Immigration & Diversity news headlines – December 1, 2011


Our ballot’s a bust (Adam Giambrone, Now Toronto)
But here, engaging people in the state of our political system seems a much harder sell. Nonetheless, a lively forum hosted by Better Ballots on November 23, Thinking Ahead To 2014: Taking A Critical Look At Municipal Elections, managed to make electoral issues hot items. The issue animating participants like Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Maytree Foundation’s Alan Broadbent and Fair Vote Canada’s Wayne Smith is that half our city council, including the mayor, was elected by less than 50 per cent of voters. The same is true of most premiers and prime ministers, not to mention MPs and MPPs. So where do we go from here?

Canada puts immigration at the center of its economic policy (North Country Public Radio)
Here in the North Country and across much of Upstate New York, population growth and economic development have been anemic for decades. But just north of the border, Canadian communities like Kingston are working aggressively to attract foreign immigrants willing to bring new energy and new skills. As part of a partnership with WBEZ public radio in Chicago, Brian Mann has been traveling in Ontario, looking at the different strategies that Canada has used to boost prosperity. Today he reports from the city of Vaughan, just north of Toronto, where immigrants are seen as the key to the future.

Up, up and away: Parent and Grandparent Super Visa takes flight today (CIC)
The first applications for the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa will be accepted today, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced. The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa is one element of Phase I of the Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, announced in November. The Super Visa will allow applicants to remain in Canada for up to 24 months at a time without having to renew their status.

Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik taken off United Nations terror list (Paul Koring, Globe and Mail)
Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian citizen labelled a national-security risk by the Harper government and kept in forced exile for years, was taken off the UN Security Council terrorist blacklist Wednesday, ending his nearly decade-long ordeal. On being told of the delisting, Mr. Abdelrazik “shouted for joy, and then he wept,” his lawyer, Paul Champ, said. “You could hear his children cheering and clapping,” at their home in Montreal.

Ontario’s Dominance in Decline (David Cohen,
This much is clear; Ontario’s proportionate share of new immigrants to Canada has been in steady decline for the past few years. In 2005, about 64% of all newcomers settled in Ontario (mainly in and around Toronto) but by 2010 the number had dropped to 52%. Is that a bad thing? I guess the answer depends on whom you ask. It’s safe to say that Mayor Ford of Toronto and many of his supporters are not losing any sleep over this relatively recent downward trend. On the other hand you have to wonder what Toronto would look like today without the major influx of international and provincial migrants over the last 30 plus years. It’s difficult to imagine any metropolis retaining its world-class stature once it ceases to be a magnet for the best and brightest.

Speaking in Tongues (The Ethnic Aisle)
Ah, languages… In Toronto, we can hear dozens of them just walking down the street – and maybe speak 2 or 3 (or six?) of them ourselves. It’s glorious, it’s messy, and it’s what we’re talking about on the Ethnic Aisle. From struggles to fit in to the joys of multilingualism, we’re all about words this week. And, er… here are some more!

OCASI ED Forum 2011 Presentation Materials now online (Settlement AtWork)
The OCASI Executive Directors Forum took place in Toronto, November 10 and 11, 2011. The presentation materials for the Forum are now online. Please click the links below and feel free to share with your colleagues.

Immigration system needs to be protected (Dean Allison, MP Ottawa,
Ultimately, Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters – job creation and economic growth. As we continue to recover from the recession, immigration will help ensure employers have the workers they need for our continued and long-term economic success. Meanwhile, we will continue to send a global message that Canada will not accept fraud on our land or in our waters. The abuse of our generosity is unacceptable, and our government is taking the right action to stop it.

Open doors policy: Law firm spearheads diversity movement (Denise Deveau, Financial Post)
Diversity programs are nothing new for Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP – they have been part of the national law firm’s DNA for five years and it has consistently won accolades for its efforts. Kate Broer, partner and co-chair of the national diversity and inclusion initiative for the firm, says the movement was spearheaded by Chris Pinnington – now chief executive of the 1,250-person firm – when he was a managing partner at the Toronto office. Two years ago, the program went national. Among many noteworthy nods, FMC has made Mediacorp’s Best Employer for New Canadians List for three years running, and was named Best Diversity Employer this year. Mr. Pinnington himself won a CEO in Action Award from the Profiles in Diversity Journal.

Progress of Canadian firms as regards diversity (Amandine Chauve,
The majority of Canadians embody diversity—handicapped people, visible or ethnic minorities, Aboriginals and women—a reality which is not really reflected in the ranks of both the public and private sectors. Overview of the situation on differences at work, between HR policies and business strategies.

Newcomers celebrate a generous gift (Michelle Nash,
The Catholic Centre for Immigrants held a celebration last week in honour of Les Filles de la Sagesse, a religious order that has created new opportunities for assistance and programming for new immigrants in Eastern Ontario. Les Filles de la Sagesse donated the building at 204 Boteler St. to the Catholic Centre for Immigrants which in turn renamed the building Maison Sophia Reception House after the sisters known as the daughters of wisdom – Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom.–newcomers-celebrate-a-generous-gift

Russell Peters: A brown Christmas, but not Charlie’s (Bill Brownstein, The Gazette)
Peters also trots out his mom and infant daughter in reminiscing about past Christmases. Raised Catholic, Peters recalls his folks wishing others in his ’hood a merry Christmas. The neighbours, in turn, would look at them like they were nuts because of their East Indian accents. “There were no Cabbage Patch Kids under our tree,” Peters relates. “We had the Curry Patch Kids.

COLUMN: A city full of opportunity (Frank Bucholtz – Peace Arch News)
Surrey is a city of immigrants, as a special section in last week’s Surrey-North Delta Leader pointed out. This may have come as a surprise to some residents, but it shouldn’t. Surrey has always been a city that welcomes immigrants, going back to its very beginning as an organized municipality. The earliest settlers here were all immigrants. While some came from eastern Canada, at the time the earliest ones came, B.C. wasn’t even part of Canada. Many came from Europe or the United States. They came because Surrey offered rich opportunity, and things haven’t changed. That remains the case today.

How Ugly Is Ottawa? Watson Gets A Reader Open Letter (Ken Gray, Ottawa Citizen)
We are among the quarter million of immigrants who Canada welcomes every year. We moved to Ottawa three years ago, as skilled labor, after having lived in Switzerland and Germany. And as all immigrants do, we compare our new home to our old home. Some things are wonderful about our new home. Many things are just different. And then there are a few things which are very disturbing.

Vander Doelen: Border fix long overdue (Chris Vander Doelen, The Windsor Star)
Recently, Windsor discovered that a man accused of defrauding possibly hundreds of customers at his Tecumseh Road used car lot was deported from the U.S. in the 1990s for trafficking heroin. How he was able to waltz into this country as an immigrant to resume a career of alleged crime we’ll never know. Apparently our border bureaucracy doesn’t know and hasn’t cared. Not only can anybody in the world lie, bribe or cheat their way into Canada as a fake refugee or a “temporary” visitor, everybody in the world knows it. And since we don’t keep track of their movements, instead of being a trusted neighbour Canada is a giant black hole of unknown risks to the U.S. – a veritable United Nations of threats.

Diversity and Charity: An Inverse Relationship? (Freakonomics)
Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, “What Makes Donors Donate?” looks at what works (and what doesn’t) to incentivize people to give. A new NBER working paper studies the relationship between religious and ethnic diversity and charitable donations by looking at Canadian census data and tax records. Authors James Andereoni, Abigail Payne, Justin D. Smith and David Karp argue that the two are inversely related, that is to say that the more diverse a neighborhood, the lower its charitable donations.

Canadian boardroom diversity rates ‘are stagnating’ (Odgers Berndtson)
Efforts to improve boardroom diversity in Canada have faltered over the last two years, according to a new report. Analysis from Corporate Knights has revealed that the percentage of companies in the North American nation with no visible minority members on their boards has risen from 64 per cent in 2009 to 73 per cent in 2011. Similarly, the number of companies with no women in their executive leadership team has grown slightly from 20 per cent two years ago to 21 per cent now.


16 refugee board members have Conservative ties (Don Butler, The Ottawa Citizen)
At least 16 current members of the Immigration and Refugee Board have ties to federal or provincial Conservative parties. The revelation came one day after Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told the House of Commons that only two out of nearly 150 IRB members he has recommended for appointment had “any association” with the Conservative party.

Court has no mandate to retry refugee cases (Raphael Girard, The Ottawa Citizen)
While recent trends in decision-making by the Federal Court in immigration and refugee cases (described in the Citizen’s series on the subject) may cause some members of the immigration bar to lament the fact they can less successfully manipulate the immigration enforcement system by invoking judicial review, Canadians at large should not be concerned that genuine refugees are being summarily denied protection and removed from this country to face persecution in their own countries. On the contrary, there has not been a single case since the current determination system came into effect in 1989 whereby the UN has chided Canada for failure to uphold its obligations under the Geneva Convention of 1951

Refugee in Canada launching political movement in Czech Republic (
Eduard Valášek fled skinheads in the town of Krnov, Czech Republic 14 years ago and was granted political asylum in Canada. Now he and friends from both countries are establishing a new political movement called the Citizens’ Government League (Liga vlády obcanu). “This is better than grumbling in the pub. We want to give people a platform so they can come to an agreement – through Facebook, the internet, Twitter – on how they would like to change politics,” Valášek told news server “The aim is not to fill the squares, but to give people room for their own civic initiative. Our political party wants to become the first online party. This is not a business initiative like Mr Babiš’s,” Valášek said.

Most Canadian Refugee Judges Fail Re-Appointment Test (Jason Dzubow,
According to the Canadian Star, out of 63 refugee judges, “only 10 have passed the exams and screening process, while nine are awaiting final interviews.” Of the remaining 44 judges, “[o]ne was screened out immediately, 24 failed the multiple-choice and written exams, six did not show for the exams, seven were eliminated at interviews, and six withdrew from the process.” Forgetting judges that decided not to re-apply, this means that over 50% of politically appointed refugee judges in Canada failed the exams or the interview.,1130-dzubow.shtm

Tamil refugee claimants settling in Toronto (Tom Godfrey, Toronto Sun)
More than 150 Tamil refugee claimants who were among 492 on the smuggling ship MV Sun Sea have moved to Toronto from British Columbia to find work and be with family, community leaders say. Nearly all the claimants have been released on bonds or conditions since arriving by boat off the coast of B.C. in August 2010, Tamil leaders said on Tuesday. About six of them are in detention undergoing hearings.


Why are food banks still necessary? (CBC Metro Morning)
Guest host Jane Hawtin spoke with Gerard Kennedy. He is a former executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank.

Democracy’s great. It’s the politics I hate… (Wayne Chu, Samara Canada)
At least, that’s what people across the country have been telling us. In recent years, we have seen voter turnout fall to historic lows, and the number of people involved in political activities of all kinds is decreasing. Given this problem, we wanted to know: Why are people disengaging from politics? There are lots of reasons out there, but we wanted to get some answers to this question straight from the source. So over the past four months, we have been speaking to Canadians from across the country with a wide-variety of experiences and backgrounds, but who all have said they are not interested in politics and rarely, if ever, vote.

CMAJ argues that parking fees are a barrier to health care (Farid, CCLA)
In a recent editorial, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) suggests that hospital parking fees are a “user fee in disguise” and a barrier to health care. Dr. Rajendra Kale, editor-in-chief of the journal, writes that “[t]hose opposed to scrapping parking fees for patients need to recognize that such fees are, for all practical purposes, user fees and a barrier to health care. Using revenue generated from such surrogate user fees for health care is against the health policy objective of the Canada Health Act and could become the subject of a legal challenge.”


Tapping into the immigrant talent pool (Globe and Mail)
Ratna Omidvar, president of Maytree Foundation, explains the benefits of hiring immigrants and how small business owners can connect with this rapid-growing segment of the labour market.

Tapping into overseas work pool key to growth (Denise Deveau, Financial Post)
Like any business professional on the move, Jamie Rogers, a recruitment specialist at Calgary-based engineering firm Hatch, likes to network. But his sphere of influence is a little out of the ordinary. Mr. Rogers is a firm believer that international experience is a terrific advantage in the Canadian workplace. That’s why he spends a lot of time working with immigration agencies, colleges and other associations to meet, greet and mentor new Canadians. His passion for helping immigrants find employment goes back to the time he spent working abroad after graduating from university. “That experience gave me real insight into how businesses work out there and the many similarities,” he says.

Federal Government Departments in BC Partner with IEC-BC in Mentoring Program (IEC-BC)
An inaugural meeting between mentors from four federal government departments in BC and 11 skilled new Canadians marked the start of a ground-breaking mentoring program led by the Immigrant Employment Council of BC (IEC-BC). Over the next four months, immigrant professionals will work with their Canadian peers to learn about local business practices, increase their understanding of the BC workplace culture, access professional networks, and boost their cross-cultural communication and career-search skills. By spring 2012, up to 40 mentors from various federal government departments across BC could be helping skilled new Canadians gain valuable local labour-market experience.

Quebec’s Attraction for Knowledge-based Workers (Canadian Immigration Newsletter)
While Quebec should be considered a great destination for immigrants, open to those from a wide variety of backgrounds, including everything from nurses to various construction trades, this month we highlight its particular attraction to knowledge-based workers. More than any other province, or even in comparison to Canada’s federal programs, Quebec’s immigration program is geared towards well educated candidates. In particular, Quebec puts a premium on highly skilled occupations, for example, those that are engineering or computer-related.


Wednesday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A round-up of mainstream media Toronto headlines related to City Hall, Transit & Traffic and Other News.

Thursday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A round-up of mainstream media Toronto headlines related to City Hall, Rob Ford, Transit and Other News.

Walkability in tower neighbourhoods, and other walking news (Dylan Reid, Spacing Toronto)
I’ve written before about the project by Paul Hess and Jane Farrow to study walkability in Toronto’s high-rise neighbourhoods. It’s been a great way to broaden the focus of walking beyond the downtown core to areas where walkability is really bad, but also where the biggest improvements can be made. The authors have now released their final report, Walkability in Toronto’s High Rise Neighbourhoods. There’s an executive summary (PDF) and the full report (PDF).

Have Your Say About Toronto’s 2012 Budget (Meg Campbell, Torontoist)
If you’ve got a burning desire to depute at an upcoming Budget Committee meeting about the 2012 capital and operating budgets, take note. The meeting to hear public deputations, which was originally scheduled for December 8, has been moved to December 7 at 9:30 a.m. Budget Committee chair Mike Del Grande has told the City Clerk that he wants a few procedural motions in place, which means that participating in the meeting will take a bit more planning than usual. Here’s what you need to know.

Library chair demands Del Grande apologize for ‘program creep’ comments (Patrick White, Globe and Mail)
The chair overseeing Toronto’s library books is demanding an apology from the chief of Toronto’s financial books. Councillor Paul Ainslie took the floor of council on Wednesday to demand that Budget Chief Mike Del Grande express regret over comments about ethnic materials and Hollywood DVDs at city libraries.

Political Paralysis and Disaster Budgeting: Lessons from Toronto (Hugh Mackenzie, Behind the Numbers, CCPA)
As Canadian governments at all jurisdictional levels engage in what can only be called Disaster Budgeting, it’s time to inject a voice of reason into the debate. The world economy isn’t looking good, and the political penchant in Canada to return to business as usual – dutifully following an extreme right ideological script that was set for us ages ago, when the world was very different — is a dangerous stance to get too attached to. What Canada needs now is a break from the toxic austerity talk that is taking over, and a close look at what worked (and what didn’t) in the last recession.

Soundbites ebulletin November 30, 2011 (Social Planning Toronto)
This issue:
Social Planning Toronto Member Forum on the City’s 2012 Operating Budget
Help Save The City’s “Hardship Fund”
Full House to Save the City’s Housing and Homeless Support Services
Reflecting on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
IMPORTANT: New Dates for Budget Deputations (C2C Update)
Community Organizing in Scarborough
Worth Repeating: The Equal Right To Be Counted


How Canada can be an innovation leader (Daniel Gervais, Globe and Mail)
It’s not good enough to have an intellectual property policy based on the desire to assuage the demands of our trading partners. Canadians must think innovation policies through as a nation. Naturally, Canada must take account of global rules and the need for appropriate harmonization, but those rules provide a significant leeway.


YMCA recognizes peacemakers (Dominik Kurek, Oakville Beaver)
Shae Invidiata and high school student Courtney den Elzen were presented with the 2011 Youth Peace Medallion awards at a ceremony with hundreds of guests in attendance at the local Y… Invidiata is the founder of [free-them], an organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. The organization hosts a number of awareness-raising events throughout the year.–ymca-recognizes-peacemakers

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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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