Immigration & Diversity news headlines – November 15, 2011


Newcomers put in spotlight (Joseph Chin,
Canada, while being one of the most tolerant and diverse countries in the world, is not yet an inclusive society, says Ratna Omidvar, president of Maytree, a Greater Toronto Area-based private foundation that promotes equity and prosperity. “Inclusion goes a step further than integration, where the newcomer is an active partner in shaping and changing institutions and society,” said Omidvar, the keynote speaker at a conference held today in Mississauga to explore ways to increase civic participation in the planning and decision-making process of institutions and organizations across Peel.–newcomers-put-in-spotlight

Diversity in Governance: A Snapshot of ENGO’s (Muaz Nasir, Khaleafa)
The environmental sector in Canada has been growing steadily over the last decade and continues to grow with recent investment in green energy and technology. The rise in environmental awareness among the general public has also meant that environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGO’s) have risen in prominence and now represent a wide variety of concerns and issues relevant to many Canadians. But how well do these organizations represent the constituency they are serving and how diverse are they? Those involved within the environmental community gathered earlier this month at Ryerson University to address the issue of diversity in decision making and its importance as part of a joint workshop presented by DiverseCity and Maytree. Both organizations work at increasing the presence of underrepresented communities on boards, agencies and commissions to better reflect the communities they are serving.

CIC in tug-of-war with women, advocacy groups (Nouman Khalil, South Asian Focus)
The tug-of-war between the immigration ministry and nation-wide women and advocacy groups is on. Canada-wide advocacy groups and women organizations expressed their concern over the federal government’s plan to introduce a two-year “conditional permanent residence” period for sponsored spouses. Marriage breakups after the sponsored spouse arrives in Canada have been an issue of grave concern, especially among the South Asian community.

Proposal for Conditional Permanent Residence would increase violence against women (CCR)
Women’s organizations, newcomer advocacy groups and ethno-specific organizations today expressed concern over the federal government’s plan to introduce “conditional permanent residence” for some sponsored spouses. The organizations believe that the proposal will increase the risk of spousal abuse, especially among newcomer women. “Women will be forced to stay in violent or abusive relationships for fear of deportation,” said Angela-Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver. According to the proposal, if a sponsored spouse leaves a relationship within two years of arrival in Canada, he or she could be stripped of status in Canada and deported.

B.C. people are the portrait of diversity (BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation)
As part of Multiculturalism Week, the Province will launch “BC People: Portraits of Diversity in BC”, a new book that profiles 51 British Columbians from a variety of cultural backgrounds living in every region of B.C. Originally, the profiles were designed for and released online, as well as on multimedia DVD for educational purposes. The project’s popularity has prompted the government to make it available in hardcopy, to distribute to service providers and libraries across the province.

Multimedia project showcases B.C.’s cultural diversity (Michael Aynsley, Openfile Vancouver)
Here’ something for all the provincial knowledge enthusiasts out there… the B.C. People: Portraits of Diversity in B.C. multimedia project showcases the fact that almost 30 per cent of the four million British Columbians hail from another part of the world. The project, which was funded by the federal and provincial governments and brought to our attention via the Province newspaper, explores B.C.’s cultural diversity in a 130 page book which can be viewed for free online.

Give provinces more control over immigration, Clark says (Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver Sun)
Provincial governments should have more control over Canadian immigration policy, and over who gets approved to live and work in the country, Premier Christy Clark said Monday. “Immigration is one of the most important economic levers government has. The fact that responsibility and control for it resides almost solely in the hands of the central government doesn’t work very well,” Clark told The Vancouver Sun in an interview from Bangalore, India. “We [the provinces] are closer to the ground. We know the needs of the economy better and I think Canada will do a better job of shaping immigration policy if the provinces have a greater ability to impact that,” she added.

COPE’s R.J. Aquino a ‘genuine advocate’ for Vancouver, says MLA (David P. Ball, Vancouver Observer)
Council candidate R.J. Aquino has a personal connection in this apartment building, so we ignore the ominous NO CANVASSING sign at the entrance, wait to get buzzed in, and finally knock on a door several stories up. Turns out the connection is more of a business-acquaintance-of-a-friend type of thing, but we’re not canvassing — yet. “Good afternoon,” his friend says in Tagalog when the resident answers, seeming slightly skeptical, perhaps confused by the cold-call (Aquino translates the conversation for me afterward). “I’d like you to meet R.J. Aquino. He’s a candidate to be Vancouver’s first-ever Filipino city councillor, and he’s with the Coalition of Progressive Electors.”

Why Sham Marriages Undermine Society (Srishti Hukku, PolicyMic)
Sham marriages, or marriages of convenience as they are dubbed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) are a public policy nightmare for officials. These marriages, created to gain entry into a country, usually take two forms: A couple pretends to be in a genuine relationship so that the sponsored partner can come to or stay in Canada, or one of the partners enters the relationship in good faith, while the other is using the relationship only to gain permanent status in Canada. However, these relationships usually dissolve shortly after the sponsored person arrives in Canada, effectively sidestepping immigration laws and undermining the coherence and objectives of the immigration system. As such, it is important that a country creates an effective legislative and enforcement framework to address this growing concern.

The export that smears freedom — multiculturalism (Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald)
One of Canada’s top exports has fallen into disrepute of late. No, we’re not talking about Alberta’s so-called “dirty oil,” which, in fact, is some of the world’s cleanest when you consider what it fuels — a society based on human rights, equality, generosity, rule of law, high wages, workers’ rights, freedom and environmental accountability. No, this export is an insidious idea that has seeped into Canada’s very cultural fabric and has since spread into western Europe, Australia and New Zealand, where it is now being questioned by the elite thinkers of those very societies that embraced it. The idea is official multiculturalism, something author Salim Mansur describes as a “Delectable Lie” in his new book by that title.

The values of Muslim Canadians (The Canadian Charger)
In a recent study by The Macdonald-Laurier Institute entitled What Do Muslim Canadians Want?, Christian Leuprecht and Conrad Winn hope to answer some of these misunderstandings. They pose the question: to what extent do the values and opinions of newcomers differ, if at all, from those of Canadians as a whole? According to the Institute “Canadians will find much to reassure them, but also much to ponder” in regards to the study’s conclusions. According to the Institute, the study “is intended to contribute to an understanding of Canadian Muslims’ attitudes to the pluralist-democratic values that matter deeply to Canadians.” The framework of the questions and answers in the study are based on Muslim Canadians fitting into one of “three broad explanatory perspectives”; Confrontational, Assimilationist, and Divided Community.

If not multiculturalism, what? (Dr. Rahat Naqvi, The Canadian Charger)
As a female Muslim academic, I am often struck by the simplicity of the task that lies before us: we need to live together, but in ways that are not cumbersome or unwieldy. The nature of multiculturalism requires us to acknowledge the so-called other within boundaries dictated by official policy. Canada is an amazing land of freedom that offers people from all over the world new beginnings and provides an opportunity to create new narratives. The question Canadians face is not any different from the question raised in so-called “homogeneous societies” in the world: is it possible for us to live well, together, under the shadow of 9/11?

Religious tolerance is alive and well in this country (Zara Jamal, Special To The Gazette)
I was surprised when I read Ayman Oweida’s Opinion article “How welcome are Muslims in Canada?”(Opinion, Nov. 8). As a young Muslim woman born and raised in Canada, I have always felt that there is a high level of tolerance and respect by Canadians toward not only Muslims but people of all religions. Growing up, I was never afraid of expressing my Islamic identity. Throughout primary and secondary school, we were taught to respect and admire diversity. For example, at Centennial Regional High School in Greenfield Park, we were given a prayer room at lunchtime if we wished to use it. During our religious month of Ramadan, I remember fellow students of different faiths refraining from eating their lunch in front of me when I was fasting. I never felt different; I never felt judged based on which God I was worshipping.


Bill C­4 – Comments on a bill that punishes refugees – PDF (CCR)
Bill C-4 would violate Canada’s international human rights obligations, as well as the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It would represent a betrayal of Canada’s better traditions of
welcoming and protecting refugees. Evidence suggests that it would not even achieve the
intended objective of deterring arrivals. Its implementation would be expensive for the taxpayer,
both in short-term detention expenses, and in long-term social and health costs. The adoption of
Bill C-4 would significantly damage Canada’s international moral authority with respect to
refugee protection. Canadian public support for refugees is being undermined by the damaging and misleading rhetoric used to justify Bill C-4.


Antiquated, unfair EI system needs fundamental overhaul: task force (Canadian Business)
A new report says the Employment Insurance system is broken and needs a more transparent, effective and equitable national framework. The report by a task force (Ratna is co-chair) from the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre says the EI system is complex, opaque and not easily understood by contributors. It says the current program has failed to keep up with societal and economic change and it’s widely recognized that there are deep problems at the core the system.–antiquated-unfair-ei-system-needs-fundamental-overhaul-task-force
Full report (PDF):


TRIEC recognizes special volunteer achievements of Toronto Region individuals and the corporate sector: Over 6,000 skilled immigrants mentored through The Mentoring Partnership (The Mentoring Partnership)
On Thursday, November 17th, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) will recognize outstanding volunteer contributions to its award-winning program, The Mentoring Partnership, facilitating the mentorship of over 6,000 skilled immigrants.

New deal eases free trade hurdles, work restrictions for India, Canada (Lee Berthiaume, National Post)
Canada and India are on the verge of signing an agreement that would make it easier and more financially viable for thousands of Indian professionals to work here, and vice versa. The agreement also eliminates a significant hurdle to free trade talks between the two countries, which the Conservative government has pledged to complete by 2013.

Focus on benefits of religious accommodation, senator tells employers (Joanne Hill, Jewish Tribune)
In this increasingly diverse country, employers should focus on the benefits and not the challenges of religious accommodation in the workplace, Senator Don Meredith told a conference on workplace diversity. Meredith, co-founder and executive director of the GTA Faith Alliance, gave the keynote address to 175 human resources and other professionals at the one-day conference,
diversity@work: Exploring Culture & Faith in the Workplace, presented last week by the not-for-profit organization Skills for Change.

How can Canada better support our female entrepreneurs? (Sarah Wayland, Wise5)
According to a new report released by The Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth, women’s entrepreneurship is currently falling short in Canada, despite the fact that Canadian women business owners are a huge source of economic opportunity. The Taskforce conducted a series of roundtables with over 200 business owners, as well as key informants such as academics and industry representatives. Their goal was to identify policies and programs that will foster female business owners’ ability to contribute to Canada’s economy.

For gay, lesbian workers, Canadian workplaces pulse with change (Wendy Gillis, Toronto Star)
Donna Renn began her career in the military — and in the closet. But today, the 50-year-old IT business analyst for TD is the poster girl for coming out in the workplace. During the five years she served in the Canadian Forces, Renn was terrified someone would find out she was a lesbian. When left the military, she was more forthcoming at work, talkng openly about her social life and placing a photo of her partner on her desk. But two years ago Renn went big, posing for a national advertising campaign for TD that showed her walking hand-in-hand at the Scarborough Bluffs with her wife, Nancy.–for-gay-lesbian-workers-canadian-workplaces-pulse-with-change


Looking for a painless $100 million? (Joy Connelly, Opening the Window)
Where can Toronto Community Housing get the $100 million a year it needs to fix up its buildings? So far, it has come up with one answer: sell its 700+ stand alone properties, and invest the proceeds in low-risk deposits. According to the TCH staff report, that strategy will gross $16.8 million per year at a “conservative” return of 5%. After it takes into account the rents lost by selling these homes and moving tenants into other TCH buildings, it expects to get $12 million a year.

City needs provincial funds for child care: Giorgio Mammoliti (Natalie Alcoba, National Post)
The provincial government must come up with $123-million to help the city cope with a looming childcare “crisis,” says the chairman of a task force struck to deal with the issue. About 2,000 spots will be in jeopardy in 2013 because of an expected shortfall in city funding, said Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti. Ironically, the province’s full-day kindergarten program that promises to save families thousands of dollars in daycare costs is partly to blame for the money woes, according to officials. Provincial funding that has not kept pace with inflation is another major factor, say staff. “I’m not going to wait a year to talk to the province, I don’t think anybody wants us to wait a year,” said Mr. Mammoliti, who chairs the task force. “We needed to let everybody know that there is an emergency going on here; there’s a crisis in child care in this city and that Mayor [Rob] Ford wants to deal with it.”


Program pairs landlords and tenants in effort to save energy (Renata D’Aliesio, Globe and Mail)
In office towers throughout Toronto, landlords and tenants are working together to scan for typical – and not so typical – ways to reduce energy waste. This type of collaboration isn’t the norm, but it’s essential to reducing a building’s environmental footprint and a key element of a unique energy challenge under way in the Greater Toronto Area called Race to Reduce.

Announcing LitToronto Map Contest Winners (Diaspora Dialogues)
We’d like to thank everybody who shared their stories and poems with us, filling our map and making it as colourful as the city itself. We received many fabulous submissions and have chosen the winners of the contest. We are happy to announce that Sheila Toller and Sadiqa de Meijer are the first place winners of the flash fiction and poetry submissions respectively.
Second place prize goes to Amina Farah for her flash fiction piece and Dolly Reisman for her poem.

Political Outsiders: Samara on The Agenda with Steve Paikin (Alison Loat, Samara Canada)
Last week, The Agenda’s Steve Paikin interviewed me on the findings of our fourth and final MP exit interview report, “The Outsiders’ Manifesto,” which summarizes the MPs’ advice and recommendations. It’s always a privilege to appear on The Agenda, as they always allows enough time for in-depth conversation. Of course, as soon as the interview ended I realized I forgot to highlight that, in addition to initiating a second set of exit interviews with the MPs who retired before the federal election in May 2011, we’ve also begun using the exit interviews to create civics curriculum for high school students, and to support political science research and teaching in universities. If you’re a teacher or student of Canadian civics or or politics, please visit the “Teachers and Students” section of our website for more information.

November 2011 edition of the Charity Law Insights (Drache Aptowitzer LLP)
Much has happened in the charity world since our last newsletter. In particular, the Canada Not for Profit Corporations Act was proclaimed in force on October 17th, 2011. While we have written about the subject many times before, now would be an appropriate time to remind our readers that those of you who are federally incorporated have three years from October 17th, 2011 to file the appropriate paperwork to continue under the new law and avoid dissolution of your corporation.


Focus on Human Trafficking (Forced Migration Current Awareness) A series of globla reports and research focused on human trafficking issues.

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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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