Saturday, 28 April 2018 16:36

Canada, India and the Opportunity for Both

Commentary by: Kasi Rao in Toronto, ON

Increasing trade and investment with India was a focal point of the discussion at this year’s Canada-India Business Council’s Annual Partnership Summit. There’s enormous room for growth, with two-way trade currently hovering around a modest $8 billion between the two countries. The purpose of the Summit is to provide an opportunity for the business community to discuss and collaborate on how to best pursue this lucrative opportunity. 

The unprecedented participation at the Mumbai and Delhi business forums during Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit in February, as well as those who were in Toronto, point to the business community’s sustained interest. Attendance and participation from various major sectors, and especially by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Brookfield, Fairfax, Air Canada, and Bombardier Inc., was duly noticed in India. 

Additionally, the need to develop business opportunities in the context of gender-related initiatives such as those discussed at the Executive Women’s Roundtable in Mumbai, was recognized as an opportunity to pursue for Canada and India. 

There is real potential for increased growth given the statistics of the growing immigration and foreign student population in Canada. Last year alone there was a 58% increase in both study and work permits issued to Indian citizens (Statistics Canada, 2016 Census Data). The skilling needs of India and innovative research partnerships that address the development needs at all skill levels were highlighted with examples of Canadian collaboration. 

Still just a few months into the year, the Canada-India Business Council is busy working to sustain the momentum and implement actionable recommendations. Whether a start-up, boutique, or conglomerate, creating spaces where members of the business community are able to learn of new opportunities in the corridor is the abiding theme behind all of our initiatives. 

During the summit, senior executives from BMO Financial Group, Tata Consultancy Services, ICICI Bank, Air Canada, and Bombardier Inc. were panel participants, offering practical insights for all levels of enterprise. Leading Indian corporations such as TCS, and Paytm shared invaluable lessons and advice on navigating the local landscape. Representatives from Seneca College and The University of Toronto spoke of the fascinating breadth of ideas and innovation that comes through intercontinental knowledge exchange and how that exchange subsequently feeds into economic growth. Rounding out the holistic approach, the Summit also attracted interest and collaboration from various branches of the Canadian government and the Indian Consulate and High Commission. 

Increased collaboration continues to make good business sense. For Canadian companies, India is a viable growth market in a wide range of sectors. For Indian businesses, Canada is a way to continue the relationship with existing customers with access to North American markets. Both countries have long identified diversification as a tremendous facet of surviving the ever-changing economic landscape. 

One of the important developments underway in India is the emphasis on “competitive and co-operative federalism”. Panelists observed that various states in India have undertaken a number of policy reforms. As such, it was noted that businesses should target the subnational level as a viable avenue to encourage growth. This of course is consistent with Canadian federalism where a number of provinces are active in promoting their interests reflecting the diverse strengths of the Canadian economy.  

The Canadian brand is evolving and our openness to trade and investment, innovation and ideas, combined with pluralism and diversity are important to emphasize to relevant Indian audiences as we move forward. 

Canada’s strategy within the creative industry was discussed as another avenue for growth. The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) was highlighted as a remarkable cross-sector example of the soft power so useful in international relations. Given the Festival’s global projection, reach, and existing ties to giants in Canadian literature, exploration of collaboration here in Toronto is yet another way to bolster economic interests. 

A report will be prepared on the Summit encompassing key learnings, challenges, and next steps.

The Canada-India Business Council has and will continue to hold roundtables, and meetings across the country for business leaders, and government representatives to tackle the ‘How?’ and ‘What now?’ of opportunities from a local perspective. Host cities include Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Halifax, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, among others. 

The end of this year will see the Council back in India for the Mumbai Forum where the aim is to build on the sustained engagement. 

Kasi Rao is President and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council (C-IBC).

Published in Economy

By: Kasi Rao in Toronto, ON

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s arrival in New Delhi on February 17 for a week-long state visit marks the 12th visit by a member of his cabinet to India, and given his position, the most important one.

The significance of Trudeau’s visit is clear — India matters to Canada, as a friend and a trading partner with still-unrealized potential at a time when Canada seeks to broaden and deepen its international markets.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"The building blocks are there. Two-way trade between Canada and India was nearly $8 billion in 2016, even though there have been setbacks and slow progress in formal trade talks."[/quote]

Canada and India have been talking for a while about reaching more comprehensive trade and investment agreements. But the real significance of this visit is already comprehensive — there’s a positive shift in our relationship that we’re ready to build on together.

The building blocks are there. Two-way trade between Canada and India was nearly $8 billion in 2016, even though there have been setbacks and slow progress in formal trade talks.

We do that amount of two-way trade with the United States every four days. But when it comes to Canada-India trade, the modesty of the numbers is a reflection of the past, not the promise of the future.

The obstacles are obvious too. Late last year, Indian government officials slapped an increased tariff on pulses — the little yellow peas that are a staple in South Asia, which Canadian farmers export to India.

Yet we have common ground. Canada is the biggest contributor of pulses to India, and India benefits when our supply is not constricted by tariffs.

There’s no substitute for a meeting between two leaders to reach a better understanding and make it easier to trade commodities.

Canada and India have been negotiating those free trade and investments agreements for some time now — and they may well take longer. That doesn’t negate the need for a sustained engagement with India across multiple sectors.

This visit is an opportunity — to find more common ground. The elements for stronger trade, business and investment relationships between Canada and India are apparent in the number of sectors that are robust and growing yet still relatively untapped.

There are huge opportunities to expand in tourism, research and skills, medical science, technology and innovation.

Some trading partners in the world lament a brain drain, where talented people leave. Between Canada and India it’s a brain chain, where the best and brightest in both countries complement and bolster each others’ achievements.

For example, Canada is one of the most welcoming countries, reflected in our increased immigration targets at a time when others in the G7 are cutting back.

More than a million Canadians trace their roots to India; they provide a natural bridge to newcomers. Canada has increasing potential as a magnet for higher education among promising Indian students, which contributes to research and innovation in both countries.

Canadians and Indians also share many similar attitudes and values in their outlook to solving global problems. On the economic front, Indian states now embrace cooperative and competitive federalism, marketing themselves internationally the way our provinces do.

Canadians and Indians also share many values when it comes to pluralism and diversity, and both countries are in sync on combatting climate change and the Paris Accord.

Public institutions in both countries have legitimacy in ways that either don’t exist in other places or are under severe strain.

Global studies such as the Pew Global Survey and 2018 Edelman Public Trust Barometer show that Canada and India rank consistently high in the public’s trust of institutions.

The strong Canadian team led by Prime Minister Trudeau, who is accompanied by senior Cabinet ministers, demonstrates Canada’s commitment to a wider and deeper relationship with India.

The Canadian brand is a compelling one that resonates with India.  There is nothing like a prime ministerial visit — it provides an extraordinary platform to demonstrate the breadth and depth of our engagement. 

Kasi Rao is President and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council (C-IBC). Republished under arrangement with iPolitics.

Published in Politics

Commentary by: Muhammad Ali in Toronto, ON

I’m the child of Indian immigrants and, for my family, ‘Indian Standard Time’ is a term used to determine that even when we are running late, we are arriving with the party in full-swing. In the case of trade negotiations between Canada and India, we have reached Indian Standard Time.

Our two countries have long had a ‘complex’ bilateral relationship. While the previous Canadian government was able to successfully end a long-simmering nuclear dispute, allowing for the sale of Canadian uranium to India, it was unable to complete the free trade negotiations started back in 2010. Several cabinet ministers have visited India over the past two years, in addition to visits by various provincial premiers and big-city mayors to encourage more bilateral trade and investment between their respected jurisdictions.

But progress remains slow on a formal trade agreement.

Part of the reason for this slow progress is the lack of high-level discussions between Prime Minister Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With Trudeau visiting China twice and hosting President Xi Jinping in Canada, Indian officials may wonder how high of a priority trade with India is for the Canadian government. China and India are regional rivals economically, militarily and politically. They want assurances Canada cares and understands India.

Trudeau experiences a high degree of popularity amongst India’s population and within the Indo-Canadian community, an important political force in Canadian politics. To appease his key voter base and the interests of Canadian businesses, Trudeau will need to maximize his impact during his trip to India.

The purpose of this trip will be threefold: First, to quell any concerns Prime Minister Modi may have with the priority Canada has assigned to its relationship with China; second, to address any issues arising from the differences between the Indian and Indo-Canadian diasporas; and lastly, on issues impacting trade negotiations.

It will be part of Trudeau’s task to get Modi’s focus on the urgency and benefits of stronger trade ties with a trade agreement and use his popularity and charisma to show Modi that his commitment to improving our bilateral relationship is real and not calculated to only shore up domestic support.

South Asians in Canada hold tremendous political influence reflected by the appointment of four Sikh-Canadian ministers in important portfolios, and nearly two dozen MPs and Senators currently serving our country. Indo-Canadians have become engaged citizens who are shaping industry, culture and policy for Canadians. Addressing the delicate relationship between the Indian and Indo-Canadian diasporas will aide Trudeau to move negotiations forward.

Finally, Trudeau will be looking to address core economic issues such as agricultural exports to India, access to natural resources and migrant skilled workers coming to Canada. At the moment, India has raised tariffs on pulse seed imports, the majority of which comes from Saskatchewan. Canada produces a third of the worlds pulse crops (ex. lentils, peas, chickpeas) and this will have a ripple effect throughout the Canadian agricultural industry.

India and Canada can benefit from greater mobility of technology-trained workers, such as software engineers, between both countries. With the Waterloo-Toronto corridor and Bangalore-Hyderabad tech-centres hosting a thriving technology sector, a trade agreement would be able to enhance a bilateral ecosystem for companies to further develop.

Of most importance for Trudeau will be securing environmental and labour standards that have become core negotiating principles for this government. Canada’s leverage to securing these standards is giving India its first free-trade access to a Western market, including Canadian businesses that have access to North America, the EU, several countries in South America and potentially 10 Pacific-coast nations. Amidst the populist rhetoric to protectionism and anti-trade, Trudeau is positioning Canada as a beacon of economic opportunity that India would benefit from tremendously.

This trip to India, if successful, may cement Trudeau’s ability to deliver on his promise to diversify Canadian market access and reduce our dependence on the Americans, who continue to play Russian roulette with NAFTA discussions. Given the NAFTA risks, Canada needs this trade deal more than India does — to which Trudeau must move quickly before he loses any leverage in these talks.

This piece was republished under arrangement with iPolitics.

Published in Politics
Saturday, 23 July 2016 15:18

Most Think World More Dangerous Place

by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa

As Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican convention Thursday evening with a speech that played to Americans’ fears about the economy, illegal immigration and national security, many wondered aloud whether Canadian politics might be susceptible to his kind of populist appeal to the disaffected.

New polling from EKOS Research suggests the answer to that question, for the time being, is no: Most Canadians have a positive outlook, aren’t concerned about their economic future and value “openness” over “order” — even if they do believe the world is a more dangerous place than it was five years ago.

Earlier this month, from July 8 to 14, EKOS surveyed a random sample of 1,003 Canadians (with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20) on a range of subjects, recruiting them by phone to take online surveys.

They found a country that is, for the most part, seeing the glass as half-full.

Given a choice of a few adjectives to describe their current outlook on life, almost three-quarters of Canadians (73 per cent) said they were either “happy” or “hopeful”, compared to only 22 per cent who were “discouraged” and two per cent who were “angry”.

Anxiety over economy

There are certainly pockets of Canada that have seen job losses as a result of NAFTA and trade liberalization more generally — versions of Donald Trump’s “communities crushed by horrible and unfair trade deals” — but that hasn’t translated into collective anxiety about the economy.

Three in 10 Canadians do agree with the statement that they’ve lost all control over their economic future — but almost half (48 per cent) don’t, and one in five are agnostic.

“In addition to the clear lean to a positive emotional outlook, the incidence of those who feel they have lost ‘all control’ over their economic futures, although still significant, is actually lower than what we saw in the late 1990s. A sense of lost control is linked to a more negative emotional outlook and is strongly linked to the more economically vulnerable in society,” write EKOS President Frank Graves and EKOS research analyst Jeff Smith.

On one subject, however — safety — that sanguine feeling seems to disappear.

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life,” Trump said Thursday evening.

Risk perception

Most Canadians appear inclined to agree. Only one in 20 (5 per cent) think the world is safer than it was five years ago, compared to 60 per cent who think it’s more dangerous and 34 per cent who think it’s about the same.

“It is disturbing to see how the public are seeing the balance of danger and safety in the world,” Graves and Smith write. “A rational review of the evidence would suggest that objective risks and safety of North Americans have improved over the last decade. But the emotional response to risk perception is egregiously different.”

Those results need to be put in perspective. No more than 12 per cent of Canadians have ever felt the world is safer than it was five years ago. That said, as recently as 2012, more thought the world hadn’t become any more dangerous.

To the extent that there is a large portion of the population worried about terrorist attacks, rising crime levels and the like, the next question becomes: What are they prepared to do about it?

Is there any appetite to build walls — even metaphorical ones — and suspend immigration? Or to embrace more authoritarian “law and order” governance?

It doesn’t look like it — at least for now.

Order vs. openness

EKOS asked Canadians to choose between a set of different values in what they call “forced choice questions”: openness versus order; respect for authority versus individual freedom; good behaviour versus creativity; morality versus reason and evidence; obedience versus questioning authority.

“When we summarize the results we find that overall a clear majority of Canadians lean to openness (54 per cent) versus the not insignificant minority who favour order (33 per cent). These numbers, while rough, suggest that an authoritarian or ordered outlook is less common in Canada than the United States (according to PEW who found over half of Americans to be authoritarian),” Graves and Smith write.

If drawing concrete conclusions about Canadians’ appetite for a Trump-like figure — or at least for the values he espouses — is a pretty subjective exercise, other recent EKOS polling has gotten at the subject more directly.

In June, EKOS asked what kind of impact Canadians thought a Trump presidency would have on Canada. Only 6.8 per cent thought it would be positive.

Published in partnership with

Published in Top Stories

by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa

John Manley — the president and CEO of Canadian Council of Chief Executives — criticized the Harper government Tuesday for mismanaging bilateral relationships with China and Mexico, and reiterated a call for the incoming Liberal government to pursue a free trade agreement with China.

There are reasons to think that isn’t out of the question.

“We have very important trading relationships with both Mexico and China. And quite frankly, the Harper government didn’t manage those relationships particularly well,” Manley, whose organization represents 150 CEOs of Canada’s biggest companies, said in an interview on BNN.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"Smart, principled engagement of China must be at the centre of Canadian foreign policy.”[/quote]

This comes after an open letter Manley sent to Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau last week, which called for a “comprehensive bilateral economic agreement” with China, the reversal of the visa requirement for Mexican visitors and the ratification of the Canada-EU agreement and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).

“We urge your government to reverse the 2009 decision that requires most travellers from Mexico to obtain a visa before visiting Canada. With regards to China — our country’s second-largest trading partner, and soon to be the world’s largest economy – we believe the time has come to seek a comprehensive bilateral economic agreement. Smart, principled engagement of China must be at the centre of Canadian foreign policy,” Manley wrote.

China requires immediate attention

He elaborated on those points Tuesday, days after the CEO of Ford Canada, Dianne Craig — a member of the Canadian Council of CEOs — spoke out against the TPP.

“Ford is one of our members, likewise is Linamar, one of our largest auto part companies, which supports TPP. So I don’t think there’s a unanimous view. I think overall, though, what I’d say…is this: if TPP doesn’t happen, well then life goes on. If TPP does happen, and the United States and Mexico are part of it, then Canada really needs to be there. We can’t afford, for our national interests, to be excluded from an an agreement in which two of our three largest trading partners are there,” Manley said.

Since TPP ratification on the U.S. side could be held up by Congress, Manley didn’t think there was any reason for Trudeau to “lose sleep” over it yet.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"We don’t have to agree with China on everything, but we do need to engage China.”[/quote]

He said China, however, required immediate attention, adding that, like Australia and New Zealand, Canada should pursue a free trade agreement.

“Australia, while being a strong proponent of human rights — a strong supporter of rule of law — all of the things that Canada stands for, has managed to negotiate a free trade agreement with China. As has New Zealand. And they are benefiting — their economy is benefiting significantly in both cases,” Manley said.

“We seem to have a hard time deciding whether we want to do business with China or not, and we blow warm and cold. I think a consistent, lasting approach to China — multiple visits by our prime minister, by our minister of foreign affairs, by our minister of trade, and by our minister of industry, would yield benefits in the years to come. We don’t have to agree with China on everything, but we do need to engage China.”

Deepening relationship with China

While the Harper government signed and ratified, not without controversy, a foreign investment protection agreement with China, and released an economic complementarities study in August 2012, Ottawa preferred an incremental approach with regard to trade liberalization, reaching individual market access agreements for products such as beef, cherries, and blueberries.

“There are many mechanisms other than free trade agreements to allow us to deepen our trade relationship with China,” Trade Minister Ed Fast said last November.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]he Harper government wanted to see the “more balance” in the trading relationship before moving forward with negotiations. The Liberals have seemed more eager.[/quote]

In May, he clarified that the Harper government wanted to see the “more balance” in the trading relationship before moving forward with negotiations.

The Liberals have seemed more eager.

As Australia moved to implement their concluded free trade agreement with China, Liberal MPs — including Ralph Goodale, Chrystia Freeland, and Scott Brison — accused the Conservatives of bungling the relationship.

More recently, the Liberals named Peter Harder, who serves as president of the Canada-China Business Council, to head their transition team.

That could be a sign of things to come.

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Published in Economy
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.

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Published in Commentary
Sunday, 31 August 2014 17:29

Pulse: Latin America (July - Aug. 2014)

by Aurora Tejeida (@AuroBots) in Vancouver

The following is a compilation of the most important news stories reported by Latin American media in Canada, during July and August.

A columnist for La Portada believes Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program is going wind down soon

According to Angélica González Blanco, a columnist for La Portada, the recent changes made by Citizenship and Immigration Canada represent a threat to the Temporary Foreign Workers program, which she believes is soon going to soon become extinct.

She also believes the new regulations will have a negative impact on Canada’s economy, as companies won’t be able to obtain the labour force they need through the “rigorous” new process that is aimed at making things harder for temporary foreign workers. She goes on to say that the new regulations reflect the way the current administration has created a hostile environment for immigrants through xenophobic agendas.

González Blanco stressed that some of the new “drastic” regulations included raising the application fees companies have to pay from $275 to $1,000.

Mexican union leader who fled charges of corruption is now a Canadian citizen

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the former leader of Mexico's 280,000-member Los Mineros union, has lived in Vancouver since 2006, the year he fled Mexico to avoid charges of corruption for bilking $61 million from the miner’s union trust. Mexican media is reporting that there is an arrest warrant for him that's pending deportation, and that the charges won’t change now that Gómez is a Canadian citizen.

Many controversies surround this case. The Mexican Justice Department has stated that there is an international warrant for Gómez from Interpol, while Gómez has maintained that the charges are false and politically motivated. Vancouver media has tended to side with the former union leader, claiming there is no Interpol warrant for his arrest and that he is being wrongfully charged because he protected mine workers which made him an enemy of the Fox administration.  

Gómez’s lawyer recently stated that the Mexican government doesn’t have grounds to extradite him, and that his whereabouts have always been known. On the other hand, the current leader of the miner’s union says Gómez should prove his innocence in Mexico by handing himself in to Mexican authorities.

Undocumented migrants targeted in ‘vehicle safety blitz’ in Toronto

Canada’s border enforcement agency has arrested 21 people on immigration violations during a joint “commercial vehicle safety blitz” with other government authorities. Most of the men that were taken into custody are originally from Latin America. According to several sources, the men were gathering for their morning pickups to job sites.

La Portada reported that the detained were deported less than 48 hours after their arrests. Among the people who were deported is a man who is leaving behind his wife and two children. According to La Portada, one of his children has Down's syndrome and requires special care that would not be available in their country of origin. The man refused to disclose his family’s location in fear they might be deported too. Both parents had an outstanding deportation order after they failed their refugee claim hearing.

According to witnesses, officials with Canada Border Services Agency began the raids in the early hours. Some were detained after they failed to provide appropriate ID’s when the vehicles they were riding in were stopped by unmarked SUV's for what appeared to be routine vehicle inspection. Others said they were arrested at the parking lots of coffee shops in the vicinity. Most of them were construction workers.

In a statement, No One is Illegal denounced the raid claiming it had been a deliberate attack on Hispanic immigrants. As such, one of the lawyers that represented two now deported detainees petitioned Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to take a stance against raids of this nature.

Toronto City Hall grants $1.7 million to its Latin American community for Pan American Games inspired community projects

The Hispanic Canadian Heritage Council (HCHC) of Toronto commended City Hall for their approval of the “Community Projects for the 2015 Pan American Games Initiative.” The HCHC-lobbied project is going to receive $1.7 million that will be destined for Pan American Games inspired community projects. Both parties hope that the funding will provide opportunities for further integration of the Hispanic community into the sporting event that is to be held in the city of Toronto in July of next year.

According to Latinos Magazine, The funding is part of Toronto’s “Showcase” program for the Pan American Games and is supposed to be split into three different areas: activities and projects inspired by the Pan American Games anywhere in the city of Toronto, projects that provide long-term economical or structural benefits for the Latino, South American and Caribean community, and lastly, the money is supposed to be used to support arts and culture during the games.

Canadian Companies participated in 36 per cent of oil and gas projects in Colombia

The Canadian Minister for International Trade, Ed Fast, announced that Canadian Companies participated in 36 per cent of oil and gas projects in Colombia last year. During a visit in Bogota, he also expressed Canada's growing interest in the oil, gas and precious metals industries of the South American country.

According to CBN Noticias, Fast pointed out that Canada promotes sustainable practices when it comes to resource extraction in all of the countries where they have ongoing operations. The meeting Fast attended in Bogota was part of a six-day tour that included Colombia and Peru.

Canada has had a strong presence in the oil, gas and mining sectors of Colombia since a Free Trade Agreement was signed between the two countries in 2011. Over 51 Canadian companies are currently operating in the South American country.

Published in Top Stories
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 15:33

Immigrant-owned Businesses Leverage Exports

by Patricia Rimok in Montreal

Immigration Business Network ib2ib applauds the findings of a recent study done by the Conference Board of Canada that clearly shows immigrant entrepreneurs advance Canada’s export agenda outside of the U.S. more than non-immigrant Canadian Small and Medium Enterprises, SME’s. This is very important given the sluggish Canada-U.S. trade since the financial crisis began in 2007 which has pushed many Canadian SME’s to venture elsewhere to export their goods and the government to redouble its efforts to pursue free-trade deals, bilateral tax treaties and foreign investment protection agreements with fast-growing economies.

So why hasn’t Canada been more successful in leveraging its diverse immigration to increase its exports outside of the U.S.?

The main reasons brought forward by the Conference Board study are that immigrant-owned businesses exporting to non-U.S. markets are less operationally efficient, more likely to compete on price than innovation and product novelty, and represent limited long-term export potential especially the ones that are in the wholesale-retail trade sector.

Caution justified

We need, however, to be careful with some of these observations, especially given that the immigrant-owned businesses surveyed were established in Canada for only five years and have yet to be as sufficiently familiar with Canadian legal, fiscal, legislative and financing frameworks or have had the time to develop strong local business networks that they can leverage as non-immigrant based Canadian SME’s can. In fact, these same limitations have also been the primary reasons why more than half of the immigrant entrepreneurs and investors that came through the defunct immigrant entrepreneur and investor programs have left the country after five years with their capital.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]hese same limitations have also been the primary reasons why more than half of the immigrant entrepreneurs and investors that came through the defunct immigrant entrepreneur and investor programs have left the country after five years with their capital.[/quote]

Had we also included immigrant-owned businesses established for over 10 years in the Conference Board survey as a control group to measure and compare long-term impacts in the various business sectors studied, we may not have arrived at the same observations and conclusions. For example, wholesale and retail chains like Aldo, Point Zero, Peerless, Mep and countless others are immigrant-owned success stories that exist today which started in similar conditions, and yet, have been able to grow, export, diversify, innovate and employ thousands of people.

Other examples

In New Brunswick, for instance, the retail and wholesale trade sector is very important and experienced significant growth despite the fact that it is not associated to a high-growth or innovative sector. GDP associated to that sector was $2.6 Billion in 2010, up from $1.9 Billion in 2000 and projected to increase to $3.7 Billion in 2020. In 2011, out of 57,400 people associated to that sector, 53 800 were employed.

A longitudinal case study in 2009 in Spain (Peri and Requena), which measured the export-creating effects of immigrants from 1998 to 2008, was able to conclude that a rise in immigration to Spain from 1% to 10% in that period increased trade from 35% to 44% of Spanish GDP and the number of exporting firms grew from 58,000 to 100,000 over the same period. Both research economists also found that doubling the number of immigrants from a certain country in a Province led to an increase of the export values from the destination province to the country of the immigrant’s origin by around 10% thanks to their differentiated culture and goods, diaspora business and social connections which increase the diffusion of information and reduce the costs of doing business with their country of origin.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Both research economists also found that doubling the number of immigrants from a certain country in a Province led to an increase of the export values from the destination province to the country of the immigrant’s origin by around 10% thanks to their differentiated culture and goods, diaspora business and social connections which increase the diffusion of information and reduce the costs of doing business with their country of origin.[/quote]

Closer home

Using similar principles and closer to home, thanks to the contacts in China of a Chinese-Canadian immigrant entrepreneur and member of our network, Immigration Business Network ib2ib was able to secure for a Quebec-based clean-tech waste management company over $3 billion of financing to build 23 plants across Canada and create 1,500 permanent jobs. Wait, there is more! Now China wants the same plants built in their country and Brazil, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and others have expressed an interest to do the same. How is that for leveraging both Canadian imports and exports thanks to our immigration!

We need to continue this conversation with more Canadian immigrant-owned businesses that export as well as increase the connectivity and engagement of local Canadian SME’s with business immigrant and diaspora networks which bring foreign direct investment to Canada. The federal government has a great opportunity to continue improving on its more recent trade policies by incorporating them to their soon-to-be-released new immigrant entrepreneur and investor programs.

Patricia Rimok is President of the Montreal-based Immigration Business Network ib2ib Inc.

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Published in Commentary
Friday, 04 July 2014 20:41

Which Country Would You Die For?

by Andrew Griffith (@Andrew_Griffith) in Ottawa

With the World Cup in Brazil coming to a close, it's politically correct to ask, which team were you cheering for?

With Canada not in the running, cheering for your favourite team, whether based upon country of descent or other reasons, raises no question of dual loyalty.

With immigrants from over 200 countries, we have a variety of identities, attachments and loyalties. Our acceptance of dual nationality and political party responsiveness to homelanddiaspora politics reflect a relaxed attitude to identity and loyalty.

Just under three per cent of Canadians have dual or multiple nationality, or about one million people. But beyond formal nationality, numerous ethnic, historical and family ties to other countries exist. The close to three million Canadians living abroad are a mirror image in terms of their ties to Canada and to their country of residence.

The question of loyalty is even more topical, given provisions in the new Citizenship Act, which distinguishes between Canadians with single and dual citizenship in the most extreme cases.

But beyond these cases of loyalty, are there other limits to dual loyalties? When does loyalty to a homelandissue go beyond what most Canadians would consider reasonable? And how does a government reaffirm the value of Canadian citizenship while still supporting a range of diaspora issues?

I'd like to assess this question through cultural, social, economic and government perspectives and offer some pointers.

Cultural origins

We do not generally question loyalty when Canadians express their culture of origin. The richness of the different cultures, entertainment, food and folklore is welcomed as part of the Canadian mosaic. Politicians from all parties participate in cultural events and holidays. Traditional dress in this context is accepted; traditional dress in the workplace is largely accommodated.

Does it matter which team or country people cheer for at the Olympics? The World Cup? Largely not. There is little conflict in sports where Canada is not a contender. Most who cheer for another country enthusiastically cheer for the Canadian hockey teams at the Olympics.

Social affinity

Newcomers have always had a tendency to settle close to fellow newcomers. The various Chinatowns, Little Italys etc. reflect this. We didnt worry about ethnic enclaves then, and viewed this as part of a normal multi-generational integration process. Children will go to neighbourhood schools which reflect community demographics, but these are generally not monolithic. There are risks of ghettoization for some low-income neighbourhoods, where the barriers to integration may be higher.

We cannot regulate, nor should we, where people live, and the first generation will naturally prefer to settle where the local shops, services and organizations cater to the community.

Newcomers often work in mixed environments where they have exposure to other communities.

Are the risks of enclaves greater in todays globalized world? Do people maintain closer links back to the homecountry given cheap travel, free communications, and a wide range of specialty ethnic media? Yes, but most newcomers will consume both mainstreamand community media. Some communities, for faith-based or other reasons, may choose to self-excludebut this is largely limited to minorities within most communities.

Economic linkages

While most new Canadians work and invest in Canada, many maintain economic and business links with their countries of origin. This ranges from small businesses (e.g., ethnic grocery stores, travel agents ) to trading companies that export from or import to Canada as well as other businesses. Some maintain property in their countries of origin. None of these activities raise dual loyalty issues, unless of course such trade is contrary to Canadian laws and regulations (e.g,, export and import controls on weaponry).

Similarly, continuing to receive Canadian government benefits (e.g., pension benefits) when retired abroad is not an issue, given that recipients have paid into the respective plans and benefits when they lived and worked in Canada.

Civic engagement

Canada allows dual citizenship, given the practical reality of many Canadians who need to maintain the citizenship of their country of origin for travel or other purposes. While some have argued against dual citizenship, there is no broad support, although issues have arisen with respect to spouses of former Governors General (e.g., Jean-Daniel Lafond) or political leaders (e.g., Stephane Dion).

But it is in the more practical aspects of dual nationalities that loyalty questions emerge. Should citizens exercise their voting rights in more than one country? What about countries like Italy and France that have overseas constituencies and what about those Canadians who sit as members in foreign legislatures? Should they celebrate homelandnational days, or just cultural and religious festivals? Should they be active in homelandissues, and if so, to what extent? What about participation in foreign governments? What about military service in another country, or what about participation in foreign conflicts?

While in many cases, it is not either/or, loyalty can be questioned if one only votes in other country elections, celebrate homelandnational days, and is exclusively focused on homelandissues. It is the relative balance between participation in Canadian civic life compared to foreign issues that makes a difference. Normal interest and advocacy on homelandissues, if combined with participation in Canadian political debates, is one thing; exclusive focus on homelandissues is another.

Foreign military service or participation in foreign conflicts suggests loyalty to other countries. Hence, this loaded question, "Which country are you prepared to die for?"

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Foreign military service or participation in foreign conflicts suggests loyalty to other countries. Hence, this loaded question, "Which country are you prepared to die for?"[/quote]

Homeland v. Canadian

Participation in foreign governments, such as occurs in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, has been largely accepted, as it was viewed as projecting Canadian democratic and other values. But it does raise the question of where ones loyalty would lie should there be a conflict between Canadian and other country interests.

We live in a globalized world. We have diverse identities, both individually and collectively. As Canadas diversity continues to increase through immigration and intermarriage, our identities will continue to become more varied and blended.

Our ability to follow global events and to participate in political and other activities in other countries will also continue to increase.

But we do not expect interest in countries of origin to be exclusive. We expect citizens to vote in Canada. We expect citizens to participate in Canadian political, social and economic debates, and not only vote or advocate on behalf of homelandissues.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]But we do not expect interest in countries of origin to be exclusive. We expect citizens to vote in Canada.[/quote]

By and large, the government is comfortable with this approach. The only exception is with respect to citizenship revocation in cases of national security or comparable issues, where the revisions to the Citizenship Act distinguish between single and dual citizens. In other words, the existing long-standing policy that a Canadian-is-a-Canadian -- whether single or dual national, whether born in Canada or naturalized -- no longer applies. 

As Canadians continue to navigate and develop their various identities, we expect them to find a balance between their ethnic or country of origin identity and their Canadian identity. We have few hard and fast rules, given the complexity of our lives and identities, and provide considerable scope for Canadians to express their country of origin. However, we expect this activity to be grounded in a commitment to participate in Canadian life.

Andrew Griffith is the author of Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism. He is the former Director General for Citizenship and Multiculturalism at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). He has worked at Canadian Heritage, Service Canada, Industry Canada and Privy Council Office, in addition to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, where he had a number of domestic and international assignments. 

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Published in Commentary

Canada’s diversity is not reflected in its economic activity.  While much of its immigration growth is from countries with emerging economies, only China and Brazil are among its top 10 export destinations; the remaining eight top trading partners are developed Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

This imbalance is a missed opportunity for Canada as a whole and for immigrants themselves, says new research released by the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto.

While collective understanding and definition of the country have been shaped by waves of immigration, things today are different from the early days, said Matthew Mendelsohn, director of the centre.  First, immigrants to Canada are experiencing poorer economic outcomes than previous generations. And secondly, the global economy is undergoing a re-balancing, with the rise of emerging economies and new structural economic challenges in OECD countries, including Canada.  Mendelsohn said that while much of this is well-known, “what is less obvious is that the mental maps we use to understand immigration also need to change.”

The report, Diaspora Nation: An Inquiry into the Economic Importance of Diaspora Networks in Canada, examines this issue and the related matter of stagnating economic outcomes among new comers to Canada by reconceptualizing immigrant communities.

“If Canadian businesses fail to mobilize immigrant talent and expertise, Canada will miss one of the enormous global economic developments now underway,” Mendelsohn said.

“Patterns of global trade and the nature of immigration to Canada are changing. Canada has an enormous opportunity – but it must do more. Bringing a disaspora lens to private sector and public sector decision-making must be a front of mind consideration, ” Serene Tan, one of the authors of the report, said. Maurice Bitran is the other author. – New Canadian Media 

Published in Economy

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