Immigration & Diversity news headlines – April 23, 2012

A call for Canadian charities to become politically active (Alan Broadbent, Maytree)
This is the intelligence of the public policy behind the 10 per cent rule, and why it is good that the CRA makes efforts to be clear about what is permitted. The CRA guidelines are sensible, and geared to helping inform public policy formation. So it is useful that the recent federal budget drew attention to the permissibility of charities engaging in public policy. Many charities who werent aware of the 10 per cent rule can now gear up to add a public policy dimension to their work, to begin to get a grip on one of the biggest levers of change for the better. And those charities which have been reluctant, or been underutilizing their capacity, can gear up to be even more effective participants in the public discourse on important matters facing our communities and the nation.–a-call-for-canadian-charities-to-become-politically-active


Learning from each other (Dr. Orkan Kösemen, Bertelsmann Stiftung)
Arriving in Toronto from Germany at the end of March, I didnt expect to have any problems adapting here. Why should I? Its Canada after all, I thought. This is part of the image every traveler has in his or her mind when coming to this country: a society born out of global immigration, yet with a common identity; people from all over the world, yet peaceful and embracing difference. Diversity is our strength is the official motto of the City of Toronto. In Germany, the closest to that might be the city of Cologne. The people of Cologne have a distinct self-understanding that expresses itself in the saying Jede Jeck ist anders. It means everybody is different and thats ok. A few Canadians have told me that their country is not perfect, and everything has two sides. While I can see their point, I came here to explore what Canada does differently compared to other countries where the issue of immigration is usually handled tediously and is more conflict-laden.

Bottom line immigration? (Maytree blog)
If you work in or follow Canadas immigration sector, your head might be reeling a bit from the recent number of substantive announcements, press releases and comments coming from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. TVOs The Agenda recently produced two segments on the proposed changes to Canadas immigration system and they are well worth your time to watch.

Economic Growth and Prosperity the Focus of Immigration Changes (Marketwatch)
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney spoke at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations and outlined how a transformed immigration system would benefit the Canadian economy. In his speech the Minister outlined a series of changes planned for the immigration system to make it faster, more flexible and focused on jobs to promote national economic growth and prosperity that can benefit all regions of Canada.

Kenney tackling immigration mess (Megan Harris, Toronto Sun)
For far too long, Canada’s immigration system has been manipulated to generate political successes instead of bolstering the country’s economic and strategic interests. The result has been that most discussions about immigration policy quickly devolve into a polarizing debate. On the one hand, some argue vociferously that immigrants are a financial burden. They take jobs away from Canadians, drive wages down, inflate housing prices, and fuel tax increases to pay for their suite of entitlements housing, medical care, education, etc.

Why skilled immigrants arent coming to Canada (Deirdre Mcmurdy, Money.MSN)
However odd and unpredictable the weather may be this spring, there are some basic tenets of gardening that never change. For example, if you want to upgrade your flower beds by transplanting new growth, you’d better make sure that the soil, light, moisture and other basic elements are in place to ensure the plants thrive. That’s certainly something that the federal government and especially Immigration Minister Jason Kenney need to consider carefully with the launch of the new “startup visa” program.” It’s one thing to aspire to a lush beds of ever-blooming immigrant entrepreneurs, and quite another to ensure the conditions exist to adequately support them. All the good intentions in the world won’t help people or their capital root and flourish otherwise. If Canada wants to do better at innovation and nurturing seedling companies that grow fast and strong, there’s going to have to be more reform than it appears Mr. Kenney is proposing.

Immigration applicants upset at Ottawas plan to wipe out backlog (Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star)
Little Songqiao Xu was only a year old when his parents applied to come to Canada in 2006. Today, Songqiao is almost 8 and his mother and father are still waiting for their immigration visas to be approved. Their wait, in an immigration backlog that today includes 300,000 other skilled workers and their families, will soon be over. But the outcome is not what they had hoped. The door to Canada will soon be shut for them with the Conservative governments recent announcement it plans to return all skilled worker applications received before 2008 and wipe out the lengthy backlog. It is absolutely unfair, said Songqiaos mother Yan Xu, a high school English teacher in Suzhou, China. What we lost is not only money, but our youth, our life and our dreams.–immigration-applicants-upset-at-ottawa-s-plan-to-wipe-out-backlog

Many divided on proposed immigration changes (News1130)
There’s a mix of concern and support over the government’s plans for new Canadians to proficiently speak one of our official languages. The reforms would have people applying for Canadian citizenship to provide written proof of their language abilities. They will be asked to submit evidence that they completed secondary orpost-secondary education in English or French. They could also provideresults of approved third-party tests, or proof of success ingovernment-funded language training programs. News1130 spoke to people at the Vaisakhi festival in Surrey on their thoughts of the proposed changes.–canadians-divided-on-proposed-immigration-changes

Looking for logic in immigration practices (Paul Sullivan, Metro News)
Saskatchewan needs people. Even though the population is at an all-time high 1,067,612 and growing faster than at any time since 1953 we still dont have enough people. Employment is also at an all-time high and the unemployment rate at 4.8 per cent is the lowest in the country. The little economy that could is churning out jobs at a fantastic rate so many that thousands of jobs are still unfilled: 11,000, if you believe Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris. There are a few solutions. One is to give the ever-abundant supply of gophers little hard-hats and shovels and tell them to get at it. But as gophers are notoriously disobedient they arent officially designated as pests for nothing there has to be a more reliable situation.

Language tests for immigrants may leave some tongue-tied (Leslie Emmons, Toronto Observer)
Earlier this month, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that starting July 1, people immigrating to Canada under the Provincial Nominee Program would have to take a mandatory test in either French or English before theyre allowed into the country. This means jobs that dont involve much skill will now require potential workers to be tested on their reading, listening, writing and speaking skills. Immigrants who want to enter the country under this program are already educated and skilled enough to join the workforce, but they need to apply to their preferred province and await approval. A medical exam and criminal check are also necessary for PNP hopefuls.

Latest fed immigration reform: prove you speak English or French to be Canadian (Peter Rakobowchuk, Winnipeg Free Press)
Immigrants hoping to become Canadian citizens may soon have to provide written proof of their language abilities. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday his latest reform is aimed at requiring citizenship applicants to prove they can speak English or French. “I’ve met a lot of Canadian citizens who have lived here for many years who can’t express themselves in French or English,” Kenney said during a speech Friday to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

Mind your language or leave Canada (Tom Godfrey, Toronto Sun)
Never before has it been more important for some people to mind their language. Literally. Exercise jockey Wilbert Gobay is among dozens of temporary workers like horse walkers, groomers and trainers at Woodbine Racetrack whove failed English language tests and fear losing their contracts and being sent home. Gobay, 46, has been travelling to Woodbine from his native Jamaica to work as a jockey for 10-months of the year since 2008. He plans on becoming a permanent resident and sponsoring his family but he must prove he can speak either English or French.

English test for immigrants worries Brandon (Jillian Austin, Winnipeg Free Press)
A federal requirement of English proficiency tests for the provincial nominee program could pose a problem for Brandon’s economy, immigration experts say. As of July 1, immigrants will have to pass an English proficiency test in order to qualify for the program. “Our immigration has very much been driven by Maple Leaf, and of course, most of the workers that they’re looking for are low-skilled workers,” said Leslie Allen, executive director of Westman Immigrant Services. “Many of them will not be coming in with very much English, if any at all.” In some countries, to learn English usually means the person had to attend private school or get tutored.

The ridiculous language debate. (Nick Noorani)
Sometimes, I just dont get people. I am talking about the brouhaha that has suddenly erupted after the Immigration Minister talked about insisting on language proficiency for workers coming to Canada. Now had he insisted on us learning Swahili or Sanskrit, I would have understood the media and other experts with their whiney, hand-wrangling comments that imply a grave injustice being done to immigrants! In the past few years, I have fought for immigrants rights, yet I am bewildered at this response!

Immigration reform for Canadas recruitment needs is a step in the right direction (Diane Francis, Financial Post)
At long last, Canada has a federal government that is willing to fix the countrys broken immigration system, and become what it should be: The human resources and recruitment department for the economy. As a critic of our immigration policy for two decades, author of a book about all the boondoggles and an immigrant myself, I know whats gone wrong and how necessary reforms are. All thats required is a return to the joint Manpower and Immigration Department system.

Rich Asian immigrants spurn Quebec (Peggy Curran, Montreal Gazette)
Nine out of 10 wealthy immigrants accepted into Quebec’s investor immigrant program never come to Quebec, federal immigration minister Jason Kenney said Friday. “I do think it is peculiar that the province that was given power to select immigrants primarily to reinforce the French fact in Quebec is in fact flipping Asian people into Vancouver,” Kenney said during a meeting with The Gazette editorial board. “In principle, the Quebec immigration program should be about immigration to Quebec.”

Research finds immigrant entrepreneurs lacking in guidance, but not enthusiasm (Hamilton Spectator)
Fadhumo Abdul Malik Raza arrived in Hamilton in 2001, a refugee from Somalia with a handful of English words, her 8-year-old daughter and a dream to build her own daycare business. I was told that Canada was responsive to women and children … there was this confidence that was instilled in me that this would be a good place. Workforce Planning Hamilton (formerly the Hamilton Training and Advisory Board) has completed a study exploring what kind of place this is to make a living as an immigrant entrepreneur.–research-finds-immigrant-entrepreneurs-lacking-in-guidance-but-not-enthusiasm

House of Lords: Ten Religious Buildings in Toronto (Denise Balkissoon, Ethnic Aisle)
Here we have some appropriated photos of 10 religious buildings in Toronto that I have been to. Except this first one, I just think it looks cool.

Immigration Changes Will Benefit Portage-Lisgar (Chris Sumner, Portage Online)
Proposed changes by the federal government would make it easier for skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada. Under the modernized federal skilled worker program (FSW) a separate and streamlined program will be created for skilled tradespersons. Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Hoeppner says there is a labour shortage in our country, particularly in Western Canada where skilled trades are in high demand. “So what we’re doing is creating a new stream specifically for skilled trades,” says Hoeppner. “What we would like to see is employers from Canada be able to identify very specifically what kind of skilled tradespersons they need, and this stream will allow these tradespeople to come to Canada a lot more easily with less paperwork and red tape.”

Video: Norouz Celebration ( Leah Vandenberg, Diverse City Kingston)
Kingston’s Persian community celebrates their new year on the first day of spring every year.

Toronto in Rage over No God but Allah Subway Ads (Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Israel National News)
A Toronto subway ad posted by a radical Islamist group and announcing to riders There is no God but Allah”, has infuriated area residents, but officials say the ad does not violate the Human Rights Code. Christians vowed to post their own “Jesus is the Way ad, while the Jewish Defense League complained that the Muslim ad is sponsored by a group whose website links to other sites, one of which features a speaker who has said every Muslim should be a terrorist. The ads were placed in several subway stations by the Walk-in Islamic Infocentre, according to the Cnews website, which links to radical Islams worst of the worst sites, said Defense League member Meir Weinstein.

Newcomers to Toronto connect to city on two wheels (Colin McConnell, Toronto Star)
Newcomers to Toronto can now connect with the people, culture, language and landscape of the city by bike. CultureLink,which offers immigrant services such as English classes and employment counseling, has launched a new program to match newcomers with Canadian hosts tasked with initiating them into their local community with a twist. While such social orientation programs arent a new idea, Bike Host is the first to integrate newcomers on two wheels.–newcomers-to-toronto-connect-to-city-on-two-wheels

Thousands attend Surrey Vaisakhi parade (CBC)
Surrey RCMP say about 180,000 people packed city streets Saturday to celebrate one of the most important events on the Sikh calendar. The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade is the largest Vaisakhi parade outside of India and marks the anniversary of the birth of the religion.

Violence Against Non-status, Refugee and Immigrant Women (Your Legal Rights)
This website is intended to provide access to resources, trainings, websites, and documents on the issue of violence against newcomer women from initiatives all across Canada. The site will be contributed to and consulted by lawyers, women’s rights organizations, community organizations, front-line settlement workers, researchers, and other resource centres.

Jinny Sims named immigration critic in NDP shadow cabinet (Voice Online)
Official Opposition Leader, Tom Mulcair, named Jinny Sims to his shadow cabinet as NDP Critic for Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism. The new portfolio was seen by many as a significant promotion for Newton North Deltas rookie MP. I am honoured to have been asked by our new leader to serve in such a critical role, said Sims. I look forward to holding this government to account, when necessary, and proposing positive solutions to help newcomers to Canada.

CRTC Nixes New Ottawa AM (All Access)
PAPOO HOLDINGS INC.’s application for a new AM in OTTAWA has been denied by the CRTC. PAPOO had proposed a 1,000-watt station at 1630 AM with a format targeting the Arab community in the capital, including 45 hours per week of local programming and the rest from sister Ethnic CHOU-A (RADIO MIDDLE-EAST)/MONTREAL. The Commission ruled that the station would serve only 16% of all “visible minorities” in the OTTAWA-GATINEAU marker and might have a “considerable financial impact” on crosstown CHIN RADIO Ethnic CJLL.

Dynamic Calgary holds historic vote in hand (Carrie Tait And Josh Wingrove, Globe and Mail)
But while the faces of Calgary are quickly changing, its politics have changed only slightly. The city has long voted conservative nationally and provincially, but has a history of electing centrist mayors. Current Mayor Naheed Nenshi dismisses suggestions the citys growth is affecting its politics. Theres been absolutely no evidence of that, he said. Some people love to say that people who move to Calgary move here because they are conservative-minded, or that the changing nature of immigration is going to change conservative and liberal. But these things are irrelevant. They dont matter to the people who live here. They live here to have a great life.

Wildrose aims to paint itself as a multicultural party after allegations of racism (Zoey Duncan, Openfile Calgary)
In an obvious effort to advertise her party as one with broad appeal, particularly to visible minorities, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith held a press conference today in which she said her party would not tolerate racism. Smith specifically referred to Calgary-Greenway candidate Ron Leech who was lambasted for saying he could better speak to all the people in his riding because he is Caucasian, as compared to two of his opponents. Leech later apologized saying he was misunderstood.

Jackson Doughart: Multiculturalism is not tolerance (Jackson Doughart, National Post)
In the Spring 2012 issue of Humanist Perspectives magazine, the German-American journalist Soeren Kern reported that the Dutch government will abandon its multicultural policy and reaffirm the values of the native population. This follows a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in some European countries, including Germany, whose chancellor Angela Merkel declared multiculturalism a failed policy in late 2010. The European practice of multiculturalism is distinct from that of Canada, whose social policies are based on an inconsistent combination of liberalism and multiculturalism. Nevertheless, these developments provide an occasion to discuss the problematic underpinnings of the multicultural ideology, whose tenets are widely respected in Canada. Most importantly, the sacred cow of multiculturalism needs to be divorced from the concept of tolerance, which is rightly considered imperative in a pluralistic society. Multiculturalism is a government policy agenda that seeks to reinforce and actively promote differences between societal groups and identities. It is built on the premise that individual rights, as guaranteed by the classic liberal-democratic state, do not adequately meet the needs of minority groups, and therefore establishes the concept of group rights. It also holds that some individuals can be subjected to, or exempted from, certain laws or policies based on ethnic, cultural, or religious affiliation. This clearly undermines the notion of a legal system that applies equally to everyone.

Differences divide Diversity initiatives start small, cant stop – Smith (Royal Canadian Air Force)
How are race relations inNova Scotia, Craig Smith is asked. You tell me, he responds. Smith was the guest speaker for 14 Wing Greenwoods Commanders Diversity Day event April 12, invited by Colonel Jim Irvine to meet with base personnel and talk about what diversity can mean. My parents wanted to buy a house inHalifax in 1968, and there was a petition on the street to not let a black family move in. Thats not that long ago for some of us here. Two years ago, we had a cross-burning. When it comes to diversity, Smith says you cant stop. As soon as you pat yourself on the back, change stops.

Canadian Program Changes force Chinese Investors to US EB-5 Program (PR Web)
Canada has been a major destination for wealthy Chinese investors since the 90s. To qualify, the investor has to own at least $1,600,000 assets. Unconditional permanent residence can be obtained if the investor deposits $800,000 for 5 years with the Canadian Federal government or the government of Quebec. The funds are completely secure as they are guaranteed by the Federal Government or by the Province of Quebec. It will be used for economic development and will be returned to the investor at the end of 5th year. Because of its safe nature of the Canadian program and it is relatively easier to be granted permanent residency in Canada, Canadian investment immigration program became a dominant program among Chinese emigration agents for last 15 years. The majority of 600+ licensed Chinese emigration agencies are now beginning to explore EB-5 program and investor program in European countries.

Look to hiring First Nations (Star Phoenix)
When it comes to bringing in foreign workers, there is no discouraging Immigration Minister Rob Norris. He insisted last week that the federal government must increase to 6,000 the number of immigrants Saskatchewan can bring in through the provincial nominee program annually, up from the current limit of 4,000. On the surface, it seems the increase is legitimate. As Mr. Norris notes, Saskatchewan already has more than 11,000 jobs waiting for the newcomers. But, as federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations vice-chief Morley Watson keep reminding Mr. Norris’s government, accelerating the pace of immigration isn’t the only way to address the labour shortage.

Video: Immigrant Sewing (Leah Vandenberg, Diverse City Kingston)
Immigrant Services Kingston and Area holds a sewing club directed at newcomers to the area, to teach them to sew, help them make new friends and learn English.

Easing the path to boardroom diversity (Janet McFarland, Globe Advisor)
A coalition of Canadian business executives is championing a way to improve diversity on boards by using a new system to screen prospective directors and prepare a database of available board candidates. The Canadian Board Diversity Council will announce Thursday that it plans to create a list of 50 screened directorial candidates who can bring diversity to corporate boards that are seeking new members. The “Diversity 50” list will include women, visible minorities, aboriginal candidates and people with disabilities. Diversity council founder Pamela Jeffery said the idea to prepare a list of leading candidates grew from a series of town hall meetings last year with senior board officials, who frequently complained that they did not know where to find more highly qualified, diverse candidates for their boards.

Minority lawyers in Canada push for a less white bench (Kirk Makin, Globe and Mail)
Minority lawyers, chafing at an overwhelming number of white appointees to federal judgeships, are mobilizing to press for a more transparent appointment process. They accuse the government of concealing its poor record of minority appointments behind an intolerably opaque process. The demographics of the bench must be tracked and reported who applies, and gets appointed and who makes the decisions, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers said in a statement Friday.

Diversity promise for Federal Court (Cristin Schmitz, The Lawyers Weekly)
It is perhaps not surprising that, as a first-generation Canadian, new Federal Court Chief Justice Paul Crampton would like to see more diversity on his largely white and male court. The eldest son of Irish immigrants???his mother a seamstress, his father a carpenter turned Toronto police officer???Chief Justice Crampton is vowing to push for a better balance of women and visible minority jurists. Continuing to attract highly qualified people to the court, to have a court that reflects the cultural diversity of the country, that has more of a gender balance than we have right now will be a challenge, [but] its something Im going to work hard to achieve, the 54-year-old competition law expert pledged in a recent wide-ranging exclusive interview with The Lawyers Weekly, his first since assuming the post in December.

Woman who brought khat to Canada wins appeal (Betsy Powell, Toronto Star)
The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld the absolute discharge of a young woman who brought 34 kilograms of khat into Canada, a leafy substance used as a popular social drug, the way alcohol is, that is legal in many countries. This is an important ruling because it recognizes that while khat is illegal in Canada there is no empirical evidence that this drug is harmful to the individual or the community at large, said Toronto defence lawyer Mark Halfyard, who argued the appeal.–woman-who-brought-khat-to-canada-wins-appeal

Canadian Jew buys cemetery for Muslims. (Your Jewish News)
Muslims, Christians and Jews are brothers and sisters. All trace their origins to Abraham (AS) according to the major religious books. Contrary to popular perception, historically, with two major exceptions, Muslims and Jews have lived together in peace until the Palestinian problem. However, major news headlines are usually about inter-religious and intra-religious fights. Hate and hate rhetoric dominate conversation amongst adherents of these major religions. A headline which bucks the trend is when the Muslim community in Toronto, Canada purchased their first cemetery. Funding came from a Jew, Yosi Behar, 68, who arranged for an interest free loan, as Islam requires, for the Toronto Muslim Cemetery Corp., which enabled it to buy a $6.8 million

Government makes it easier for skilled workers to settle in Canada (Journal of Commerce)
The federal government is making it easier for highly-skilled temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to obtain permanent residence. Thousands of highly-skilled foreign nationals are working successfully in Canada on a temporary basis, said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. Expediting their transition to permanent residence would help Canada retain bright and talented people who already have Canadian work experience and the ability to communicate in English or French. In many cases, they already have a job lined up. Such newcomers are set for success.–government-makes-it-easier-for-skilled-workers-to-settle-in-canada

A love letter to Winnipeg (Winnipeg Free Press)
In her seven years as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Nahlah Ayed was deeply committed to reporting on the experiences of ordinary people in the midst of turmoil. Her personal drive to humanize stories was instilled in her, she says, when she was displaced from her beloved hometown of Winnipeg as a young child. “I felt it was important to talk about people,” the Arabic-speaking Ayed says about her often-dangerous assignments, from 2002-09, in hot spots such as Tehran, Beirut, Baghdad and Gaza. “That’s the kind of journalism I do.”

Presentation slides (PDF) – The Canadian Retail Landscape (Diane Brisebois, Retail Council of Canada)
Visible minority groups are expected to grow at roughly 8 times the rate of the rest of the Canadian population over the next two decades. Their ranks will grow from 5.3 million today to between 11.4 million and 14.4 million by 2031, 1/3 of whom will be Canadian-born. Factoid: Visible minorities will drive over 70% of all growth in consumer spending in the next decade.

Canadian mission seeks bright young Asian students (Matthew Fisher, Vancouver Sun)
A typhoon-force wind was blowing and rain was pelting down like bullets. But neither the wind nor the rain prevented a school fair from being held at Canada’s embassy in Tokyo earlier this month. More than 1,000 prospective students and parents packed the embassy during the storm to seek information about Canadian schools. There to answer their questions were representatives of 56 Canadian school boards, private schools, community colleges and universities. “What Canada stresses is safety, affordability and the quality of education,” said Jeff Davis, manager, international programs, for the Greater Victoria School Board, which has 600 teenagers from abroad at its seven high schools and some of its middle schools. “This a huge economic generator for us. It means teaching jobs for Canadians. Another benefit is that it keeps our school district vibrant.”

Diasporian: Diversity in schools a budding problem? (Pradip Rodrigues,
So a White student at Bramptons Turner Fenton Secondary High School puts up a video on YouTube in which she cribs about her family having moved from Toronto to Brampton (also known as Bramladesh in circles). She goes on to rant about the fact that her school is virtually all brown and then incorrectly equates the turban with terrorists and ends by encouraging South Asians to go back home. Everyone is naturally upset, appalled and disgusted. The girl has been denounced in no uncertain terms by every right-thinking person and is now no longer in school. But the fact that the video went viral and attracted hundreds of thousands of hits seems like it did strike a chord among non-browns and points to a certain undercurrent of tension just beneath the surface. While this girl was foolish and unrestrained enough to go public with her concerns, it is not to say that there are thousands like her who share similar resentments and fears. The tensions are only beginning to bubble to the surface.

Lingerie in the Muslim World: The Undercover economy. (All Voices)
Some Muslims are quick to take offense even if the offensive items depict reality. Of course the Pentagon takes similar offense. Recent photos of troops posing with parts of bodies or urinating on corpses should not be published according to many officials. However the recent outcry about the photo by an art student in CanadaCanada who wears a Muslim headress seems relatively innocuous but is apparently something that should be hidden. So what was the subject of the photo? The photo in black and white shows a woman in the full Islamic scarf and cloak holding a flower embossed bra while she is folding her laundry. The photo was removed from public display. An education center funded by Saudi Arabia has also gone on record as opposed to the photo. So do Muslim women shy away from buying sexy and attractive lingerie. Not at all.

Afghan interpreters turned away now get second chance to come to Canada (Stephanie Levitzm, Winnipeg Free Press)
Dozens of interpreters who served as Canada’s voice during the war in Kandahar, but then met silence when they tried to immigrate here, are now being allowed in. Over 500 people applied under a special program set up in 2009 by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to recognize “Afghans who face extraordinary personal risk as a result of their work in support of Canada’s mission in Kandahar.” But two thirds of those who applied were turned away by the time the program closed last September, because the government said they didn’t meet the qualifications.

What we value in our children: Canada vs. China (Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun)
This is the first in a series of posts on what different countries value in their children. Do Canadian parents and Chinese parents want the same things for their children? Not exactly. Awhile ago I stumbled across the World Values Survey, a fascinating project that surveys people from more than 50 countries on everything from the role of women in the workplace to the importance of religion in their lives. They also ask respondents what qualities they most value in children.

Immigration Changes to Stop “Marriage Fraud” Increase Risk of Domestic Violence (Marketwire)
Last week was Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, but recently proposed amendments to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations could increase domestic violence by trapping women and children in abusive homes. The proposed changes will affect sponsored partners who have been in a relationship with their sponsors for two years or less, with no children at the time of application. The sponsored partner and sponsor will be required to live together in a conjugal relationship for two years during a “Conditional Permanent Residence” period. If the sponsored partner leaves during that time, she could face deportation.

Canada Calling (Hindustan Times)
Headlines focused on the South Asian diaspora in Canada:
Indians lead in female foeticide in Canada: study
Kabaddi under fire from immigration dept over kabootarbaazi
Abbotsford to erect monument honouring Indo-Canadian farm workers
Amandeep Singh carrying the flag of Punjabis’ success
Bad Boss Award: Anil Dhawan’s claim to shame


The long road from refugee to municipal warden (Chronicle Herald)
GEORGE EL-JAKL is likely the only Arabic-speaking municipal warden Shelburne County has ever seen. Its also a pretty good bet hes the only politician in the county who got here as a refugee claimant.

Why Bill C-31’s ‘Safe Countries’ Are a Dangerous Idea (Shayna Plaut, The Tyee)
The supposed impetus of the law is to “protect” Canada’s interests against “bogus” refugee claimants. However, this proposed law runs counter to Canada’s historic support for refugees and humanitarian policies because it deems people guilty for seeking protection as a refugee. This presumed guilt is enshrined in many of the policies itself. One example is that of the government-created “safe list,” a list of countries that are deemed “safe” — if a person is seeking protection from a country that is on this list, they will have 15 days to apply for political asylum. If they are denied and seek appeal they can do so only on technical administrative grounds, not on the merits of their case, and they have no stay of deportation in the process. In other words: asylum applicants, based on their country of origin, will lose the right to habeas corpus — to be recognized as an individual before the law. Put simply: people seeking asylum because of fear of persecution are now, or will be, presumed to be a threat regardless of their circumstances.

Ottawa intervenes in Guinean deportation (CBC)
A Laval, Que. family expecting to be deported today to its native Guinea has received a last-minute reprieve, after the federal government intervened and used its discretionary power to postpone the expulsion. Kankou Keita Mansaré and two of her five children were due to be deported Sunday after a federal judge turned down their last-ditch appeal. Her remaining children were to leave on Tuesday. But early Sunday morning, the family’s lawyer was informed about the federal government’s intervention in the case. The deportation stay means they will be allowed to stay in Canada while immigration officials study their request for asylum on humanitarian grounds.

Government of Canada Grants a Stay of Removal to Mansare Family (Marketwire)
The Government of Canada has stayed the removal of the Mansaré family, pending a second Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA). The PRRA process will investigate whether the family would face risk if it is removed to Guinea. Generally speaking, after an initial PRRA has been rejected, there is no stay of removal if an applicant files a second PRRA. In this case, the family will now have the benefit of another assessment without the possibility of removal until after it is completed.

Terror suspect asks court to toss case after Ottawa takes his lawyers files (Toronto Star)
An Egyptian man imprisoned or under strict house arrest for a dozen years without charge or trial will ask a judge on Monday to throw his case out because the government mistakenly took scores of his lawyers confidential files. Lawyers for Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, whom Ottawa deems a threat to national security, argue his right to fair process has been irrevocably damaged. To continue trying to deport Mahjoub, his lawyers argue, violates his rights and would bring the justice system into disrepute. The technical term is a mess, the lawyers state in new submissions to Federal Court.–terror-suspect-asks-court-to-toss-case-after-ottawa-takes-his-lawyers-files

Efforts to keep bogus Roma refugees out have failed: Jason Kenney (Sarah Boesveld, National Post)
Jason Kenney, the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, says the government has tried but so far failed to stem the tide of Roma coming into Canada and abusing its refugee system. The Immigration and Refugee Board receives approximately 400 claims from Hungary every month, the vast majority of whom are believed to be Roma. A record number arrived in Toronto in October 91 asylum-seekers landing in a single day on Oct. 26, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency. About 40% of refugee claimants from Hungary are coming from a city called Miskolc, about four hours outside of Budapest, Mr. Kenney said, a region the government has targeted with fruitless information campaigns.

Jason Kenney disrupted in Montréal (No One Is Illegal Montreal)
Approximately twenty migrant justice activists and allies, including many involved in the militant student movement, entered a hall where Minister of Immigration (aka Minister of Censorship and Deportation) Jason Kenney was scheduled to speak yesterday. Kenney was in town to promote market-driven immigration in a talk called, “Targeted, Fast and Efficient Immigration System with Focus on Jobs and Growth.”

Human smuggling a local problem, RCMP (CBC)
Human smuggling is not just an international issue but also a local one, a conference in Moncton was told on Wednesday. RCMP Const. Sebastian Decaens, with the Atlantic Region Immigration and Passports section, said a lot of smuggling begins in the Maritimes. “When they start luring or grooming the victims it happens in the Maritimes,” Decaens said. “And later on they get either to Montreal, Toronto but the source is still here.” Immigration lawyer Lee Cohen said the federal government is proposing new legislation around human smuggling and trafficking, but said access to refugee status is a better solution than tougher sentencing. Cohen told CBC news he’s conflicted over the issue since the smugglers are also performing an act of mercy in certain circumstances.

The Hazardous Journeys Of Sri Lankan Tamil Refugees (Sunday Leader)
Relatives and friends of Sri Lankan Tamils who risked their lives in search of a better future abroad after the end of the war in May 2009 are desperately seeking information as to their fates. Thousands of Tamils migrated from the country to escape the violence of the 30-year civil war, which ended with Sri Lankan troops routing the separatist Tamil Tigers. Many have fallen prey to dangerous human smuggling networks, their families say. The smugglers reportedly charge between $25,000 (£16,000) and $50,000 (£33,000) to take a person from Sri Lanka to places like Australia or Canada. Those wanting to get out are first taken to India or Thailand and then to Australia by boat. Many Sri Lankan Tamils have gone missing during this voyage, while others have been caught by the authorities and are languishing in prisons.

Iran doesnt want Kavoos Soofi back, official says of refugee rejected by Canada (Olivia Ward, Toronto Star)
Canadas ministry of citizenship and immigration wants to deport Kavoos Soofi to his native Iran as a failed asylum seeker: but an Iranian official says the country doesnt want him. Any Iranian citizen who wants to live in another country can return if he wishes, but nobody can force him, an official in the Iranian embassy told the Star. He must come to the embassy and make the request. If (Soofi) was sent back, he would be returned to Canada. Soofi has been fighting for asylum since 2008, and experts say that his conversion to an Eastern religion, public criticism of Islam and its revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and protests against Irans government would put him at risk of arrest and a possible death sentence.–iran-doesn-t-want-kavoos-soofi-back-official-says-of-refugee-rejected-by-canada

More refugees approved; sponsors needed (Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press)
A thousand more refugees could be coming to Canada, if sponsors are willing to welcome them. The news was delivered on Thursday in Winnipeg when Manitoba refugee sponsors met with Citizenship and Immigration manager John Nychek. “It’s encouraging,” said Tom Denton, executive director of Hospitality House, the non-profit, church-run refugee sponsorship agency. After announcing it was closing one door on new refugee applications by private sponsors last year, Citizenship and Immigration is about to open another, he said.

Mother reunited with young daughter after they spent four years apart (Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun)
The day Zeynab Mahamed left Kenya for Canada after waiting in a refugee queue for nine years should have been one of the happiest days of her life. Instead, for Mahamed, June 10, 2008 is a date infused with heartache. It was the day she left her seven-week-old baby behind in Africa in order to secure a better future for her five other children. The decision haunted Mahamed long after she arrived in Vancouver. She slept fitfully, plagued by constant headaches and asthma flare-ups. She was also alone in a new country where she didn’t speak the language and had no friends or family to help care for the children who were with her – or cope with the guilt about the one she left behind. It would be almost four years before baby Nasteha and her mother would be reunited.


Hopes fade for humane welfare system in Ontario (Carol Goar, Toronto Star)
Their last hope is Frances Lankin. And theyre no longer sure whether shes a friend or a foe. Two months from now Lankin and Munir Sheik, co-chairs of Ontarios social assistance review will release their blueprint. Their aim is to turn the provinces threadbare, demeaning welfare system into a modern income security system. Initially, the 880,000 people who depend on social assistance which includes welfare and disability support regarded Lankin, former president of the United Way of Greater Toronto, as their champion in the corridors of power. She knew they couldnt live on the provinces meagre allowance. She knew they needed affordable housing and child care. She knew the system stripped them of their privacy and their dignity.–hopes-fade-for-humane-welfare-system-in-ontario

Celebration of the Charter (Sherri Torjman, Caledon Institute)
Mental disability was almost left out of the Charter This week marked the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada. It was an especially momentous occasion for Canadians with disabilities. A significant turning point in Canadas awareness of disability issues came in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons. Canada appointed an all-party House of Commons Committee to identify the challenges related to disability and to propose recommendations for change.

Canadian Social Research Newsletter : April 22, 2012 (Canadian Social Research Links)
Canadian content
1. Recent releases from the Caledon Institute of Social Policy
2. Recent releases from the Edmonton Social Planning Council
3. A Living Wage : How to eliminate poverty in Alberta (Joe Ceci in OpenFile Calgary) – April 18
4. Quebec’s $7 daycare subsidized by Alberta?
5. From Nick Falvo in Progressive Economics Forum
6. British Columbia welfare recipients need immediate relief : social advocates – April 19
7. The 2012 Manitoba Budget was tabled on April 17, 2012.
8. The Canadian Constitution was patriated on April 17, 1982.
9. Media and Policy News: Tuesday (By Jennefer Laidley, Income Security Advocacy Centre) – April 17
10. Working After Age 65 : What is at Stake? (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) – April 3
11. Nova Scotia Budget 2012 – April 3
12. [New Brunswick] At Budget Time, the Poor Get Ignored (Huffington Post Canada) – April 2
13. Workers Left Outside the Employment Insurance Umbrella : Explanations and a Simple Solution (Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation) – April 16
14. Canadas Aging Population and Public Policy (Seven-part series, Library of Parliament)
15. Harper’s Creepy Crime Bill Street Quiz (Operation Maple)
16. Conservatives using No One Is Illegal to distract from anti-immigrant record (No One Is Illegal) – March 27
17. What’s New in The Daily [Statistics Canada]
18. What’s new from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Al Etmanski
Consider this:
there are more First Nations youth in government care today than at the height of the residential school travesty in Canada
funding for on -reserve schools is 25 per cent less than funding for public schools and
only 40 per cent of first nations students on reserve graduate.
Something should be done about this. Somebody should do something.
In fact there is and they are.

Edmonton Social Policy Council’s Issue Brief Blog (Edmonton Social Planning Council)
We will be updating this page regularly with commentaries on a variety of current and topical issues. In addition, film and book reviews will be posted by ESPC volunteers.

The Scarborough Anti Poverty Coalition invites you to an Access Recreation Roundtable on April 26 (Social Planning Toronto)
If access to community centres has become more difficult for residents in your neighbourhood,
If the Welcome Policy acts as a barrier,
If the user fees for programs at community centres are an obstacle to participation,
If lack of access to community centres and recreation programs has negative impacts on your neighbourhoods children and youth and seniors,
You may be interested in attending a Round Table to discuss access to recreation issues

Register to attend our May Research & Policy Forum, The End is Near Future of Affordable Co-op and Nonprofit Homes (Social Planning Toronto)
Long-term federal operating agreements with housing co-ops and nonprofit housing providers are coming to an end. The end of operating agreements raises important questions about the future viability of co-ops and nonprofit housing, and the capacity of these housing providers to maintain affordable housing for low and modest income individuals and families. What will the future bring? In the face of a long-term affordable housing crisis, how do we ensure that we dont lose the affordable housing we already have?

Meilinomics I: The Little Boats (Behind the Numbers)
The following is an excerpt from Dr. Ryan Meilis new book, A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy… Aside from the madness of trying to help children out of poverty by taking them away from their parents, this story illustrates an essential point. While the newspapers were talking about Saskatoons housing boom, many families were going bust. The truth is that when the tide rises, especially if it does so quickly and wildly, the littlest boats get swamped.

Austerity driven mythologies are driving ever greater inequity (CASSA)
In the most recent provincial election, the Liberal party put together a platform that they called Forward Together. Yet the first budget introduced by the McGuinty Government since the election represents a major step backward for the people of Ontario. During the election, Premier McGuinty promised to invest in the skills and education of our people to get the needed results for individuals, for families and for our economy. Yet, the budget as brought forward delivers major cuts to our education system, deep cuts to our public services as well as to our health care system while it does nothing to create good jobs that ALL Ontario families need to prosper. This budget will hurt all Ontarians, but especially those who live on the margins.

Wait for affordable housing in Peel drops 6 years in theory only (San Grewal, Toronto Star)
Struggling with its affordable housing crisis, Peel Region has released a report that shows the wait list for families in need of housing has come down from 21 years to 15 because of a new method of measuring waiting times. For more than five years, its been widely reported that Peel has the longest waiting time for affordable housing in Ontario, with new families joining the list projected to face a 21-year wait. A spokesperson from the region explained that the 15-year figure used in Fridays report, which is based on 2011 figures, is a more realistic projection similar to how other Ontario municipalities gauge waiting times.–wait-for-affordable-housing-in-peel-drops-6-years-in-theory-only

Charity is only a piece of the poverty puzzle (Cameron Dearlove, Waterloo Record)
The more engaged I become in our community the more impressed I am with the generosity of its individuals. Waterloo Region is a hub for not-for-profits and charities, proof that charitable people call this place home. While charity enriches the community and can help to fill in gaps, there is reason to be concerned about the growing reliance on charity. In the fight against poverty, charity, while helping those in need, can also let government off the hook. The reasons are many recessions, rapidly changing globalized labour markets, growing income inequality, the Harris governments assault on social assistance rates and the McGuinty governments complacency with these rates but the fact is that we have growing numbers of people facing poverty here in our community.–charity-is-only-a-piece-of-the-poverty-puzzle

Roots of Health Inequity (new website)
As part of the Roots of Health Inequity Learning Collaborative, participants will be able to:
Explore social processes that produce health inequities in the distribution of disease and illness.
Strategize more effective ways to act on the root causes of health inequity.
Form relationships with other local health departments who are working to ensure health equity.

Growth in inequality raises legitimate concerns (Ray Williams Director, Vancouver Board of Trade, Vancouver Sun)
The International Monetary Fund and the Conference Board of Canada have recently warned rising levels of inequality are damaging economic growth in Canada. The OECD recently suggested Canada make its tax system more progressive and increase taxes on high incomes. Jonathan Fowlie wrote in The Sun on Feb. 1 that “British Columbia is ‘dead last’ among provinces when it comes to the gap between the highest income earners and the lowest, according to a report by BC Stats.”

It’s time to expect more from our government (Murray Dobbin,
Something is happening in Canada that seems, in the context of a majority Harper government, counter-intuitive. Harper continues implementing his right-wing revolution by virtual fiat, and Preston Manning’s “democracy” institute says Canadians actually want “less” government and more individual responsibility. Yet a flurry of polls in the past few weeks and months suggest two dramatic counterpoints to this self-serving narrative. First, in a development that is virtually unprecedented, inequality has become, by far, Canadians’ top concern, displacing the perennial front-runner, medicare. And closely related are a number of polls showing that Canadians in large majorities think wealthy people and corporations should pay more taxes. They are also willing to pay more themselves.

Reconciliation (CBC Metro Morning)
Matt Galloway spoke with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. He will be giving a talk to the Canadian Club at the Royal York Hotel later today around the theme of, “The Economics of Reconciliation”.


Your skilled immigrant business intelligence a roundup from (week of April 16)(, provides businesses with the tools and resources they need to better recruit, retain and promote skilled immigrants. The site also profiles good examples and innovative practices of employers across the country. Each week we bring you a round up of the useful resources posted there.

Cities rethinking economic strategies to better attract and retain talented workers (Tamara Cunningham,
Attracting highly skilled and creative professionals like Wagner has become highly competitive for Canadian cities, now eager to capture the wealth and investment that comes with the “creative class.” These creative types aren’t interested in relocating for the jobs alone. They want rich arts and culture amenities and diverse, vibrant downtown cores, experts say. It has prompted municipalities to rethink economic strategies, with aims to encourage innovation and promote quality of place. Nanaimo is catching on. City leaders are just as keen to attract and retain talented people. The city is starting up a new online arts portal to highlight its inventory of arts and culture amenities and plans to create a massive cultural plan.

ILO cites ongoing labour rights violations by Canadian governments (CCPA)
In a recent report, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) cited Canada for over 20 ongoing violations of the ILO’s international labour standards. Governments across Canada have refused to change labour laws which have been found to be in contravention of Convention No. 87, Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organizea convention which Canada, with the support of all provincial and territorial governments, ratified in March 1972.


Friday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on City Hall, Transit, Sports and Other News.

Monday’s Headlines (Spacing Toronto)
A daily round up of mainstream media news on City Hall, Transit, Commuting, Cycling, Earth Day, Roundhouse Park, Development & Real Estate and Other News.

Los Angeles vs Toronto: Funding and Building a Transit Network (Steve Munro)
Something is definitely in the air in Toronto, and its not just the unusually early arrival of spring and tree pollen. Suddenly, everyone is talking about transit expansion, and of paying for it with real money, not the fairy dust of private sector investment. The latest installment comes thanks to Los Angeles of all places, a city-region with the political will and leadership to actually build rather than to whine endlessly about how they cant afford to do anything unless some other government picks up the tab.

The Challenge of the Eastern Waterfront (Steve Munro)
Redevelopment of Torontos eastern waterfront, notably the Port Lands area southeast of Lake Shore and Parliament, was the first of many issues on which the Ford brothers vision for our future ran headlong into voters and Councillors. A fantasy of malls, Ferris wheels and a monorail did not fit with previous schemes for a naturalized river mouth at the Don and a well-designed residential/commercial neighbourhood. That battle ended with Council voting to send the whole design question off for review, a process now nearing its completion. Waterfront Toronto has a separate website for the public consultation process behind this review. From a transit perspective, plans for the eastern waterfront are a mess.

CivicAction volunteers lead way in building better city-region (Newswire)
A newly formed organization that provides leadership support to young Aboriginal professionals is an example of the ‘entrepreneurial volunteerism’ happening through CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network and other initiatives. CivicAction honours the thousands of volunteer leaders who are helping create a thriving and prosperous Toronto region as National Volunteer Week comes to a close. Since the organization was launched in 2003, more than 6000 volunteer leaders have come together through such initiatives as Greening Greater Toronto, DiverseCity, the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN), and the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

Gentrification signifiers: A story of one neighbourhood (Diane Dyson, Belonging Community)
More and more of the neighbourhoods in the old City of Toronto are undergoing this transition. Affordable housing stock is disappearing. The latest move by Toronto Community Housing to sell off single family units means the touted of ideal of mixed-income neighbourhoods will be further away. New developments aggravate the problem, filled with homes all in the same high price range, inclusive zoning not yet a practice. Driven by individual choice, we are losing a common good. As income inequality is carved into our housing structures, our neighbourhoods suffer. Those who work in neighbourhood shops, filling our coffee orders, or the education assistant in our childrens grade school, wont live in our neighbourhood, wont be our neighbours. Our children wont know difference. This is not Toronto, our motto Diversity, our strength.


Canadas non-profit sector invents a solution to gaps in funding (Carol Goar, Toronto Star)
The recession hit Canadas non-profit sector hard. Demand surged. Donations shrank. Foundations suspended grants to protect their endowments. Government support held up for a time as Ottawa and the provinces poured money into the moribund economy, then it too was cut. Some charities folded. Others hunkered down, laid off dedicated workers and placed a heavy load on their volunteers. They served their clients as well as they could, but had to turn away people who came seeking help. Innovative non-profit organizations shelved groundbreaking projects and went into survival mode.–canada-s-non-profit-sector-invents-a-solution-to-gaps-in-funding

New Certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership, and Development (Wellesley Institute)
Learn to better engage community members in the planning, problem-solving, and decision-making processes that improve the social, political, and cultural wellbeing of civic and community life. This program is geared towards practitioners in the public and non-profit sectors, social services, education, labour, health, housing, policing, and transportation. Winnie Ng (Ryerson University) and Deena Ladd (Workers Action Centre) will be teaching a new course at Ryerson in May/June this year on community engagement. People who are working in community agencies, immigrant settlement agencies, community projects are encouraged to attend.


Sex Trafficking Push Factor: Poverty (Michelle Brock, Hope for the Sold)
The multi-billion dollar industry of human trafficking is an economic equation of supply and demand. The demand side that fuels sex trafficking consists of (mostly) men who pay for sex, watch pornography, and go to strip clubs. Without them there would be no monetary incentive to traffic women, boys, and girls into the sex trade. On the flip side, the supply side consists of women and children whose circumstances often make them vulnerable to exploitation. In The Natashas: The New Global Sex Trade, Victor Malarek talks about this vulnerability in terms of push factors. What circumstances enable a person to become a victim of sex trafficking? I believe that the number one push factor is poverty.

UN official: Crime generates revenues in the trillions of dollars each year (George Janh, Global News)
Criminality worldwide generates proceeds in the trillions of dollars each year, making crime one of the world’s “top 20 economies,” a senior U.N. official said Monday. With the scope of global crime – and particularly organized crime – threatening emerging economies and fomenting international instability, Yury Fedotov called for concerted world action to combat the trend.

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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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