By: Arvind Magesan in Calgary, AB

Defenders of Donald Trump say his “shithole countries” remark regarding people from Africa, Haiti and other nations was just Trump being Trump — the president may have used salty language, but it’s really just his way of saying the United States should have a merit-based immigration system like Canada’s.

A generous interpretation of Trump’s comments are that immigrants from certain so-called “shithole” countries — African nations, Haiti and El Salvador — are not typically highly skilled or economically self-reliant, and if admitted would need to depend on the state.

In fact, Trump apologists — and the president himself — might be surprised by what the economic data says about immigrants who come to Canada from the “shithole” countries.

John Fredericks, who was Trump’s campaign chair in Virginia, told CNN that immigrants from those countries “come into the United States and they do nothing to increase the prosperity of the American worker. They lower wages or go on welfare and extend our entitlement system …. Australia and Canada have a merit-based system. You know why they do that? Because they want to bring people into their country who are going to enhance the prosperity of their citizens.”

Trump, himself tweeted a similar sentiment.

The conclusion we are expected to make, it seems, is that if the United States was to adopt a purely merit-based system, immigrants would not come from these countries — they would come from countries like Norway, and immigrants from these Norway-like countries would not put pressure on blue-collar U.S. workers because they would be highly skilled and, more importantly, they wouldn’t be a drain on the system because they would be economically self-reliant.

A merit-based system

Canada offers an opportunity to take a look at this hypothesis because our points-based immigration system screens immigrants on merit to a large degree. So when we screen immigrants on merit, who do we let in and how do they do?

The first thing to note is that Canada admits many immigrants from the “shithole” countries.

Data from the 2016 Census shows over the last five years there have been more than twice as many immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean (which includes Haiti and El Salvador) than there were from the U.S. There were also more immigrants from the African continent than from the U.S. and North and Western Europe combined.

Clearly a merit-based system does not mean we only admit people from the “Norways” of the world — and in fact, the census data shows only 230 people immigrated from Norway over the five-year period.

The next question is how do these immigrants fare?

To look more closely at this, I used individual 2011 Canadian census data (detailed 2016 data isn’t yet available) to look at three groups: Canadians whose families have been here for three generations or longer; immigrants from the “Norways” of the world (Northern and Western Europe, including the U.K., Germany, and Scandanavia) and immigrants from Trump’s “shithole” countries (Central America, the Caribbean, Africa).

I looked at the skill levels of the different groups, as measured by their education level, and then at their economic self-sufficiency: Employment, wages and how much they receive in transfers and employment benefits from the government.

Let’s start with skill level.

Forty per cent of Canadians who have been here for three generations or longer have at least some post-secondary education, and 18 per cent have a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, a much larger percentage of immigrants of either type (53 per cent) have some post-secondary, and 27 per cent of immigrants from “Shitholes” have a bachelor’s degree. So by this standard measure of skill, immigrants from “Shitholes” have a slightly higher skill level than do immigrants from “Norways,” and a much higher skill level on average than Canadians who have been here for generations.

What about self-sufficiency?

It is commonly argued that immigrants, particularly from poorer countries, are “expensive” because they receive a disproportionate amount of government transfers and unemployment benefits. The truth is, though Canadians who have been here for generations are more likely to be employed and earn (slightly) more on average than either immigrant group, immigrants from the “Shitholes” are far more likely to be employed than immigrants from the “Norways.”

Fewer transfer payments

Perhaps more interestingly, immigrants from the “Shitholes” receive fewer transfer payments from all levels of government than “Norwegian” immigrants.

Finally, looking at employment insurance benefits alone, Canadians who have been here for generations receive more than either group.

What can we say about these numbers?

Firstly, immigrants from the “Shithole” countries are not typically low skill and in principle, should not be putting pressure on employment or wages of blue-collar workers in Canada. Then why is this such a common perception?

It’s likely due to a different issue, that high-skilled immigrants are unable to get high-skill jobs for other reasons (discrimination in the labour market, an inability of employers to recognize or evaluate credentials, or even language issues) and then do end up competing with lower-skilled Canadian workers.

Secondly, immigrants from the “Shithole” countries are generally no more dependent on the state than other Canadians. Though they earn less than those from the “Norway” countries, they are more likely to be employed and they receive less total government transfer payments.

Many differences

As an economist, it’s important to state that we shouldn’t interpret these relationships between country of origin and economic outcomes as causal — workers from different countries are different for many reasons (demographics like age, as well as occupation, etc).

But that doesn’t at all affect the main point — Trump’s perception of the differences in the average immigrant from countries like Haiti and Norway is at the very least a consequence ignorance, or as many have suggested, racism.

The ConversationOne thing that can’t be rationalized by the raw numbers here: The course of history and the current plight of many of the “shithole” countries is at least partly a consequence of U.S. foreign policies, that the position of relative economic superiority of the U.S. is partly an outcome of these policies, and that this above all might imply a moral obligation on the part of the U.S. when deciding who to let in and from where.

Arvind Magesan is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Calgary. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Find the original article here.

Published in Policy
Friday, 15 April 2016 16:43

Why American Profs Stream North

by Justin Kong in Toronto 

While many Americans may be declaring their intent to immigrate to Canada if Donald Trump becomes President, this migratory trend towards the north is not a new phenomenon.

Historically, everyone from runaway slaves to draft dodgers and individuals of the LGBTQ community could be found among the different waves of American migrants coming to Canada. In more recent years, this flow has remained sizeable, with Americans being the sixth-largest source of immigrants in 2013.   

Yet, Americans in Canada don’t fit most popular notions of immigrants and public discussions usually portray them as invisible immigrants or “expats.” They also appear to perform economically better than other immigrants, and many are also taking up key positions in the fields of arts, culture, and politics. 

Higher cultural-economic capital

There is some belief that this stems from the fact that American immigrants have higher cultural-economic capital than other immigrants. A sector where this is particularly apparent is within Canada’s post-secondary education system. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][A]mongst Canada’s U3 universities (UBC, University of Toronto and McGill University) almost 66 per cent of tenured professors in 2015 were American-trained.[/quote]

Ongoing research on the changing landscape of academia in Canadian universities by PhD students at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Francois Lachapelle and Patrick John Burnett, has found that among Canada’s U3 universities (UBC, University of Toronto and McGill University) almost 66 per cent of tenured professors in 2015 were American-trained. 

Rougher approximation tests conducted by Lachapelle suggest that half (33 per cent) of these are American immigrants. 

Effects on Canadian academics

Rima Wilkes, who researches immigration at UBC, suggests looking back to the 1960s to understand the phenomenon of American academics in Canadian universities. 

“[That was] when the Canadian university system saw a massive expansion,” she explains. “There weren’t enough Canadian-trained PhDs to fill the jobs. So it made sense to hire people from other countries [such as the U.S.] because we didn’t have the skills base.”   

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"[N]ow [even though] we have the skill base, in some cases Canadians with PhDs still don’t get those [tenured] jobs.”[/quote]

Wilkes notes that since then, however, Canadian universities have produced more and more PhD candidates. “So now [even though] we have the skill base, in some cases Canadians with PhDs still don’t get those [tenured] jobs.” 

All of this is happening in a context where academic employment in both Canada and the U.S. is becoming more precarious. With the intensification of competition and fewer tenured and economically secure academic jobs in the U.S., aspiring American academics look abroad. Canadian institutions, such as the U3, have been eager to receive them. 

Louise Birdsell Bauer, who researches precarity in academia at the University of Toronto, says that the preference of hiring American-trained academics stems “from institutional traditions combined with a growing inequality in prestige and training” between Canadian-trained and U.S.-trained academics. 

These factors, Birdsell Bauer explains, do in fact contribute to the “increas[ing] academic precarity for Canadian-trained PhDs,” who face intensified competition with American-trained academic immigrants for these jobs. 

'Colonial inferiority complex' 

Other researchers say that the preference and prevalence of American academics in Canadian universities actually speaks to broader attitudes in Canadian academia. 

Thomas Kemple is an immigrant from the United States. He has been a professor at UBC for more than two decades and now serves as an executive member of the UBC Faculty Association. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"Canadian universities suffer from a kind of ‘colonial inferiority complex’ where ‘our own’ could never be quite as ‘excellent’ as academics produced in the U.S.”[/quote]

“In some ways, Canadian universities suffer from a kind of ‘colonial inferiority complex’ where ‘our own’ could never be quite as ‘excellent’ as academics produced in the U.S.,” he says. “We hear versions of this argument from deans and department heads who value degrees from certain U.S. universities over their Canadian counterparts, [and] often without checking the content and quality of the applicant.” 

Unlike the experiences of many immigrants who come from regions such as Asia, Africa or Latin America who are unable to turn their credentials into positive labour market performance and economic well-being, academic immigrants from the U.S. sometimes experience the reverse. 

Kemple says whether or not the prevalence of American academics in Canadian universities should be an issue of concern is something to think about. 

“There has certainly been some discussion in recent years among faculty – but I’ve never heard it among administrators – about whether an affirmative action or diversity policy should be implemented for Canadian-born or Canadian-educated applicants for university positions.” 

Wilkes similarly notes that she has seen some discussion around this trend stating “that it is often American-born or trained scholars who are leading this [discussion].” 

There is some evidence to suggest that American academic immigrants in Canadian universities appear to be on the statistical upswing. 

Lachapelle, who continues his research at UBC, is finding that amongst the U3 and many other Canadian universities there has actually been a “small, but statistically significant increase in the number of American academic immigrants in Canadian universities between 2008 and 2015.” 

It seems American academics will continue to come to Canada, regardless of who becomes the next president of the United States. 

The writer of this article was mentored by Toronto-based journalist, Ranjit Bhaskar, through the NCM Mentoring Program.

{module NCM Blurb} 

Published in Education

by Tazeen Inam in Mississauga

Canada’s falling loonie has added extra dollars to the pockets of residents who rely on financial assistance from abroad. 

Foreign investors in real estate and local exporters are also enjoying benefits from the dip in our dollar, which is at its lowest level since the spring of 2003, and expected to go lower, as analysts forecast the loonie could lose another 10 cents. 

The loonie dropped just under $0.70 U.S. at the beginning of the year, reaching 69.9 cents on January 12. 

Added cash in hand 

Azra Riffat, a retired officer from Pakistan, lives in Toronto and is enjoying the benefits of the low dollar. 

Riffat immigrated to Canada 10 years ago. Unable to work because of her responsibilities at home, caring for her 80-year-old mother, Riffat receives support from her siblings who transfer money to her account for their mother’s medical and household expenses. 

“My sister is in the UK and brother in the U.S.,” says Riffat. “They cannot physically take care of our mother, so they send in money.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“The lower Canadian dollar only benefits wealthier individuals who have resources to transfer [funds] to Canada."[/quote]

Over the past 12 months, the Canadian dollar has lost 15 per cent of its value against the U.S. Because the majority of the funds transferred to Canada are in U.S. dollars, this means up to an additional $45 for every $100 US converted to Canadian currency. 

“Last month when I checked the quote on an exchange rate of selling $100 US to buy Canadian dollars, it was 144.50,” says Riffat. 

Immigrants often come to Canada as families, but men sometimes return to their countries of origin because they are unable to find work. In other cases, men with high-paying positions in other countries move their families to Canada to give their children a more promising future. These are some of the families who are benefiting from the current exchange rate. 

“The lower Canadian dollar only benefits wealthier individuals who have resources to transfer [funds] to Canada, provided that [the funds come from] countries where the local currency is also in high value,” says Mustafa Koc, professor of sociology at Ryerson University in Toronto. 

Similarly, new immigrants who relocated to Canada during the past year have the added advantage of being able to stretch their savings for a longer period, compared to those who settled before, adds Majid Kazmi, a banker and immigrant from the Middle East. 

Good for real estate 

The low currency this year, complemented by low interest rates, creates an optimal situation for immigrants buying homes and foreign investors alike, as their buying power in the Canadian housing market has increased, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto, says Wayne Ryan, Managing Broker at Remax-Vancouver. 

“Vancouver’s high-end properties are not flying off the shelf,” says Ryan, but explains that detached homes, which can cost anywhere between $3 and $5 million, are popular among foreign investors. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Canada is seen as a “safe-haven” for foreign capital and the falling currency helps to further encourage it.[/quote]

Some potential buyers are able to take advantage of liquidating their assets in their countries of origin and investing in the Canadian real estate market. Analysts like Eytan Lasry, who teaches in the business department at Toronto’s York University, suggest that Canada is seen as a “safe-haven” for foreign capital and the falling currency helps to further encourage it. 

Lasry adds that the best thing for both home buyers and investors is the low interest rates – which may sink even lower – as they make debt manageable. 

“It’s a global economy,” he explains. “When money goes low, you attract more, topped with low interest rates makes the debt servicing easy.” 

Exporters tap gains 

Canadian businesses, including those in food and consumer product industries, that export to the U.S. are also enjoying the extra profit because of the lower exchange rate. 

In a 2014 report, Moody’s Investors Service stated that the Canadian dollar depreciation is a positive for many Canadian industries, such as pulp and wood products. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Their costs are in Canadian dollars and their revenues are coming from abroad in currencies that are better off.”[/quote]

Also, small businesses that export services, like catering and trucking to the U.S. and Mexico, tend to gain from the falling loonie. 

“Their costs are in Canadian dollars and their revenues are coming from abroad in currencies that are better off,” explains Kazmi. 

Fuzail Ata Pirzada, who migrated from the UK 16 years ago, runs a catering business in Mississauga. He provides service to Asian-themed functions and festivals in the U.S. too, close to the border. 

“I am paid in U.S. dollars, but the cost of the vegetables and meat has also increased in Canada, which offsets my profits,” he says. He adds that during winter, business slows down, but he is hoping to reap the benefit of the low dollar when spring arrives, and the wedding season begins. 

“It’s a good time to invest in the Canadian export industry, with a controlled cost of production on manufacturing and producing goods, and enjoy the pricing advantage later,” Kazmi suggests. 

As the Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz, has said repeatedly, the loonie is a casualty of the falling price of oil. He says it could take three years for Canada to work through the economic issues that are currently driving its dollar down.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Economy

by Susan Korah in Ottawa

To some people, Canada seems like the land of American civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams. But a group of race relations activists in Ottawa contend that this belies the truth, and that Canadians need to work harder to make King’s vision a reality in this country. 

Both views were shared at an Ottawa celebration and awards ceremony that a group named DreamKEEPERS organized to mark the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Day. 

Originally declared a public holiday in the U.S. in 1986, the same date was chosen by the Canadian organization to honour King’s memory and raise awareness of his message, which was most eloquently articulated in his speech entitled, “I Have a Dream.” 

Recognizing King's values and principles

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, presented a lifetime achievement award to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, the 16th Prime Minister of Canada (1979-80), described as a leader in fighting apartheid in South Africa and promoting human rights in Canada and the world. 

Most recently Clark served as an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada that reported on residential schools. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The “beloved community,” was [King's] vision of a society based on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings.[/quote]

Daniel Stringer, a former Canadian diplomat and a founding member of DreamKEEPERS, explained that the tabletop award sandblasted with a glass gold leaf is given annually to an individual who has become a role model in Canada and beyond for embodying King's values and principles. 

These include the promotion of social justice, human rights, racial harmony, spiritual values and the advancement of his dream of the “beloved community.” 

The “beloved community,” an idea that King popularized, was his vision of a society based on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings, said Stringer.

Community leadership awards were also presented to Larry Hill, former Deputy Police Chief of Ottawa and Désiré Kilolwa. Originally from Congo, Kilolwa works with women and children who are victims of his native country’s brutal civil war.

“[Canada is a] unique country,” Clark said in his acceptance speech. “The tradition of generosity is deep within us.” 

Clark explained that Canada’s very survival depended on all people pulling together.

“Many of us – Black [people], [Jewish people], Vietnamese, Africans – came here as refugees and we are prepared to extend a welcoming hand to others.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“In the 1970s, visible minorities were few and far between in Canada, but now they are becoming the majority.”[/quote]

He reminisced about working with past recipients of the same award, including Jean Augustine (first African Canadian woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons and the first to serve in the federal cabinet) and Lincoln Alexander (first Black member of the House of Commons and later, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario). 

“In the 1970s, visible minorities were few and far between in Canada, but now they are becoming the majority,” Clark observed. 

Stepping up to fight injustice

Clark acknowledged that further work needs to be done in promoting equality for all of Canada’s diverse peoples. He cited the example of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, founded in response to the Holocaust, which promoted reconciliation and understanding between the two faith communities. 

“Perhaps we need a Council of Christians, Jews and Muslims at this time,” he concluded, making reference to the increase in Canada’s Muslim population with the arrival of Syrian refugees. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][U]nlike the U.S., which is more open about its problem with racism, Canada is in denial.[/quote]

In her keynote speech, Grégoire-Trudeau painted a similar picture of Canada, as a nation that has come a long way in terms of respecting the human rights of its diverse population. 

“The good news is that people in Canada, and indeed the world, are stepping up to fight racial and gender injustice,” she said. 

She pointed to a new generation of young leaders in Canada and the world, who are far more sensitive to past injustices and are prepared to address them. 

“Martin Luther King was an amazing speaker and champion for justice. When he made his “I Have a Dream” speech, the whole world took notice,” she said. 

“If Dr. King were here today, he would be proud of Canada because we haven’t refused entry to refugees whose expression of faith is different from ours,” she observed. 

Canada in 'denial' about racism

As a counterpoint to this image though, Stringer said that Canadian society is often in denial about the racism that occurs here. 

He referred to the recent firebombing of a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, in the aftermath of the shootings in Paris. 

He said that unlike the U.S., which is more open about its problem with racism, Canada is in denial.

Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of Ottawa’s Parkdale Baptist Church, who hosted the ceremony, also referred to racist graffiti scribbled on his church and racist threats he had received.  

“It’s important to celebrate what we have achieved, but also important to keep the momentum going and further the work that still needs to be done,” Bailey said. 

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Top Stories
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 12:16

It’s Islamic Terrorism. So What?

Commentary by Mohamad Ozeir

My name is Mohamad Ali Ozeir. My father’s name is Ali. My mother’s name is Khadija. My children’s names are Zena, Hassan, Jenan, Nadine and Sahar. I look like a typical Arab man: dark, Middle Eastern.

However, I don’t feel I owe anyone an apology for the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Most of all, I don’t feel the need to condemn this carnage as an Arab American of Islamic heritage.

As a matter of fact, as a journalist and an activist, I don’t understand the whole enterprise of apologizing and publicly denouncing any crime based on ethnic or religious consideration.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]I don’t understand the whole enterprise of apologizing and publicly denouncing any crime based on ethnic or religious consideration.[/quote]

Because I felt as outraged by the San Bernardino attack, as I did by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut in 2012, by the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina last June, and by the attack on the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just a few days ago.

And I felt equally related to these assaults as to what happened in San Bernardino.

I wonder why we do have a debate about naming the terrorist attacks committed by people of Islamic background. While I can understand the sensitivity shown by the Obama administration toward this point, it is difficult to comprehend the right wing Republican insistence on calling it Islamic Terrorism.

What purpose does it serve, other than to slap a wide label on more than a billion people, most of whom don’t even subscribe to the religion, let alone to the politics of its fanatics?

Not the majority

I have some news for those eager to issue the label.

Yes, some Muslims are planning and striving to target Americans. Even more would be happy to see such an attack take place on American soil. And many more not only wish to see it happen, but are ready to justify it – in this category, being Muslim is not a requirement.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][I]t is worthwhile to note that Arab and Muslim victims of their violence outnumber all others combined, many thousand times over.[/quote]

But these are not ALL Muslims, and they’re NOT the majority. They’re not even in the mainstream, and some would argue that they have more to do with American and Western support, training, and alliance throughout the years, than with Arabic or Islamic political influence or agendas.

And it is worthwhile to note that Arab and Muslim victims of their violence outnumber all others combined, many thousand times over.

Having said that, what does it matter? For the hate speech peddlers, especially on radio talk shows, and for the participants in the “Silly Season” called the Republican Primary, it is a ploy. It is a tool for energizing the base and motivating the supporters.

It is an old political tradition, going back as far as 1798 when the Federalist Congress passed the Naturalization Act. Back then the subject of hate was the French, and since then this country has gone down the same road more than a few times. Arabs and Muslims are the latest arrivals to the labeling circle. So what?

History repeating itself

The U.S. has proven itself capable of taking care of its own history.

Maybe David Bowers, the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, who cited President F. D. Roosevelt in touting the idea of internment camps, didn’t learn his history well enough to know that this country considers the decision to confine Japanese Americans during World War II to be one of America's most shameful acts.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]As an Arab American of Islamic heritage, I can buy as many guns, military gear, and ammunitions as I please. Isn’t it strange?[/quote]

I know this, I am not afraid for my well-being, and I refuse to be boxed in fear or artificial guilt.

The one thing that I do fear is becoming a victim of a shooting, either in a mass incident or single attack.

Because with all that’s going on, the stares in public places, the never-missed “random” checks in airports, the “smart” comments and camouflaged jokes, the endless profiling - with all this heavy, discriminatory scrutiny, I find it profoundly disturbing that one right of mine remains untouched, with ironclad protection.

As an Arab American of Islamic heritage, I can buy as many guns, military gear, and ammunitions as I please. Isn’t it strange?

Re-published with permission from New America Media.

Published in Commentary
by Our Toronto Correspondent
The Canadian Dream is more real than the American. This is according to a new survey that found close to half of this country’s millionaires are either immigrants or first-generation Canadians compared to new Americans accounting for only one-third of the wealthy in the U.S.
The survey from BMO Harris Private Banking found that 48 per cent of Canadians with liquid assets of $1 million or more are either immigrants (24 per cent), or first-generation Canadians (24 per cent). Within this group of new Canadians, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) reported that their wealth was self-made. Also, almost all affluent new Canadians keep the bulk of their wealth in Canada.
"For generations, many have considered Canada to be a place that provides opportunities for those who are willing to move here and contribute to the growth of the country. The findings of this study confirm this long-standing belief," said Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, Senior Vice President and Head, BMO Harris Private Banking. "Today's high-net worth Canadians, whether they were born here or have adopted Canada as their own, prove that hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit can result in prosperity and success."
The bank’s inaugural study revealed that overall the country's affluent are a diverse group of individuals and that wealth can be acquired in various ways regardless of gender or birthplace. It found that two-thirds are self-made millionaires and only one-in-five attribute at least part of their wealth to an inheritance.
The other highlights of the study are:
·         One-third of high-net worth Canadians are women, compared to 21 per cent in 2010.
·         Education Matters: 80 per cent have at least an undergraduate university degree
·         U.S. millionaires tend to be younger than Canada's
You can read more of the key findings. - New Canadian Media
Published in National

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