Maytree News headlines – May 2, 2011


Canadians want good government, not tactical politics and electioneering – Alan Broadbent (Maytree blog)
We have other policy gaps, too. We lack powerful, government-driven programs to integrate immigrants more effectively. We need programs that recognize immigrants’ professional competence rather than relying on their credentials, and that accelerate their ability to exercise citizenship rather than testing their loyalty and endurance. We lag in education innovation, when we could lead. And we let our community organization sector scrape by on pennies when we could recognize it for the vital engine of national success it is, and fund it to thrive. It may be better to free our political parties from the stuffy old cliques that control them, and embrace an agenda of government that will build a more equitable and prosperous Canada, than to rely on those cliques to design a compromised architecture that will rely more on form than substance. If it continues, that form, like the cobbled-together Conservative party, will likely rely more on the blackest arts of electioneering than on a compelling path to our future.

Video: “Multiculturalism Under Threat” – A Salon Camden evening with Ratna Omidvar (YouTube)
On April 12, 2011, Salon Camden Centre for Urban Dialogue hosted a salon dinner with the Maytree Foundation President and Order of Canada, Ms. Ratna Omidvar on the subject “Multiculturalism under threat: The new political shift in Europe and its impact on Canada”. The clip is a trailer from the salon featuring Ms. Omidvar.

Platform Primer: Immigration (Torontoist)
Tired as you may be of hearing it, Canada is a country of immigrants, many of whom vote. For this and less cynical reasons, politicians have a keen interest in how we select, welcome, and integrate newcomers. Issues around new Canadianism are particularly germane in Toronto, the destination for about a quarter of all immigrants to Canada, and a city where almost half of us were born outside the country ourselves.

Citizenship delay prevents newcomer voting (CBC)
Some P.E.I. newcomers won’t be able to to vote in Monday’s federal election because of delays in getting citizenship. About 100 people on P.E.I. are waiting for citizenship and are unable to vote, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Nova Scotia wants to double immigration by 2020 by targeting skilled labour (The Canadian Press)
The province plans to attract 7,200 immigrants a year by 2020, up from the current goal of 3,600.

Harper Courts Immigrant Vote as New Canadians Pulled Toward Party in Power (Bloomberg)
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is counting on the same kind of enthusiasm among voters for Seeback and candidates in nine other districts with immigrant voters who have typically backed the opposition Liberal Party. Victories in those areas tomorrow may give Harper the majority in Parliament that has eluded him for the past five years.

Let’s make room for the ‘bright’ immigrant (Chronicle Herald)
When Nova Scotia launched its new immigration strategy this week, it set out a flexible approach that will still try to match skills and jobs but without a strict list. It will also try to balance the short-term needs of employers, who are looking for people with very particular skill sets, with self-sufficient skills that immigrants bring, such as being able to operate machines and heavy equipment. The government hopes to attract 7,200 immigrants a year by 2020 — double the rate now. Half would come through the provincial nominee program, or as family members of these nominees, and half would come through federal immigration streams. But the province says to meet these targets the federal government must release its tight grip on immigration to this province. The federal government will only consider up to 500 applications a year through Nova Scotia’s provincial nominee program.

Conference: Tone from the Top – Diversity and Inclusion in the Local and Global Context (A Call to Action Canada)
A Call to Action Canada is inspired by the “Call to Action” which was set in motion in the United States in 2004 by senior legal officers at some of the largest and most influential companies operating there. Over 100 senior corporate counsel in the United States have become signatories to the Call to Action, committing to foster diversity in the legal profession both within their organizations and, especially, in the outside law firms which supply legal services Our mission is to provide a forum designed to encourage and support Canadian in-house counsel in taking a leadership role in advancing diversity and inclusiveness in the legal profession.
Conference brochure (PDF)

Al Jazeera Gets On Ethnic Vote Bandwagon (Maple Leaf Sikh)
It looks like the unprecedented courting of the “ethnic” vote by the political parties in this year’s federal election is starting to gain international attention. Al Jazeera gets in on the act by profiling Andrew Kania and the Sikh vote in Brampton, Ontario.

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney talks policies, record (
On Friday morning, Canadian Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney spoke in one of the most diverse electoral districts in the country; Don Valley West. Kenney discussed what the minority Conservative government has accomplished in regards to immigration, what their goals are if re-elected and attempted to clear up incorrect statements made by Liberal opponents.

Rexdale Women’s Centre gets funding to help protect new immigrants from domestic abuse (Inside Toronto)
The Rexdale Women’s Centre (RWC) was recently chosen one of six Toronto organizations to receive provincial funding for a public education campaign aimed at raising awareness about domestic abuse among new Canadians. Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten, the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, announced Friday that $50,000 is earmarked for RWC as its share of the Government of Ontario’s $668,000 investment to expand the Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign.

Excitement builds for Multicultural Week (Central Plains News)
What started out as a one-day celebration of Portage la Prairie’s multicultural population last year, has grown into a week of events for 2011 and the declaration of May 7-13 as Multicultural Week in the city. The week kicks off May 7 with the return and expansion of the Sharing Our World — Multicultural Event and climaxes with a Citizenship Ceremony for local new Canadians at Portage Collegiate Institute on May 12.

Conservatives ethnically classify voters (Rabble)
Canadian multiculturalism, in English Canada at least, has often created a beast called the “ethnic vote.” It is from this long history of essentialized culture that the Conservative “very ethnic riding” concept arose. This is not new. The explicit admittance of the categorization may be, but the strategy of asking people to wear “ethnic costumes” and be little props is not a new one. We must remember in Canada when we say a diverse neighbourhood it is quite often just a synonym for a lot of people who aren’t so white live there.

Courting the ethnic vote (Ottawa Citizen)
How do you attract the so-called ethnic vote in Canada, particularly in immigrant-saturated cities such as Toronto and Vancouver? It’s a pivotal question for the major political parties as Canadians head to the polls Monday for the fourth time in seven years.

Introspection: Preparing For Canada’s May 2 Federal Election (
In preparation, we can draw on the rich legacy of Sikh political wisdom. Sikh historical precedents on the South Asian subcontinent instruct that establishing just rule is critical to a healthy society: “Guaranteeing economic and political sovereignties shall establish victory in life.” This is a direction to today’s voters to ensure fair taxation and civil rights for all, while having zero tolerance for race or gender bias. Yes, Sikhs are one minority among others. Yet their goal should be to work for the common good of the nation as a whole, not solely their interests.

Illegal immigrants go to U.S., then aim for Canada: WikiLeaks (Toronto Star)
American politicians have long believed that Canada is a gateway for illegal immigrants wanting to get into their country, but an internal U.S. consular memo suggests the gate may be swinging the other way. A cable released recently by online whistleblower WikiLeaks says immigrants are living illegally for several years in the U.S. first, and then crossing into Canada and trying to fraudulently gain legal status in Vancouver.–illegal-immigrants-go-to-u-s-then-aim-for-canada-wikileaks

Conservative cuts to new immigrant language training felt in public schools (Northumberland Today)
Newcomers to Canada bring hope, optimism and energy to our country. They may be fleeing poverty, injustice or war. They brace for unfamiliarity and uncertainty. A common purpose for people around the world immigrating to Canada today is to create a better life for their children; just as it has been for centuries. Unfortunately, ill-advised federal government funding cuts will undermine this objective.

Museum wants stories about region’s innovations . . . and its immigrants (Guelph Mercury)
Waterloo Region Museum staff members are combing the area for objects and stories relating to the immigration of people to Waterloo Region.–museum-wants-stories-about-region-s-innovations-and-its-immigrants

Multicultural meritocracy (Financial Post) – with TRIEC mention
One in five Canadian residents was born abroad. Each year since 1990, anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 permanent residents have immigrated to Canada -many with a university education. And yet, less than one quarter (24%) of employed foreign-trained and university educated immigrants are working in their field of study. At the same time, Canada is headed toward a demographic shift that will see Baby Boomers leave the workforce in huge waves. Those are the facts.

Childhood Immigration and Acculturation in Canada – PDF (Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development)
The research examines issues of mental health among immigrant children in Canada and factors that might hinder or promote their mental health.


Voice of reason on refugees (Chronicle Herald)
Perhaps the best thing that can be said for Frontier Justice is that Lamey doesn’t shrink from the questions he poses. Not content to simply illuminate injustices, he offers a concrete proposal, a system that would guarantee refugees the right to an oral hearing, the right to legal aid and the right to judicial review of any detention decisions. As framed by the author, this concept is hardly radical and leaves much of the existing checks and balances between immigration and security in place.

Baby back in mother’s arms (Ottawa Citizen)
A refugee claimant smuggled into Canada from the U.S., where she faces deportation, has been reunited with her baby boy.

Refugee board member chides border agency for broad definition of Tamil Tiger (Canadian Press)
The federal government’s definition of which migrants aboard the MV Sun Sea are members of the Tamil Tigers is so broad that, if it was accepted, ongoing hearings to determine membership in the terrorist group would be meaningless, says an adjudicator with the Immigration and Refugee Board.


Make caregiver and infirm dependant tax credits refundable (Maytree blog)
An estimated three million Canadians act as unpaid or informal caregivers. They provide care and assistance to family members and friends in need of support because of physical, cognitive or mental health conditions… A preferred option would be to make these tax credits refundable. This means that households too poor to pay income tax would receive some money from the government to help offset their caregiving costs. Alternatively, Ottawa could turn the tax credits into a modest caregiver allowance that would assist all caregiving households. The United Kingdom and Australia, for example, pay a small cash benefit to the family caregiver of individuals requiring chronic at-home care.

Create a $25 million Community Fund to help communities operate local decision-making tables (Maytree blog)
The Community Fund would match the first $100,000 raised annually at the local level to enable communities to set up and operate their respective decision-making tables over the course of five years. The Fund would incorporate clear monitoring and review processes to track progress toward stated objectives and identified targets. It would also be required to produce a public annual report of its grant decisions. A fund of $25 million would help 50 communities develop and implement their own poverty reduction strategies for five years.

Hamilton Spectator sweeps Ontario Newspaper Awards Saturday (The Canadian Press)
The judges commented that “Code Red is a significant piece of work, both for the complexity of its analysis and for the detailed reporting on the human toll of poverty.” “The impact of poverty is an under-covered political issue in Canada. At a time when newspapers everywhere are facing challenges, the Spectator and Buist have done what all newspapers should still strive for: uncovering a significant story that raises serious questions for politicians, educators and everyone in the community.”

Activist Communique: Why poverty should be an election issue (
Regarding real solutions to poverty and not political semantic debates, the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget (AFB), in contrast, “makes poverty reduction one of its central objectives. “The need for a federal plan is clear: In 2008 (the latest year for which we have statistics), the national poverty rate was 9.4% (up from 9.2% in 2007). That’s over three million Canadians, about 600,000 of whom are children (and in First Nations families, one in four children lives in poverty). The 2008 numbers also show the number of elderly people living below the poverty line spiked by 25%, the first major increase in decades.”

Minimum wage hike bad first policy for new BC premier: economist (The Canadian Press)
British Columbia’s new premier made a big mistake by raising the minimum wage because the move will kill jobs for young people and slash opportunities for future employment, says an economist. Niels Veldhuis (Neels Veldhouse) of the Fraser Institute said Christy Clark’s first policy decision is a “blunt instrument” that will increase unemployment rates for youth between 15 and 24 as businesses hire fewer people in entry positions.

May 2011 E-bulletin (Canadian Civil Liberties Association)
In this issue:
* Voting Is The Right Of All Citizens… Or Is It?
* Federal Elections: A Civil Liberties Perspective
* In Memoriam: Allan Blakeney
* CCLA Denounces The Use of Tasers Against Children By The RCMP

Will income inequality inform Canada’s political agenda? (CCPA)
The Toronto Star’s Olivia Ward weighs in on the election and the role of income inequality in the political question of the day: Will our federal government work for the common good?

House of Under-Representatives (The Mark News)
We’ve known for some time that as Canada’s population shifts toward urban concentration, the population distribution among electoral ridings has become skewed. But how skewed? According to a 2010 report by the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation – an independent, non-partisan public-policy research centre at the University of Toronto – so skewed that Canada’s electoral system no longer meets international democratic norms. No kidding. If you thought American politics is messed up, you’ll be interested to know that the relative equality of a Canadian vote deviates seven times more than in the U.S.! That means that the inequality experienced by Canadians is more than seven times as great as that experienced by Americans.

New ideas to lift aboriginal Canada (Globe and Mail)
The federal parties have paid little attention to aboriginal issues in this campaign, and with the exception of Jack Layton, they’ve barely campaigned in areas with large aboriginal populations. This lack of political leadership is unfortunate. But on two of aboriginal Canada’s biggest challenges, land and education, we can look to others to help plot a path forward.

Video: Third-World Canada (The Mark News)
There are 40 First Nations communities in Canada with no schools; right now, native children have a better chance of ending up in prison than graduating high school. That this is happening in Canada — a country that prides itself on its quality of life — should give people pause for thought.


Supreme Court Rules Against Agricultural Workers in Collective Bargaining Case (CCLA)
The Supreme Court of Canada has issued its decision in Ontario (Attorney General) v. Fraser, finding that Ontario’s labour relations regime applicable to farm workers does not violate the Charter right to freedom of association or equality. The CCLA is disappointed by this determination and concerned about the continuing difficulties faced by agriculatural workers, many of whom are temporary foreign workers that face particular and unique challenges in demanding respect for their rights in the workplace. In Fraser, a union and several factory farm employees challenged Ontario’s Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002 and the exclusion of agricultural workers from Ontario’s Labour Relations Act. They argued that the legislative scheme failed to effectively protect the rights of farm workers to organize and bargain collectively.

Welcoming ‘visible minorities’: Paradoxes of equity hiring in Canadian universities (Fedcan blog)
We know that universities have diverse student bodies. Some celebrate their multicultural programs and highlight their diversity awards. And, on their web sites, we may see diverse images and reports and statements of commitment to access, equity and social justice. Herein is the heart of the matter: Many of us within these same universities observe disconcerting paradoxes in the stated attempt to promote racial equity in their policies, programs and practices. I reflect here on three paradoxes: first, that of the “visible minority” identification; second, the unevenness or unavailability of race data; and, third, the convenience of colourblind claims.

Unique program helps unemployed become self-employed (Vancouver Sun)
About 800 small businesses, including many by immigrants, have been launched through organization’s unique business and economic development centre over the past 15 years.


Monday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A round-up of mainstream media Toronto headlines related to City Council, Architecture & Development, Cycling, Streets and Other News.


On-Ramping to the Next Economy: Financing Innovation, Sustainability, and Resilience (McConnell blog)
According to one feisty audience member at a conference I spoke at in Phoenix recently, growing US indebtedness and a weakening dollar will result in the US dollar losing its role as the world’s reserve currency. As other countries elect to price their transactions in Euros, gold, or something else, they will dump their unwanted dollars, driving the greenback even lower. Consequently, he insisted, it’s time to think about creating local and regional currencies, along with the militia we’ll need in order to protect ourselves when the US government goes bankrupt… Without subscribing to the alarmist and defeatist rhetoric of our commentator, we can agree that resilient local economies are an important element in any innovation ecosystem.


Human trafficking event shines spotlight on the new slavery (Hamilton Spectator)
Dee was one of several speakers at the Human Trafficking Awareness Day event, which examined the prevalence of this modern form of slavery. Canada’s Criminal Code was amended in 2005 to include human trafficking. And since then there have only been seven convictions — all domestic cases and most for sex trafficking. But experts agree there are hundreds of thousands of victims out there.–human-trafficking-event-shines-spotlight-on-the-new-slavery

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Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

Communications in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. Wannabe librarian, interested in nonprofit tech innovation.

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