New Canadian Media
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 11:21

Brexit: an Immigrant’s Perspective

by Ramna Safeer in Kingston

The hate towards immigrants that has risen exponentially after the Brexit vote is sending chills down my spine an ocean away.  

According to the BBC, several mosques in London were sent a suspicious white powder with “Paki filth” scrawled on the envelopes. Britain’s National Police Chief’s Council reported a 500 per cent rise in hate crime incidents just before and after the referendum.

As a daughter of two proud immigrants, who planted their Pakistani roots in Canada a few years after their marriage, I can’t help but feel targeted.

While dozens of post-Brexit comments on my social media attempted to steer attention away from the anti-immigrant focus of Campaign Leave, I couldn’t help but wonder what the “take back control of our borders” rhetoric and its violent aftermath must look like to Britain’s many immigrants. 

Racial prejudice

Taha Khan is a university student and Youtuber living in a town just outside Cambridge. His Pakistani parents moved to the United Kingdom 13 years ago from Saudi Arabia, where they were also immigrants. 

The post-Brexit atmosphere is definitely a racially charged one, Khan said, with underlying tensions bubbling to the surface.

“When I go to the villages and towns around Cambridge, where I live, they predominantly voted Leave,” he told The Journal over the phone. “That changes your preconceptions about people when you know that they might have voted on racially prejudiced lines, you’re a lot more wary.”

Khan, who is Muslim, said he and his family might be reacting subconsciously to the exponential rise in hate crimes against Muslims. 

“The sharp increase in confidence of racists has led to the sharp decrease in confidence of minorities to be visible,” he said. 

The end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is called Eid. Celebrated by billions of Muslims across the globe, Eid is a chance to spend time with family and wear cultural clothing such as shalwar khameez — a cultural outfit often worn by Pakistanis on special occasions. 

Due to the upsurge in attacks against Muslims, Khan said Muslims may be feeling increasingly hesitant about wearing such clothing in public and in general, not being “outwardly Muslim”. 

“On Eid, I wore trousers and a shirt. Now that I think about it, I don’t recall it being a conscious choice, but I didn’t wear a shalwar khameez, maybe because it’s such a white area. We kind of live invisibly in this predominantly white city.” 

"Independence Day"

According to The Independent, British Muslims are experiencing a rampant rise of faith-based attacks, particularly people who outwardly identify as Muslim, such as women who wear the hijab — even though British Muslims aren’t exactly few and far between. As of 2011, over two million Muslims called Britain home. 

As the referendum result was finalized on the night of the vote, leader of the Leave campaign Nigel Farage claimed that June 23 would go down in history as the country’s “Independence Day”.  

As a colonial and imperial superpower that once exercised an often violent control over what is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — and given the backlash against these same people following the referendum — Farage’s “Independence Day” isn’t just ironic. It’s downright mockery. 

Without the benefits and resources that Britain reaped from these colonies, there would be no “great” in Great Britain. But with one word, five letters, “Leave”, Britain has turned its back on the millions of immigrants whose lives are woven into the country’s history, while halfway around the world, I still feel the violent consequences of the referendum. 

This comment first appeared in the Queen's Journal. Safeer is the Journal's editorials editor.

Published in Commentary
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 11:21

Brexit: an Immigrant’s Perspective

by Ramna Safeer in Kingston

The hate towards immigrants that has risen exponentially after the Brexit vote is sending chills down my spine an ocean away.  

According to the BBC, several mosques in London were sent a suspicious white powder with “Paki filth” scrawled on the envelopes. Britain’s National Police Chief’s Council reported a 500 per cent rise in hate crime incidents just before and after the referendum.

As a daughter of two proud immigrants, who planted their Pakistani roots in Canada a few years after their marriage, I can’t help but feel targeted.

While dozens of post-Brexit comments on my social media attempted to steer attention away from the anti-immigrant focus of Campaign Leave, I couldn’t help but wonder what the “take back control of our borders” rhetoric and its violent aftermath must look like to Britain’s many immigrants. 

Taha Khan is a university student and Youtuber living in a town just outside Cambridge. His Pakistani parents moved to the United Kingdom 13 years ago from Saudi Arabia, where they were also immigrants. 

The post-Brexit atmosphere is definitely a racially charged one, Khan said, with underlying tensions bubbling to the surface.

“When I go to the villages and towns around Cambridge, where I live, they predominantly voted Leave,” he told The Journal over the phone. “That changes your preconceptions about people when you know that they might have voted on racially prejudiced lines, you’re a lot more wary.”

Khan, who is Muslim, said he and his family might be reacting subconsciously to the exponential rise in hate crimes against Muslims. 

“The sharp increase in confidence of racists has led to the sharp decrease in confidence of minorities to be visible,” he said. 

The end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan is called Eid. Celebrated by billions of Muslims across the globe, Eid is a chance to spend time with family and wear cultural clothing such as shalwar khameez — a cultural outfit often worn by Pakistanis on special occasions. 

Due to the upsurge in attacks against Muslims, Khan said Muslims may be feeling increasingly hesitant about wearing such clothing in public and in general, not being “outwardly Muslim”. 

“On Eid, I wore trousers and a shirt. Now that I think about it, I don’t recall it being a conscious choice, but I didn’t wear a shalwar khameez, maybe because it’s such a white area. We kind of live invisibly in this predominantly white city.” 

According to The Independent, British Muslims are experiencing a rampant rise of faith-based attacks, particularly people who outwardly identify as Muslim, such as women who wear the hijab — even though British Muslims aren’t exactly few and far between. As of 2011, over two million Muslims called Britain home. 

As the referendum result was finalized on the night of the vote, leader of the Leave campaign Nigel Farage claimed that June 23 would go down in history as the country’s “Independence Day”.  

As a colonial and imperial superpower that once exercised an often violent control over what is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — and given the backlash against these same people following the referendum — Farage’s “Independence Day” isn’t just ironic. It’s downright mockery. 

Without the benefits and resources that Britain reaped from these colonies, there would be no “great” in Great Britain. But with one word, five letters, “Leave”, Britain has turned its back on the millions of immigrants whose lives are woven into the country’s history, while halfway around the world, I still feel the violent consequences of the referendum. 

Published in Commentary

Commentary by Rinaldo Walcott in Toronto

There is widespread consensus that social media has impacted legacy media in a significant way. And, legacy media is fighting back in ways that undermine responsible journalism.

One way the impact has been felt by legacy media (also called "traditional"/"mainstream" media) is that almost everyone can get their opinion out on social media in a way that circumvents news organizations. The proliferation of multiple and different points of views now on offer in both social media and legacy media appear on first instinct to be a good and necessary societal change.

There are more voices and positions to be heard and read.

But, as social media has impacted the public sphere, a growing and dangerous trend has emerged that requires careful thought.

The two sides conundrum

Recently, on a segment of The Current a CBC Radio 1 show, I suggested that the prevalence of ‘two sides to each story’ in media reports needs to be rethought. More specifically, I suggested that the ‘two sides’ method of reporting has become a significant problem while writing about racism, xenophobia, fascism and the far right.

I see it as a problem for telling the story because this kind of reporting legitimates a politics that need not be legitimated.

Extreme views

In western liberal representative democracies, there is consensus that the far right is an illegitimate political position and formation. The consensus supposes that racism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant views, Islamophobia and so on are positions of the far right that must – and rightly so – should be repudiated.

The idea of repudiation is lodged in the history and notion that giving credence to such ideas can and could plunge us back into the sort of abyss marked so powerfully by the Jewish Holocaust in western societies.

And yet, in contemporary media culture, the far right is increasingly presented to us as the ‘other side’ of the argument; as the legitimate other side.

Balancing the story

Why is this a problem?

In my view, to present the far right as the legitimate other side of an argument does two important things: Firstly, it suggests that the far right’s arguments on racism, xenophobia and anti-immigration are legitimate views and arguments that the larger society must grapple with.

Secondly, it suggests that a balanced story is being presented to media consumers.

Indeed, nothing can be further from the truth.

And, furthermore, there are ways to present the arguments of the far right without giving them a platform to further cement their dangerous arguments and potentially recruit others to its anti-human political project 

Urgent response

Indeed, one might argue that this kind of ‘two sides’ reporting has aided in the emergence of Marie Le Pen in France, Nigel Farage in the U.K. and Donald Trump in the U.S. All of them are politicians whose views would have been clearly and unequivocally rejected and got no airing in the post-World War II era.

In our historical moment, the re-emergence of a much more public far right requires a necessary and urgent response: a response that does not equivocate in unmasking its hate-filled rhetoric, politics and political formation.

The question is, how do we do this?

I propose that we do this by not giving them a media platform. The way in which we do it is to first present the counter argument. The media has been fairly good at offering the counter argument. So, I will not quibble there too long. Let me instead turn to where the media is failing us.

Shut them down

It appears that the media seems to believe that it must produce far right personalities and voices as the balance to the story. I want to suggest that this is not the right approach.

Those who study the far right and who can speak clearly to their appeal, resurgence, and political formation should constitute the other side of the conversation.

What this means is that debating the far right should be a no-go in our media landscape.

Therefore, those who can help us make sense of the far right’s more public re-emergence in the age of social media should constitute the opposite side of the coin.

Now, some will say we need to hear from them directly, to not censor them, to unmask their hate-filled agenda. Not giving them the public airwaves is not censorship at all.

So, my answer is a blunt, No.

Rinaldo Walcott is Associate Professor and the Director of the Woman and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.

Read also: Does Facebook Owe Its Users a Public Editor?

Published in Politics

 

News Analysis

Secession is a serpentine word, threatening and mysterious, though alluring to those who see sovereignty as the path to self-determination.

A slim majority in the United Kingdom preferred it to what many saw as an imperious European Union effort at supranational union.

 

Epoch Times

Read Full Article

Published in Top Stories
Monday, 04 July 2016 12:49

The Bad and Ugly Brexit

Commentary by Bhupinder Liddar

Most divorces end bad and ugly, needlessly. Brexit's fate is no different. 

After almost four decades Britain decided to walk out of a relationship with Europe.

However, one must recognize that Britain was always the problem child in the European Union family. With one foot on the island and the other on the continent, it was going to be difficult to juggle the strained “long distance” relationship.

In the end, Britain decided to walk away from the EU home.

France – not once, but twice – advised against entering into such a relationship. In 1963 and 1967, France’s President Charles de Gaulle vetoed United Kingdom’s entry into what was then known as European Economic Market.

He alluded to the British sense of arrogance and self-importance. It was only after de Gaulle’s fall from power in 1969, that the U. K. applied and became a member on January 1, 1973.

Straightforward question

The referendum question was straightforward and simple, as were the two choices:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?" 

  • Remain a member of European Union
  • Leave the European Union”

So, where was the confusion? Was the decision to walk away based on economics, social, political, or some other reason? No one really knows, including those who voted to exit and now want to change their minds.

The British facade of a tolerant, inclusive society, cracked, flaked and crumbled. Thanks to social media, the insular British island’s latent, long-simmering, ugly underbelly surfaced immediately after the vote to leave the EU. 

The British facade of a tolerant, inclusive society, cracked, flaked and crumbled.

Brexit turned bad and ugly!

The reaction to the exit vote quickly led to xenophobia, racism, and intolerance. Coloured Britons were verbally and physically abused. There were reports of their businesses torched. A Polish Cultural Centre was vandalized.

Issues that were not on the referendum question reared their head: latent racism and xenophobia, hallmarks of British society in 60s and 70s, suddenly manifested in ugly acts of violence and hate. Britain’s police reported a 57 per cent increase in hate crimes after Brexit vote.

Intrusive EU bureaucracy

Britain’s population has been frustrated by dictates from EU headquarters – from regulating the size of bananas, to incursions into what the British consider their private lifestyles. Britain, too, was cautious in moving too close to Europe.

For instance, it stayed away from the Euro monetary union and constantly spurned EU regulations citing a threat to British sovereignty. It resisted moves to implement the free movement of peoples across Europe’s borders, so it could pick and choose those who could get in.  

As a requirement of the free movement of goods and people, a significant number of immigrants from former Eastern European countries, such as Poland, headed to Britain to work and live. Like all immigrants, they worked hard, but the British were always suspicious, accusing them of taking away their jobs.

Britons forgot that the borders of other 26 European Union countries were open to them, and that many of their fellow-citizens had moved to work there.

On the other hand, zealous Eurocrats perhaps moved too fast, dreaming up of a Euro army and one Euro foreign policy.

The British were told of millions being siphoned off from the National Health Service to be spent on immigrants and refugees. The media carried horror stories of immigrants and refugees being housed in luxury hotel-style accommodations. Anti-Europe/Eurosceptics, right-wing politicians, jumped at the opportunity to whip up hysteria among the public against perceived waste.

Lesson on referendums

Unfortunately, not-so-recent newcomers also joined the anti-immigrant wave. They bought into the argument that the relative latecomers were stealing jobs, tha there was no room in the country left for any more immigrants and refugees. They were a burden on health care and social security and other social services.

Ironically, the British could go, conquer and impose their lifestyle on countries on all continents during the days of their empire, but do not wish to see the faces of their former subjects in Britain.

Ironically, the British could go, conquer and impose their lifestyle on countries on all continents during the days of their empire, but do not wish to see the faces of their former subjects in Britain.

There was also an element of anti-Muslim bias too. Right-wing British politicians promised to save the island nation against the hordes from Europe and elsewhere. Leading up to the referendum, Leave side politicians made covert references, equating leaving the EU to putting an end to immigration and stopping the flow of refugees.

So, what transpired was a carefully calculated political manipulation. 

If anything, the Brexit exercise has proved that referendums are the lowest form or instrument of democracy. The public is manipulated and swayed by politicians on emotional matters, issues that may not even be central to the basic issue.

It is not the end of Britain. It will find its own way forward.

But, Britain will never learn to drive on the right side of the road!

Bhupinder S. Liddar is a former Canadian diplomat and founder-publisher/editor of Diplomat & International Canada magazine. www.liddar.ca

Published in Commentary
Friday, 24 June 2016 11:22

UK Bids Cheerio to the European Union

It was a long night fuelled by Horlicks and Jaffa Cakes that kept the Brits in Toronto crew going as the UK voted to leave the European Union.

We are stunned and think it is a huge mistake.

The fallout has already started, with stock markets and the value of the pound plummeting, asecond Scottish independence vote already being called for and Prime Minister David Cameron to step down by October.

Brits in Toronto

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Published in Commentary

by Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio) in Ottawa

Days after British lawmakers passed a symbolic motion recognizing Palestine as a state alongside Israel, it doesn’t look like Canada’s Parliament will consider doing the same anytime soon.

The U.K. vote Monday followed a motion put forward by the opposition Labour Party. The motion, amended to say a Palestinian state would only be recognized once peace negotiations have successfully concluded, passed 274 to 12.

Although fewer than half of MPs took part in the vote — Prime Minister David Cameron and his cabinet abstained — and the vote will not alter the government’s stance on the issue, experts say it is still significant as a reflection of shifting public opinion following the war in Gaza.

It certainly provides a stark contrast to the political debate on the issue in Canada.

“The thing that struck me in the past couple of days is that I don’t see a similar debate in the Parliament of Canada,” said Canada’s former ambassador to Israel, Norman Spector, in an interview with iPolitics.

And don’t expect a debate or vote to happen in Canada in the near future, says Spector.

“I don’t expect either of the two main opposition parties to move this kind of resolution or force this kind of debate in the House of Commons.”

“I think it (the U.K. Parliament vote) sends a signal about evolving opinion on the issue of Palestinian statehood but I don’t see it having an impact on Canadian policy,”

When asked whether they would consider a similar motion to recognize a Palestinian state in the House of Commons, neither the NDP or the Liberals jumped at the idea.

The NDP, which supported a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in 2012, did not indicate whether it would consider tabling a motion. Rather, the party’s foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar, said the government should remain focused on bringing both sides back to the table for a negotiated two-state solution. He also used the opportunity to criticize the Conservative government’s silence following the vote in the U.K. Monday.

“It’s a sad sign of how disconnected Conservatives are from the goal of a negotiated two-state solution when we see the minister of foreign affairs refuse to even reiterate Canada’s longstanding position in support of the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution,” said Dewar in an email.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird did not release any official reaction to the Monday’s vote. In response to an email request from iPolitics, his spokesperson, Adam Hodge, said, “Palestinian statehood can only be achieved through negotiations between the two parties.”

“We are committed to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East whereby two states live side-by-side in peace and security,” said Hodge. “Canada again urges the parties to resume direct peace talks, without delay or preconditions.”

In an email statement, Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau said “symbolic moves by either principal — or by third-party actors — are not useful in advancing the agenda for direct negotiations.” He said the Liberal Party’s longstanding position has been that the only way forward is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

“Liberals would however support a conversation on how best to — and how Canada can best — move the actors back to the table in the interests of an enduring peace.”

Spector noted the difference between the Israel-Palestinian Territories stance in Canada and the U.K. For instance, while Canada voted in favour of a “two states for two peoples” solution at the UN in 1947, the U.K. did not. In that sense, he says, the British government is trying to “catch up.” He also noted the differences between the two countries’ media coverage of the issue, with British media tending to be more “pro-Palestinian” and Canadian media “much more towards the centre.”

However, recent events may be even more telling of the NDP and Liberals’ lack of interest in a vote recognizing a Palestinian state, says Spector. On the war in Gaza in July and August, the Conservatives, predictably, stood by Israel, Spector said, and the Liberals and NDP were noticeably “cautious” in their reaction to the fighting. Both parties expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself and were accused of falling in line with the Harper government’s stance on the issue. Based on the opposition reaction to the recent conflict, Spector says it’s highly unlikely either party will table a motion to recognize Palestine as a state.

When asked whether they would consider a similar motion to recognize a Palestinian state in the House of Commons, neither the NDP or the Liberals jumped at the idea.

Tim Martin, a former Canadian representative to the Palestinian Authority, agrees with Spector. In an interview with iPolitics, he said he doesn’t see any indication that the NDP or Liberals would table a motion for a similar vote. While he thinks the vote in the U.K. is “significant,” he doubts it will have any impact on Canada.

“I think it (the U.K. Parliament vote) sends a signal about evolving opinion on the issue of Palestinian statehood but I don’t see it having an impact on Canadian policy,” said Martin.

But given the stalled peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Martin said he understands why the Labour party felt the need to table the motion.

“Without fruitful looking negotiations on the horizon, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think about recognition of a Palestinian state and working to help the Palestinians and the Israelis secure the practical attributes that would lead to a functioning two-state approach.”

Whether Canada’s Parliament actually votes to recognize a Palestinian state, Martin said it’s important for the government to make every effort to advance peace negotiations now.

“It’s important to recognize that the successful peace negotiations are feasible between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Martin. “It’s important for us to keep this in mind and keep encouraging peace in the Middle East and not give up on it.”

Re-published with permission.

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 17:03

CFIA blocks Marmite shipment

By Jasminee Sahoye Recent media reports that a shipment of Marmite, a sticky, dark brown yeast-based paste used for spreads, soups, stews and as a nutritional drink for many in…

The Caribbean Camera

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Published in Economy

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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