Family reunification is at the core of the Liberal government’s immigration policy. After our two-part in-depth piece on the pros and cons of the family class immigration stream, this new series takes a closer look at the process from the perspectives of major immigrant groups in Canada. What are the opinions and experiences of individuals and families who took this route or are in the process of doing so? We find out what works and what needs improvement. The following report is the second in our series and looks at the frustrations caused by painfully long wait times. Read part one here.

by Marieton Pacheco in Vancouver 

Elmira Padlan-Bautista is no stranger to Canada’s family reunification program. She and her husband have been going through the process of sponsoring both their parents since 2005. But after 10 years, Elmira’s parents are now with them in Canada, while her husband Jerold’s parents are still waiting in the Philippines. 

It’s a heartbreaking situation considering they tried to sponsor Jerold’s parents first. 

The couple’s application to sponsor the Bautistas in 2005 was initially refused due to lack of income, but after submitting additional documents in 2006, they were given approval to complete the requirements for both sets of parents in 2008. 

This included separate instructions to do medical tests in Manila and that’s where the problems started. 

“There was always something in their medical tests,” says Elmira. “There was a spot in [Jerold’s] dad’s lungs the first time; he was asked to undergo medication and come back after three months. When he was cleared, they found another issue with his mom this time.” 

Jerold’s mom has gone back for medical tests about 10 times already due to heart problems and complications from diabetes. It doesn’t help that she’s 73 years old. And with each exam costing around Php 3,000-5,000 (about $100-$150), it’s been quite an expensive and frustrating exercise. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It’s been too long that I think they’ve lost interest in coming here."[/quote]

“It’s been too long that I think they’ve lost interest in coming here, napagod na sa pabalik-balik kaya nawalan ng gana (it’s tiring to keep on going back [for medical reasons] and frustrating),” shares Elmira. 

Despite this, they received a letter from Canada's immigration department in 2013 asking them to pay for the parents’ Right of Landing Fee. They did, and Jerold's parents were asked to submit their passports to the Canadian embassy in Manila. 

But without medical clearance, their visas remain pending. It’s been so long that the parents’ have asked the embassy to just return their passports, which have been held for about a year. 

Lessons learned 

Elmira says she remembered all these lessons when she applied for her own parents’ sponsorship in 2008. After receiving approval to sponsor them in early 2011, she asked Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), which is now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), to send all correspondence through her.

Both her parents were also visiting Canada when the letter for their medical examination arrived. She checked with CIC and was able to have both her parents’ medical exam done here. With no hitches in their documents and medical tests, her parents were approved for permanent residency in December 2012. 

It was still a four-year wait, but Elmira is grateful, especially when compared with her in-laws’ case and those of some of her other friends in the community. 

“I don’t mind going through all the requirements and application ’cause it’s really worth it that they’re here,” she says. “They’ve been very helpful in babysitting the three kids. I didn’t have a bad experience with my parents’ sponsorship like we did with my husband’s parents. They’re frustrated, and we’re still frustrated...” 

More efficient, fair processing needed 

At the beginning of this month the IRCC began accepting parent and grandparent sponsorship applications for 2016. Many immigrants are again trying their luck to bring their families here. 

Current wait times to sponsor parents and grandparents (PGP) under the Family Class vary from four to six years depending on where your visa office is located. The IRCC’s website says its offices are currently working on PGP sponsorship applications received before November 2011. 

Immigration consultant Arlene Tungohan says the key is really to improve processing times for these applications. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It’s not a first-in, first-out system anymore. What’s happening is last-in, first out."[/quote]

Doubling quotas as promised by the new Liberal government from 5,000 to 10,000 may be a good thing, she explains, but it doesn’t really mean anything unless they speed up processing times for those who’ve been waiting for years. 

Tungohan adds she still has live-in caregivers’ applications for family sponsorship from five to six years ago. 

Their family members in the Philippines have undergone medical exams two to three times already, but their applications remain in processing. Then there are those who submitted applications in 2015 and have been given their PR already. 

“We don’t know why the process is that way,” Tungohan says. “It’s not a first-in, first-out system anymore. What’s happening is last-in, first out ... I guess they want to show it’s faster now with the changes, but it’s a little bit unfair. Many caregivers are suffering because of it.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“You hardly hear of parents going on welfare especially in the Filipino community.”[/quote]

Tungohan says family reunification has always been a priority under Canada’s immigration system, so whether it’s sponsoring parents or grandparents, or caregivers trying to bring the rest of their family members to Canada, wait times should be reasonable. 

Welfare not a ‘Filipino thing’ 

The immigration consultant also discredits criticisms on parents and grandparents being a burden to Canada’s health-care system. 

Many, if not all, of those approved to live here still want to work and contribute to the Canadian economy, she says, adding that collecting welfare is hardly a Filipino thing to do. 

“You hardly hear of parents going on welfare especially in the Filipino community,” she explains. “We take pride in being able to support our parents, in showing them that ‘hey, we are successful.’” 

But as long as processing times are not improved, families like the Bautistas will have to wait some more for a chance to support their parents here in Canada, or else they will continue hearing about the realities of their parents’ aging from thousands of miles away. 


Journalist Ranjit Bhaskar mentored the writer of this article through the NCM Mentoring Program.

{module NCM Blurb} 

Published in Policy
Thursday, 17 December 2015 14:04

Our Huge Cultural Blindspot

Commentary by Hadani Ditmars in Vancouver, British Columbia

Donald Trump is the bogeyman. I get it. He’s also the Grinch, Darth Vader and Hitler.

In fact, he was once on an episode of the Simpsons as an imagined future president in a dystopian America.

But in a world of bogeymen, he may just be the most televisual and carnivalesque, not to mention social media friendly.  I wonder what Hitler would have done with all the social and other media currently at demagogues' disposal? Somehow, I think, he wouldn't have been as slick and televisual as Trump — likely more awkward and sweaty like U.S. President Richard Nixon was.

Trump is the id of the American people; the comments section come to life.  He says things openly that other politicians think but dare not speak. He epitomizes the American tradition of waves of immigrants arriving only to demonize the next wave.

In the same way that ISIS (Islamic State) is a very modern horror (as opposed to a recreation of historical Islam), Trump is also the perfect conflation of American obsessions with wealth, race and "security"— and a simplistic worldview. His is a fascism writ large for the Internet age where opinions are formed by memes, sound bites and hysteria rather than historical precedent and analysis. And, he finds fertile ground in America’s growing underclass of the disaffected, uneducated and underemployed, for whom the American dream will never be a reality.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][H]e finds fertile ground in America’s growing underclass of the disaffected, uneducated and underemployed, for whom the American dream will never be a reality.[/quote]

Banning Muslims

And yet, mainstream Republicans are quick to distance themselves from him. A Rasmussen Reports survey says that 66 per cent of Republicans favour Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from America.  And his ideas about walling off Mexico and racially profiling Muslims, are mere knock offs of American ally Israel’s own policies. Hearing the likes of Dick Cheney and Benjamin Netanyahu call Trump a racist were rather unconvincing exercises in the kettle calling the pot black. Perhaps they are afraid Trump — or one of his outrageous outbursts — will give away the game.

While Trump may be somewhat confused about the actual way the internet functions, his Republican colleagues seem to have a limited grasp of the concept of international law and what constitutes a war crime.  Besides, Trump’s recent suggestion about shutting down ISIS by blocking its internet access would be right at home in many Middle Eastern police states (and U.S. allies) who have tried — with limited success — to stop various groups from disseminating information via social media.

And Trump is certainly not the first politician to favour showmanship over substance (he is, after all, channeling the ghost of Ronald Regan with his populist, Hollywood ways).

Our Canadian blindspot

And even though we Canadians love to point a collective finger at our neighbours to the South as being the exclusive purveyors of racism, the fact that we have a “mosaic” while they have a “melting pot” is no excuse for a huge cultural blindspot. We just express it “differently’, like say, via forced sterilization of native women in Saskatchewan, or ongoing incarceration of refugee claimants.

There are many different ways of “banning” people from entering a country. Canada has a proud history of doing just that — from anti-Asian exclusion laws, to turning away boatloads of Sikh migrants, Jewish refugees in WW2 or more recently criminalization of Tamil “terrorists.”

Were past Conservative Minister’s like Jason Kenney and John Baird really that different than Trump?

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]he fact that we have a “mosaic” while they [America] have a “melting pot” is no excuse for a huge cultural blindspot.[/quote]

While their rhetoric may have differed, their intention was the same. They manifested their Islamophobic policies that mirrored the most right-wing of Israeli policies in a variety of ways.

The previous government’s unprecedented support for Israel began as soon as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was elected but swelled when the government cut funding to KAIROS — a well regarded NGO deemed too “pro-Palestinian” —in 2009, and reached a peak in 2012 when, alone among G8 leaders, Harper refused to embrace Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan based on pre-1967 borders.

Canada’s vote against a Palestinian bid for statehood later that year (contrary to the wishes of a majority of Canadians, according to polls) further damaged its status at the UN and its international reputation.

Indeed many Canadians are still shocked and embarrassed by Canada’s loss of the UN Security council seat in 2010, which was widely attributed to its pro-Israel Middle East policy — and was often held up by the Harper government as a badge of honour.

Refugee policy

Harper’s policies on refugees were criticized by everyone from Amnesty International, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, and No One is Illegal. Just because we have a new photogenic Prime Minister who is bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees does not mean that endemic issues with Canada’s refugee and immigration system will magically disappear, along with all the racist trolls who grace the comments sections of our national dailies.

This Christmas, let’s look beyond the pantomime villains we love to boo and hiss at and unmask the ones hiding behind masks of “respectability.” And let us remember that every pantomime fool reveals uncomfortable truths, even if they arrive via outright lies and outrageous statements.

In a way Trump’s opera buffo shines light onto some rather darker stories we’d rather not dwell on — ones we ignore at our peril. In our zeal to demonize him, let’s not forget that what he reveals — the de facto complicity of more “mainstream” politicos and the deep racism inherent in North American history — may be more important than what he says.


Hadani Ditmars is the author of Dancing in the No-Fly Zone: a Woman's Journey Through Iraq, was a past editor at New Internationalist, and has been reporting from Africa and the Middle East for two decades.Hadani is also a musician who believes that world music can be a powerful vehicle for peace.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Commentary
Friday, 23 October 2015 21:11

Pros and Cons of Family Reunification

by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver

Justin Trudeau has now officially been elected as Canada’s 29th Prime Minister and with him come promises of investment in infrastructure, electoral reform and changes to the lengthy family reunification process.

Some of those changes involve doubling the number of applications allowed for parents and grandparents to 10,000 each year, speeding up permanent residency applications for spouses and raising the age limit for dependants.

These changes mark a reversal to the Conservative government’s overhaul of the family reunification process in 2011.

Limitations placed by the federal government at that time on the application process meant sons and daughters living in Canada could expect to wait up to six and a half years before their parents’ applications were processed.

Changes to regulations

Allowing immigrants to sponsor their parents and grandparents is concerning to many economists and politicians because of the heavy price tag it carries.

According to Fraser Institute Senior Fellow Martin Collacott, each grandparent ultimately costs Canadian taxpayers more than $300,000 in services and welfare benefits over the course of their time in the country.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"[T]he government attempted to limit Family Class immigration after noticing that some relatives who were brought to Canada ... were likely to make little economic contribution to Canada."[/quote]

In his study, titled “Canadian family class immigration: The parent and grandparent component under review,” Collacott explains that the government attempted to limit Family Class immigration after noticing that some relatives who were brought to Canada were ultimately unskilled, had limited English language skills, and were likely to make little economic contribution to Canada.

Over the last few decades, these assumptions have led to an increase in the number of economic immigrants coming to Canada from 45 per cent in 1990 to 63 per cent. To contrast, family class immigrants have dropped from 34 per cent in 1990 to 25 per cent in 2014.

The group that has most acutely felt the effects of these changes are older prospective immigrants.

In 2011, the Conservative government temporarily stopped receiving applications for sponsored parents and grandparents in order to deal with a backlog of approximately 160,000 applicants.

When the stream reopened in 2014, the government limited the total number of applicants in this category to 5,000 per year.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“At the basis of this is an assumption that only economic immigrants are important.”[/quote]

Jason Kenney, who was then the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, explained these changes when they were announced, by stating: “We're not looking for more people on welfare, we're not looking to add people as a social burden to Canada. If their expectation is that they need the support of the state then they should stay in their country of origin, not come to Canada.”

The reforms in 2013 also increased the minimum necessary income (MNI) to sponsor parents and grandparents by 30 per cent and reduced the maximum age of dependants from 22 years old to 18.

“This is not a random phenomenon,” explains Marc Yvan Valade, a PhD candidate in policy studies at Ryerson University. “At the basis of this is an assumption that only economic immigrants are important.”

A different type of contribution

Despite these arguments, some experts argue that this focus ignores the many non-economic contributions these immigrants make.

“If it would help immigrant families to secure a stronger foothold in our society and feel even more belonging and want to contribute, well this is a gain for all of us,” says Valade. “It’s a gain not only economically in the short term, but it’s a gain in the long term as a society.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“[Family reunification] is a gain not only economically in the short term, but it’s a gain in the long term as a society.”[/quote]

A study by the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary found that family separation could both exacerbate the vulnerabilities of the children in these families as well as hinder meaningful integration into Canadian culture.

“Contrary to the representation of sponsored relatives as a drain on the health-care system and social services, we heard instead that sponsored parents and grandparents were playing critical roles as child care providers that allowed their children to go out and become part of the workforce in Canada,” the study explains.

The Liberals' promise

Navdeep Bains, just-elected Liberal MP from Mississauga-Malton and a member of Trudeau’s economic advisory group, told New Canadian Media during the election campaign that the party’s policies reflect this understanding.

“Family reunification is important as it enhances the family support system,” he said. “It will have meaningful impact for new Canadians as it will enable families to earn double incomes if a couple or shift worker gets child care support from their parents. It is sound economics, as good family dynamics help people to thrive.”

In the days leading up to his party’s Oct. 19 win, long-time Liberal MP John McCallum said his party intended to “put the family reunification program back on [the] rails.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"Super Visas are not a substitute for family reunification.”[/quote]

“Let’s be clear, Super Visas are not a substitute for family reunification,” McCallum said.

Introduced by the Conservatives, the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa (Super Visa) is a temporary resident permit that allows parents and grandparents to stay for up to two years in Canada per visit, and is valid for up to 10 years.

“The family reunification program is a priority for us. It is a huge issue, that is cause for anger, frustration and tears,” added McCallum, who formerly served as the party critic on the immigration file. “We see it as part of an immigration program that will welcome new Canadians with a smile instead of a scowl.”

Valade is optimistic about these changes, but says the real test will be whether sufficient resources are made available to treat demands in a reasonable time.

“Overall, the whole Family Class program should be reviewed in a way that considers the immigrant family as an asset for Canadian society, and a contribution to immigrant integration.”

With additional reporting by Election Desk Editor Ranjit Bhaskar in the Greater Toronto Area.


This is part two of a two-part series looking at family reunification policy. Read the first instalment here.

{module NCM Blurb} 

Published in Policy
Thursday, 08 October 2015 20:03

Family Reunification: The Economic Cost

by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver

As the date of the federal election draws nearer, political candidates have begun to consider the costs of reuniting immigrant families – both economically and socially. 

On September 25, Justin Trudeau announced that if elected, the Liberal government would double the number of applications allowed for parents and grandparents to 10,000 each year, speed up permanent residency applications for spouses and raise the age limit for dependants.

“Making it easier for families to be together here in Canada makes more than just economic sense. When Canadians have added supports, like family involvement in child care, it helps drive productivity and economic growth,” Trudeau stated.

The Conservative response to this statement was critical. “The previous Liberal governments made all of the same kinds of promises, and they left a system with seven and eight-year wait times,” said Jason Kenney, Conservative candidate and former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, at a news conference.

Kenney toted the Conservative government’s accomplishments, stating that they have increased overall immigration levels by over 20 per cent, admitting 258,000 new permanent residents per year.

The majority of these individuals, however, are classified as economic immigrants – individuals who are sought after for their applicable skill sets – not members of the family class Trudeau spoke of.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) figures, 63.4 per cent of new permanent residents were economic immigrants in 2014, while 25.6 were family class and 8.9 were refugees.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“The government has made it clear that they want to favour economic immigration, so they’re putting an emphasis on making that part of things work.”[/quote]

“The main issue is that [family reunification is] just not [a] priority for government,” says Janet Dench, the Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “The government has made it clear that they want to favour economic immigration, so they’re putting an emphasis on making that part of things work.”

Express entry

On January 1 of this year, the government announced its new policy of express entry, which expedites the application process for qualified economic immigrants.

Under express entry, applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class may enter Canada in as little as six months. 

Kenney recently referred to express entry as “a system that’s fast, that connects people to the labour market so they can realize their dreams and fulfill their potential upon arrival in Canada.”

The system compares candidates against one another, ranking their skills and experience levels using a points-based system. Those who receive the highest scores are then invited to apply for permanent residency. 

In 2014, the number of economic immigrants who came to Canada was 165,088, the largest number in 12 years, except for a spike in 2010. Compare this with the 66,659 family class immigrants brought to Canada in 2014. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“If you try to attract the more knowledgeable immigrants, then our market is going to globally be more advantaged over time and more competitive.”[/quote]

Marc Yvan Valade, a PhD candidate in policy studies at Ryerson University, explains that the government has prioritized these workers over families because they provide a skilled and capable workforce to Canadian employers. 

“If you try to attract the more knowledgeable immigrants – those who have diplomas, who have experience – then our market is going to globally be more advantaged over time and more competitive,” he says.

By allowing entry to those able to financially support themselves, the government also reduces costs associated with resettlement, welfare and health programs, he said.

However, he feels this belief is “short-term” as well as unverified. According to Valade, the skilled immigrant workers he has encountered during his research say that the skills they were brought to Canada for are not being valued once they enter the country. 

“Most of them are saying, ‘Well, we found out in a difficult way that our lack of Canadian experience on the market was a big hurdle and most employers didn’t want to hire us because they felt insecure with what we were bringing,’” he shares.

“They feel kind of cheated, forced into survival jobs of which they often remain prisoner,” he adds.

Refocus on the families

For Dench, this focus on economic interests distracts from those who are the most at risk – families and children seeking reunification.

“Children who are waiting to be reunited with their parents in Canada can routinely wait two, three, four years for the processing,” says Dench. “In the case of refugees in particular, the children are often left behind in a very dangerous situation.” 

According to the CIC, spouses, common-law partners or dependent children (under 19 years of age) applying to be reunited with their families in Canada can wait between six months and four years for their applications to be processed. The minimum wait time increases significantly for parents and grandparents, adopted children, children to be adopted, orphans and other family classes.

For refugees, the wait times are also exorbitantly long. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It’s cruel to ask spouses to wait far longer in war zones than we ask skilled workers to wait.”[/quote]

Laura Best, an immigration and refugee lawyer with Embarkation Law Corporation, works with individuals attempting to bring their family members to Canada on a daily basis. 

“It’s very frustrating and difficult to explain to people that if their partner applied to come to Canada through a skilled worker program, they could be here much faster than applying through a family class to reunite with their loved ones,” she says. “It really speaks to the priorities of the government.” 

She continues: “It’s cruel to ask spouses to wait far longer in war zones than we ask skilled workers to wait.”

Policy changes moving forward

The federal government recently announced that it was increasing its resources aimed at resettling refugees from Syria and Iraq, doubling the number of employees at the Winnipeg processing centre where all refugee applications are handled and sending more immigration officers abroad.

While Dench is happy to see that the government is going to try to reduce the red tape surrounding resettlement and immigration for refugees, she is disappointed that there haven’t been any measures specifically addressing family reunification.

“Why are not all [of] these families priorities?” she asks. “Reuniting children with their parents, that should be a priority and there’s really no excuse for Canada to be routinely taking more that six months for those children to come to Canada.” 

“It doesn’t need to all be about narrowly answering Canada’s economic needs, but reuniting families and protecting refugees are important and valid objectives that also need to be responded to,” she concludes.


This is part one of a two-part series looking at family reunification policy. The second instalment will focus on the pros and cons of family reunification.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Policy

by Anita Singh (@tjsgroupca) in Toronto, Ontario

As Canada is a mere two weeks into the longest federal election campaign in modern history, negative political advertisements have already made their rounds in the media. 

Targeted messages aimed at various ethnic groups will start appearing next. And for good reason.

While 61.4 per cent of voters turned out across Canada in the 2011 federal elections, research by Liviana Tossutti shows that voting patterns vary in immigrant and ethnic communities.

Although Canadian-born voters with Chinese and South Asian backgrounds are more likely to vote than the Canadian average, members of other non-European communities and immigrants who arrived after 1991 are less likely to vote than their Canadian counterparts.  

The Conservative Party has long identified this untapped group of voters for targeted advertising. And the ads are beneficial on two grounds.

First, targeted ads convince non-voters to go out and vote for the ruling party. Second, they make a convincing argument for current voters from these ethnic groups to vote Conservative.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Targeted ads were tied into a larger Conservative strategy that clearly delineated “very ethnic” ridings where 20 per cent of the population originates from a single community.[/quote]

There is very little direct evidence of the success of targeted ethnic ads. However, anecdotal evidence from the 2011 election seems to have convinced the Conservatives.

The party won 23 of 24 ridings in the GTA with large immigrant and visible minority populations. 

Extrapolate these results to the other parts of the country with large ethnic communities – such as Vancouver and Montreal – and this strategy could well determine an election outcome.

Part of a larger strategy

Targeted ads were tied into a larger Conservative strategy that clearly delineated “very ethnic” ridings where 20 per cent of the population originates from a single community. 

It led to ridings such as Vancouver-South and Brampton-Springdale getting exceptional attention from the Conservatives.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]These messages also have the ability to make elections more accessible to non-Canadian-born populations.[/quote]

The Liberals and New Democrats have also used targeted ethnic ads. But they haven’t come across as part of a larger strategy. 

Take Brampton-Springdale in 2011 for instance. 

The Liberal MP, Dr. Ruby Dhalla, had won both of her previous elections (2006 and 2008) with small margins. 

Seeing an opportunity, Prime Minister Stephen Harper kicked off his campaign from that riding, and in a busy election season, managed to visit it twice.

This approach has also been supported by the constant presence of Minister Jason Kenney in ethnic communities, policy announcements with ethnic voters in mind (such as ‘super visas’ for grandparents and parents still overseas) and Harper’s visit to the Golden Temple of the Sikhs in Amritsar, India.

In contrast, then-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s only Brampton-Springdale visit happened in the last week of the campaign as part of a marathon effort to visit 12 ridings in three days.

The party tried to make up by sending one-term MP Justin Trudeau to visit the riding.

Cheap and easy

Targeted ads are attractive for several reasons. They are cheap to produce and easily distributable. Political parties can attract attention of groups that are not easily accessible due to their lack of civic engagement or language barriers. 

Embedding the messaging in the commercial breaks of foreign movies or TV shows, for instance, creates awareness that might not otherwise be possible.

These messages also have the ability to make elections more accessible to non-Canadian-born populations. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][Critics] allege that these ads stereotype ethnic and immigrant communities and fail to reflect their complexities or special interests.[/quote]

While some are simply translations of mainstream French and English ads, others focus on issues specific to ethnic groups like family reunification, immigration policies and visas, or are congratulatory messages for special events in a community.

Most targeted ads do not appear on major networks or newspapers and are restricted to local ethnic media outlets. And the options are plentiful. 

For the South Asian community alone, there are close to 15 weekly or daily newspapers serving the community such as the South Asian Post, India Abroad, Weekly Voice, and even regional and linguistic variants such as the Punjabi Post, Gujarat Abroad and Thangatheepam.

Like the attack ads, targeted ethnic advertising has its critics.

Some argue that political parties use these ads to showcase their favours for certain communities.

Others allege that these ads stereotype ethnic and immigrant communities and fail to reflect their complexities or special interests.

And like attack ads, despite the criticism, expect to see even more targeted electoral ads during this campaign as parties try to rally as many supporters in what is turning out to be a tight three-way fight for the House of Commons.


Anita Singh is a founding partner of Tahlan, Jorden & Singh Consulting Group and a Research Fellow at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University. Her research examines the role of diaspora groups and their influence on foreign policy (particularly the Indo-Canadian community) and Canada-India relations.

{module NCM Blurb}

 

Published in Commentary

by Catherine Murray, NCM Ombudsperson, in Vancouver, British Columbia

Readers need an independent channel to connect with any media organization to ensure the news content produced is of the highest standard.

As New Canadian Media’s first ombudsperson – I think the term “ombudsman” excludes women and “public editor” signals a professional journalist too close to the organization’s editorial board – I am here to respond to reader comments and complaints about bias, inaccuracy and unfairness in news compilation and coverage over the next year.

I believe the public is an essential part of the journalistic process, demanding accuracy, fairness, ethical practice and impartiality.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]I think balance in reporting on complex issues is a false goal. What is more important is impartiality, ensuring that all sides of an issue are presented fairly, that reporters clearly distinguish between news and opinion, and that news organizations seek diverse voices as sources or election pundits.[/quote]

Like Kathy English, the Toronto Star’s public editor, I think balance in reporting on complex issues is a false goal. What is more important is impartiality, ensuring that all sides of an issue are presented fairly, that reporters clearly distinguish between news and opinion, and that news organizations seek diverse voices as sources or election pundits.

Since this fall’s federal election campaign promises to be long, close and volatile, upholding these standards will be even more important than usual.

From my vantage point, as a researcher in political communication, I want to suggest some things to watch for in news coverage of this election.

Coverage of the electoral system and process

The new federal Fair Elections Act, passed in 2014 despite objections, removes from Elections Canada the research and monitoring function in the promotion of voting.

It must still provide information about how, when and where to vote, and some of its voter education programs continue, but on a smaller scale.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][B]ecause the campaign is the longest in many years and access to financial resources is not equal among parties, tracking of incidence of earned coverage and paid ads for parties will be critical.[/quote]

This change, combined with new requirements for proving eligibility to vote (especially among new voters), makes it important for news organizations to monitor the conduct of the election, use of dirty tricks and especially the impact on awareness and turnout of voters, to see if the Fair Elections Act is indeed fair, and perceived by voters to be so.

The fact that there are 30 new ridings and 50 departing MPs suggests there will be at least a 25 per cent turnover in seats. Background on riding record will provide important context for readers.

And, because the campaign is the longest in many years and access to financial resources is not equal among parties, tracking of incidence of earned coverage and paid ads for parties will be critical.

The obligation to be fair and impartial

Best practices require that news organizations adhere to a code of ethics and disclose their editorial approach to election coverage. In particular, concern has often been raised over how they report polls: full disclosure of sponsor, sample size, method and margin of error are required.

Reputation for editorial impartiality and integrity can be compromised if parties make use of news coverage from an organization without permission. Since this reputation and good will takes years to build up, news organizations are beginning to crack down on such partisan exploitation, especially if in an attack ad.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]If an ad brings the system of democracy or the craft of the public politician into disrepute, is it unfair – just as it is if it harms a person’s reputation?[/quote]

When thinking about balance, Canadian political scientists and media experts are concerned about the tipping point between “horse race” (who’s winning, who’s losing) and “issue” (what voters care about) coverage, strategic analysis of the local riding and the national picture, and fairness in attack ads.

If an ad brings the system of democracy or the craft of the public politician into disrepute, is it unfair – just as it is if it harms a person’s reputation?

The test is a “reasonable person” one, where most news organizations rely on on-the-street interviews with members of the general public for shallow and immediate feedback.

Campaign realists claim that Canadians may dislike attack ads, but they work, if they are believed to be credible and fair comment.

The rise of partisan, attack politics is often presented as inevitable, but it comes at a cost.

At what point do attack ads cross the line? When should news organizations not include the ads in reports on them? Should the practice be reined in and, if so, how?

In Canada, local candidates are rarely targeted for attack ads, but standards may be changing, especially in hotly contested ridings.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The category of “reality check” investigative reports on campaign claims is growing, and good for journalism.[/quote]

Finally, in the new era of what experts call the “permanent campaign,” with a fixed election date known by all parties well in advance, it will be important for reporters to separate the pump priming before the writ is dropped from intrinsic campaign effects post-writ.

The category of “reality check” investigative reports on campaign claims is growing, and good for journalism. In a recent turn, the CBC has subtly shifted its reference to Harper away from Prime Minister to Leader of the Conservative Party in reference to the campaign – putting all parties on the more equal footing, the opinion polls indicate.

Gratuitous racialization and non-discriminatory coverage

Slow progress is being made in codes of ethics on prohibiting reference to race and ethnicity that is irrelevant to a story – what some call “gratuitous racialization.”

Erin Tolley of the University of Toronto has been interviewed by NCM on her forthcoming book-length study, which suggests that racial discrimination was not overt during the 2008 election: incumbent candidates were relatively free of it, but racialized challengers still faced framing as a long-shot candidate or as a special interest in-group candidate, or were pigeon-holed on issues.

Equal treatment of candidate coverage in length and placement is important. Since the last election, Canadian news organizations are more often subscribing to codes that uphold non-discriminatory practice: stereotyping or marginalizing of groups or individuals is avoided by use of neutral, objective language in producing a story.

Immigrants, ethnocultural politics and new Canadians

Ethnic outreach has become part of the Harper Conservative brand, and no one is more associated with it than Jason Kenney. Watchers of this election will see if their assumption that ethnic voters are part of the new right wing holds true, or if the Liberal Party will regain its appeal and other parties will make new inroads. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]There has been remarkably little empirical research in Canada on visible minority voters and their preferences – or their reactions to things like attack ads, for example, despite growing appearance in them.[/quote]

A byproduct of such intensified “push politics” is that parties may bombard community papers or ethnocultural community groups with free event news, comment and “special” briefings, in different languages, not available to mainstream media.

For some mainstream reporters, this special status has been a hot-button item since candidates may say one thing in one language, but something else in a different one, thereby breaching trust, but the extent of the practice and its impacts are not really known.

There has been remarkably little empirical research in Canada on visible minority voters and their preferences – or their reactions to things like attack ads, for example, despite growing appearance in them.

The fact that new Canadians have had higher turnouts in past elections is touted as a source of pride, but researchers with the Metropolis Canada project, the network on immigration studies, wonder if the more precarious economic circumstances of recent newcomers may drag down voter turnout, just as it appears to be bringing down the rate of naturalization, or proportion of permanent residents who become citizens.

This election promises to be an exciting one for NCM and its readers, and those of us monitoring the media.


Catherine Murray, New Canadian Media’s Ombudsperson, is a professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. She has researched and written on B.C. ethnic media, self-regulation and the politics of cultural diversity in Canada. Dr. Murray has also served as a peer juror on the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and chaired the Ombudspanel for the CBC during the 2004 federal election. She is currently researching cultural work and cultural policy in Canada, with a special focus on cultural production. Write to her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in Commentary

by Shan Qiao (@dmaomao) in Toronto, Ontario

Major Chinese media outlets had Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, in their headlines after the Globe and Mail published a controversial investigative feature on him last Tuesday.

During an interview conducted right after the Globe published the story, Chan told Ming Pao that he has previously read articles about himself published in Chinese media that were similar to the Globe’s piece.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Chan told Sing Tao that the Globe’s intention in publishing the article before a federal election with Chinese candidates running for office is questionable.[/quote]

“I feel confused,” Chan said to Ming Pao. “During many events I have participated [in], I have heard from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I have heard from Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney, I have heard from Senator Victor Oh that Canada needs to develop its relations with China. I am doing this job, yet I was investigated by CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and I was criticized by the newspaper.”

He continued: “Should we develop Canada-China relations? Or should the person who promotes Canada-China relations be investigated? I am waiting for an answer from the Prime Minister.”

Attempt to Discourage Chinese-Canadians from Politics?

Ming Pao also interviewed Geng Tan, who is a federal Liberal candidate in Toronto’s Don Valley North riding, and whom Chan strongly supported. 

Tan blasted the Globe’s report and indicated the story is nothing but mud throwing at the Chinese community. “The report suggests [a] Liberal candidate who has [a] mainland Chinese immigrant background has close ties with the Chinese government. It wants to discourage Chinese immigrants from participating in [Canadian] politics,” he told Ming Pao. He asserted that he would still run for office despite the Globe’s report.

Sing Tao, another major Chinese-language daily newspaper, also published an interview with Chan on its front page. Chan told Sing Tao that he “absolutely has no idea why the Globe would publish something as old as five years ago.” The CSIS briefing on Chan occurred in 2010.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Yang Yundong said the story was unfair and discriminatory to Chan and the Chinese community. He went on to say judging Chan to have lesser loyalties to Canada because he emigrated from China and helps develop the relations between China and Canada is wrong.[/quote]

Chan told Sing Tao that the Globe’s intention in publishing the article before a federal election with Chinese candidates running for office is questionable. He encouraged Chinese-Canadians not to feel fearful and to still take an active role in Canadian politics. They should be more involved in election campaigns and help their candidates, he added.

What Chan said echoes the open letter he put out after the Globe’s report, which stated: “I would like to continue to encourage newer Canadians to consider taking an active role in public life. This is essential for our society to progress. They should not be discouraged by the fear of allegations that the everyday actions of newer Canadians need to be minutely examined to determine if they somehow have lesser loyalties to this country.”

Sing Tao also published a statement made by Yang Yundong, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada, in its follow-up story the next day. In the statement, Yundong said the story was unfair and discriminatory to Chan and the Chinese community. He went on to say judging Chan to have lesser loyalties to Canada because he emigrated from China and helps develop the relations between China and Canada is wrong.

The statement also said that there are many Canadians living and working in China, such as Dashan (Mark Rowswell), a well-known comedian who rose to fame in the early ’90s. “They use their own way to connect China with Canada and we appreciate them,” the statement concluded.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in China
Thursday, 18 June 2015 09:59

Courting the #CdnImm Vote

by Anita Singh (@tjsgroupca) in Toronto, Ontario

It is no secret. Whenever an election is nearing, the number of appearances by incumbents, prospective candidates, ministers and party leaders at roundtables, speeches, photo-ops or other events organized by ethnic and immigrant community groups increases.

And, particularly in an election year, these politicians hope that their presence will gain the one vote that will determine their success in the upcoming elections.

The recent numbers are impressive – the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce has hosted four federal ministers in as many months, and the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada has hosted six high-profile individuals, premiers, ambassadors and ministers since the beginning of 2015. 

While Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander could not beat preceding minister Jason Kenney’s record attendance of community engagement events (at times as many as six appearances in a night), he has also dedicated a significant amount of time for community engagement, meeting members of the Polish and Chinese communities in the last month.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The ‘shaking-hands-and-baby-kissing’ explanation of how immigrant communities vote oversimplifies a complex relationship between immigrant communities, representative interest groups and political leaders.[/quote]

Yet, the ‘shaking-hands-and-baby-kissing’ explanation of how immigrant communities vote oversimplifies a complex relationship between immigrant communities, representative interest groups and political leaders. 

Immigrant groups have an important effect on elections, policies and party platforms by helping politicians position themselves to appeal to respective communities.

Issues Development

An interest group’s most effective role is its ability to identify issues that are electorally important for the immigrant community. It provides candidates and parties with a pulse on the issues that exist within a community. It serves as a forum where active members of immigrant communities discuss, dissect and organize around these issues. 

Members of ethnic interest groups in Canada have been vocal on issues of visas, the temporary foreign worker program, small- and medium-sized business development and reduction of trade barriers to developing economies.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Political science research has shown that people actively involved in their communities – including interest groups - are more likely to be involved in aspects like fundraising and volunteering for political parties.[/quote]

The Chinese-Canadian National Council, for example, has been a long-time advocate of the ‘super visa’ for parents and grandparents, a 10-year visa that allows holders to stay in Canada for up to two years a visit. It has also been vocal against the government’s caps on applications (only 5,000 applications were accepted in 2014).

Similarly, Indo-Canadian groups have played a significant role in identifying the major trade barriers between Canada and India in the completion of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Community Engagement

Political science research has shown that people actively involved in their communities – including interest groups – are more likely to be involved in aspects like fundraising and volunteering for political parties. And the numbers show that members of the Conservative Party have reaped the benefits of this.

A 2013 CBC article found that nearly 60 per cent of the $143,000 raised by Kenney’s Calgary riding association came from the Chinese-Canadian community in Ontario and a significant (but smaller) amount from the South Asian community also outside of Alberta, indicating their support for his approach to community engagement. 

Moderating Effect

In addition, organized and formal interest groups provide a forum for politicians looking to connect with immigrant and ethnic communities, while helping to moderate messaging of the more radical groups in line with government interests and policy. Politicians are then able to prioritize issues that they can more easily act upon, instead of focusing on ‘splinter’ issues within particular groups that have unfavourable, anti-state and sometimes violent ideologies.

For example, in recent years, members of Parliament (MPs) have distanced themselves from events such as Vaisakhi parades where participants have advocated for violent separation from India, or rallies in the Tamil community, which promote and fundraise for the Tamil Tigers.

Are Politicians Listening?

Correlation between these community engagement activities and influence on policy is hard to prove. But there are signs that political candidates are listening to interest groups.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]For a period of three years between 2008 and 2011, the ruling Conservative party issued formal apologies for injustices committed against numerous ethnic communities in Canada.[/quote]

For a period of three years between 2008 and 2011, the ruling Conservative party issued formal apologies for injustices committed against numerous ethnic communities in Canada, including the Komagata Maru incident, the poor handling of the Air India attack and the Chinese head tax.

Significant changes to immigration policies have seen the landing fees for new residents nearly halved. They have created opportunities for skilled labour to gain access to work, benefiting those most likely to be politically engaged and involved in ethnic organizations. 

But these policy platforms are not limited to the ruling party.

Justin Trudeau has recently taken aim at what he calls the racist anti-Muslim policies of the Conservative government, including the proposed ban on headscarves at citizenship ceremonies and Canadian Terrorism Act (Bill C-51), both issues taken up by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, while Tom Mulcair has promised improvements to the immigration system to speed up visas for family reunification.

The question now remains: which one of these approaches will reap the most electoral benefits in the future?


Anita Singh is a founding partner of Tahlan, Jorden & Singh Consulting Group and a Research Fellow at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University. Her research examines the role of diaspora groups and their influence on foreign policy, particularly the Indo-Canadian community and Canada-India relations.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Commentary

by Themrise Khan in Ottawa 

While the mainstream media definitely covers stories of local politicians’ victories and foreign leaders’ visits to Canada, what is sometimes missing from the coverage is the 'ethnic' story angle relating directly to the many Diaspora communities settling in Canada. That's why ethnic media outlets are vital to our country's media make-up. In this edition of PULSE we explore five headlines relating to the Pakistani-Canadian diaspora making waves in ethnic media outlets. 

Pakistani-Canadians Unsuccessful in Mississauga Ward 4 By-Elections 

After earning a total of 1,565 votes, John Kovac was the winner of the Mississauga Ward 4 by-elections held in April, reported the Urdu Post. 

Several candidates from the Pakistani community also contested the by-elections, but unfortunately, did not fare as well. Rabia Khedr garnered 850 votes, Arshad Mahmood received 265 votes and Ameer Ali received only 95 votes out of a total of 9,000 votes cast.

Kovac, won slightly over 17 per cent of the popular vote, with a result that came as a surprise to many voters. Kovac ran a stellar campaign to become the youngest councillor to be elected in Mississauga with a winning margin of almost 100 votes over opponent Antoni Kanto who received 1,467 votes.

From a total of 27 candidates, only seven ran campaigns that could be considered as well organized as Kovac's.

Modi’s Visit to Canada: Kashmiri People Must be Allowed to Decide Own Future

Until the Kashmiri people are given the right to decide their own future, the struggle for freedom will continue.

This was the message put forward by Dr. Ghulam Abbas at a meeting held in Toronto in light of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to Canada in April, reported the Weekly Urdu Post Canada.  

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The meeting protested Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Canada and declared that in accordance with international law, India and Pakistan must withdraw their forces from Occupied Kashmir and allow the Kashmiri people to decide their own future.[/quote]

Thousands of Kashmiris have been killed in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir due to India’s forced occupation of the region and the Modi government has been accused of creating its own colonies to be able to crush the Kashmiri independence movement, reports the newspaper.

Members of this meeting further demanded that Canada should end all its agreements with India to convince it to allow the (disputed) state of Jammu and Kashmir to decide its own fate.

The meeting protested Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Canada and declared that in accordance with international law, India and Pakistan must withdraw their forces from Occupied Kashmir and allow the Kashmiri people to decide their own future.

Why are Pakistani-Canadians not Politically United? A Commentary.

The weak performance of Pakistani candidates in Canadian politics has prompted many in the community to question why they have not been able to achieve success.

A commentary by Masood Khan on this topic appeared in the May 6 edition of the Urdu Times, using the Mississauga Ward 4 by-elections as an example of this, where the few Pakistani-Canadians who contested, fared poorly.

Unlike the Indian community who are very politically and socially united, several Pakistani community members have made many attempts to contest in local ridings, but have not been very been successful in winning, despite their contributions to the community.

One of the reasons for this, the article suggests, is perhaps that many Pakistanis contest for nominations without having much experience in politics or, for that matter, working for the community. 

The analysis further states that thousands of people vie for nominations on local seats so candidates now need at least between 2,500 and 4,000 votes to win, which is far beyond the scope of the Pakistani community in many cases.

Alleged Irregularities Discovered in Selection of Brampton South Nominations

Unusual circumstances have prevented Nasir Hussain, the Liberal Party candidate in Brampton South, from securing a nomination for his party recently, reported the Urdu Times. Coming third place in the race has raised serious questions for all those who recognize Hussain as being a long-standing member of the local community and the Liberal Party for several years.

A sudden blackout on the day of polling at the station and unusual traffic conditions that blocked roads leading to the polling station were incidences that have raised suspicion amongst Hussain’s supporters. Investigations revealed that the reason for these occurances was a traffic accident close by that damaged an electrical pole.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]These incidences have raised many concerns amongst [Nasir] Hussain’s supporters, who feel the need to find out exactly why someone as popular as him was unable to secure the riding nomination. They want to protect the Liberal Party from such attacks in the future.[/quote]

But even if this was the case, the article continues, it still raises questions as to why there were not adequate measures made at the polling centre for backup generators, or an alternative route was not provided to those driving to the polling station.

Another major concern that raised suspicion of irregularities in the process, was the removal of Hussain’s chief polling agent on accusations of wrongdoing, which provided the opposing candidate the opportunity to take advantage of the situation, and ultimately, win.

This was followed by an altercation between the winning party and supporters of Hussain who claimed they were abused verbally in ways that did not reflect Canadian values.

These incidences have raised many concerns amongst Hussain’s supporters, who feel the need to find out exactly why someone as popular as him was unable to secure the riding nomination. They want to protect the Liberal Party from such attacks in the future.

The 100-Year Journey: A Story of South Asian Pioneers

With the help of funding from the Government, a project showcasing the contributions of South Asians in building Canada has been initiated to create awareness on the subject among the public at large.

According to The Canadian Times, Minister of Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and state minister for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal (pictured to the right) announced that under the 100-year Journey Project, the Government of Canada would provide $200,000 to produce a book chronicling this journey. 

The book will contain stories of prominent South Asians who came to Canada in its early years and made significant contributions to the development of the country.


Themrise Khan is a freelance social policy research professional and a recent immigrant to Canada. She has a keen interest in issues of migration and migrant diasporas, as well as foreign policy and international relations.

{module NCM Blurb} 

Published in South Asia
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 23:05

The Conservative “Balancing Act”

by Richard M. Landau (@Richard54) in Toronto 

There was a time when the vast plurality of new Canadians voted for the Liberal Party of Canada. With the exception of some of those who had escaped the tyranny of the Warsaw Pact, immigrant communities, once established, voted Liberal. Some of the thinking was: “I came into this country thanks to a Liberal government. To them I will remain loyal.”

In recent years there has been an uneasy alliance between new Canadians and a Liberal Party that is driven by a progressive social agenda increasingly at odds with traditional and fundamental religious values. I remember the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Nations standing before the General Assembly in 1967 admonishing America and the West for its promiscuity, its miniskirts, its bikinis and its hot dogs, while lambasting Robert Kennedy as the son of a whisky merchant. 

The Conservative Party saw that growing rift and exploited it with a strategy to engage new Canadians. So we saw Prime Minister Stephen Harper visiting the Sikh holy city of Amritsar and the then Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney assiduously executing a policy of dialogue with new Canadians – especially South Asians.  

Here’s what they did. The Conservatives spoke to the values of hard working new Canadians. Instead of avoiding them, the Conservatives embraced their aspirations by emphasizing lower taxes and continued economic prosperity, or, in other words, security. The Tories repeatedly made the case of, ‘we are the best managers of a thriving economy that benefits your families.’  

The Conservatives had a reputation for being a party full of White people who were hard on immigration. So they took steps to ease immigration.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The Conservatives had a reputation for being a party full of White people who were hard on immigration. So they took steps to ease immigration.[/quote]

Finding Common Ground

Jason Kenney waded into the Ontario’s 905 area – a ring of ridings just outside Toronto – which had been a sea of Liberal red in the 2008 election. 

His strategy was to persuade the new Canadians who populated these ridings in large numbers. 

Kenney, to his credit, proved himself to be a master of intercultural and interfaith discourse. He gets it. He listens, and he doesn’t patronize.  

It became clear that Liberals thought of new Canadian communities as vote pools whose support they took for granted – not as vital groups of interest. 

Kenney and company understood that there was more to be done than showing up, eating an ‘exotic’ meal and saying a few words in (insert any language here). 

So, they made common cause with new Canadians on their desire to put down roots, start businesses, prosper and preserve their traditional values. 

When the Conservatives spoke to the aspirations and beliefs of these communities, it wasn’t simply a cold vote-grabbing calculation. Some of the Conservative Party’s traditional base values are very similar to those of many new Canadians. They had built a new coalition of values. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Kenney and company understood that there was more to be done than showing up, eating an ‘exotic’ meal and saying a few words in (insert any language here). [/quote]

Speaking of the Conservative base, it has long admired and supported Israel. So it was a calculated move when the Conservative government became one of Israel’s most vocal supporters. That policy allowed the party to make inroads in three of the five Toronto-area ridings with significant Jewish populations. 

Adding it all up explains how the Conservatives have made inroads into the new Canadian vote. The 905 area code went blue in 2011, and the Conservatives went from a toehold to a full-scale incursion.

Not Yet Comfortable With Accommodating All 

However, like the Liberals before them, the Conservatives also have a cleavage problem.  They support the ethical and moral agendas of the world religions.  

But, with an eye on their mainstream support, they are not comfortable with the public expressions of those non-Christian religions and communities they have begun to court.  

Thus, when the Prime Minister opposes the wearing of niqab in a citizenship ceremony, he knows that plays to a rural, small town and suburban Conservative base that may share the moral and ethical values of new Canadians in terms of faith – but is not comfortable with all manner of accommodation.   

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]They are not comfortable with the public expressions of those non-Christian religions and communities they have begun to court.  [/quote]

In regards to this balancing act, Kenney, now Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism, was quoted in an interview with John Geddes in Macleans, March 10, 2015

He said: “… There are certain important hallmarks of integration. They (new Canadians) don’t believe that multiculturalism should be construed as cultural relativism. They believe that multiculturalism should mean a positive regard for what’s best about people’s cultural and religious antecedents. But it should not mean a completely unquestioning acceptance of every cultural practice, especially those of the most abhorrent nature.”  

Kenney’s multicultural approach has worked because he carefully avoids toadying or pandering.  New Canadians are continuously less likely to be influenced by tokenism and patronizing gestures.  More new Canadians have responded to the Conservatives because they have actually taken the time to understand and reflect on their values and beliefs.


Richard M. Landau has been responsible for adjudicating disputes and enforcing a television network code of ethics in a religious broadcasting setting since 1992. He is a graduate of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. A leader in interfaith dialogue, Landau has consulted with the U.K. Home Office, and the White House Office of Community- and Faith-Based Initiatives.  He works closely with leadership in all of the major world religions. He is author of What the World Needs to Know about Interfaith Dialogue.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Commentary
Page 1 of 2

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