New Canadian Media

by Danica Samuel in Toronto 

“Just because you’ve fallen off ship doesn’t mean you’re drowning.” 

In the film My Internship in Canada, the person struggling to stay afloat is the politician who fails to please everyone. Oscar-nominated director Philippe Falardeau’s film is a satirical, yet eye-opening, take on Canadian politics that showcases just how non-democratic our government can be. 

For National Canadian Film Day on April 20, charitable organization Samara Canada collaborated with the Regent Park Film Festival to fill a Cineplex movie theatre in downtown Toronto for Falardeau’s political comedy. 

The film is based on the journey of a young Haitian man, Souverain Pascal, played by Irdens Exantus, who greatly admires Canadian politics and culture. He gets a response to his 15-page application and secures an internship with a Northern Quebec member of Parliament (MP). 

Steve Guibord, played by Patrick Huard, is the independent MP for Prescott-Makadew à Rapides-aux-Outardes and unwillingly finds himself in the awkward position of holding the decisive vote on whether Canada will go to war. 

Guibord travels across his riding to consult constituents with his wife, daughter and Pascal. The story escalates when groups of lobbyists get involved in a debate that spins out of control. In the end, Guibord is tugged and pulled in various directions and must face his own conscience to make a decision that could affect the entire country. 

Making politics accessible

Newcomers to Canada and members of the Toronto communities of North York and Lotherton were among those who attended. 

“We thought it was a great opportunity to provide a little bit of education behind Canada’s political system, in a fun way,” said Madison Van West, coordinator of the Democracy Talks program at North York Community House (NYCH). She worked with her colleagues to bring 75 people to the screening from NYCH, which provides civic engagement and community development services to newcomers. 

“We’ve seen them try to create platforms and implement mechanisms to be open and democratic, but in doing that, anyone can speak and say anything.”

“Sometimes politics isn’t the most accessible topic, but a movie screening is a great way to bring everyone together and learn more.” 

In the film, Guibord tries to initiate democracy by inviting members of his community to a town hall. Unfortunately, opposing viewpoints cause tension rather than a conversation that leads to a collaborative decision. The scene shows just how messy democracy can be. 

NYCH program manager Zesta Kim said she understands and has witnessed the hardships politicians face in her community when having to weigh several interests to create an all-inclusive environment. 

“We’ve seen them try to create platforms and implement mechanisms to be open and democratic, but in doing that, anyone can speak and say anything,” she explains. “So, sometimes it doesn’t turn out too well.” 

Falsification of equality 

In the film, Guibord has trouble balancing the interests of his wife, daughter, protesters, the mayor, and the prime minister. He can only rely on Pascal to help find a middle ground that stays true to Canadian culture and democracy. 

“We haven’t seen a representation of minorities in politics and in Parliament.”

In a panel discussion held after the screening, emerging filmmaker Amita Zamaan said these competing special interests are what disappoint and deter people from engaging in Canadian politics. 

She added that the disengagement is due to the lack of representation and the falsification of equality in our government. 

Through her web series, Dhaliwal15Zamaan, like Falardeau, approaches politics through satire when examining the lack of diversity in Canadian politics.  

“We haven’t seen a representation of minorities in politics and in Parliament,” she said. “I’m trying to address that issue by placing this fictional character (Bobby Dhaliwal, played by Jasmeet Singh) in my film, but also addressing how limited our discussions in Canada are on progressive issues.” 

Explaining voter apathy 

Another panel member, Algoma-Manitoulin member of provincial Parliament (MPP), Michael Mantha, said the problem is deeper than just having an open platform to discuss. He said there is a lack of interest from community members. 

“However you make your decision, you will have to put your head on your pillow and live with your conscience.”

“I’ve being trying to engage with people throughout my riding, to try and get a pulse on what needs to be discussed for better engagement,” Mantha said. 

“Going off the numbers in my area, last election there was a 51 per cent voter turnout. People have look at politicians, their decisions, and their actions and think, ‘Why am I going to get involved if they’re not listening to me?’” he added. 

Mantha, who was elected in 2011, has served two consecutive terms as MPP and said while he loves all aspects of his riding, from its environment to its citizens, he is well aware of the tactics that are often involved in getting politicians to make certain decisions.  

“Individuals are put into difficult positions, but again it comes down to that person’s principles and being responsible to the people that put you into that position,” he said. “However you make your decision, you will have to put your head on your pillow and live with your conscience.”


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 10:40

A Guide for First-Time Voters

by Maria Ikonen in Ottawa

Many new Canadian citizens will be casting their vote for the first time on Oct. 19. For them, understanding how to cast a ballot and finding the suitable candidate might seem like a daunting task.

Samara Canada, a non-partisan organization established in 2009, helps people reconnect with politics and newcomers to become active in their communities and work for democracy.

Voting can feel mysterious or intimidating. It can be different in different countries,” says Samara Canada’s executive director Jane Hilderman.

“Voting can feel mysterious or intimidating. It can be different in different countries.”

While the steps to the ballot box are not as complicated as they may seem, if a person feels the voting process is too confusing, he or she may decide not to vote at all. Samara Canada’s work is geared at reducing the likelihood of this happening.

We have an election initiative that allows newcomers to practise voting,” Hilderman shares, citing the organization’s Vote PopUp program. “A community group decides on an issue to vote on. Community members then practise casting a ballot and learn what they need to bring with them to vote.”

It is fun,” Hilderman adds. “We have young people taking selfies at the pop-up. Kids are voting at the playground. This program is very adaptable and flexible for communities’ needs.”

Finding more information

Elections Canada has plenty of information – completed with precise and illustrated guidelines – about  voting, candidates and parties, along with its own section for first-time voters.

My Voters Guide is also one of the many informative packages that can be printed through the Elections Canada website. It is available in Aboriginal and ethnocultural languages like Punjabi, Arabic, Chinese (simplified/traditional) and Spanish, and some parts of the information are available in audio format as well.  

Also valuable are resources like the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Elections Canada website, which has expanded information about voting, and the postal code search, which makes finding the electoral candidates in your area easy.

Registering to vote

You have to be registered to vote. If you’ve received your Canadian citizenship recently, this may be one of the reasons why you may not be correctly registered. You can check your status online or by calling your electoral district’s office.

It is recommended to register in advance, but it is also possible to register at your local polling station with proof of name and address.

If you have been mailed a voter information card with your correct name and address, it means that you are registered. The voter information card shows when and where you can cast your vote.

If you are not registered, go to the online voter registration service and follow the step-by-step instructions. If you are unable to register online, call or visit your local Elections Canada office to either request the form is mailed to you, or to register in person.

Advance registration online, by mail or in person has to be done by Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. It is recommended to register in advance, but it is also possible to register at your local polling station with proof of name and address.

Selecting a candidate

Picking a suitable candidate may be a big question for a voter who is unfamiliar with Canadian politics.

For those faced with this problem, Hilderman recommends attending one of the many candidate debates organized by local groups in individual ridings.

“New Canadians have an opportunity to remind Canada how important it is that we have democracy and we have a chance to shape it.”

As well, Hilderman recommends using Vote Compass and spending time with people who know about politics.

However, she emphasizes there is no single right way to pick a candidate.

“Spend time thinking and weigh out your options,” Hilderman says. “New Canadians have an opportunity to remind Canada how important it is that we have democracy and we have a chance to shape it.”

Other ways to get involved

Hilderman encourages newcomers, with or without Canadian citizenship, to see the importance of participating in democracy beyond voting.

According to her, newcomers can have open dialogue with their riding representative, help their neighbourhood to solve common challenges and volunteer.

Hilderman urges newcomers not just to vote, but to shape politics too.

“They can contribute to politics at their community level. Talking about politics is important here.”


Journalist Samantha Lui mentored the writer of this article, through the New Canadian Media mentorship program.

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 20:31

Getting First-Time Voters to the Polls

by Caro Loutfi in Montreal

When it comes to elections, new Canadian citizens and young Canadian voters share similar challenges. Broadly speaking these two demographics share an unfamiliarity with the Canadian democratic process. Put another way, both are often first time voters.

An event hosted by the Canadian Arab Institute Oct. 1 recognizes this overlap – the theme of the evening is youth.

A panel including representatives from Free The Children, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, Samara and Apathy is Boring will take questions after discussing topics relating to immigrant youth and how to encourage their civic participation.

Similar barriers 

To better understand some of the barriers that new Canadians encounter when voting, the Institute of Canadian Citizenship recently released a report entitled Ballots and Belonging. 

The study used a national online survey, along with focus groups in seven Canadian cities, to uncover the attitudes of new Canadians when it came to political participation. 

Comparing the findings of Ballots and Belongings to the 2011 National Youth Survey conducted by Elections Canada, we see similar attitudes and barriers regarding voting. 

[A]pathy is not a main barrier to voting for either new or young Canadian demographics.

For example, Ballots and Belonging found 40 per cent of new Canadians surveyed listed time constraints as a barrier to voting. The 2011 National Youth Survey indicated that 50 per cent of Canadians under 24 did not vote due to being occupied with studies, work or caring for a family member. 

Another similar finding by both studies is that apathy is not a main barrier to voting for either new or young Canadian demographics. 

Ballots and Belonging found only six per cent of those surveyed did not vote due to lack of interest in politics, while the 2011 National Youth Survey found 12 per cent of young Canadians did not vote due to “not caring about politics”. 

Similar interests 

Where new Canadian citizens and young Canadians truly overlap is in their recommendations for how to improve the electoral process. 

The Broadbent Institute's Millennial Dialogue Report demonstrates that Canadian millennials are keen to have Internet voting, longer polling hours and more convenient polling stations. These are the very same recommendations given by the participants in Ballots and Belonging. 

[I]t is important that young and new Canadians be offered clear and concise information about our election process.

This alignment again shows how new Canadians and young Canadians share attitudes towards our electoral system. 

Due to these similarities it is important that young and new Canadians be offered clear and concise information about our election process.   

Apathy is Boring continues to share accessible, non-partisan information with both demographics through our website, and we launched a #5MMV campaign to highlight the diversity and power of the more than five million millennial voters eligible to cast a ballot this election. 

The Canadian Arab Institute is drawing attention to the issue through its youth forum and yourvoiceCAN campaign. 

We encourage readers to engage with these campaigns, share them with their friends and, most importantly, cast a ballot on October 19. 


Caro Loutfi is the executive director of Apathy is Boring, working in a non-partisan manner and on a national scale to engage Canadian youth in democracy. She currently sits on the Inspirit Foundation’s board, working to inspire pluralism among young Canadians and has been involved in the volunteer sector for over nine years.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

 

 

Published in Commentary

by Abbas Somji (@AbbasSomji) in Toronto

Is politics ‘broken’? For a growing number of Canadians, the answer appears to be ‘yes’ - and there may not be an easy fix.

The CBC posed this question during its inaugural ‘CBC Asks’ public debate, live-streamed from the atrium of the corporation’s Toronto headquarters this week. An audience of approximately 300 people, and countless more online, watched as two teams each made their case. The debaters tried to sway the vote, and convince viewers that the political process either continues (or ceases) to be the most effective way to enact real change, both in Canada and globally.

The debate dovetailed with the release of Samara Canada’s first-ever “Democracy 360” – a report card measuring the health of Canada’s democracy. Samara Canada is a charity that tries to enhance civic engagement without being affiliated with any one political party. The report card focuses on public opinion of political leaders and their politics. It’s designed to prompt reflection and discussion, particularly in light of 2015 being a federal election year.

Canada’s Grade

How’d Canada fare? Well, we got a ‘C’, with the comment that “our democracy is not doing as well as a country as rich as Canada deserves.”

Samara’s co-founder Alison Loat insists that the country’s political system now repels more people than it attracts, particularly young people.

“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars helping immigrants build lives here and spend next to none of that money introducing them constructively to our democratic system.” - Alison Loat, Samara Canada

“About 40 per cent of Canadians say they don’t trust their elected leaders, our political parties, and believe they largely fail to perform their jobs,” says Loat. More Canadians are finding politics to be “irrelevant”, she says, and there is little being done to empower newcomers to be active participants in the political process.

“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars helping immigrants build lives here and spend next to none of that money introducing them constructively to our democratic system,” adds Loat.

Her teammate, political columnist Andrew Coyne, agrees.

“If you’re well-heeled, well-funded, or well-connected, no doubt, politics works for [you],” he says.

A video snapshot, shown prior to the debate, polled Canadians and asked them to share their insights on politics.

“If there were more naturalized citizens that were in power, that would represent us on all levels of government, that would be better, because right now, the politicians don’t really look like the immigrants – or the average Canadian,” says one woman. “If I don’t vote, then I won’t have exercised my right as a citizen.”

The Right to Vote

CBC chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, moderated the debate, and pointed out that citizens in some countries are denied a basic right – one that so many in North America choose to forfeit.

“I think for a lot of us in this room, we’ve either been in countries, or we’ve seen television reports from countries, where we’ve seen, on voting day, people lined up for blocks, some of them crying. Why? Because they suddenly have the right to vote,” says Mansbridge.

“They’ve fought for that right. They’ve watched people die for that right. In some cases, some people are still dying for that right to vote.”

“We can’t afford to just sit on the sidelines and be cynical, because it’s actually through the friction of political debate that we get big, bold policy ideas.” - Aisha Moodie-Mills

A stark comparison from the scene in this country, where voting turnout rates have dropped significantly. During Canada’s last federal election, voter turnout was a reported 61 per cent, a marginal increase from the year before. However it still meant approximately 40 per cent of Canadians eligible to vote chose not to.

“How well is politics working when the parliament we elect looks nothing like the parliament we voted for?” asks Coyne. “When 38 per cent of the vote gives you 60 per cent of the seats and 100 per cent of the power?”

In the last Canadian election, the vast majority of Canadians voted against the incumbent government,says Dave Meslin, Coynes fellow teammate and someone the National Speakers Bureau deems a community catalyst.

In most Western democracies, when a party takes power against the will of the majority, its called a coup – and its a bad thing. Here, we call it an election and we publicly finance the whole thing.” - Dave Meslin

Meslins comments were met with applause and cheers from the audience as he underscored the need to implement proportional representation. He cites the First Past the Post voting system adopted in Canada and the U.S., which he says prevents citizens from fairly electing representatives. More importantly, Meslin says the desires of the people dont translate into seats in the government.

In most Western democracies, when a party takes power against the will of the majority, its called a coup – and its a bad thing. Here, we call it an election and we publicly finance the whole thing,he says, to peals of laughter from the crowd.

No Room for Cynicism

The verbal sparring, albeit entertaining, by the two teams (pictured to the right), was effective in highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the political arena. The debate continued with the opposing team, who admitted that though the political process has its fair share of imperfections, it’s still a tool worth keeping and should not be undermined. The team threw the question back to their opponents, asking: how would society function better without the current democratic process?

“Why would you leave the running of the country to people you dont trust, when its completely within your hands to go about and have your say?” - Monte Solberg

“We can’t afford to just sit on the sidelines and be cynical, because it’s actually through the friction of political debate that we get big, bold policy ideas,” says U.S. political strategist, Aisha Moodie-Mills. “It’s those policy ideas that then become laws, and it’s the laws that strengthen and safeguard and secure our society and our day-to-day lives.”

“Why would you leave the running of the country to people you dont trust, when its completely within your hands to go about and have your say?” asks Moodie-Mills’ teammate, former Conservative MP Monte Solberg. “Canadian voters are not victims. The ability to create change is in your hands.”

Rounding up Solberg’s team was another parliamentary alumnus - former Liberal MP Sheila Copps, who reinforced that the only place real change can happen is in politics.

What must happen now is a radical culture shift to empower citizens and make them feel politics can be used as a tool in the country to bring about change.

“We are now in the most racially diverse city in the world, and people get along, and there are lots of other places in the world where that is not happening,” says Copps, who asserts it couldn’t have happened without the decision of multiple governments. She cites the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1970, as just one piece of legislation that governed how we would learn to live together.

“We asked the CRTC to implement laws to see ourselves reflected on the airwaves. It didn’t happen by accident,” says Copps. “The reason we have been successful in Canada is not because we’re better than other places around the world, but we put in place laws to guarantee that the minority have equal rights with the majority.”

Turning Things Around

Samara Canada insists it will take more than just higher voter turnout. What must happen now is a radical culture shift to empower citizens and make them feel politics can be used as a tool in the country to bring about change. It doesn’t end there – politicians need to be vibrant and reliable, whereas citizens need to begin to get engaged by first starting to talk about politics and eventually getting more involved in the democratic process – not simply just by casting their ballots every election.

At the beginning of the debate, the audience electronically cast its ballots (using device pictured to the left), revealing 69 per cent did not feel the political process was worthwhile.

By the end of the debate, after everyone had spoken – including two former parliamentarians – that number had risen to 76 per cent – a 7 per cent increase.

That in itself was the testament of the power of sway, underscoring the disconnect between politicians and citizens, and the growing apathy and disenchantment that now pervades the Canadian social consciousness.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Politics
Monday, 07 July 2014 14:14

Fed Up With Politicians? So Is Your MP

by Books Editor Abby Paige

Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada’s Failing Democracy

Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan

Random House Canada

Non-Fiction, 2014

In 2009, Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan founded the political think tank Samara. They were concerned about a growing disengagement among Canadians from their political system, what MacMillan describes as a “turning away from the village green, from the importance of how we decide to live together and make decisions together, and how that translates into how we govern ourselves.” They saw these trends in the larger culture, but also among colleagues and peers.

“So many people that I knew,” says MacMillan, describing his frustration, “Smart people in their middle age — a good proxy for part of the population — saw no reason to talk about this stuff, let alone vote, let alone join a political party, let alone actually read a book, let alone sign a petition.”

These problems are not unique to Canada. Western democracies are all suffering similar symptoms of citizen disengagement, even as those countries attempt to export their systems of governance to other parts of the world. Not only has voter turnout dipped significantly, but fewer people are joining political parties, donating to campaigns, and otherwise participating in political culture.

But Loat and MacMillan don’t necessarily see citizens as the root of the problem. “To throw the blame at the feet of 35 million disparate citizens, who have many other things on their plate, is probably not fair,” says Loat. So they sought out a small sector of the population with much more direct experience of the inner-workings of Canadian democracy.

Western democracies are all suffering similar symptoms of citizen disengagement, even as those countries attempt to export their systems of governance to other parts of the world.
 

Citizen engagement

Through Samara, Loat and MacMillan aim to create educational programs and research projects that will shine a light on issues of citizen engagement in Canadian democracy, and their first such project was to conduct exit interviews with former Members of Parliament about their experiences on the job. Who better to diagnose the problems of our political system than those who have worked inside it? They ultimately spoke with eighty MPs, including 35 cabinet ministers, across all parties and regions of the country, and, based on those conversations, they wrote Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada’s Failing Democracy.

The title may seem alarmist to some readers; an audience at the Ottawa Writers Festival took issue with the characterization of Canada’s democracy as “failing.” The phrase “tragedy of the commons” is borrowed from a 1968 essay by an American biologist on the challenges of managing public resources: how can the long-term benefits of the group be protected from a few individuals seeking short-term gains? This is certainly a question Canadians might ask themselves around election time, when candidates seem more focused on trashing one another than articulating a coherent political vision. But the real tragedy that Loat and MacMillan describe is that, once the dust of electoral mud-slinging has settled, our politicians appear to feel as alienated from our political system as we do. And if they’re not invested in nurturing our democratic institutions, how can ordinary citizens be?

The title may seem alarmist to some readers; an audience at the Ottawa Writers Festival took issue with the characterization of Canada’s democracy as “failing."

Tragedy in the Commons is a useful, warts-and-all primer on the Canadian political system. It reveals some of the psychological elements at work in Canadian political culture and, by focusing on the experiences of MPs, uncovers subtle, underlying causes of dysfunction. The portraits are not always riveting, but they are often surprisingly relatable in their banality. Like their constituents, MPs are romanced by their political parties during campaigns, but once in office, successful candidates are left to their own devices, without a clear job description or any consistent system of orientation for the newly elected. Many feel like pawns of their parties and cope by finding alternative ways to make themselves useful, such as greasing the wheels of government bureaucracy on behalf of local constituents or taking on pet issues in which to become self-styled experts.

Political outsiders

One unexpected trend that emerged from the interviews was a tendency among the vast majority of MPs to describe themselves as political “outsiders.” The authors were fascinated by how consistently their interviewees, unprompted, expressed surprise at being approached about running for office and denied that they had had sincere political ambitions of their own, although most had been active in their communities in some type of leadership role. It is this “outsider narrative” that, to Loat and MacMillan, suggests a strong and pervasive disdain for the political process. What does it say about our attitude toward democracy that political office is either thrust solely upon the unwilling or is too deviant an aspiration to admit?

“They came back, over and over,” says Loat, “To ‘question period is terrible,’ as if they weren’t there. ‘I never planned to run,’ even though they were active in their communities. Part of what we are trying to do is send a message to people who are in politics that you can’t always be looking from the outside in. You have a responsibility to uphold the quality of our politics.”

The book is often repetitive, suggesting that perhaps the authors needed to stretch their material to book length, and the repetitiveness at times muddies the shape of their argument. Tragedy also falls into a common trap for political books of stating and restating problems, while solutions are less well elaborated and defended. Nonetheless, readers might be heartened to discover that the authors and their interviewees propose no vast structural changes to the political system, but rather minor tweaks to create greater transparency in party operation and Parliamentary bureaucracy and to develop a greater sense of accountability on the part of individual MPs.

Tragedy in the Commons is perhaps best read in the context of Samara’s other activities, which include a broad range of programs to reveal the inner workings of our political system and engage citizens in political conversations. According to Loat and MacMillan, this is quite simply the work required to keep a democracy healthy and vibrant.

“I sometimes use the metaphor of the human body,” says MacMillan. “If you don’t eat properly, if you don’t exercise, your body will fall apart. Complex systems inherently need constant attention.”

Samara’s goal is to provide ways for citizens to tend to their democracy and to make sure that their elected representatives are doing the same. Tragedy in the Commons provides a starting point.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Books
By Ranjit Bhaskar
With the labour market becoming the main driver for Canadian immigration, attempts to label immigrant groups as “good” and “bad” based on their economic viability is a troubling trend.
 
This was the main crux of the conversation initiated by Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam at a recent Couchiching Institute event hosted by Samara and the Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto.
 
“Canadians should not be buying into this ‘model’ immigrant racial stereotyping and young millennials amongst us should be at the fore front of this push back,” said the activist councillor, whose Ward 27 is a snapshot of Toronto’s demographic diversity. “Instead of competing to be the most-educated baristas and merely clicking at ‘like’ icons and signing petitions, millennials should end their self-inflicted disenfranchisement and access the political podium.”
 
Referring to the Trudeau-era immigration policies that helped codify inclusive political and social awareness, Ms. Wong-Tam was alarmed by the slew of rapid changes made by the Conservative government to regulate the flow of migrants. “These are regressive changes that peel away rights with surgical precision,” she said. “The rules are more stratified than ever before and we are on dangerous ground.”
 
Recent changes include an increase in Temporary Foreign Workers; reductions in the number of government sponsored refugees; and a shift away from family reunification policies. For a telling example of the speed with which they come into force, the number of operational bulletins released by Citizenship and Immigrations Canada is an eye-opener. In 2007, it released nine bulletins. In 2012, it released 94.
 
‘Corporate-sanctioned narratives’
 
During the conversation, concerns were raised about more drastic changes with the introduction of the Expression of Interest System that would let employers cherry-pick skilled immigrants from a pool of pre-screened
candidates. Tabling his annual report to the Parliament on Monday, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has said the system is to start on January 1, 2015.
 
Ms. Wong-Tam said as Canadians we cannot be honest to ourselves as an immigrant nation if we do not see through the insidious nature of these corporate-sanctioned narratives. “Although we are more connected and engaged in our conversations, there is less and less of political content,” bemoaned Ms. Wong-Tam who was quick to clarify in a lighter vein that she should not be mistaken for a “left-wing, latte-sipping, pinko.”
 
On the influence selective immigrant policies have on the ethnic voting bloc, the councillor said while those who found refuge in Canada would be eternally grateful to late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal Party’s advantage with new Canadians has eroded as their vote in the Greater Toronto Area helped the Conservatives win the 2011 elections.
 
As a politician of Chinese heritage, Ms. Wong-Tam said she too was partly to be blamed for “creating a monster” by swinging the community vote in the favour of the ruling party based on the government’s apology for past injustices inflicted by the infamous head tax rule. “The Conservatives went on an apology tour to buy goodwill from various ethnic groups,” she said, adding “how we undo the damage we bought on ourselves” is a question for ethnic communities to ponder on.
 
Describing herself as a humanist, Ms. Wong-Tam suggested that secular Canadians should not hesitate to seek out faith leaders to “change the channel”. She said we can learn from the Americans who have inherited the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement that easily brings together religious institutions and labour unions for positive social change. – New Canadian Media
 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Policy

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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