Immigration & Diversity news headlines – July 23, 2013


Three ways Chris Alexander can fix the immigration file (Bernie Farber, Globe and Mail)
With Cabinet shuffles come opportunities and the latest by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is no exception. Jason Kenney has long held positions in the Cabinet that were focused on Canadas diversity. Beginning as the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, he was elevated shortly thereafter to Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. Mr. Kenney is a keen politician, a loyal Harper Conservative and workhorse extraordinaire. At first it seemed difficult to reconcile Mr. Harpers decision to place Mr. Kenney in this portfolio given Mr. Kenneys seeming lack of credentials for this job but, surprisingly, over the years he became the Tory rock star of Multiculturalism.

Will Canada’s lead multiculturalism minister please stand up? (Kady O’Malley, CBC)
Pity Tim Uppal. No sooner had he been officially sworn in as Canada’s new Minister of State for Multiculturalism when his ostensible predecessor took to twitter to stress that he was still in charge of the file. His assertion was bolstered by a PostMedia report the following day, in which unnamed ‘senior officials’ claimed that Uppal would be reporting to Kenney instead of newly minted citizenship minister Chris Alexander. So how, exactly, will that work? As it turns out, no one really knows for sure.

Ottawa-born man still in limbo after India refuses to issue travel documents for his deportation from Canada (Gary Dimmock, Ottawa Citizen)
Deepan Budlakoti, Canadas most unlikely stateless man, is fresh out of prison and living with his parents in their Nepean bungalow under a deportation order. It is from this bungalow that Budlakoti, a 23-year-old convicted drug dealer, has gained support from civil-rights groups who have launched a legal defence fund at to fight the Ottawa-born mans deportation to India, a country that doesnt want him either.

New language rules for temporary foreign workers include loophole (Tobi Cohen, Montreal Gazette)
It appears the federal government has included a language loophole for companies seeking to hire temporary foreign workers. After a B.C. mining company came under intense fire for listing Mandarin as a language requirement when it applied for temporary foreign worker permits, the federal government announced in the last budget that it would revamp the rules to prevent employers from mandating foreign language skills to work in Canada.

Vancouver ranks fourth for foreign-born residents, but is it ‘cosmopolitan?’ (Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun)
How “cosmopolitan” is Metro Vancouver? By some definitions, it’s extremely cosmopolitan. If we define cosmopolitan as “including people of many different countries,” Metro Vancouver is the fourth most cosmopolitan major city on the planet. More than 45 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents are foreign-born, according to the 2011 census. There are only three major cities on the globe that have a higher percentage of foreign-born residents. They are Dubai, Brussels and Toronto. Of the 406 urban regions in the world with more than one million people, Metro Vancouver is a leader in the modern-day experiment in mass migration.

Court challenge gives hope to out-of-wedlock children of Canadian soldiers in Second World War (Kent Spencer, National Post)
Having a child out of wedlock was a serious offence for much of the past century, tainting mothers and their children with a social stigma. Surrey, B.C. resident Ken Smith has been paying the price for 69 years. His British mother hadnt married his Canadian-soldier father when he was born in wartime Great Britain. Under Canadas citizenship rules, Smith is not a citizen of this country and has never been able to get his status changed.

Lets get the wild ride back on track (Jennifer Nees, Canadian Lawyer)
The big news in immigration processing has been the strike by the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers. There is a dispute over pay equity with foreign services staff. While there have been some ongoing actions discussed anecdotally, the organization escalated a work stoppage on June 20, effectively grinding visa processing to a near halt at visa posts around the world. The scope of the strike isnt well known, but the effects are being felt by immigration practitioners and visa applicants who are caught in a web of political machinations not of their making. The PAFSO has written in a press release all eligible members are striking in the following locations: Manila, Beijing, Bangkok, Jakarta, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chongqing and Astana. Immigration officers are striking in Delhi, Chandigarh, London, Moscow and Mexico City. In Tokyo, economic officers are also on strike. Additional withdrawals of service are impacting dozens of divisions at CIC and DFAIT headquarters in Ottawa.

French summer camp caters to newcomer kids (CBC)
A summer camp dedicated specifically to children from immigrant and refugee families is underway in south Winnipeg this week. Students aged six to 14 are getting a shot at candle-making, fire safety, field trips and other summer-camp staples at College Louis Riel in St. Boniface. They are going to do some sports, going out to the park, go to the museum, some swimming, and they are also going to do some reading and mathematics, said Bintou Sacko, the manager of Accueil Francophone du Manitoba, the organization putting on the camp.

The ethics of selective immigration (Pradip Rodrigues, CanIndia)
Last week when noted left-leaning environmentalist David Suzuki made some controversial comments about Canadas immigration strategy, it ignited a huge controversy and some lively debate online. It isnt often internationally renowned environmentalists make the link between immigration and degradation of the environment. In an interview with the Paris-based publication LExpress, Suzuki described Canadas immigration policy as disgusting because the country wants to increase its population for economic reasons at the cost of depriving southern countries of future leaders. Suzuki believes that only refugees should be permitted into Canada on humanitarian grounds. Former Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney quickly waded into the controversy using words like xenophobic and anti-immigration to describe Suzuki. But the question over the morality of rich countries like Canada plundering human resources from poorer countries is something that might warrant a discussion.

‘A man without a country’: Court challenge gives hope to illegitimate children of Canadian soldiers (Kent Spencer, The Province)
Having a child out of wedlock was a serious offence for much of the past century, tainting mothers and their children with a social stigma. Surrey resident Ken Smith has been paying the price for 69 years. His British mother hadnt married his Canadian-soldier father when he was born in wartime Great Britain. Under Canadas citizenship rules, Smith is not a citizen of this country and has never been able to get his status changed.

Une aide pour les immigrés formés à l’étranger (Martine Letarte, La Presse)
Pour obtenir le droit d’exercer au Québec, les immigrés doivent être tenaces et disposer d’importantes ressources financières afin de franchir les étapes. Pour les soutenir, 1,5 million de dollars est maintenant disponible en prêts au Fonds communautaire d’emprunt de Montréal (ACEM) grâce à la contribution du gouvernement fédéral. Alexandre Meza était architecte dans son pays d’origine, le Brésil. Arrivé au Québec il y a deux ans comme touriste, il a décidé de s’installer pour de bon dans la province avec sa famille. Il a fait du bénévolat dans un cabinet d’architecture, puis, lorsqu’il a obtenu son visa de résident permanent il y a un peu plus d’un an, il s’est trouvé un emploi de technicien.

Time to eliminate ‘archaic’ multiculturalism policies (Munesh Muttucomaroe, The Province)
Regarding Robert Sibley’s Monday column, I couldn’t agree more with David Suzuki and his point on immigration. It’s indeed shameful that former immigration minister Jason Kenney would resort to name-calling without engaging in honest dialogue. Sibley’s article truly echoes in a small way what the thoughtful Prof. Salim Mansur says in his book, Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism.

Racism is Front Page News for the Ottawa Sun (Rachel Decoste, Huffington Post)
Are the disparities also present in Canadian media? In the Sunday edition of the Ottawa Sun, the juxtaposition between the untimely death of two young men and the dismissive commentary on Travon Martin serve as yet another example of inequality in our multicultural society. The cover story is a heart-wrenching account of an adult male who passed away of a drug overdose. His friends and family are going through the grieving process, holding an old photo of the deceased as a child. The article refers to the man as “a teen” and “a kid”.

After Trayvon Martin, can Canadians be smug about racial profiling? (Steve Mertl, Yahoo! News)
Canadians might have listened with detached interest to U.S. President Barack Obama’s personal observations about experiencing racial profiling last week in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case. But I don’t think we have any reason to be smug about our own track record on racial profiling in Canada. It may not reach the extreme levels alleged in Martin’s shooting death at the hands of neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. But should we doubt it exists here? Obama recalled that as a young black man, he was often viewed with suspicion and mistrust, asserting few African-American men have escaped the the experience of hearing car doors lock as they approached, or having a woman clutch her purse nervously when a black man stepped into an elevator with her.


Not every asylum seeker has to be a hero or a martyr (Editorial, Globe and Mail)
People should not be trapped inside an evil regime by their knowledge of the crimes being committed around them. The Supreme Court of Canada made a good decision on Friday about the refugee claim of a former government official of the Democratic Republic of Congo, recognizing that passive acquiescence in the actions of a criminal government should not automatically disqualify someone from being accepted in Canada as a refugee. Not every asylum seeker has to be a hero or a martyr.

Bonded by Shared Horrors, Refugees Find Housing Solutions (Jackie Wong, The Tyee)
In an alley behind a run-down noodle shop off Kingsway in East Vancouver, a group of men in T-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops stands smoking, laughing, and talking among parked cars. A piece of hand-painted plywood mounted high on the garage door behind them displays the name of the group, the Achehnese Canadian Community Society. Its members comprise Canada’s first generation of newcomers from Acheh Province, Indonesia, a troubled, violent region on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, west of Malaysia. The 15 or so men gathered in the alley are relatively young. Most are in their mid-thirties, part of approximately 200 families from Acheh province living in Metro Vancouver. About 60 of those families contribute $20 a month each to help pay rent for the Community Society’s basement meeting space, which features a large common room for Muslim faith practices, and for sitting together in wide circles to socialize and share information.


Becoming politically engaged matters for your community (Alejandra Bravo, Maytree)
Politics often gets a bad rap. Many Canadians see politics as something that other people do and not really relevant to our day-to-day lives. Samaras latest Democracy Report, Political Participation Beyond the Ballot Box, confirms that fewer Canadians are now participating in formal politics, including joining or donating to political parties, and even voting. But when we have 60 people coming out to a weekend session at a School4Civics workshop, there is clearly interest in becoming more actively involved.

Fewer people sit below the poverty line now than ever before. Why are we not talking about it? (Andrew Coyne, National Post)
Its been almost a month since Statistics Canada released its latest report on poverty in Canada (Income of Canadians, June 27). Since then Ive been watching to see whether somebody, anybody would write about it. You would think somebody would. It is a well-established principle of social justice that a society should make its first priority improving the lot of the worst off among it, and is to be judged by how well it does in this regard. What is more, the news on this front is remarkable, even extraordinary.–HmZ38TkZg&url=

Canadas premiers should connect the dots between health and poverty (Laurel Rothman, Andrew Lynk , Toronto Star)
When Canadas premiers convene this week there are three compelling reasons why they should call on the federal government to join them in addressing poverty.

Philanthropist Betsy Martin believed in the power of community (Globe and Mail)
Of the many tributes and letters Betsy Martins husband received after her death, one letter in particular articulated her generous nature. The writer was not a close friend but lived in the same neighbourhood and always found Betsy, who knew the womans husband had terminal cancer, warm and supportive whenever they crossed paths. When one speaks of random acts of kindness, I think of Betsy. After my husband had passed away … I remember coming home one day and finding a tin on my porch full of Christmas cookies, with a lovely, thoughtful note attached. I will never forget that gesture and how much it meant to me.


OHRC launches the new Policy on removing Canadian experience barrier (Beyond Canadian Experience)
On July 15, 2013, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) launched a new policy on removing “Canadian experience” barrier. This policy states that a strict requirement for “Canadian experience” is discriminatory, and can only be used in rare circumstances. In a statement, the OHRC said “Employers and regulatory bodies need to ask about all of a job applicant’s previous work – where they got their experience does not matter. The policy also tells employers and regulatory bodies how to develop practices, policies and programs that do not result in discrimination.”

Cross-Cultural Competence Tidbit: What Do Your Values Really Mean? (Cathy Gallagher-Louisy, CIDI)
Ive been talking to people a lot about values recently, so this topic has been top of mind. When you ask people around the world what they value, most people will say the following: integrity, honesty, respect, family, hard work, etc. Some will add education. Some will add love, friendship, or personal relationships. The thing is, most of us assume that our values are the same as others, and further, that our definition of what it means to live those values is the same from person to person. But do we really mean the same thing when we are talking about our values? Sometimes we do, but sometimes we dont.

UFCW Canada Migrant Workers Scholarships recipients announced (UFCW)
The 20 recipients of the 2012 UFCW Canada Migrant Worker Scholarships have been announced. The recipients are a diverse group of young people from the Global South, ranging in age from 6 to 24 attending school in Guatemala, the Philippines, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Kenya, El Salvador and Mexico. Each recipient was nominated by a family member working as a migrant or temporary foreign worker in Canada. Education Has No Borders is the spirit of commitment which led to the creation of the UFCW Canada Migrant Workers Scholarships. In a span of three years, over 13,500 scholarship applications from around the globe have been received.

Premiers Must Reject Low-Wage Agenda, Focus on Good Jobs (Sid Ryan, Huffington Post)
Good jobs are at the heart of healthy economies and communities, so when the premiers meet next week at the Council of the Federation, job creation should be a top priority. In Canada and Ontario we currently face many labour market challenges, including the rise of precarious work, growing numbers of migrant workers, cuts to employment insurance and cuts to job training programs for vulnerable workers. Driven in large part by the federal government, these new realities are the result of a broad low-wage agenda that is driving down wages and working conditions for all Canadians. There are many things the provinces can do to push back against this agenda, protect workers and create good jobs. We hope the new Premier will situate Ontario as a leader among the provinces and territories and will address these challenges head-on.

Finlayson: Temporary Foreign Workers: Facts and Furor (People Talk – BCHRMA) (Business Council of British Columbia)
Canada has a long tradition of attracting immigrants to become permanent residents. Immigration in many ways built the country and was the foundation for much of the growth in the post-war era. The context for international migration, however, is changing. Greater international mobility, instant access to information from around the world, increasingly seamless connectivity, and growing trade flows have all made international migration a possibility for a rising share of the worlds population. The result is an increase in the volume and types of movement of people between jurisdictions. This includes substantial numbers of temporary migrants who come to relatively affluent countries like Canada for work or education. While Canadian immigration policy remains focused on permanent settlement, recent years have seen a noticeable jump in temporary foreign workers (TFWs). By 2011, the stock of TFWs in Canada stood at 300,000, up from 141,000 in 2005. This trend reflects several factors: 1) the countrys aging population, 2) the existence of skill shortages in some occupations, 3) more general labour shortages in certain regions, and 4) surges in labour demand occasioned by major project development in resource-related industries particularly in Western Canada.

Canada Job Grant is bad policy, says N.S. premier (Tina Pittaway, CBC)
As the nation’s premiers get set to meet in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario next week, many of them are bracing for a battle with the federal government over job training and Nova Scotia premier Darrell Dexter is no exception. In an interview with Kathleen Petty on CBC Radio’s The House, Dexter says provincial leaders are concerned about what he calls a “mystery program” announced in last March’s federal budget.


Gather: A Guidebook for Effective Convening (Sylvia Cheuy, Tamarack)
Earlier this month, The Rockefeller Foundation in collaboration with The Monitor Institute and Monitor Deloitte released Gather: The Art and Science of Effective Convening. In its opening pages, this report describes itself as a guidebook for people who want to change the world [for] social change leaders who understand the power of convening the right group of people, and who believe that collective intelligence trumps individual smarts when it comes to solving shared problems. It offers a rich resource for anyone taking on the role of a lead convening designer by providing an array of very practical how-to guides and tools for thinking through each of the seven building blocks of effective convening.

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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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