Friday, 28 October 2016 16:42

A Canada of 100 million? Are they Insane?

Commentary by Howard Anglin

There are some ideas so daft that it takes a very smart person to think of them. Or, in the case of a new proposal to triple Canada’s population to 100 million by the end of the century, it takes an entire committee of smart people.

The authors of this particular idea are the fourteen members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, who issued their first report last week. To most Canadians, the idea is so preposterous as not to bear analyzing. Crumple it up and start again. But, as these are supposed to be serious thinkers — selected, according to a government press release, “because they are recognized, forward-thinking individuals in their respective fields” — it’s worth taking their proposal at face value.

Dominic Barton, the global managing partner of management consulting giant McKinsey & Co and the committee’s chief advocate of “a Canada of 100 million,” worries that without significant population growth, Canada’s international “relevance” will suffer. This is an odd thing to say, and an even odder thing to care about. How many Canadians, waking in the dark this morning, bundling their children into winter jackets and out the door to school, give two pucks for Canada’s “relevance”?

The disconnect between Mr. Barton, who lives in London, and the concerns of most Canadians was described in a recent column by Peggy Noonan as “something we are seeing all over, the top detaching itself from the bottom, feeling little loyalty to it or affiliation with it.”

“In Manhattan,” she says, “I see the children of the global business elite marry each other and settle in London or New York or Mumbai.” Having lived in London, New York, Washington DC and Ottawa (though not Mumbai), I’ve seen this phenomenon up close. Mr. Barton and his transnationalist peers think of Canada in terms of personal convenience and corporate expediency; to most Canadians, it means their home and community.

According to the Canadian Press, Mr. Barton believes “the world would benefit from a larger version of Canada’s stable, diversified democracy and economy” — but in the same breath he admits that 100 million “is a big number” that “would obviously change the country considerably.”

He fails to explain why we should believe Canada would remain the peaceful, pluralist society we currently enjoy after we added 65 million new people. Or why we would risk our remarkable and (looking around the world) extremely rare security and prosperity for … for what? “Relevance?”

There is no reason to think a Canada of 100 million would be a better place to live and good reasons to think it wouldn’t. Of the twenty countries with the highest per capita GDP, only the United States has more than 100 million people. Most have fewer than 10 million.

The bias against size carries across other national virtues. Happiness? Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland. Income equality? Sweden, Hungary, Norway. Reputation? Sweden, Canada, Switzerland. See a pattern?

The Trudeau government’s own immigration policy belies the Advisory Council’s assumption that more immigration will result in net economic benefits. Under the previous government, economic immigration as a percentage of overall immigration approached 67 per cent; under the new government, it has fallen to 53 per cent. In other words, there is a lot that can be done by better selecting immigrants within existing levels before we consider increasing intake.

It’s true we are a large country, with plenty of open space, but recent immigration has not filled that emptiness and future immigration is likely to follow the established paths to our cities and suburbs. Even at current, historically high immigration levels, Canada’s population is projected to grow by more than 20 million in the next 35 years. Are you ready for a Toronto of 20 million and a Vancouver of 10 million?

None of this will affect the members of Trudeau’s Advisory Council. For them, immigration is something that happens elsewhere. The acres of tract housing sprawling into farmland and greenbelts around our major cities are glimpsed by these people only in the minutes before takeoff and landing. Hopping between leafy downtown enclaves and luxury hotels, they won’t feel the strain on our roads, hospitals and schools, or the deterioration of our built and natural environments.

Industry Minister Navdeep Bains has already cautioned that he is hearing pushback from Canadians. This isn’t surprising. The government’s own polling shows only 8 per cent of Canadians think immigration should increase, while three times as many believe it is already too high. And that was before the Trudeau government increased annual levels to 300,000 already this year.

A government ignores clear public opinion at its peril — and at the nation’s. Significantly increasing immigration levels in defiance of the clear preference of Canadians, including recent immigrants, invites a sharp public backlash of the kind we’ve seen in the United States, the U.K. and Europe. Those who decry Trumpism should be the most vocal opponents of this proposal.

Unlike management consultants, citizens ask questions that are beyond the Advisory Council’s remit. Questions like: What will it mean to be Canadian after we’ve added 65 million new people? What holds our society together when immigration is so rapid that integration becomes impossible?

However smart the Advisory Council members may be, it’s average Canadians who are displaying common sense. They know that size is not a meaningful measure of national success. And they have seen from experience that when immigration is accelerated too quickly, multiculturalism becomes a centrifugal force — no longer holding successive waves of immigrants in a stable tension but driving us apart.

Howard Anglin was the chief of staff to Canada’s minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 2011 to 2013.

By arrangement with

Published in Policy
Friday, 05 August 2016 18:39

Canada’s own ‘Trumps’

Canadians fully understand Donald Trump. That’s because they have three of their own – Preston Manning, Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney! For Canadians, Trump is a second viewing of a movie that they have seen before.

Manning broke away from the Progressive Conservative Party in 1987 to form the short-lived, right-wing Reform Party, which morphed into the Conservative Party led by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. While Manning and Harper have been sidelined for lack of support, the youthful political demagogue, Jason Kenney, with his federal conservative leadership ambitions dashed because of his closeness to Harper, is returning to Alberta hoping to lead a united right-wing party.


Read full story

Published in Commentary

by Ranjit Bhaskar in Toronto

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) resumed receiving sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents (PGP) of Canadian citizens and permanent residents on Monday morning.

The case processing centre in Mississauga, Ontario opened its window for receiving the applications at 8 a.m. (EST). Only 5,000 new and complete applications will be accepted this year.

By capping the applications number at the same level as in the previous two years, the new Liberal government would seem to be going back on a crucial poll promise to double the number.

Unveiling his party’s promises on the immigration file during the federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the “Liberals will reform our immigration system, and make family reunification a core priority of our government.”

Trudeau then went on to say that his government will immediately increase the number of applications under PGP to 10,000 each year and double the budget for processing family class applications to reduce the waiting time.

This pledge resonated with immigrant families who were not pleased by the previous government’s efforts to limit permanent residency offers to elderly family members or by unduly long processing times extending to 47 months.

The IRCC website currently says the department is working on applications received on or before November 4, 2011.

‘Irresponsible promise’

Michelle Rempel, the Conservative Party’s immigration critic, said it was totally irresponsible of Trudeau to promise more than his government is able to deliver.

"This is just a further example of the mismanagement of the immigration file and another item to add to the list of broken promises," Rempel, MP for Calgary Nose Hill, told New Canadian Media in an emailed response.

"While we were in government, Canada welcomed more than 70,000 parents and grandparents from 2012-2014. This number represents the highest level of parent and grandparent admissions in nearly two decades. Thanks to the Conservative government's Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, the backlog was reduced by nearly 54 per cent," Rempel said.

"Keeping a realistic goal of 5,000 applications a year was part of our Conservative government’s initiative to be prudent managers of government."

Late this evening, Immigration Minister John McCallum offered this defence: "We are committed to reuniting families and we intend to meet the commitment to double the intake of PGP sponsorship applications from 5,000 to 10,000 per year. To achieve this I will be consulting with cabinet colleagues early in the new year."

Recent phenomenon

The brief annual opening of the application window in the New Year is a recent phenomenon. It began in 2014 after the previous government had frozen the process for two years in November 2011. The stated purpose was to first clear a backlog of nearly 165,000 applications before taking in new ones.

Generally, a citizen or permanent resident is allowed to sponsor parents and grandparents to become permanent residents under the Family Class immigration stream. Family reunification is one of the three pillars of IRCC’s immigration program, the other two being economic classes and protected persons (refugees).

The moratorium on PGP applications was expected to reduce the backlog to about 50,000. In the meantime, the quota for actual admissions into the country under the program was increased by 60 per cent to 25,000 a year to help clear the backlog.

Major changes

Before lifting the freeze, the Harper government had also introduced major changes to Family Class immigration in May 2013. They were designed to align entry under this category with economic outcomes.

The overarching narrative spoke of reducing the burden imposed on tax payers by the entry of parents, grandparents and dependent children 18 years and above.

Announcing the new criteria for sponsoring parents and grandparents, Jason Kenney, the then Citizenship and Immigration Minister, said they were aimed at ensuring elderly immigrants didn't end up on welfare or in social housing.

Kenney also said that older immigrants are a burden on the health-care system and other social safety nets. A set of grandparents could cost the system as much as $400,000, he said.

Super visas

The new set of rules included the minimum necessary income level of sponsors going up by 30 per cent, proof of income threshold for a minimum of three years (in place of one year), only Canada Revenue Agency notices of assessment to be accepted as proof of income, sponsorship commitment period doubled to 20 years, and the maximum age of dependents was set at 18 instead of 21.

Predictably, the changes were not received well by immigration civic actors and newcomer groups adversely affected by them.

The NDP, the then official opposition party, slammed the changes. It said they will make it harder and more expensive for families to reunite. "The Conservatives think family reunification should be a luxury only for those who can afford it," its deputy immigration critic Sadia Groguhé said in a statement at the time.

Family Class sponsorship is not the only program through which parents and grandparents can enter Canada. Qualified applicants can also apply for temporary admission to Canada. They can also apply for extended, multiple-entry super visas.

The super visa was introduced in 2011 as an interim measure to circumvent the long wait times under the PGP program. A 10-year super visa allows entry periods lasting up to two years, but without any welfare benefits from the state, including health care. This visa program was made permanent in 2013.

Publisher's Note: An earlier version of this report did not include the government's response. 

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Policy
Friday, 11 September 2015 00:34

Parties Target Messages to Immigrants

by Ranjit Bhaskar in Toronto, Ontario
With the federal election campaign crossing the midway marker, the theatrics are as predictable as ever, with minor distractions.
Leaders of all the major political parties are staying on message, spouting lines that sound jaded, throwing phantom punches at opponents. This theatre is played out at campaign stops with partisans providing diversity drapes and the mainstream media trying to derail leaders with questions that top the day’s news agenda. There have, of course, been a few sidelights.  
While the politicians at least tweak their backdrops and messages to suit the location and the occasion, be it in Ajax or Scarborough, the media unwittingly turns it into vanilla occasions. Their relentless single topic questions are seen as bullying by partisans unaware of the media’s need to feed the 24-hour news cycle.
The reaction of the supporters to the hounding of their leaders, from rants to heckling, then quickly becomes news. The opportunity to use the drawn-out campaign as a sounding board to discuss big ideas in this three-way race has been wasted so far.
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The opportunity to use the drawn-out campaign as a sounding board to discuss big ideas in this three-way race has been wasted so far.[/quote]
Missing election platforms
Moreover, among the four federal parties, only the Greens have spelled out their platform, with the others preferring to wait till the very end as it gives them a chance to fine-tune their pitches.
While native-born Canadians may wish away the 42nd election as a cyclical event as predictable as a cold winter, new Canadians and immigrant groups eager to join the broader debate would be disappointed.
Immigrant voters in Brampton or Mississauga do not see Canada as a settled country drifting along in comfort thanks to its wealth. For them, this country is their new West that could be reshaped a bit by them in the same way as others before them.
The weeks before October 19 was a chance to talk about climate change and the environment, the Senate, electoral reform, national unity, economic equality, international trade, global security and yes, immigration, citizenship and many other issues.
While the Syrian refugee crisis could have been used to introduce and discuss many of the issues outlined above, it has degenerated into an endless one-upmanship and the number of refugees Canada should take in. And while talking of past responses to similar crises, not many mention that Canada does have a complicated history of refugee reception

Also lost in the debate over ISIS and the raging wars of the Middle East, is the understanding that the genesis of the Syrian crisis can be traced back to a devastating drought linked to climate change. That one of the early warnings was issued by the International Institute for Sustainable Development headquartered here in Canada has been drowned out by the noise.

A glimmer of hope on this count came in the answers both non-Conservative prime ministerial contenders gave to CBC’s Peter Mansbridge as one of the first things they will do in office. The Liberal’s Justin Trudeau and NDP’s Tom Mulcair said they would get ready for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in late November.
Issue of refugees
But as the battle lines are being drawn around a large intake of refugees, new Canadians may be worrying about its impact on other routes of immigration and their own settlement issues.
The Toronto Star reported that the Conservatives’ perceived hard-line on the refugee crisis seems tailored to the response party candidates say they are getting at the door. One Greater Toronto Area (GTA) candidate, speaking on background, told the Star that, if anything, the party's approach is “hardening our vote.”
In an interview with the Star, Conservative candidate Bal Gosal (Brampton-Centre), said supporters in his riding “don’t want them. The majority of people don’t want them [Syrian refugees].”
That immigration policy is a key friction area was evident when Jason Kenney, the Minister for Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism, dove into the subject.
MIREMS, an ethnic media monitoring and research firm, said in a blog post that Kenney gave a series of interviews to ethnic media outlets in which he likened the NDP's immigration proposals to overbooking flights: selling more tickets than seats on a plane.
While to date the NDP hasn’t taken the bait to hit back at the Conservative’s track record on immigration, MIREMS said many ethnic media outlets commented on Kenney's defence of his party on this file starting a "war of words" with Liberal immigration lead John McCallum*. It said the Urdu Post quoted McCallum as saying that Kenney owes apologies to Canadians for the damage he has done by "dropping 300,000 applicants for permanent residence into the Pacific Ocean [and] throwing 50,000 investor class applications in the garbage bin."
A mainstream opinion piece, too, expressed concern over the NDP's “hidden immigration pledge.” The writer saw Mulcair’s assurance to a group of South Asians in Surrey (B.C.) on family reunification for children and grandparents as 'dog-whistle' (understood only by the intended audience) politics.
This frame of reference could also be used against Conservative Leader Stephen Harper when, during a campaign stop in Markham, Ont., he made an announcement aimed at helping new Canadians get their foreign credentials recognized so they can find work in their chosen professions.
Aiming at the same immigrant audience of the Greater Toronto Area, Trudeau told the Jalsa Salana Islamic conference in Mississauga, Ont. that a Liberal government will repeal the newly legislated "two-tier" citizenship law and would do more to help free imprisoned Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
Optics of inclusion
Call these pronouncement what you may, new Canadians and visible minorities can expect to hear more such stump speeches interspersed with sound bites only for their ears.
That’s because in a tight race their support is significant in both magnitude and scope. In 110 of the country’s 338 ridings, they make up 20 per cent or more of the population, up from 90 in 2011.
However, this factor is not fully reflected in the number of visible minority candidates nominated by the three major parties. Just over 13 per cent of them so far are from these minority groups, although they now account for around 20 per cent of the Canadian population.
With around 50 nominations still to be filled, and at least two of the drop outs being minority candidates, their number is around 130 out of the over 960 nominated.
Interestingly, half of the 338 ridings don't have any visible minority candidates from the three major parties. However, in eight hyper-diverse ridings, they dominate the field and are fighting against each other.
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Half of the 338 ridings don't have any visible minority candidates from the three major parties.[/quote]
While this strategic placement of visible minority candidates in only the most diverse ridings may be seen as good optics, it lulls us into thinking that our politics is inclusive. Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant and Erin Tolley, both professors of political science, say this effectively caps the number of seats that visible minority candidates might ever win.
In the 2011 federal election, 42 foreign-born citizens were elected as MPs. While that was about 13 per cent of the then-308-member House of Commons, it is unlikely that the current crop of candidates can breach that number because only around 13 per cent of those nominated so far are visible minorities. With 24 of them fighting each other in three-way tussles, the only consolation is that at least eight are sure to become MPs.
And that's the only safe prediction one can make about #elxn42 at half time.
* This report has been revised to make it clear that the quote attributed to John McCallum was quoted by the Urdu Post and not MIREMS.

{module NCM Blurb}
Published in Top Stories
Friday, 12 September 2014 11:00

“Immigrant Vote” to Gain Strength in 2015

With the opening of a new session of Parliament next week, the campaign leading up to anticipated federal elections in Oct. 2015 is likely to shift gears. The so-called “immigrant vote” is very likely to be in play, and, according to academics who’ve studied this topic for many years, this electoral bloc is going to be even more crucial in 2015.

New Canadian Media interviewed Prof. Phil Triadafilopoulos of the University of Toronto, who last year published a chapter titled “Immigration, Citizenship and Canada’s New Conservative Party” (co-authored with Inder Marwah and Steve White), (in Conservatism in Canada, ed. David Rayside and James Farney. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013).

We also reproduce relevant abstracts from the chapter to support his responses. 

1. What were the main findings from this study?

 I believe the key point is that the politics of immigration in Canada is the way it is because of the intersection of settlement patterns, our citizenship law, and our electoral system.  There is a structurally induced predisposition for relatively pro-immigration policies and rhetoric, shared by parties across the ideological spectrum.

  • We argue that the combination of immigrant settlement patterns, citizenship laws, and Canada’s single member plurality (SMP) electoral system create a context in which appeals to immigrant voters are required of any party with aspirations to national power.

  • [T]he interplay of these structures ensures that immigrants are able to express their interests and have them acknowledged in a politically meaningful way.

  • In sum, immigrants are concentrated in politically important urban regions.

  • To alienate large numbers of immigrant voters in dozens of federal ridings would almost certainly mean surrendering those ridings to other parties.

  • Data from recent Canadian Election Studies consistently show that visible minorities and immigrants tend to be more conservative than non-visible minority and non-immigrant Canadians on a number of contentious social issues.

2. You note that there was a dramatic change of stance on immigration as Reform/Canadian Alliance morphed into the Conservative Party. How do you explain this transformation? 

Yes, this is one of the arguments we make in the chapter. The party had to compete in Ontario and to do so it had to get beyond its predecessors’ reputations as being anti-immigrant.  The Conservatives could not simply declare this –[Minister] Jason Kenney had to go out and prove it in what amounted to political hand-to-hand combat (using handshakes as his weapon of choice).

  • [O]ne of the central impediments to the Reform Party’s national ambitions was the widely held view of Reformers as anti-immigrant, anti-French, and generally intolerant.

3. Do you think Conservative policy changes serve Canada's national interests in the long term?

Unfortunately, some do not.  The expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program will likely lead to trouble in the future (as people overstay and slip into undocumented status). Changes to citizenship policy were heavy-handed and based on political reasoning and weak ideologically-based reasoning.  Changes to refugee policy has been unnecessarily punitive (and, again, taken for largely political reasons).  There have been many other changes as well – judging their long-term consequences is difficult at the moment.

 4. How were these changes different from ones that may have been made by the Liberals or the New Democratic Party, NDP?

The Liberals were similarly interested in narrowing access to asylum seekers and reforming the citizenship law – they failed to do so in part because the political incentives in the party were weaker.  It’s likely that the NDP would have hewn to the status quo circa 2006.

5. Do you anticipate that immigration and citizenship will be major electoral issues in 2015?

No – immigration is typically not featured during elections, though all the parties will look to gain support among new Canadian voters.

6. Given your findings, what does your study suggest on the subject of immigration generally being a non-partisan issue in Canada?

It will likely remain the case. There’s no political pay-off for populist anti-immigrant rhetoric at the federal level.

  • Canada is unique among major immigration countries in the degree to which immigration policy is de-politicized, and immigration itself is enthusiastically embraced by federal political parties. Quebec’s provincial politics since 2007 may be a partial exception to this pattern, but this has not had a discernable impact on Quebec voices in federal policy debates over immigration.

7. Do you have any further thoughts on the "immigrant vote" in the 2011 federal elections (you said it was inconclusive at the time of writing)?

We have not done the necessary analysis to move beyond what we have.  We hope to do so soon.  The key point is that all parties in Canada support a relatively liberal immigration policy, as reflected in annual admissions.  There is also consensus on the utility of an official multiculturalism policy – our Conservative Party is rather different than similar parties in other countries.

[In a separate study presented to the Canadian Political Science Association 2012 conference in Edmonton, Prof. Triadafilopoulos, Zack Taylor and Christopher Cochrane (all of UofT), concluded with this finding:

  • We focus especially on the Greater Toronto region because (a) 20 of the 23 seats gained in the 2011 election were located there, and (b) 41 per cent of foreign-born Canadians live there. Of the 20 new Conservative seats, eight were majority-immigrant and none had less than 30 per cent immigrant population. Similarly, three of the six seats picked up by the NDP were majority immigrant and none had less than 35 per cent immigrant population.
  • Our findings suggest that the Conservative Party enjoyed marked gains among immigrant voters in the 2011 election, and that these gains appear to have come largely at the expense of the Liberal Party. Taken together, this evidence suggests that the party’s ethnic outreach strategy may have indeed borne fruit in 2011. The NDP(New Democratic Party) also appears to have benefited from the support of a different segment of support that overlaps with the immigrant electorate: visible minorities.]

8. Do you think the "immigrant vote" will play a more critical role in 2015?

I do. Canada is changing quickly and the trends we identified are still playing themselves out.

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Politics

by Maria Assaf (@MariaAssaf) in Toronto

Hermie Garcia arrived in Canada in 1984, shortly after he and his wife, Mila Astorga-Garcia, were released from a military prison for being part of the left-wing underground movement in the Philippines.  After trying to find work in Canadian mainstream media and failing for not having Canadian experience, the couple started the Philippine Reporter in 1989. 25 years later, they continue to run the paper from their home. With a circulation of 12,000, the paper serves some of the nearly 200,000 Filipinos in Toronto, out of the close to 500,000 Filipinos in Canada. Every year, about 30,000 Filipinos arrive in Canada as permanent residents. 

Here is a condensed and edited version of an interview conducted by NCM Reporter Maria Assaf with the newspaper publisher shortly after the 25th anniversary celebrations:

Q: Many newspapers are facing a crisis as they lose readership to online media. How does your paper manage to stay afloat after 25 years and what sets you apart from other Filipino community papers?

A: We listen to the community and we interact with a lot of groups and sectors of the community, so that we have a strong sense of their interests, their concerns, their issues. There’s the issue of immigration, of temporary foreign workers, issue of caregivers, issue of jobs for immigrants, issue of family reunification. We interview them, we get their opinions, we get their views, we get their life-stories, and then the response of the government, the provincial and municipal. So people find stories in our paper that impact their lives.

Q: How do you find out what issues your community cares about the most?

A: We attend dozens and dozens of events going on in the community every week in many areas of Toronto, so we take pains in talking to not only the readers, but the members of organizations. We attend the meetings, we interview them, we read their newsletters and publications, we read their websites. So we have a strong sense of what’s happening in the community.

Q: What is the biggest challenge ethnic media faces in comparison to mainstream media?

A: Most of the ethnic media, be it newspapers or magazines or radio programs or TV programs or online publications, they don’t have the resources of the mainstream media. The mainstream media have hundreds of millions in revenue. Except for publications like Canadian Immigrant, which is owned by Torstar (publishers of the Toronto Star), all the ethnic media publications are small businesses, so they don’t have the millions, they don’t have the big printing presses, they don’t have hundreds of members of staff, most of these are family-run, what you would call mom-and-pop businesses.

Q: What do you think small ethnic media can provide that others can’t?

A: Publications like Canadian Immigrant, in addition to being owned by a corporate mainstream media, its approach is also different. It wants to cover all the ethnic communities. They are somewhere above the communities. But most of the ethnic media outlets, they cover specific communities. We are more deeply connected to the community. For example, we have a story coming out tomorrow about [federal Minister] Jason Kenney stating that Filipinos are abusing the live-in caregiver program for purposes of family reunification. That’s a very strong statement. Then they announced some changes in the temporary foreign workers programs. These were covered by the mainstream media, like Toronto Star, Globe and Mail. We also covered them, but we got reactions from community groups, community leaders. So that’s the difference. We are not confining ourselves to job-hunting stories.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][W]e have a story coming out tomorrow about [federal Minister] Jason Kenney stating that Filipinos are abusing the live-in caregiver program for purposes of family reunification. That’s a very strong statement.[/quote]

Q: With a staff of only about seven full-time people in Toronto, how do you manage to cover stories from all over Canada?

A: We know people from other cities, like Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg. We have connections with some groups, some individuals who can occasionally write for us and who occasionally volunteer stories to us or send pictures or press releases or cover stories in their areas. Because we’ve been in operation for 25 years, it’s not that hard. You know a lot of people. We know sources, we know the leaders, we know the groups, we know the organizations, we know when events are held. It is not hard to find writers. There are so many potential writers and former writers and reporters and journalists in the community.

Q: How did you get fresh foreign content at the beginning?

A: We couldn’t afford to pay correspondents in Manila, especially at that time. We called our friends in the Philippines in the media and asked them to send stories and we paid them not their rates, but some kind of discounted rates, because we were friends. We asked some newspapers there to send stories to us for re-print. We went the extra mile. We were the first newspaper in the Filipino community to use a fax machine. We even asked the papers in Manila to fax pictures so we could use them on page one in our newspaper.

Q: Tell me about the challenges you faced when you started the paper.

A: When you have limited resources, limited equipment and limited staff -- writing staff and office staff -- it is very hard to sustain a business, because you cannot afford to lose money indefinitely. Especially when the market is relatively small. We learned not to confine ourselves to our community for advertising revenue. It was a losing proposition for the first few years. But we didn’t stop. I was thinking we would grow, we would become stable, we would make money and continue publishing a paper that is self-sustaining and we succeeded. It was very hard at the start. Especially before I quit my job, we would work only at night and on weekends. My wife and my family sacrificed a lot to produce this paper for a long time.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]It was very hard at the start. Especially before I quit my job, we would work only at night and on weekends. My wife and my family sacrificed a lot to produce this paper for a long time. [/quote]

Q: What made you think you could start a new paper in a city that already had about five Filipino community papers, when the community was much smaller?

A: I didn’t have any business experience in the Philippines. What I thought was that if these community papers that existed then ... some of them were not run by journalists, they were run by business people who didn’t have any journalistic background. I thought if they could do it, may be I could do it too. I thought I could produce something with quality. In the Philippines, I was a journalist for many, many years. I worked as a magazine writer, later as a reporter and later as a desk editor of two daily newspapers. Because of my experience and my wife’s experience -- she was also a reporter at a business daily for a long time -- I had the feeling that content-wise, it’s not hard to produce a newspaper. Lots of those papers were covering entertainment stories, there was a lack of serious stories. Some of the newspapers then were using old stories, from months and weeks ago. They were already stale. [Mila Astorga-Garcia is co-publisher and managing editor.]

Q: How has your paper coped with the growth of the Filipino community in Canada?

A: We always get calls, we always get e-mails, we always have people tell us personally, “We need more copies of the paper,” ... “In this store we don’t have copies of the paper,” in these far away, far away rural areas. We have to print more so we have to spend more, and we have to get more advertising revenue. Because our newspaper is free, what we do is we make distribution more efficient. We make sure that not too many copies are wasted. We visit outlets regularly and if we find that the old issues are still there, we reduce the number of copies and take them to other outlets. If there’s a party or an event, we deliver the newspaper. At that time we covered more stories from the Philippines, because not much was happening in the community [here], now there are more activities, more events, more people, so more stories. 

(Editor's Note: At the 25th anniversary celebrations, Garcia printed T-shirts with the words "Stop killing journalists". Many journalists have been killed in the line of duty in the Philippines. There's a campaign among journalists there and their supporters to prosecute the perpetrators -- mostly politicians, police and military who were subjects of the journalists' investigative stories, according to Garcia.)

{module NCM Blurb}

Published in Top Stories

by Andrew Griffith(@andrew_griffith)

With Multiculturalism Day (June 27) upon us, we have a good opportunity to reflect on how both government language and programming has changed under the Conservative government, and the legacy of Jason Kenney, the Minister for Multiculturalism.

Canadas diversity continues to increase, given increased non-European immigration. Diversity varies regionally and municipally, with B.C. and Ontario the most diverse, the Atlantic provinces and cities the least.

Along with this increased diversity, Canadian multiculturalism has continued to evolve since the policy was announced in 1971. The policy and subsequent act had two main aspects: cultural and equity, both designed to further integration.

The following table captures the evolution from celebrating differencesto the current emphasis on social cohesion. To respond to perceived faith and culture clashes, greater emphasis has been placed on shared values, and the original metaphor of the cultural mosaic has shifted to conforming,a contrast to the harmony/jazzof a more fluid approach to integration and accommodation (adapted from Media and Minorities: representing diversity in a Multicultural Canada, Thompson Education Publishing)


Ethnicity Multi (1970s)

Equity Multi (1980s)

Civic  Multi (1990s)

Integrative Multi (2000s)

Social Cohesion (present)


Celebrating differences

Managing diversity

Constructive engagement

Inclusive citizenship

Social cohesion

Reference Point



Society building

Canadian identity

Canadian values



Race relations





Individual adjustment



Rights and Responsibilities

Responsibilities and  Rights

Problem Source


Systemic discrimination


Unequal access, clashof cultures

Faith and culture clashes


Cultural sensitivity

Employment equity


Dialogue/Mutual Understanding

Shared values


Key Metaphor


Level playing field





But what are the main policy and program changes made by Minister Kenney since 2007?

Early on, he articulated his vision of multiculturalism, linked closely to citizenship, as follows:

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]But having criss-crossed this great country; having attended hundreds of events and talked to thousands of new Canadians, I am certain of this: we all want a multiculturalism that builds bridges, not walls, between communities.

We want a Canada where we can celebrate our different cultural traditions, but not at the expense of sharing common Canadian traditions.

We want a country where freedom of conscience is deeply respected, but where we also share basic political values, like a belief in human dignity, equality of opportunity, and the rule of law.

We dont want a Canada that is a hotel, where people come and go with no abiding connection to our past or to one another, where citizenship means only access to a convenient passport. We want a Canada where we are citizens loyal first and finally to this country and her historically grounded values.

The key to building such a Canada, to maintaining our model of unity-in-diversity, is the successful integration of newcomers.

And that should be the focus of todays multiculturalism.[/quote]

Food and Folklore

Emphasis has shifted from cross-cultural understanding and inclusion to integration and social cohesion. Employment equity within government has been replaced by making government more responsive to the needs of Canadas diverse population. Combating racism and discrimination and encouraging civic participation have been replaced by engaging in international discussions, largely focussed on anti-Semitism. Faith communities and related issues have became explicitly part of multiculturalism.

While Kenney flirtedwith replacing multiculturalism with pluralism,he soon recognized the long-standing brand valueof multiculturalism and its place in the Charter. No changes were made to the Multiculturalism Act.

Government funding support through grants and contributions was reoriented to these new objectives in the new Inter-Action program. The mix of organizations changed accordingly. A new events streamwas created to support food and folkloreevents that encouraged integration between communities.

Explicit linkages with citizenship have been introduced. The Discover Canada citizenship guide emphasizes common Canadian values, a more Conservative historical narrative, and integration rather than accommodation. Symbols that highlight Canadian historical connections to Britain, including the Crown, are highlighted.

The Government delivered on historical recognition for immigration and war-time internment for a number of communities (Chinese, Jewish, Italian, Sikh, and Ukrainian Canadians). These were incorporated into Discover Canada.

Black History and Asian Heritage Months continued, with more emphasis on Canadian history and military. The Paul Yuzyk Award (“the father of multiculturalism)was created to recognize contributions to Canadian multiculturalism and integration of newcomers (as well as appropriating multiculturalism for the Conservatives).

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation broadened its programming to include inter-faith initiatives. The Government invested $30 million into the Global Centre for Pluralism of the Aga Khan based in Ottawa.

Existing federal and provincial multiculturalism networks were maintained.

Multiculturalism was shifted from Canadian Heritage to Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) in 2008 and folded into CICs organizational structure. Resources were reallocated to other functions in CIC. Given CICs centre of gravityof immigration and decreased emphasis, the program declined in activity and importance.

Ethnic outreach

At the same time, political outreach to ethnic communities increased. Kenney -- curry in a hurry -- was on the road three weekends out of four, with up to 20 events per weekend. The new events streamfurthered his outreach. These efforts, according to the Canada Election Survey and related polling, played off particularly well with older, more well-established communities such as Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Jewish, Chinese and older South Asian communities.

Kenney remained Minister for Multiculturalism following the Cabinet shuffle of 2013 given the importance of the fourth sisterin Canadian politics.

These changes took place in parallel with a greater focus on economic immigration, major refugee reform to reduce the number of refugee claimants, and recent changes to the Citizenship Act making citizenship harder to get and easier to lose.The latter makes a clear distinction between born and naturalized Canadians, as the latter (including those born dual nationals) are subject to an intent to residetest and revocation in cases of terror or treason.

So have these changes made a difference to the multicultural fabric of Canada?

First, all parties continue to actively court ethnic communities. The Conservatives, to their credit, have taken this to a new level. Unlike Europe or the U.S., we have no major political party opposed to immigration and multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is not a wedge issue. While there are significant differences, Canadian debate focusses more on specific policies rather than existential debates, Quebec excepted.

Secondly, while all political parties have closer relations with some communities, the Conservative government is more willing to pick sidesthan others. The shift in Canadian Mid-East policy is the most notable example.

Thirdly, the Government emphasized symbolic measures. Citizenship judges are diverse but will largely be limited to a ceremonial role under the new Citizenship Act. But, only three out of some 200 federal judicial appointments were non-white as are most senior Ministers.

Fourthly, broadening racism and discrimination to relations within and among communities is welcome, given that our largest cities are 25-50 percent visible minorities. However, the governments almost exclusive focus on anti-Semitism has neglected challenges faced by visible minorities and Muslims.

Fifthly, these changes need to be seen in the context of a shift towards economic immigrants and tighter citizenship rules that will likely, over time, slowly drive down the current naturalization rate of 85 percent. This change will affect some communities more than others.

Given Canada’s increased diversity and human nature, there will always be accommodation and integration debates. Quebec will always stand a bit apart, given its preference for more “Cartesian clarity,” or hard and fixed rules, than the more ad hoc improvisation approach favoured elsewhere in Canada.

But it is a mark of success that, for the most part, a reasonable balance has been struck in most of our communities between integration and accommodation, and that all political parties embrace our diversity. The defeat of the Quebec Values Charter may also be taken as a sign that multiculturalism has become less of a wedge issue in Quebec.

Overall, under Kenney, the Canadian model of multiculturalism has returned to its roots by emphasizing integration, recognizing the diverse cultural identities of Canadians so that all Canadians, whatever their origins, could feel part of Canada. Equity considerations, however, have been downplayed.

As part of citizenship, Kenney has implemented a more explicit approach to shared identity and values. Harmony/jazzad hoc improvisation has been replaced by conforming,to clearer expectations, correcting an imbalance that portrayed Canada as a clean slate or as a hotel without any sense of what was acceptable and what was not.

Andrew Griffith is the author of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism and is a regular media commentator and blogger (Multiculturalism Meanderings). He is the former Director General for Citizenship and Multiculturalism and has worked for a variety of government departments in Canada and abroad. 

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Published in Commentary

by Ranjit Bhaskar 

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect to project the commonalities between Canada and India.

“Two great democracies, India and Canada, both champions of human rights and human dignity,” said Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, heralding the yet-to-be-made-official decision by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the only other leader boycotting the summit over human rights violations by the Sri Lankan state. India has not made the move public as diplomatic etiquette dictates that the host country be informed of the decision first.

Both Mr. Harper and Mr. Kenny were at the 13th national celebration of Diwali on Saturday, held for the first time outside of capital Ottawa. They said the Indian festival is now a “Canadian celebration for all Canadians.” Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, resplendent in an Indian outfit, introduced his colleagues to the large audience.

The change in venue was for a good reason as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has become a key testing ground for the federal Conservatives. Most members of the party’s caucus from the area were on hand at the well-attended celebration.

‘Putting India at the centre’

Mr Harper, who was attending the celebration for the seventh time as prime minister, said it was the biggest and the best one yet. Affirming that his “government is putting India at the centre of Canada’s Asia policy,” Mr Harper said his second trip to India exactly a year ago, which lasted 12 days, was his longest to any country as prime minister. Diwali is by far the most popular festival in India.

“Canada has a larger and more important presence in India now than in virtually any other developed country. And that is because we believe in India as the world’s largest democracy, we believe in India as a reference point for our pluralism,” said Mr. Kenney. “We Canadians did not invent diversity. India was remarkably diverse even before we thought of the idea in this country.”

Mr. Kenney said Canada has developed its closest-ever relationship with India under Mr. Harper’s leadership. It took “courage and tenacity” to bolster the relationship after being in the “deep-freeze for 35 years for lot of different reasons.”  

That closeness was in evidence recently when Salman Khurshid, India’s foreign minister, was in Canada recently for the first-ever strategic dialogue with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. While Mr. Khurshid is likely to represent India at the CHOGM, Deepak Obhrai, the parliamentary secretary to Mr. Baird and one of the main the organizers of the Diwali event, will be going to Colombo on Canada’s behalf.

‘Cusp of deepening ties’

Akhilesh Mishra, India’s Consul General in Toronto, said recently at a Indo-Canadian forum that relations between the two countries were on the “cusp of a significant upgrading and deepening.” He said the “candour and warmth” during the meeting between M. Khurshid and Mr. Baird was exceptional.

“In a challenging neighbourhood with an abundance of opportunity, the importance of the Canada-India relationship is underscored in this first official visit of my counterpart in 15 years,”  Mr. Baird had said after his talks with Mr. Khurshid. “The frequent and diverse range of economic, security and global issues that Canada and India are now interacting on represents only the beginnings of the great potential of our bilateral relations.”

Trade-wise, that potential is yet to be exploited as the current level is a modest $5.2 billion. Investment wise, India has a much larger stake in Canada at $14.3 billion as against Canada’s $4.3 billion in India. India already imports 40 per cent of its pulses and 25 per cent of its potash from Canada.

Canada and India have been haggling over the details of a foreign investment protection agreement since 2004: the main purpose being to get New Delhi grant Canadian investments in India the same protection Indian investments enjoy in Canada. Ottawa recently signed a similar deal with Beijing that had been 18 years in the making.

The bigger prize in the Indo-Canadian sphere is a bilateral free-trade agreement, which the two have been discussing since 2010, that would see annual trade triple to $15 billion by 2015.

Nuclear ‘freeze’ over

The earlier freezing of Indo-Canadian relationship that Kenny talked of at the Diwali event was triggered after India tested nuclear devices - first in 1974 and then again in 1998.

Having overcome those differences, Canada and India have now taken the next step towards full implementation of a nuclear co-operation agreement. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and India’s Department of Atomic Energy finalized an arrangement this April that would allow Canadian companies to export nuclear items to India for peaceful uses.

India has announced plans to build 12 new reactors by 2021, so the country’s demand for uranium is expected to triple to about $650 million in annual purchases. Canada is the world’s second-leading producer of uranium, behind Kazakhstan.

“Yes prime minister, I am counting and would continue counting,” quipped Mr Obhrai about the future Diwali events he foresaw Mr. Harper attending.  – New Canadian Media

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Published in Top Stories
Monday, 01 April 2013 23:06

Canada launches unique start-up visa

By Our Correspondent

As of April 1, entrepreneurs from around the world with ideas for new business ventures and financial backing from Canadian investors can apply to the brand new Start-Up Visa Program.

Making the announcement, Jason Kenney, Canada’s citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism minister, said Canada is open to do business with the world’s start-up entrepreneurs. “Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy. That is why we are actively recruiting foreign entrepreneurs -- those who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale -- with our new start-up visa.”

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is said to be the first of its kind in the world. By providing sought-after entrepreneurs with permanent residency and access to a wide range of business partners, Canada hopes to become a destination of choice for start-up innovators which will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy.

“My dream Canada is someone who has maybe studied at the Indian Institute of Technology and they have a brilliant start-up concept, they’ve attracted Canadian investment,” Kenney was quoted in the Globe and Mail as saying.

“Rather than starting that business in Bangalore, we are saying, ‘Come to Canada and come quickly. Start the business here, create the jobs in this country and you’ll have the venture capitalists here not just providing you with capital but mentorship, which is also important.’”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has worked with two umbrella organizations, Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), to identify and designate the venture capital funds and angel investor groups that are keen to participate in the program. A full list of designated venture capital funds and angel investor groups is now available on the CIC website.

"The CVCA and our individual members look forward to the launch of the Start-Up Visa Program,” said Peter van der Velden, President of the CVCA. “Our participating funds welcome the opportunity to take part in this first-of-its-kind program, which has the potential to help them attract best-in-class entrepreneurial talent to their Canadian-based investee companies.”

Michelle Scarborough, Chair of NACO, said, "There has been significant interest from both angels and entrepreneurs since the announcement of this program … Our angel group members across Canada are eager to participate, and we look forward to supporting the growth of new businesses and helping them to make their mark in Canada, further expanding our economy."

According to Kenney, “This is part of our government’s transformational changes to Canada’s immigration system that will make it fast, flexible, and focused on Canada’s economic needs.”

The Start-Up Visa Program is a pilot program that will run for five years. It is expected that due to the narrow focus of the program, initially, the number of applications will be limited. -- New Canadian Media

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Published in Policy
Thursday, 14 February 2013 00:53

The Third Opinion: Independentistes elsewhere

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is on the record as saying that the Canadian government acted against its own political interests by listing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist group in 2006.

Kenney said this at a special briefing limited to Tamil-Canadian media in Toronto last month (watch YouTube video below) when asked about his reaction to Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris’ accusations that Canada’s approach to human rights in his country is biased and unbalanced.

“My answer is what I told him (the Sri Lankan foreign minister). The current Canadian government acted against its own domestic political interests by adding the LTTE to the list of prescribed terrorist organizations in 2006,” said Kenney. “They’ve been accusing us of somehow responding just to domestic political pressure, and being indifferent to the Tigers. I say this is exactly wrong.”

Kenny’s office later explained that his remarks highlighted the government’s “principled opposition to terrorism, and support for human rights and the rule of law.” But what was perhaps left unsaid is that the Canadian government believes that most Sri Lankan Tamils in this country are sympathetic towards a “terrorist” organization. How else does the “terrorist” label fly against the government’s domestic political interests? That is an unfortunate insinuation. reported Canadian Tamil Congress national spokesman David Poopalapillai as saying, “I don’t know what he meant. It was a little confusing.” Despite his confusion regarding Kenney’s comments about the listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organization, Poopalapillai said the Canadian Tamil Congress welcomed Kenney’s toughness on the Sri Lankan government and supports Canada’s threat to boycott the Commonwealth meeting.

The government’s contention that domestic political calculations do not come in the way of foreign policy is hard to square with its stand on Sikh separatist activity in Canada and its total silence on the mysterious activities of a Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, a Muslim preacher from Toronto, in Pakistan, who created a political storm in that country by calling for the removal of a democratically-elected government. There does seem to be at least some daylight.

On his recent visit to India, Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected the host government’s suggestion that Ottawa needs to do more about Sikh separatist activity. Harper said that that merely advocating for a separate Khalistan homeland in the Punjab is not a crime. “It may be a political position that both the government of Canada and the government of India disagree with,” the Prime Minister said in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. “We can’t interfere with the right of political freedom of expression.”

That is a tenuous line to walk. The link between the demand for Khalistan in India and this country came home to roost when a whole planeload of Canadians was bombed out of the sky in 1985. Even this week, a radio producer in British Columbia, Maninder Gill, is in the news because he claims the weapons charges against him stem from the politics around the Khalistan movement. Gill received a Queen’s Jubilee Medal from his local MP, Jinny Sims. One also remembers the attacks on Tara Singh Hayer, the only journalist ever assassinated in Canada, for writing critically against Khalistan extremists and agreeing to be a witness in the Air India bombing case. The brutal attack on former federal minister and B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh for vehemently opposing the separatist movement is yet another example.

It is hard to gauge support for either the Tamil Eelam or the Punjab Khalistan cause because the campaigners tend to be more vocal and better organized. It is, therefore, dangerous to tar a whole diaspora with the same brush. Instead, the government should crack down uniformly on all fund-raising and separatist activities targeted at foreign nations. We know only too well the cost of fighting a sovereigntist movement in Quebec. To the extent that Canada contributes to their discomfort, we should do everything we can to spare the global South these distractions. 

- New Canadian Media

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