadian friends? Does it mean regularly talking to 5 or 10 Canadians? We just don't know, and that's why more research is needed.

What "successful integration" really means is still a pretty open questions. We have elements of answers, but no clear categories.

4. Were there any factors that are specific to Quebec weighed as part of the study?

The study took place in Montreal, which is a very bilingual city. This allowed us to test our hypotheses in both Francophone and Anglophone contexts (the study was the product of a collaboration between researchers at Concordia university and Université du Québec à Montréal). We observed the same patterns in both contexts.

5. What policy implications do these findings have?

In this study, we focused on the very early days of migration, literally within a few weeks of newcomers' arrival. We believe that these early days are crucial and that it's would be important to invest energy and resources to make sure that newcomers have a lot of opportunities to have positive contact with people in the new society. This could take different forms.

For example, a mentoring or buddy program where immigrants are paired up with a well-established Canadian, just to talk, have some interactions, could be really helpful. Having this initial contact could give an entry point to the immigrant into their new society.

6. Lastly, do the researchers plan to test out their study on a national scale?

This is indeed an exciting future direction for our research!

More information on this study can be found here - The importance of making friends fast — when you’re an immigrant

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 19:16

Trump Tone Won’t Work for Canada: Chris Alexander

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by Jeremy J. Nuttall in Ottawa

The Trump campaign’s symphony of bigotry has vibrated through the Conservative Party leadership race as two of the candidates choose markedly different paths to victory.

While Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch applauded Trump’s victory and pushes screening new immigrants for “anti-Canadian values,” former immigration minister Chris Alexander is marking his turf as a candidate who would let immigrants in and keep Trump’s style of politics out.

Alexander lost his seat of Ajax-Pickering in last year’s election, but said he remains committed to politics.

Speaking to The Tyee during an hour-long interview in Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport before grabbing a flight to Winnipeg for a campaign stop, Alexander explained not only why Leitch’s plan is flawed, but could ultimately hurt Canada.

“You only get great results from immigration and integration when there is trust,” Alexander said. “We have relatively high levels of trust and that is one of the most precious assets we have.”

Canada is built on a unifying narrative about immigrants’ importance, he said, and the shared reality that it is a nation of people who arrived from other countries — aside from Indigenous peoples.

A divisive campaign framing immigrants as potential threats could damage that trust and the benefits it creates for the economy and society, he said.

Alexander said elements in the Conservative Party embracing Trump-like rhetoric don’t recognize the differing challenges and attitudes in Canadian and American societies.

Leitch is echoing Trump’s approach, Alexander said.

Leitch, a medical doctor and professor, congratulated Trump on his win, calling it an “exciting message” and suggesting Canada needs to oust “elites” from the halls of power. The move sparked rebukes from former students and even her former press secretary.

Leitch has said she doesn’t endorse Trump. But her proposal to screen potential immigrants for “values” and her vitriol against “elites” has resulted in criticism she’s attempting to follow Trump’s path to victory.

Leitch, like Trump, has also lost support from the party establishment. And last week she left a leadership debate at the last minute, saying she needed to deal with “threats” and a possible break-in at her Creemore home.

Alexander said Leitch’s tactic of claiming the immigration system is weak and a threat to Canada is “unfair.”

And her plan, which would include a face-to-face interview for all immigrants, refugees and even visitors, would cost a fortune, he said. Immigrants alone account for up to 300,000 people a year, he said, and having enough staff overseas to interview each one would be hugely expensive.


And the money would be wasted, Alexander said, because people who really are a danger to Canadian society are not going to be honest.

He said the current measures — background checks, a review for possible terrorist connections and merit-based admission — work well and are admired by much of the world.

“We do that better than we’ve ever done it and you can see the result,” Alexander said. “I don’t think you can point to a lot of high-profile crimes, and certainly not terrorist attacks in Canada, recently that go back to immigrants.”

But last year, in the federal election campaign’s homestretch, Leitch and Alexander stood side by side to announce the Conservatives’ plan for a “barbaric cultural practices” hotline.

The plan to create a tipline for people to call if they suspected neighbours of activities like forced marriage brought accusations of racism and opponents attacked the Conservatives mercilessly on the issue.

Leitch, then minister for the status of women, said she regrets taking part in the announcement.

Alexander said Saturday that he wishes the Conservatives had run a different campaign.

And he said that even though he was immigration minister, he only found out about the hotline plan an hour before he announced it at a press conference.

Alexander still insists the intent of the plan was to deal with acts like forced marriages.

Alexander also acknowledged what he now calls a “meltdown” on a CBC news show when he tried to blame the media for the Harper government’s limp response from the government about the refugee crisis.

The government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis became a major issue in September after photos of the drowned body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach sparked a global outcry for Western nations to accept more refugees.

Alexander said he cared deeply about the plight of refugees and had suggested the Conservatives announce plans to increase the number of refugees admitted to Canada within 48 hours of the Kurdi story breaking. Then Conservative leader Stephen Harper had announced an increase in refugee admissions from 10,000 to 20,000 in August. Alexander says his suggestion of a further increase was not accepted.

Instead, the Conservatives committed to speeding up refugee applications and an increase after the election.

Alexander took most of the flak for the government’s refugee decisions. A year later, up against the public’s memory of the election, he said wants to build his campaign based on the trust he says is so important to Canada’s functioning, not just on immigration but on other policies.

Meanwhile, Leitch told a Toronto radio station last week she isn’t concerned racists may be supporting her campaign.

Leitch said she isn’t a racist and is delighted so many people were supporting her candidacy.

“There have been some people that have obviously become upset because of these ideas I’m putting forward, but I’m going to continue to talk about them,” she told AM 640, saying polls show a majority of Canadians agree with her.

Later in the week Leitch condemned the appearance of anti-Chinese posters in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond as racist and against Canadian values.

Alexander said there is no list of Canadian values to use in screening immigrants. (Though Leitch has assembled her idea of Canadian values on her website.)

Values are individual and the most important one is respect for the law, he said.

Leitch will not likely be persuaded to change her views, Alexander said, dismissing the suggestion she was merely taking her positions to generate media coverage.

“She’s a person of integrity and I don’t think she’s going to come out and say things she doesn’t believe in,” he said, noting he considers Leitch a friend.

But he said Leitch is likely being “brought” to believe they are sound policies by her campaign team. The team is centered around Nick Kouvalis, who ran the campaigns for both Rob Ford and John Tory when they were elected mayor of Toronto.

Leitch is a frontrunner in the crowded leadership race, polling as high as 20 per cent support.

Alexander said the best way to respond to her policies is by not engaging and remaining adamant Canada is “in a different place” — though he worries a weak economy could lead to a populist Trump-style movement.

“Let’s have policies and let’s have debate that actually are inclusive and focus on issues that actually matter,” he said, pointing out Leitch’s views on immigration are opposed by most of the 12 Conservative leadership candidates.

“We’re going in other directions and I think that’s the mainstream conservative and mainstream Canadian approach to immigration.”

Republished with permission from The Tyee

A study led by Western University researchers Stelian Medianu and Victoria Esses has found that visible minorities are significantly under-represented in senior leadership positions at City Halls in London and Ottawa, with Hamilton faring better.

In London, only 7.9 per cent of senior leaders in the non-profit and municipal public sectors were identified as visible minorities compared to 13.1 per cent of the general London population.

In Ottawa, only 11.9% of senior leaders in the studied sectors were visible minorities compared to 19.4 per cent of the general Ottawa population.

In contrast, it was found that 13.8 per cent of senior leaders in Hamilton were visible minorities, closely aligned with the 14.3 per cent of the general Hamilton population who are visible minorities, according to a Western University news release

New Canadian Media interviewed Prof. Victoria Esses by email. She is Director of the Western Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations. Access the study here: Visible Minorities and Women in Senior Leadership Positions: London, Hamilton and Ottawa

Q: What would you say were the top five findings from this study?

The top five findings from the study are as follows:

In London and Ottawa, our data showed that visible minorities and visible minority women were severely under-represented in leadership positions in the municipal public and non-profit sectors. Hamilton fared better overall.

The municipal public sector had the poorest representation of visible minorities and visible minority women across all three cities. Visible minorities and visible minority women were also severely under-represented in Ontario’s agencies, boards, and commissions.

There was also evidence of under-representation of women at the senior leadership level in all three cities and Ontario’s agencies, boards, and commissions, but these effects were less severe than those evident for visible minorities and visible minority women.

Q: What do you think was your most startling finding in the representation of minority groups ?

The most startling finding was with respect to the lack of representation of visible minorities in the municipal public sector.

Q: You have been a researcher in the area of immigration and equity for a long time. What are the legitimate conclusions Canadians can draw from this study nation-wide? Is there a need for studies in other immigrant-rich cities and towns across Canada?

There is a need for studies in other cities and towns across Canada. Similar research is currently being conducted in Vancouver and we look forward to seeing their results.

I believe that one conclusion that can be drawn from these results is that there is still work to do to ensure that senior leaders who are our decision-makers represent those for whom these decisions are being made. This work may occur at the level of recruitment, as well as selection of senior leaders.

Q: Did you interview corporations and hiring managers? How did they explain the gap between the demographics of London and the representation within their own companies/institutions? Are they doing anything to fix this gap?

As mentioned, we did not look at businesses. Instead we examined the public sector and non-profits. It is also important to note that our methodology involved examining the representation of visible minorities in leadership positions and we found evidence of under-representation, but we did not address the issue of why these effects are evident. 


by Our National Correspondent

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have just put out results of a "psychological analysis" of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. Announcing the results via a news release Nov. 8, the university said, “Contrary to what might be expected, grandiosity, simplistic language and rampant Twitter activity were statistical predictors of success in the Republican primaries. Although Trump’s bombastic communication style was shocking — even detestable to many viewers — our research suggests that this style helped him win the Republican nomination.”

The results were put out before the election results were clear following the end of polling in the U.S. Tuesday night. 

“Trump’s outrageous statements over the course of the campaign led many political pundits to underestimate his chances of success,” according to supervising author Delroy L. Paulhus, a personality psychology researcher and professor at UBC. Sara Ahmadian and Sara Azarshahi were co-authors of the study titled, “Explaining Trump via Communication Style: Grandiosity, Informality, and Dynamism”.

New Canadian Media interviewed one of the researchers, Sara Ahmadian, via an e-mail exchange.

Q: Does your study offer any insights into what sort of president Trump will be? Specifically, will he be a disruptor or a conciliator? Will he keep his promises, specifically as it relates to Muslim immigrants and building a wall with Mexico? Temperamentally, can he really be a "president for all Americans"? And, most importantly, are America's nuclear missile codes safe in his hands?

A: The qualities that got him elected may impair his ability to get things done. An effective leader must have self-control, ability to compromise and complex thought. You have to be able to listen and take criticism. These are not Trump's strongest points.  Previous research has shown that leaders who are able to use more complex rhetoric while in office are more effective leaders, but Trump is mostly known for his informal style.

Whether he can switch is a question that only time will answer. Previous research has also shown that presidents with styles similar to Trump's have had more scandals while in office. So, my prediction is that the Trump drama will continue on. Trump has also been known to flip-flop between ideas and policies.

We cannot determine if he will keep his promises. However, we have to keep in mind that many of the things that Trump wants to do will have to pass through the Senate. So, in conclusion, while I argue that he will not be the most effective leader, I think the nuclear missile codes will be safe. However, I cannot guarantee that he will not threaten to use them.

Q: In terms of psychological profile, what type would best describe Donald Trump? Does his profile match any other international leader?

A: I would say he has a highly narcissistic personality. I think that’s the one aspect that stands out the most considering his level of boasting. To the extent to which there are other international leaders like him, I would say the one person that stands out the most is the U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage. Interestingly enough, Farage is a big supporter of Trump.

Q: Does your study explain or provide any insights into why Trump was particularly critical of immigrants in the campaign?

A: Our study doesn’t directly address this question. But, indirectly, if we think about the social context that has allowed Trump to be successful then that might provide some information as to why immigrants are the target. Americans and most of the world are currently extremely fearful of immigrants, especially because of the world events such as war in Syria or even the simple problems such as financial instability. These types of events can lead to personality styles such as Trump. These styles need a scapegoat and at times it is the immigrant population that suffers. I mean examples [such as] Brexit, the rise of Norbert Hofer in Austria or Geert Wilders in The Netherlands.

Q: Any lessons we can draw in Canada? Can a similar candidate gain traction here?

A: I think we were very lucky in regards to the timing of our election. Although it has been said that we are more liberal than the U.S, it is important to point out that had a big terrorist event happened prior to the election in Canada, we might have chosen an individual more similar to Trump’s style. 

Q: What was it about this candidate that made him a good case study? 

A: Well, when Trump announced his bid to for the presidency, everyone thought it was a joke and it would be over in a month. In addition, all the experts said there is no way that Trump would continue or win the nomination. They all believed that Jeb Bush would be the nominee. Time and time again, it was revealed that all of these experts were wrong and that we have underestimated Trump. So the question became, how could we have been so wrong?

Furthermore, I work in a dark personality lab and Donald Trump is the greatest example of a narcissist.

Q: What does your study tell us about those who voted for Trump? Why didn't they see through his vacuous campaign?

A: What our study tells us is that we have been focusing too much on the content rather than Trump’s style, in explaining his success. If you look at interviews with Trump supporters, they usually say they don’t know what Trump’s policies are and they don’t care. What separates Trump and helped to make him a successful candidate was his style. These supporters can relate to Trump because of his informal style and they see him as a very successful individual thanks to how often Trump over-exaggerates and boasts about his accomplishments.

This interview has been slightly edited for clarity and updated following President-elect Donald Trump's win.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 19:08

Impatient India Riding a Treadmill: Editor

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by Our National Correspondent in Ottawa

INDIA’s galloping national economy has made its people so impatient that growth under seven per cent a year could have a deeply de-stabilizing impact for the country, a well-respected Indian editor, Shekhar Gupta, told an audience of academics and South Asia watchers in Ottawa Tuesday.

Comparing such a slow-growth scenario to “falling off a treadmill,” Gupta noted that consistent progress over the last 25 years of economic reform (since 1991) has raised expectations and created high aspirations among the country’s 1.2 billion people.

“For Indians to be really happy, 8.5 to 9 per cent growth would be ideal,” he suggested.

Based on his extensive travels for a variety of news organizations, the veteran journalist said Indians are “leapfrogging” across social and wealth divides in both villages and cities.

He senses a “churn” in his country, driven by three realities – a smartphone in the hands of all Indians, widespread use of motorbikes to travel and cheap college education.

Argumentative democracy

This has resulted in social and economic mobility, but most importantly, widespread literacy programs have empowered the people to make India “an argumentative democracy”.

“Democratic politics is meant to be competitive. The voters can throw you out if you don’t perform,” he pointed out, adding that this is exactly what’s happening in most of India today.

In both states (similar to provinces in Canada) and at the federal level, leaders who deliver on economic growth have won re-election, sometimes several times over. The reverse is also true. Over the last quarter-century, politics has become “meritocratic,” accompanied by the rather unusual trend of rising voter participation – unlike most other democracies.  

Continuing his decidedly optimistic take on Indian affairs, the television host and newspaper columnist sees the media business also being a growth industry – again, unlike most other democracies. He pointed to his own start-up enterprise, The Print, as indicative of an industry that is still hiring journalists.

He repeatedly referred to a “value chain” along which Indian citizens climb the rungs, including in the area of language. Typically, in his view, it begins with a vernacular mother tongue, then learning Hindi and then eventually, English.

Modi phenomenon

Gupta was delivering the annual Dhahan lecture organized by the Canada – India Centre for Excellence at Carleton University, on the theme “India in transition”.

He generally gave high marks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for instilling pride in Indians and his ability to impress audiences wherever he goes – both at home and abroad. “Modi has made India the most selfie crazed nation in the world.”

The Modi government suffers from "an intellectual deficit," in Gupta's opinion, but has proven good at project implementation. "It's a government in a hurry."

However, Modi has also swung India to the socio-religious right – not the economic right – and harped on nationalism. This nationalism combined with national pride could prove to be a “double-edged sword,” Gupta warned, pointing out that politics in India is not divided over economic policy differences, but rather over what it means to be a secular country.

The last 25 years has seen a move away from an almost-agnostic national ethos to a muscular nationalism that appeals to the Hindu majority population. “This will be the ideological and philosophical point of argument in the years to come,” Gupta forecast.

Dangerous cocktail

Anil Varughese, a South Asia expert at Carleton, who was among those who heard Gupta, offered this assessment: “Gupta’s lecture was a splendid testament to his wide-ranging knowledge of India and the remarkable complexity and richness of Indian democracy. In a tour de force, he captured the chief drivers of fast-paced change in contemporary India.

“His basic premise was that consistent high economic growth combined with easier access to information has spawned far-reaching transformations to India’s politics, society and culture, making its people impatient for change.

“His most valuable insight, I thought, was his remark that to understand changing India, one needs to ‘read the wall’ (the billboards). While his optimism for a more aspirational and assertive India was palpable, his caution against the dangerous cocktail of high economic growth and brazen peddling of nationalistic pride was prescient.”

Monday, 17 October 2016 15:02

The Senate’s Champion of Diversity

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by Mackenzie Scrimshaw in Ottawa

With mere weeks remaining before the U.S. presidential election, which could see the victory of a candidate who has vowed to implement “extreme vetting” for immigrants, Independent Sen. Ratna Omidvar, long an advocate for diversity and inclusion, suggests that Canada is mostly, but not entirely, safe from similar issues.

“We’re a far more polite society. We have far more civility,” she said in a recent interview. “I think there are some things that Donald Trump says that nobody would say here, frankly.”

Notwithstanding that observation, Omidvar has some questions about Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s proposed “anti-Canadian values” test for immigrants.

“Will someone tell me what is ‘Canadian’ outside rule of law and our values that are expressed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?” Omidvar said.

Omidvar also pointed to a recent poll by CBC News and Angus Reid, in which almost 70 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement: “Minorities should do more to fit in with mainstream American/Canadian society.”

“The CBC poll, I think, in a sense, was a reflection of language and discourse coming in (from the U.S.),” she said.

The senator sat down with iPolitics on October 6 in a vacant office at the University of Ottawa’s Fauteux Building after giving a keynote speech to a group of law students, interested in refugee law, from across Canada. The address was part of the first student-led conference of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.

Although she isn’t a lawyer, Omidvar has worked for years on issues of immigration and diversity. Prior to her Senate appointment, Omidvar chaired an organization called LifelineSyria, which helps resettle Syrian refugees in the Greater Toronto Area. She also headed up the anti-poverty Maytree Foundation for a time.

Now, the rookie senator is a distinguished visiting professor at the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), a “think and do tank” at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. Omidvar is also the GDX’s founding executive director.

Recognized widely for her contributions, Omidvar has many accolades, including membership to both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.

Omidvar spoke candidly for more than half an hour, sharing with the students her wisdom — such as, ‘tell human stories’ — and her experience fleeing Iran and arriving in Canada in 1981.

Following her address, the senator told iPolitics that Canadians cannot take our experience with multiculturalism for granted.

“I think we have to be aware that our story of ‘Canadian exceptionalism’ is one that continues to be strengthened,” she said.

The government’s citizenship bill

Currently, Omidvar is supporting the government’s citizenship bill, C-16, which she moved to a second reading on September 27. Now, about a year-and-a-half after the former Harper government passed its controversial Bill C-24, known as the Strengthening Citizenship Act, the new piece of legislation is intended to revert the changes the Conservative bill made to the Act.

The senator’s office outlined in a recent news release some of the “significant changes” proposed by the bill:

–          Repealing the authority to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens on national interest grounds;

–          Repealing the requirement for citizen applicants to declare an intent to reside in Canada;

–          Reinstating previous, reduced residency requirements to obtain citizenship;

–          Reinstating residency credit for temporary residents; and

–          Reinstating previous age requirements to meet language and knowledge criteria to obtain citizenship.

Going forward, Omidvar says she thinks it’s going to be difficult trying to reinstate the previous age requirements, exempting those between 14 and 18 and 55 and older. Already, Omidvar is facing questions about evidence to support this change, which she says she’s trying to gather.

“I’m really concerned, here, about people who have a disadvantage in either having the capacity to learn the language or having the opportunity to learn the language,” she said.

Technically, the opportunity exists to learn an official language, given that there are classes, she said. “But when you have to work three jobs to put [food] on the table, please tell me when are you going to find time to learn English?

“I have a great deal of sympathy for immigrants who are in what I would call ‘precarious work situations,'” she said, adding that this is the case for many immigrants, especially those in cities.

Plus, Omidvar is very concerned about refugee women.

“I have a family that I’m sponsoring: I can see everyone — everyone — in the family is moving ahead by leaps and bounds. Except the mother,” she said. “Imagine if after three years, everybody else becomes a citizen and she doesn’t.”

Don’t pigeonhole her

Following her appointment last March, Omidvar told CBC News that, “There are issues that concern me that I have not been able to work on.”

Omidvar elaborated on this point while speaking to iPolitics, saying that she won’t limit her work as a senator to issues of migration, diversity and inclusion.

“I don’t want to be known as the senator [for] refugees, immigrants,” she said, adding, “It’s a big part of the country; it’s not all the country.”

Instead, “I’m pretty keen on working on issues that are of vital importance to the not-for-profit and charitable sector.”

These issues, she suggests, involve a lack of public respect for the sector, as well as its relationships with provincial/territorial and federal governments and the Canada Revenue Agency. However, Omidvar says she hasn’t yet determined her focus.

“This is an area in my eight years I would like to leave a legacy in that field, as well,” she said. “I’m interested in this because I don’t think there’s a single senator who is not associated with a not-for-profit or a charity, so this is something that we may well have common cause on.”

Senate modernization

The special committee on Senate modernization this month released its first report, with more than 20 recommendations intended to move the institution forward. The final recommendation, on committees, aims to make the process of assigning senators to standing Senate committees more inclusive in order to guarantee representation for Conservative, Liberal and independent senators.

“We should have voice and we should have standing as members of committees at the same scale of our presence in the Senate,” Omidvar said of the independent senators. “I was pleased to see some of this reflected in the Senate modernization report.”

Currently, however, this isn’t the case for the independents, who are underrepresented on committees.

“That’s simply, I think, unfair,” Omidvar said. “And that’s the first thing that has to change.”

Now, she says, there should be aggressive timelines for implementing some of these recommendations.

Life inside the chamber

Now, after roughly four months in the chamber, Omidvar says she was “naive” about parliamentary procedure and still has much to learn — which isn’t easy — in this area.

Meanwhile, she says she loves working on legislation — from the bill on Air Canada’s centres of excellence to physician-assisted dying to citizenship.

“I love the fact that at the Senate we get to see how the country really works and we are able to put our finger on it,” she said. “It’s absolutely fantastic.”

The third part, Omidvar says, involves learning how “to be more of a politician,” which is “completely new” to her.

“So, I have a very steep learning curve that I’m just beginning.”

In order to climb that curve Omidvar says she’s going to ask some of her colleagues to coach her on parliamentary procedure, an approach she thinks will be the most effective for her.

Plus, “I will keep open lines of communication with senators who oppose my point of view or support my point of view,” she said. 

This goes for senators in any of the three camps — Conservative, Liberal or independent.

“I’ve been appointed as an independent and I intend to use that independence to create alliances…where I can.” 

Beyond legislation

Although she introduced the government’s citizenship bill on the first day of the Senate’s fall sitting, Omidvar says she doesn’t have any plans to move another piece of legislation.

However, the rookie senator says that legislation is only one instrument — and that she’s currently trying to learn about each of the tools in her figurative toolbox. Senators can, for example, launch inquiries, ask questions and write or lead reports.

“I think it’s easy to go to legislation, but I think there’s lots one can do along with legislation.”

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New Canadian Media provides nonpartisan news and views representing all Canadian immigrant communities. As part of this endeavour, we re-publish aggregated content from various ethnic media publishers in Canada in an effort to raise the profile of news and commentary from an immigrant perspective. New Canadian Media, however, does not guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views and opinions contained in content from such other sites. The views expressed on this site are those of the individual writers and commentators, and not necessarily those of New Canadian Media. Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved