by Leah Bjornson in Vancouver

With the final ballots long since counted and the prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau preparing to name his cabinet, members and guests of the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CFJ) gathered in downtown Vancouver to reflect on the longest election campaign in Canadian history.

The discussion, titled “Election 2015: How the Votes Were Won”, was held in an auditorium in the Simon Fraser University Segal Building on Oct. 27. 

Panellists included Susan Delacourt, a columnist with the Toronto Star, Adam Radwanski, a political columnist with The Globe and Mail, Hannah Thibedeau, a veteran political reporter and Paul Wells, the political editor for Maclean’s magazine. Tom Clark, chief political correspondent for Global National, served as the moderator for the evening. 

Beyond the rise of the Liberal party and the potential this administration has for greater cooperation with the media, the night’s discussion focused on the important role ethnic and immigrant communities played in this hotly contested race. 

Miscalculations about #CdnImm voters 

The panel discussed how all parties spent a significant amount of time targeting ethnic and immigrant demographics during this election period. 

For Clark, who has covered every federal election campaign since 1974, digging into how parties were marketing themselves to these communities was “fascinating.” 

“They were conflating concerns that certain communities would have, say with Kathleen Wynne [Ontario’s premier] and sex education,” he said. “I heard one ad that said, ‘if you don’t like Kathleen Wynne and sex education, vote for Stephen Harper.’” 

Despite spending a significant amount of time, money and effort trying to court these demographics though, “those communities basically turned against the Conservatives,” Clark added. 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"[T]here seemed to be a view that a lot of other immigrant communities take a certain 'close-the-door-behind-you' approach.”[/quote]

Radwanski, who previously served on the Globe’s editorial team, referred to the Muslim vote in particular, saying that while the Conservatives mainly wrote off Muslim voters when taking a stance on the niqab issue, the unintended consequences of this decision were unforeseen.

“Where I think they made a miscalculation was … there seemed to be a view that a lot of other immigrant communities take a certain 'close-the-door-behind-you' approach,” he stated, speaking of an assumption that once immigrants arrive in Canada they are less likely to care about others wanting to reach Canada. 

The reverse happened though. Rather than seeing the problem as one that only applied to Muslim Canadians, members of other communities identified with the fact that minorities were being targeted, Radwanski said.

Long campaign a benefit to Liberals

Making a light-hearted reference to the Jon Oliver sketch video that described Canada’s “gruelling” 78-day election period as “cute,” Clark asked the panellists how this year’s lengthy election differed from those of the past.

“I think everybody got into the long election campaign. I think democracy was sort of served by it,” Delacourt responded. “I think the turnout in this election is a really good argument for the longer election campaign.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"I just don’t think we would have seen anything resembling the same results in a five-week campaign.”[/quote]

Radwanski agreed. “I actually think the long campaign really made a difference, not just in that we all had more time to watch … [but] in that I just don’t think we would have seen anything resembling the same results in a five-week campaign,” he said.

The panel seemed to agree that Trudeau and the Liberal party “read” the long campaign better than the New Democratic Party (NDP), which ultimately allowed them to push past the former official opposition party in the last few weeks.

The NDP had the highest approval rating at the beginning of the campaign, polling nationally at around 33.2 per cent. The party even reached 37.4 per cent by late August.

However, this number shifted dramatically in late September as the Liberals overtook both the NDP and the Conservatives.

“They underestimated Trudeau,” explained Thibedeau, who was on the election trail with the Conservative party for the first four weeks of the circuit and joined the NDP later on.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“[Both the Conservatives and NDP] underestimated Trudeau.”[/quote]

She pointed to specific moments that highlighted this, such as when Harper’s spokesperson was quoted as saying “I think that if [Trudeau] comes on stage with his pants on, he will probably exceed expectations.”

Thibedeau continued, “Even more than that, the NDP … underestimated Justin Trudeau as well, and I think that was the biggest fault with those two parties.”

Media coverage in the new Trudeau era

On the day after he was elected, Trudeau travelled to Ottawa to take questions from journalists at the National Press Theatre. This was the first time since 2009 that a prime minister (or in this case, a prime minister-designate) was available to take questions at this official site.

For the panellists, this signalled a potentially more amiable relationship between journalists and the federal government in the future.

“It’ll be interesting to see if they maintain a lot of the restrictions that we’ve seen since ’06 or if they’ll loosen those moving forward,” said Thibedeau.

Wells, who moderated the Maclean’s debate in early August, echoed these thoughts.

“I believe that access and a general sort of relaxed attitude around journalists is going to be substantially greater under Justin Trudeau than under Stephen Harper,” he commented. “But I note that Justin Trudeau met with the premier of Ontario today and it was photo-op only, no questions.”

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Published in Politics

by Ranjit Bhaskar in Toronto

As Oct. 19 is only days away, a quick look at ridings with interesting ethno-cultural dynamics at play will give you an idea of what to watch out for on election night.

It is highly likely that there will be 50 or more minority legislators in the newly elected House of Commons – made possible in part because all three major parties have fielded candidates who share the cultural heritage of dominant populations in several of Canada’s 338 ridings.

While ethnicity is not the only influence on voting behaviour, ridings that have 20 per cent and above of people from a single group are indicative of the effectiveness of micro targeting by the parties. For one, these are large, but focused, groups that can be easily reached through advertising, often in languages spoken at home.

South Asians

The Conservatives targeted South Asian groups in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver Area (GVA) in 2011 with significant success. But there are many indications to suggest that large sections of this heterogeneous group may vote Liberal as the party’s emphasis on issues like family reunification resonate with them.

Ridings to watch in the GTA are all five Brampton ridings and the five Mississauga ridings of Mississauga Centre, Mississauga East-Cooksville, Mississauga-Erin Mills, Mississauga-Malton and Mississauga-Streetsville. Many of them are three-way and two-way fights between candidates of South Asian heritage.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]here are many indications to suggest that large sections of this heterogeneous group may vote Liberal as the party’s emphasis on issues like family reunification resonate with them.[/quote]

Ridings of interest in the Toronto suburbs are Scarborough Centre, Scarborough North, Scarborough Southwest, Scarborough-Guildwood, Scarborough-Rouge Park and Etobicoke North. The NDP’s Rathika Sitsabaeisan and Liberal’s Bill Blair are the prominent candidates here.

Further west in Alberta, the ridings of Edmonton Mill Woods and Calgary Skyview are the ones to watch as they will decide the fate of Conservative incumbents Tim Uppal and Devinder Shory respectively in three-way fights amongst candidates of South Asian heritage. Calgary Forest Lawn will also be of interest as Deepak Obhrai, a prominent Conservative incumbent, is contesting from there.

In British Colombia, Surrey Centre and Surrey-Newton will witness three-way races between candidates of South Asian heritage. The other ridings to watch are Fleetwood-Port Kells, where Conservative incumbent Nina Grewal is contesting, and Vancouver South, where the Liberals have fielded star candidate Harjit Sajjan.


In 2011, like with South Asians, the Conservatives were able to woo the ethnic Chinese vote successfully. And like the South Asians, some sections of this heterogeneous group are riled by changes in immigration and citizenship policies.

The new Express Entry program and the elimination of the immigrant investor program in 2014 have made Chinese immigration to Canada harder. Expect this dissatisfaction to be reflected in the way the community votes.    

In British Columbia, the Vancouver area ridings to watch are Richmond Centre, Steveston-Richmond East, Vancouver South, Vancouver East, Vancouver Granville, Vancouver Kingsway, Vancouver Quadra, Burnaby North-Seymour and Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][L]ike the South Asians, some sections of this heterogeneous group are riled by changes in immigration and citizenship policies.[/quote]

Further to the east, the riding to watch is Calgary Nose Hill in Alberta where prominent Conservative incumbent Michelle Rempel is seeking re-election.

In the GTA, the ridings to watch are Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill, from where Costas Menegakis, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, is contesting; Markham-Stouffville, where Paul Calandra who served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary, is contesting; Markham-Thornhill, from where Liberal immigration critic John McCallum is contesting; Markham-Unionville; and Richmond Hill.

In the Toronto suburbs, the ridings to watch are Scarborough-Agincourt, Scarborough North, Willowdale and Don Valley North, where Conservative Joe Daniel is facing a strong challenge from Liberal Geng Tan.

Daniel has stirred controversy by speaking out on “so-called” refugees fleeing Syrian violence, criticizing Saudi Arabia for inaction on the crisis, and suggesting a Muslim “agenda” is pushing refugees into Europe.


As Harper has made support for Ukraine a key part of his foreign policy initiatives, it would be of interest to know how it translates into keeping ridings with significant Ukrainian populations safely within the Conservative fold.

The ridings to watch are Lakeland in Alberta, Yorkton-Melville in Saskatchewan and the Manitoba ridings of Kildonan-St. Paul, Elmwood-Transcona and Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman.


The two ridings with a high concentration of Italian voters are in the GTA: King-Vaughan and Vaughan-Woodbridge. Both elected Conservatives in 2011, along with the other Ontario riding in play, Sault Ste. Marie.

The ridings to watch in Montreal are Saint Leonard-Saint Michel and Honoré-Mercier.

Non-Christian groups

When it comes to religion, no non-Christian community is in majority in any of the ridings.

The highest proportion is in Surrey-Newton with 44 per cent Sikh, followed by 34 per cent Sikh in Brampton East.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Sikhs have been able to rally together to ensure that fellow community members get elected to parliament from ridings where they are predominant.[/quote]

Being a close-knit religious community, Sikhs have been able to rally together to ensure that fellow community members get elected to parliament from ridings where they are predominant.

The current House of Commons has six Sikh MPs, a ratio well above their population figures.

“Jewish” ridings

The GTA suburb of Thornhill has the next most populous religious group in one riding with 37 per cent Jewish, followed by Montreal’s Mount Royal with 31 per cent. In Toronto, 25 per cent of both Eglinton-Lawrence and York Centre are Jewish. 

Eglinton-Lawrence is of added interest as Conservative Joe Oliver is in a tough three-way fight against Liberal Marco Mendicino and NDP star Andrew Thomson.

Oliver is one of the most senior Jewish parliamentarians. If he loses, it would be only the third time since Confederation that an incumbent finance minister is defeated.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]he days of any one party monopolizing certain ethno-cultural votes have ended.[/quote]

The Muslim vote

Statistics Canada says Muslims comprise between 12 and 19 per cent of the population in 19 federal ridings – 11 in Ontario, six in Quebec and two in Alberta.

In the 2011 elections, 21 ridings in Ontario with notable Muslim populations were won by the smallest of margins.

According to non-partisan organization The Canadian Muslim Vote, had Muslims voted in greater numbers they could have been a deciding factor in determining who got elected.

High Muslim voter turnout could make a significant difference not only in ridings with high Muslim populations such as Don Valley East and Mississauga Centre, but also in key ridings in Calgary and Edmonton.

No monopoly on ethno-cultural vote

Other ridings with significant ethno cultural factors at play include Spadina-Fort York in Toronto, where Liberal star Adam Vaughan is fighting NDP star Olivia Chow.

The three Etobicoke ridings in Toronto are also significant as Ukrainian, Somali, South Asian and Ahmadiyya Muslim groups have influence in the area.

For the Conservatives, winning these ridings is important to maintain presence in a city that has been traditionally carved out between the Liberals and the NDP.

But the electoral fights in all of the above ridings indicate that the days of any one party monopolizing certain ethno-cultural votes have ended. These groups are now voting like the rest of Canadians without regard to narrow cultural or ethnic identities.

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Published in Top Stories

by Paul Barber

Waves of immigration throughout Canada’s history have made ethnic sub-populations key targets for Canadian election campaigns.

Historically this has benefited the federal Liberals; the party supported mass immigration while governing Canada for two thirds of the 20th century, making ethnic voting a staple of Liberal politics. Challenges have come in recent years, notably from the Conservatives — who achieved considerable electoral success in immigrant ridings in 2011 — but also from the NDP.

It’s largely forgotten now, but at one time Canadians of British origin were openly suspicious of immigrants’ politics. In 1924, one prominent Winnipeg businessman said of newcomers: “We welcome all good citizens from foreign lands, but if they do not believe in the Christian religion, nor intend to keep our laws, they should be asked without delay to return from whence they came.”

Let’s look at some constituencies where there are large concentrations of Canadians from various ethnic backgrounds.


Many of the immigrants that Winnipeg businessman was talking about came from Eastern Europe, particularly the Ukraine. Most came prior to World War I and settled on margins of the good farmland in the prairie provinces.

Based on the 2013 redistribution, in 2011 the top five federal ridings with the highest concentration of ethnic Ukrainians would have elected Conservatives, all but one by comfortable margins, all in Manitoba or Alberta. Most of this population is made up of Ukrainians whose families migrated to Canada prior to World War I or shortly thereafter and no longer speak the language.

The federal Liberals were successful at first with this vote, winning strong Ukrainian ridings in the '20s, '30s and '40s. But the Liberals were displaced on the prairies by the Progressive Conservatives under John Diefenbaker in the 1950s.

Harper has made support for the Ukraine in its struggle with Russian-backed secessionists a key symbolic foreign policy priority — no doubt partly for its domestic political benefit, even if many diplomats remain unimpressed. However, in 2015 Conservative support has slipped even in the party’s strongholds — and that includes ridings with significant Ukrainian populations.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Ethnicity is not the only influence on voting behaviour.[/quote]

Four out of five of these ridings would be retained by the Conservatives today, but current polling suggests one (in urban Winnipeg) could go to the NDP. Note that this constituency, Elmwood-Transcona, is about 21 per cent Ukrainian heritage. A majority voters are from other backgrounds. Ethnicity is not the only influence on voting behaviour.

(Data on the ethnic composition of electoral districts comes from the 2011 National Household Survey, which replaced the long form census.)


Large numbers of Italians settled in Ontario and Quebec after the Second World War, mainly in Toronto and Montreal. They reliably supported the Liberals. That may be changing.

The example of Toronto’s designated ‘Little Italy’ neighbourhood is a good illustration. The neighbourhood is located in University-Rosedale, a constituency with the 46th-largest Italian population in Canada (7.6 per cent). But many Italian-Canadians have long since moved to the suburbs.

The two constituencies with the highest concentration of Italian voters are relatively prosperous GTA ridings just north of Toronto (both King-Vaughan and Vaughan-Woodbridge rank among the top 25 most affluent constituencies in Canada).

Both would have elected Conservatives in 2011. Current polling suggests the Liberals could win back one of the two (and also pick up an NDP seat in Montreal). And the northern Ontario riding of Sault Ste. Marie, which elected a Conservative in 2011, is likely to go NDP.

South Asians

More recent years have seen large-scale immigration from Asia. The Conservatives targeted these ridings in 2011 and achieved significant, but not universal, success.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Over time, new Canadians become more integrated into Canadian society. As they do, their ethnic identities become less important in determining how they might vote.[/quote]

Again, using the redistributed vote we find that half of the top 10 South Asian constituencies would have elected Conservatives in 2011, although the NDP would have won four and the Liberals two.

With the considerable improvement in Liberal support during the current election, it is likely that the Conservatives would retain just a third of these constituencies; the NDP would drop two and the Liberals would make significant gains.


We see a similar pattern among constituencies with substantial Chinese populations: considerable Conservative success in 2011 with likely large-scale losses, mainly to the Liberals, but also one to the NDP, anticipated in 2015.

Over time, new Canadians become more integrated into Canadian society. As they do, their ethnic identities become less important in determining how they might vote.

As second, third and fourth generations replace the original immigrants they develop political views they share with others outside of their ethnic sub-groups. Whether they are environmentalists or social justice advocates, free traders or anti-tax conservatives, their ethnic identities have progressively less influence on how they vote and view politics.

Although the Liberals continue to do well among ethnic minority voters, political support from Canada’s minorities has diversified. The efforts made by the Conservatives in 2011 met with considerable success and the NDP has made its own gains. The days of monopolizing the immigrant vote are over, and the political importance of ethnic identity clearly fades over time.

Paul Barber is a retired former public servant and journalist. He worked for the governments of Ontario and Manitoba, mainly in intergovernmental relations, and as a TV current affairs documentary producer in Winnipeg and for the program The Journal in Toronto. He offers his opinions on politics and media at the blog:

Published in partnership with

Published in Commentary
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 21:06

The “Ethnic Vote”: All Over the Map




by Michael Adams (@AdamsMichaelj) and Andrew Griffith (@Andrew_Griffith)

Former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau notoriously blamed the separatists’ defeat in the 1995 Quebec referendum on money and the ethnic vote. 

When it comes to money, the Harper Conservatives have a distinct advantage over their two main rivals: Thomas Mulcair's New Democrats and Justin Trudeaus Liberals.

But when it comes to the so-called “ethnic vote” (by no means as monolithic as Mr. Parizeau might have imagined 20 years ago), all parties have a shot. No party has a monopoly on immigrants, new or long-settled, and none can take for granted the support of any ethnocultural or religious minority group.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Remarkably, the immigrants who were elected to Canadas parliament in 2011 had not only become citizens, gotten themselves nominated, and then won election—but they represented all five main political parties and included many visible minorities.[/quote] 

Diverse MPs

In the 2011 federal election, voters sent 42 foreign-born citizens to represent them as MPs in Ottawa. Thats about 13 per cent of the then-308-member House of Commons. 

That proportion falls short of parity with our foreign-born population (20% of us are foreign-born), but it comes quite close to matching the proportion of us who are foreign-born and Canadian citizens: 16 per cent.

Moreover, 40 per cent of foreign-born MPs are women, much higher than the 25 per cent of all MPs who are women.

Shifting from the foreign-born to visible minorities (i.e., non-white and non-Aboriginal Canadians) in Parliament, we see weaker representation. Thirty MPs were visible minorities (9.4 per cent), compared to the 15 per cent who are visible minority and Canadian citizens.

When we look at regions of origin, we find that Canada’s foreign-born MPs came from everywhere: 15 from Europe, 11 from Asia, 11 from the Americas, and five from Africa.   

Diverse parties

Remarkably, the immigrants who were elected to Canadas parliament in 2011 had not only become citizens, gotten themselves nominated, and then won election—but they represented all five main political parties and included many visible minorities: 18 Conservatives (15 visible minorities, of 166 elected), 18 New Democrats (12 visible minorities, of 103), four Liberals (2 visible minorities, of 34), and one each in the Bloc (1 visible minority, of 4) and the Green Party (no visible minority).

The Green Party is 100 per cent foreign-born: Elizabeth May is from Hartford, CT.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Another “only in Canada” fact is that our most right-wing party, the Conservative Party of Canada, attracts a substantial contingent of candidates born abroad.[/quote]

The Bloc is dedicated to dismantling the country, but managed to be inclusive of the foreign-born and visible minorities. Only in Canada! 

With respect to visible minorities (defined in the U.S. as non-white races and Hispanic), the U.S. has worse representation than Canada: 20 per cent in the House of Representatives compared to their population share of 37 per cent, only six per cent in the Senate), the vast majority of these are American-born visible minorities, mainly African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos, not immigrants.

Only 16 foreign-born members sit in either of the two houses. But many of these were born abroad to American parents, the most famous being John McCain and Canada’s Ted Cruz.

But even if we include all of these legislators as foreign born, they are still less than three per cent of Congress, where demographic parity would suggest that almost 70 foreign-born “should be” in both houses (to match the 13 per cent of “legal” Americans who are foreign-born).

Another “only in Canada” fact is that our most right-wing party, the Conservative Party of Canada, attracts a substantial contingent of candidates born abroad. In most countries, right-wing parties are anti-immigrant and would be unlikely to either attract or accept foreign-born candidates.

Stephen Harper may loathe much of the progressive agenda the Liberals and NDP have embraced over the past half-century, but he sure loves multiculturalism. 

Canada’s history of large immigrant inflows combined with a high naturalization rate (citizenship acquisition) has made it an electoral imperative to court – not dismiss – the “ethnic vote.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]When it comes to another aspect of our ethno-cultural diversity, religion, the picture becomes even more fragmented: in no riding in Canada does one non-Christian religious community comprise a majority of the population.[/quote] 

Diverse ridings

Looking ahead to our date with electoral destiny on October 19, which ridings are likely to have interesting ethnocultural dynamics?

As reported in Andrews new book on multiculturalism, out of Canadas 338 ridings (we have 30 new ones under the new boundaries), 15 have populations of more than 70 per cent visible minority. Ten of these are in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), five in greater Vancouver. 

These ridings are mostly defined by Chinese and South Asian populations (mainly people from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka); one, York West in Toronto, has 22 per cent who self-identify as Black. Interestingly, only four have a majority of one ethnic group. 

Brampton-East in the GTA and Surrey-Newton in greater Vancouver have 60% and 59% South Asian residents, respectively.

Markham-Unionville in the GTA and Richmond Centre in greater Vancouver have 57% and 51% Chinese residents, respectively. 

Another 18 ridings have visible-minority populations ranging from 50 to 70 per cent, but none of these has anywhere near a majority of only one group.

Diverse religions

When it comes to another aspect of our ethno-cultural diversity, religion, the picture becomes even more fragmented: in no riding in Canada does one non-Christian religious community comprise a majority of the population.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Surveys show that members of ethnocultural and religious minority groups do not fall into a single ideological camp.[/quote] 

The highest proportion in the country is Surrey-Newton in greater Vancouver with 44 per cent Sikh, followed by 34 per cent Sikh in the GTA’s Brampton-East.

The next most populous religious group in one riding are those of Jewish faith: 37 per cent of the population in Thornhill (GTA) is Jewish, as is 31 per cent of Montreals Mont-Royal. Canadian Muslims form between 15 and 20 per cent in six ridings.

Its important to note that, in Canada, areas with high concentrations of particular ethnic or religious minority groups are not ghettos, as this term is typically used.

This is not to dismiss Canadas serious economic inequality (reflected in all too many of our urban neighbourhoods) nor to ignore racialized poverty. It is to say that residential concentrations of ethnic groups tend to form because of affinity, not be enforced by constraints like housing discrimination or poverty.

Diverse ideologies

While some areas have high concentrations of single groups, candidates in urban and suburban ridings cannot count on being elected on the basis of an appeal solely to one ethnic group. Although many candidates from all parties come from the largest ethnic group in their riding, they must reach out to at least two groups—usually more—if they are to be successful. 

Surveys show that members of ethnocultural and religious minority groups do not fall into a single ideological camp.

They include religious conservatives who embrace father-knows-best patriarchy; socially liberal pluralists; those who expect strong, activist government; and the politically disengaged. They reflect the values that occur in society at large.

Of course, as with other Canadians, members of the same family may hold sharply different beliefs—and may or may not report at the dinner table what they did in the voting booth.

It’s not unlikely that on October 19, there will be 50 or more foreign-born legislators of all parties in our newly elected House of Commons.

And there’s every reason to expect that, one day soon, a person of non-European origin will be our prime minister—but its anybodys guess which party he or she will lead.

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Globe and Mail.

Michael Adams is president of the Environics Institute. Andrew Griffith is a former director-general of Citizenship and Multiculturalism and is the author of Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote.

Published in Commentary

by Priya Ramanujam (@SincerelyPriya) in Scarborough, Ontario

If the New Democratic Party (NDP) seeks to truly engage ethnic and racialized communities in this October’s federal election, it needs to borrow a page from former leader Jack Layton’s legacy.

“Jack Layton, before there was any hope of winning any sort of racialized riding, would come out to events and speak on issues that matter,” deputy leader of the Ontario NDP, Jagmeet Singh, told New Canadian Media during a dinner the party held in Scarborough Monday night to mix and mingle with ethnic media outlets representing more than 20 diaspora communities. “[He’d] speak on human rights and take positions on human rights that were actually in line with the community wanted.”

Sincerity Is Key

Singh, who was elected in the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton in the 2011 provincial election, is known for being vocal about human rights and issues affecting racialized communities – most recently police carding. He says it’s important for ethnic communities to not buy into the “false sense of support” that comes from politicians attending particular cultural events when they’re on the campaign trail.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Engaging diverse communities in meaningful and respectful ways continues to be an area that Canada’s various levels of government need to become better at.[/quote]

“[T]here’s no doubt that political parties will come just at the eve of an election and show up just at the right time and shake hands with the right people and get the right pictures just to show that they are in support of that community,” he says. “You have to actually look into what they say, what policies they bring forward, what is their message that actually connects with the community.”

Andrea Horwath, NDP leader in Ontario, says her party has a great opportunity in the upcoming election to do the type of engagement work Singh speaks of across the country – starting with the diversity of the candidates themselves.

“I know the slate of candidates that we have has got a number of people that reflect diverse communities and that’s very exciting, but it’s a matter of making sure that it’s not a matter of those candidates in isolation,” she told New Canadian Media. 

Making Real Inroads

Engaging diverse communities in meaningful and respectful ways continues to be an area that Canada’s various levels of government need to become better at. Horwath spoke of meeting with a community group earlier that afternoon that serves Spanish-speaking people in North Toronto and their concerns with the government around a lack of engagement in the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games coming to Toronto in July.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]It’s important for any political party to not only encourage diversity amongst their candidates but also amongst those candidates’ staff members.[/quote]

“That’s a failure of the government to recognize not only an opportunity, but an obligation, quite frankly,” Horwath says. “If you’re going to host the Pan American Games and the Parapan American Games, then you have to actually be respectful of those people whose cultures and languages who [are reflected].”

Viresh Fernando, a self-claimed “political junkie” and resident of Toronto’s Thorncliffe community – where, according to Statistics Canada, 71 per cent of the population’s first language is neither English nor French – says the best tool politicians could use to engage ethnic communities is intimate, meaningful dialogue.

“Stop listening to self-appointed leaders and really sit down for a couple of hours with a small group of people and let them talk to you and keep asking them questions without having your handlers around you,” he says. In fact, he points out that during the NDP’s dinner event he would have liked to see Horwath circulate more from table to table during dinner and speak informally to the various ethnic media and community members in the room.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]More involvement in the system is something many representatives of the ethnic media collectively agreed they’d like to see.[/quote]

Staff, Media Engagement Needs to Become More Diverse

Further to that, Fernando points out it’s important for any political party to not only encourage diversity amongst their candidates but also amongst those candidates’ staff members. “The political staff tend not to represent the ethnic communities at all,” he says.

Fernando added that he believes why Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne encountered such a backlash from various ethnic communities around her recent sex-ed curriculum – something many members of the media asked Horwath for her take on during the event’s press scrum – was due to a lack of understanding. If Wynne had more diverse voices on her staff, she may not be spending $1.8 million on communication messages around the curriculum, Fernando says.

More involvement in the system is something many representatives of the ethnic media collectively agreed they’d like to see.

“We want to be part of the system, someone who can represent us,” said Mohamed Busuri of the Somali Canadian Times.

“We encourage participation of members of the Filipino community in politics to show the strength in our community,” agreed Rose Tijam, president of the Philippine Press Club, adding, “Filipinos don’t want anything different from mainstream Canadians – work, jobs, housing.”

As the NDP continues to ramp up its engagement with diverse communities at both the political and federal levels with events like this one, there is one thing Fernando warns it and other parties should never do on the campaign trail: “Please don’t insult people by dressing in their costumes . . . do not engage in tokenism.”

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Published in Politics
Sunday, 10 May 2015 16:01

Protests Follow Aquino Across Canada

by Veronica C. Silva (@VSilvaCusi) in Toronto

From Ottawa to Toronto to Vancouver, protest actions met Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III wherever he went on his three-day state visit to Canada.

In Toronto, protesters gathered earlier than the scheduled opening of doors at 3 p.m. At around the same time, some Filipino guests invited to the ‘by-invitation-only’ event also started to line up to enter the venue.

Groups of Filipino-Canadian protestors, joined by their Canadian supporters, numbered at about 200 by their estimate, turned up to advocate against some policies of both Aquino and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Among the issues that the protesters brought to the fore were Aquino’s alleged human rights violations, the Mamasapano deadly encounter, Mary Jane Veloso’s death row case in Indonesia and the plight of other Filipinos overseas on death row and the policies affecting Filipino temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in Canada, including live-in caregivers.

“Migrant rights, human rights under attack, what do you do? Stand up! Fight back!” chanted the protesters.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“We urge you to look deeper in the root causes of our community’s issues. It is poverty, lack of decent jobs and landlessness in the countryside in the Philippines that continue to hold us back as a nation.” - Jesson Reyes, Migrante Canada[/quote]

Dan Harris, New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament in Scarborough Southwest, joined protesters outside the venue as he reiterated the NDP’s opposition to the Conservatives’ immigration policies and the C-51 anti-terrorism bill.

“Good enough to work, good enough to stay!” Harris said, joining in the chant.

“Just this week, both the Liberals and the Conservatives voted in favour of C-51, the anti-terrorism legislation that allows them to infringe on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that’s a disgrace,” said Harris, as the crowd answered with, “Shame!” 

Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne also met with Aquino as shown in the picture to the right. (Photo Credit: Wynne's official Twitter account.)

Migrante Canada, one of the groups protesting, said it was reaching out to the Kababayans (Filipino countrymen) who attended the Toronto event also.

“We urge you to look deeper in the root causes of our community’s issues,” said Jesson Reyes, regional coordinator for Migrante Canada in Ontario. “It is poverty, lack of decent jobs and landlessness in the countryside in the Philippines that continue to hold us back as a nation.”

He also noted that the two state leaders talked about nothing new in their speeches, and he took aim at the objective behind the state visit.

“It is without a doubt that certainly one of the few agendas of PNoy’s visit to Canada is for the Conservatives to secure the votes of Filipino-Canadian voters in the upcoming federal elections,” said Reyes. “By listening to the tone of the Prime Minister, he ensured people yesterday that his government’s ‘promises’ will be kept for so long as he is seated in Ottawa.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“This government is not going to have a policy – for as long as I’m Prime Minister – where we will have a permanent underclass of temporary people who are here forever with no rights of citizenship and no rights of mobility.” - Stephen Harper[/quote]

In a press conference in Ottawa, earlier in the day, Harper defended the controversial TFW program, which affects thousands of Filipinos.

“This government is not going to have a policy – for as long as I’m Prime Minister – where we will have a permanent underclass of temporary people who are here forever with no rights of citizenship and no rights of mobility,” said Harper in Ottawa.

And Aquino responded: “I think that policy should be held proud, not criticized.”

Reacting to this, Reyes said: “It shows that PNoy and his government do not have a clear understanding of the plight of TFWs in Canada and the abuses many of our Kababayans face by not having a permanent status.”

Migrante Canada joins other migrant groups in calling for landed status for foreign workers. The organization also deplores the Philippines’ labour export policy, which is driving many Filipinos to seek employment elsewhere.

The Conservative Campaign

In the weeks leading up to Aquino’s visit media reports reiterated Reyes’ sentiment that the state visit could be a strategy of the Conservatives to try to win over the Filipino community in Canada – estimated to number from half a million to 700,000 – in time for federal elections scheduled in fall. In recent years, the Philippines has been one of the top source countries for immigrants to Canada, next to China and India.

In Toronto, the state leaders spoke to a crowd of some thousands of members of the Filipino-Canadian community at Roy Thomson Hall. While Aquino’s speech was the highlight of the community gathering, Harper brought in his campaign team to cheer for him.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The event, at times, sounded more like an election campaign, with each leader taking turns speaking of each other’s accomplishments while highlighting bilateral ties and trumpeting the Pinoys’ good qualities.[/quote]

National Defence and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney (MP, Calgary Southeast), who was formerly Citizenship and Immigration Minister, wore a Barong Tagalog and gamely posed for photographs with some Filipinos in the lobby after the event.

Kenney has been credited for winning the so-called ethnic votes for the Tories in the 2011 elections.

Not to be outdone, federal Finance Minister and Torontonian Joe Oliver told the crowd: “Jason Kenney may be wearing a barong, but I’ve reached the third level in the Knights of Rizal,” something which drew applause from the crowd.

But it was Harper who got the loudest applause for revealing: “I’m also going to note – with some pride – that on my wife’s side, I now also personally have some Filipino relatives.” He didn’t elaborate though.

The event, at times, sounded more like an election campaign, with each leader taking turns speaking of each other’s accomplishments while highlighting bilateral ties and trumpeting the Pinoys’ good qualities.

Filipinos Integral Part of Canada: Harper

“The President’s visit gives our government, gives Canadians, the chance to recognize and celebrate the success and contributions of Canada’s Filipino community,” said Harper.

As an example of this Filipino success, the Prime Minister proudly recognized the Filipino-Canadian designer who created the logo of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, which will be in 2017, Ariana Mari Cuvin of Toronto.

Harper went on to enumerate Filipino qualities that have become world famous – work ethic, loyalty, and deep faith: “Filipino-Canadians have now become an integral part of every single aspect of Canadian society.”  

Then, there was the reminder of Canada’s multi-million dollar aid to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan struck in late 2013.

“During those dark days, Canada was there for our friends in the Philippines,” said Harper. “Canada was, in fact, the third largest humanitarian donor in the world to the relief efforts, a drive led by Filipino-Canadians that our government was proud to match dollar for dollar right across this country.”

In early 2014, it was announced that individual Canadians contributed over $85 million in eligible donations.

Canada also sent relief teams to the Philippines to help out and has committed more assistance in the reconstruction of areas affected by the typhoon.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Unfortunately for the Filipino Torontonians, Aquino hardly offered the crowd something new. His speech in Toronto was almost identical to the one he gave in Chicago, Illinois a few days prior.[/quote]

When it was his turn to address the audience, Aquino spoke in Tagalog and focused on his administration’s accomplishments during a speech interlaced with jokes.

Unfortunately for the Filipino Torontonians, Aquino hardly offered the crowd something new. His speech in Toronto was almost identical to the one he gave in Chicago, Illinois a few days prior.

For example, in boasting of his administration’s infrastructure projects, Aquino told the Toronto crowd the same joke about the new Lullutan Bridge in Isabela.

Ang tawag kaya, ang buong pangalan kaya nito ay Lullutang at Lulubog Bridge? (Do they call this bridge Lullutang (floating) and Lulubog (sinking) Bridge?),” Aquino asked the audience in Toronto. And like in Chicago, this part of the speech elicited the same response of laughter.

Also like in Chicago, Aquino boasted about his administration’s job programs and economic gains, adding that the numbers he presented were actual statistics.

But there were other projects Aquino mentioned to the Toronto crowd like achievements in the coconut industry and in the Philippines’ weather forecasting capabilities.

Amidst the mix of cheers, standing ovations and protests, both state leaders outlined the gains earned from the state visit.

Canada announced more aid and assistance to the Philippines, which has been identified as a country of focus for Canada’s international development efforts, and initiatives were announced in the areas of free trade, occupational health and safety, development assistance, police and security, and counter terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region.

Published in partnership with The Philippine Reporter.

Published in Top Stories


New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair, along with Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy, seen here engaging with residents in Chinatown.

Photo Credit: Joe Cressy via Flickr CC 


by Stephen E. White, Inder S. Marwah, Phil Triadafilopoulos

Can political parties court an “ethnic vote”?

Sometimes it seems like politicians assume the support of ethnic minority communities is there for the taking, as long as parties put in the effort to reach out to them with symbolic gestures or concrete policies. Two recent examples of the Conservative government’s efforts to appeal to voters in ethnic minority communities illustrate this.

One is the memorial to the victims of communism, which the federal government plans to build this summer. As Jeffrey Simpson notes in the Globe and Mail, the memorial is intended to appeal to Eastern European immigrants and their descendants: “The Conservatives have worked very hard to attract these voters by other means, and the memorial represents a further tangible demonstration of the party’s efforts.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][I]t’s important to keep in mind there is no single “ethnic vote.”[/quote]

Another is the $6 million over five years, earmarked in the recently tabled federal budget to improve services for Canadians who want to send money to individuals (typically family members) in their countries of origin. Immigrant communities appear to be the target of this measure.

How successfully will these efforts garner voter support in ethnic minority communities?

The Myth of the Monolithic “Ethnic Vote”

To begin with, it’s important to keep in mind there is no single “ethnic vote.”

Canada contains a large number of different ethnic minority communities. According to the 2011 National Household Surveywhile the majority of Canadian residents report British Isles or French ethnic origins, seven other ethnic groups each have populations of more than one million:  German, Italian, Chinese, East Indian, Ukrainian, Dutch and Polish.There are many other smaller, but nonetheless sizeable, groups, too.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][T]he very idea of an “ethnic vote” supposes that members of ethnic minority communities vote on the basis of their ethnic identities.[/quote]

No single strategy can win the votes of all of these different communities’ members. Parties may succeed in appealing to some communities, but not others. 

More significantly, the very idea of an “ethnic vote” supposes that members of ethnic minority communities vote on the basis of their ethnic identities.

There’s no question that ethnic identity often features prominently in people’s lives, but voters might not have that in mind when casting their ballots.

While many people identify as members of ethnic groups, they also have national and provincial identities, religious identities, occupational identities, and so on. When it comes to deciding on whom to vote for, these other identities could be far more important than ethnic identity.

Minority community members also have distinct political views, unrelated to their ethnic identities, to which parties can appeal.

Many members of ethnic minority communities are first- or second- generation Canadians. Perhaps they see political issues somewhat differently than other Canadians because of their (or their parents’) unique experiences, both in their countries of origin and in Canada.

Some evidence, for example, suggests that immigrants from countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are more socially conservative than other Canadians.

Not So Different From the Rest of the Canadian Electorate

The question is, do those differences really matter?

Voters support or reject parties and candidates for all sorts of reasons. For example, a difference in views about social issues means little if voters are focused on the economy, taxes or health care.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]There’s no evidence that ethnic outreach actually works – but the parties believe it might, and this conviction shapes both electoral strategies and policy making.[/quote]

Parties and leaders have some power to shape the election agenda, but not total power.  The Parti Québécois learned this lesson the hard way in the 2014 Quebec election, when its efforts to mobilize voters in defense of secularism were overshadowed by one of its star candidate’s unscripted, and ultimately damaging, statements on sovereignty.

New Canadians are no less savvy than the rest of the Canadian electorate. While it’s true that recent immigrants don’t have many years of experience with Canadian politics and elections, research also suggests they learn rather quickly.

There’s no reason, then, to think that parties’ targeted appeals to ethnic minority communities are any more effective than the strategies used to win the support of other kinds of voters.

Where does this leave us?  We can be sure the “ethnic vote” will figure prominently in political parties’ 2015-election campaigning. While the success of their efforts can in no way be assumed, the parties will undoubtedly compete for the support of new Canadians. 

There’s no evidence that ethnic outreach actually works – but the parties believe it might, and this conviction shapes both electoral strategies and policy making. 

Canadian political parties’ ongoing and ever more systematic efforts to compete for the votes of new Canadians helps explain why anti-immigrant discourse is so rare in Canadian elections and why Canadian parties, regardless of their ideological stripe, support robust immigration levels and the maintenance of an official multiculturalism policy

Put differently, Canadian “exceptionalism” in the area of immigration politics and policy may have less to do with our innate civic virtues than with the strategic calculations of our political operators.

Stephen E. White is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University’s department of political science. Inder S. Marwah is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at McMaster University’s department of political science.  Phil Triadafilopoulos is associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the School of Public Policy and Governance.

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Published in Politics

by Alice Musabende (@amusabende) in Ottawa

Most North Americans, at least of a certain age, identify the fall of Saigon in April, 1975, with the news footage of Americans being evacuated from the roof of the United States embassy by chopper as North Vietnamese troops claimed the city.

Forty years later, the commemoration of a day that turned the hinge of history 14,000 km away has become a serious irritant between Canada and Vietnam, a partisan flashpoint on Parliament Hill and a source of division within Canada’s Vietnamese community that some observers say is being exploited for votes by the federal Conservatives in an election year.

For the Vietnamese who fled the ravaged country and made their way to Canada after the April 30th, 1975, communist victory, the date is known as “Black April Day.” Which is why Sen. Thanh Hai Ngo’s private member’s bill commemorating the exodus that brought him to Canada in 1975 was originally titled, the “Black April Day Act.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“With our electoral system, you don’t need everybody, you just need enough to win. Some of our communities have upward to 40, 50, 60% people who are on board. Never mind second generation.” [/quote]

Then, the current communist government of Vietnam, mindful of much of the Vietnamese diaspora’s before-and-after version of the country’s repressive post-1975 history, protested vehemently to the Harper government. The bill is now called the “Journey to Freedom Act,” and it continues to fuel tension between Ottawa and Hanoi.

But Bill S-219 is also the cause of another rift, between the Conservatives on the one side and the Liberals and NDP on the other. When it was initially tabled in the Senate last fall, some Liberal senators voted against it, though it ended up passing. In the House of Commons last month, Bill S-219 passed first and second reading but not without opposition from MPs recommending that it be referred to committee in the hope that it would be amended.

That is because, soon after the relatively obscure bill, which may have initially looked like a no-brainer, was debated in the House, oppositions MPs such as NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan say they started receiving emails and phone calls from people saying the bill did not represent the views of the whole Vietnamese-Canadian community.

NDP MP Anne Minh-Thu Quach, one of the two Vietnamese-Canadian MPs to ever sit in the House of Commons, explained to iPolitics that the community is generationally divided, mainly between those who left when Saigon fell — including some associated with the old regime — and were welcomed to Canada as “boat people” in the 1970s, and those who’ve come to Canada more recently as students or economic immigrants and maintain ties with the communist state.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Some observers say the bill is a textbook case of targeted political pandering for ethnic votes ahead of what is shaping up to be a close-fought federal election.[/quote]

As a result, Julie Trang Nguyen, who leads the Canada-Vietnam Association — a group opposed to the bill and in favour of maintaining ties with Vietnam — says that people like her feel ostracized. “You are not supposed to do anything with Vietnam. That is the attitude. Even the flag, when you have an event then it must be the old Saigon flag. If not, they will come and question you on how come you don’t have that flag up there” Nguyen told iPolitics.

Nguyen and other representatives of the association told reporters in a press conference that they felt insulted by the fact that the bill advocated for April 30th as a commemoration date, fully knowing it’s the same day as Liberation Day in Vietnam. They were in Ottawa to ask the House heritage committee, which was studying the bill, to consider an alternative date and to change the wording of the bill to remove references to the war.

MP Anne Minh-Thu Quach, who supported the bill, said she had hoped that the committee would indeed consider dissenting voices, but only two opposing witnesses were heard and no alternative suggestions were deemed acceptable. “It’s regrettable, I find that it’s a bill that divides more than it unites people” Minh-Thu Quach says.

NDP MP Hoang Mai agrees, saying the bill’s benefits are mostly symbolic. “Why is the government bringing something forward when, for example, people in my riding are already celebrating on April 30th?” Mai says that if the government wanted to show real leadership, it could have put forward a bill that addresses human rights in Vietnam. “The way they have brought it forward, I do find divisions within the Vietnamese community” says the NDP MP.

Nguyen, after testifying in committee, said she was disappointed by the manner in which Senator Ngo and his party had dealt with the issue. “By taking this side that is already imposing their view on the rest of the community, in a way the Conservatives are putting a stamp on it, saying this is a view that we endorse.”

Some observers say the bill is a textbook case of targeted political pandering for ethnic votes ahead of what is shaping up to be a close-fought federal election.

Alberta-based political strategist Stephen Carter says, “This is being done in essence to gather support from those people in the first generational subset. It absolutely is being done for votes, there is no other way around it.”

Veteran poll analyst Paul Barber says that, among multiple strategies that parties use to woo ethnic votes is the use of “overarching symbolic things that are connected to their homelands.”

Senator Ngo’s office refuted the accusation that the Senator’s intent with this bill was to play into ethnic politics, and said that he only wanted to have a day to commemorate the Vietnamese boat people’s saga and pay tribute to Canadians who assisted them.

But a former Liberal strategist told iPolitics that this scenario is typical of the Conservatives, who he says have a history of targeting subgroups within larger ethnic communities. “I think of Hong Kong Chinese versus mainland Chinese, I think of Sri Lankans, or people of Indian descent; Conservatives are good at targeting subgroups within immigrant communities.” he says.

Phil Triadafilopoulos, a professor of Political science at the University of Toronto who has researched the Conservative Party of Canada’s “ethnic outreach” strategies, also says that Canada’s electoral system facilitates these types of approaches. “With our electoral system, you don’t need everybody, you just need enough to win. Some of our communities have upward to 40, 50, 60% people who are on board. Never mind second generation.” he says.

As to those who wonder how the Conservative government is threading the thin line between courting communist Vietnam as a trade partner and commemorating those who fled its brutal communist regime, Carter says “You do it very carefully.”

Republished in partnership with

Published in Politics

by Maryann D’Souza in Toronto

Pulse takes a look at some stories that caught the attention of Canada’s Indian diaspora community. From cricket fever to the ethnic vote, here is a round up of the top five headlines coming from ethnic media outlets this quarter.

The Power of the Ethnic Vote

No party can afford to overlook the power of the ethnic vote. A perfect example: the NDP’s recent nomination of Farheen Khan (pictured to the right) as their federal candidate for Mississauga Centre. While demonstrating their diversity and support for the Muslim community and women all in one move, the NDP also took aim at Prime Minister Harper, who has come under fire for his seemingly disparaging remarks about Muslims.

As the Forum Poll carried in the Indo-Canadian Voice pointed out, the controversy over banning the niqab during Canadian citizenship ceremonies has clearly not helped the Conservatives — even though there are many who may agree with them.

In the Weekly Voice report, Khan is clear about the objective. “It is so important that at a time of heightened tensions amongst various cultures, we unite together and show the rest of world that Canada will not be phased by fear,” she explains. “We will show the Harper Conservatives that we can have a safer Canada without trading in our individual freedoms.” Many community newspapers, including South Asian Focus, have covered the news of her nomination. But, as Can-India News rightly points out, perhaps one should not be so concerned about what is on her head (the hijab), as what is in it.

According to Sikh Press — which also published a photo of Khan with Jagmeet Singh, NDP’s Sikh MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton — the political candidate is hurt, but undeterred by the, “[N]egative comments from individuals telling her to take off her scarf if she wanted to make it to Ottawa.” But considering there are many who wear a hijab in her constituency, it might be worth noting that long-time NDP members who attended the event said, “It was the largest NDP nomination meeting in Mississauga that they had seen.”

Lifelong Visa on OCI Card

The announcement of a lifelong visa on the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card is a major win for the Indian diaspora who travel to India often, sometimes on short notice due to emergencies like an illness or death in the family. Dr. Azad Kaushik, a member of The Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), who pushed for the changes according to an article in the Weekly Voice, states that, “[F]rom now, the OCI card will be the entry and exit document for India, though you are required to carry the Canadian passport as well.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][M]any in the community were upset when Canada was denied visa-on-arrival privileges last year, and the OFBJP had pledged to take up the matter at that time.[/quote]

Not being delayed by visa application formalities and the complex system that can have travellers going back and forth more than once has the community sighing with relief. It was what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised during his visit to the United States: a simpler system. 

As Can-India News reported, many in the community were upset when Canada was denied visa-on-arrival privileges last year, and the OFBJP had pledged to take up the matter at that time.

Do We Need a Radicalization Tip Line?

Can-India News asks: Will a radicalization tip line be the solution to preventing acts of terror? With jihad being romanticized and idolized, many who have been pushed to the fringes of society are turning to radicalized groups for a sense of belonging and renewed purpose, or as a form of revenge for being left out.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]A tip line that allows Canadians to provide critical information without revealing the identity of the informer might reduce terror-related incidents — and a dedicated one for radicalization will no doubt speed up intervention.[/quote] 

Are these radicals protected by filial or community loyalty — or is it out of a fear of being targeted, as the editorial in the Bharat Times suggests? Jayant Gala says there are moderate Muslims who do not agree with the extremists that have drowned the voice of reason with their loud rhetoric. The moderates may know who these extremists are, but are afraid to reveal their identities because of perceived repercussions to them or their families.

A tip line that allows Canadians to provide critical information without revealing the identity of the informer might reduce terror-related incidents — and a dedicated one for radicalization will no doubt speed up intervention.

Cricket Fever

Cricket is to India what hockey is to Canada, and what soccer is to Europe and Latin America. While Indians might enjoy many other sports, it’s cricket that helps bond the country’s citizens together no matter where they are in the world. The Weekly Voice’s headline says it best: “For Indian cricket fans, heart rules over the head.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]As India blasts its way to the finishing line in the hope of retaining the World Cup, all eyes are on Australia and New Zealand where the tournament is being played.[/quote]

Pakistan is the opponent that really drives up the excitement. Any game the two countries play is like the finals. That’s why the first World Cup game between the archrivals was screened free in many parts of the Greater Toronto Area. As India blasts its way to the finishing line in the hope of retaining the World Cup, all eyes are on Australia and New Zealand where the tournament is being played. While India is set to take home the Cup again, no matter what team it plays, many feel an India-Pakistan game would be the perfect finish.

Man Sues Canada for Wrongful Conviction

“Miscarriage of justice” — that’s what a B.C. Criminal Justice Branch investigation (in 2013) deemed a ruling that turned the life of a falsely accused Indo-Canadian man named Gurdev Singh Dhillon upside down.

A report in the Weekly Voice, which was carried by several media outlets in India including the Times of India and NDTV, indicates he is filing a suit against two RCMP personnel, Crown prosecutor Don Wilson and his former defence lawyer Sukhjinder Grewal for the wrongful conviction.

The 36-year-old Surrey resident was found guilty of sexual assault in 2005 and extradited to India upon his release from prison in 2008. The conviction was made on the basis of the victim’s testimony, which placed Dhillon as one of the three men at the scene of the crime. DNA evidence later revealed the other two were responsible. 

In the meantime, Dhillon’s marriage and family broke up, and he was stripped of his Canadian permanent residency status.

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Published in India

by Our Special Correspondent (@NewCdnMedia)

Canada’s most seasoned academic on immigration, Prof. Jeffrey Reitz, suggests that the decision of the government to postpone and reduce reliance on employer participation in the Express Entry system that takes effect Jan. 1 is simply a recognition of reality. Maintaining a leading role for government selection is the only way to ensure that Canada continues to receive an average of 250,000 new immigrants every year, he said in comments over the weekend.

In his view, short-term employer needs are not a good enough or efficient substitute for a system that has so far largely relied on the general employability of newcomers – also called the “human capital” model. Faced with mounting evidence that successive waves of immigrants are faring badly, the Conservative government has put in place a series of moves designed to increase employer participation to determine who gets in.

The eventual goal of this approach is to grant permanent residence under the “economic class” only to those who have a pre-arranged job offer in Canada. Reitz, affiliated to the University of Toronto’s prestigious Munk School of Global Affairs, though, has his doubts about relying on employers as a proxy for government or a neutral points system to fulfill the bulk (60 per cent) of Canada’s immigration needs.

[Broadly speaking, Canada’s quarter-million newcomers fall into one of three classes – economic, family unification and refugees, split traditionally at 60:30:10 per cent, respectively.]

The U.S, he said, attracts from 150,000 to 175,000 a year under a ‘pre-arranged job’ category, while Canada can expect 15,000 to 17,000 annually – almost certainly causing a huge gap in Canada’s annual target of attracting 250,000 new immigrants every year. Of the 250,000 new arrivals, 60 per cent fall under the economic class (including immediate family members), with roughly 65,000 being “principal applicants” who qualify based on their work experience, language skills and general employability criteria.

Interestingly, Reitz points out, a number of changes introduced in recent years have been modelled on Australian reforms introduced by the then John Howard government a decade ago, in the hope that more new immigrants will be employed from the day they land in Canada. “[T]he evidence for the success of the Australian initiatives was based primarily on short-term outcomes, and analysis of the overall performance of immigrants in Australia does not suggest that the new policies produced any overall improvement.”

Global experience

New Canadian Media interviewed Reitz in the context of the 2014 edition of Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective (Stanford University Press), an academic publication that is now in its third edition and includes policy reviews on every major immigrant-receiving nation.

“Nobody has had success” with this sort of employer-driven immigration system to produce large-scale immigration, the academic who has been tracking immigration trends in Canada and globally for four decades, said. The book has a chapter devoted to Canada, and in this Reitz writes: “Indeed, the Australian government has greatly reduced visa opportunities for international students and is reviewing its selection policy more generally.”

Overall, he writes in the book, “... it is far from clear that the new policy directions [in Canada] will actually improve the prospects for and impact of immigration.”

The UofT professor points out that while the jury is still out on the key question of net economic gain, Canadian newcomers can be expected to reduce income inequality mainly because they tend to be employed in high-skills jobs rather than at the lower end. “Immigrants compete for more highly skilled work in Canada, so the labour market impact is at levels of employment higher than the impact of relatively less-skilled immigrants in the United States.”

Income inequality has been a hot topic of political debate in both the U.S. and Canada in recent months. 

Immigrant credentials

Reitz also attempts to mathematically calculate the extent to which immigrant credentials are discounted in Canada: “[I]mmigrant skills in terms of both education and work experience have only about two-thirds of the value of corresponding skills held by native-born Canadians, and occupational under-employment is a significant reason for this imbalance.” This is based on a statistical calculation made by labour market analysts on the return on investment (ROI) that Canadians gain from every additional year of education.

Studies have shown that while mainstream Canadians gain five per cent in added earnings for every year of education, newcomers boost their average pay by just 3.5 per cent. “Some analysts have noted a decline in return for foreign experience as well, although no explanation for this trend has been found.”

The book chapter on Canada notes that the issue of immigrant credentials is today no closer to resolution: “There is as yet no overall plan to address the problem, which is certain to remain significant for many years.” Acknowledging that the availability of credential assessment services and bridging programs may be making a difference, Reitz, however, points that there has been “no effort to evaluate the overall impact of all these programs in relation to the problem of immigrant skill under-utilization.”

Further, Canada’s been receiving even more qualified immigrants in recent years. “If anything, the problem of immigrant employment in Canada has become more difficult over time, and it is more serious today than it was when it was first identified in the 1990s.”

Support for immigration

The 10-year retrospective in the book also has a section devoted to public opinion on immigration and politics. It points to the creation of the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform and the presence in Canada of a “distinct minority” that opposes the current level of immigration. Reitz takes issue with those who claim that majority support for immigration levels is a “myth”. Further, he adds, “Those who want to reduce immigration levels in Canada are very clearly the minority and have been for some time.”

In separate comments, the academic believes Canada has built up a “resilient base of support” for immigration and he does not foresee a shift in attitudes happening any time soon.

Here are some more nuggets from the book chapter entitled “Canada: New Initiatives and Approaches to Immigration and Nation Building”:

  • On immigrant settlement: Government statistics indicate that each immigrant receives about $3,000 worth of settlement services
  • On the politics of immigration: The Focus Canada survey showed that Conservative party supporters are significantly less likely to support immigration, based on their socially conservative values.
  • Ethnic vote: “The Conservatives have sought support among immigrants based on [socially conservative] values and, despite some success, have experienced difficulty because some of their related policies on multiculturalism and citizenship portray immigrants as a threat to traditional Canadian values.”
  • Immigrant integration: most analysts attribute successful integration to the fact that newcomers tend to be highly educated and skilled, and not necessarily to multiculturalism. Conversely, a decline in skill and education levels can be expected to have the opposite effect.

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Published in Policy

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