New Canadian Media

by Mohsin Abbas (@MohsinAbbasEh)

The majority of Pakistani candidates running for various offices in the recent Ontario municipal elections continued their losing streak.

Only two Pakistani candidates emerged victorious in the polls, whereas hundreds of others did literally nothing but blabber and distribute their pamphlets all over the place.

Most of these candidates suffered from a glaring deficiency in English language skills and in their knowledge of the Canadian system. Many seemed utterly indifferent towards the problems in their constituencies, and had no recourse but to play up already familiar topics to scrape up a handful of votes.

Not only did they plan their election campaigns poorly, but several of them were also involved in personal conflicts with other Pakistani candidates.

In many areas, several Pakistanis filed their nomination papers from a single constituency, effectively dividing the Pakistani vote several times.

It is fair to say, then, they had it coming.

Peoples' representatives

Pakistani candidates running for office in Canada are no more an unprecedented feat. Every four years, a large number of Pakistanis — never seen before at any community gathering — show up from nowhere, and portray themselves as ‘peoples’ representative’.

Many a candidate get their pamphlets printed in Pakistan as early as a year before the elections, and transport them to Canada with their luggage. When these flyers are distributed among people, the poor chaps are clueless about the candidate, because these candidates neither engage, nor serve the community, and hence remain unknown to a large number of people.

Indian Canadians also compete in the elections, but in contrast to Pakistanis, their success ratio is higher as they make efforts to engage with their community. On the other hand, Pakistani candidates are confined only to photo sessions for local Urdu newspapers, association with Pakistani political parties, and seeking votes on the basis of caste and clan.

Pre-poll surveys this year showed that the victory of Pakistani candidates was highly unlikely, as the results later proved. The causes for this are not too hard to comprehend.

Election manifesto

I asked one Pakistani candidate, “What is your manifesto?” only to be hear this shameless reply: “Umm … I am jobless nowadays … I’ve heard that the councillors have handsome remuneration, so I am trying my luck there …”

Every four years, a large number of Pakistanis — never seen before at any community gathering — show up from nowhere, and portray themselves as ‘peoples’ representatives’.

These candidates include a Pakistani grocery store owner of my area as well. The lies on his website were traced and duly rebuked by his Canadian rivals – what a defamation of our country.

There was another candidate, a self-proclaimed business tycoon from Sialkot, Pakistan. Having no experience of business, literature and politics, this man has made a mockery of Pakistan overseas.

This business tycoon, named Riazuddin, is also known as Malik Riaz of Mississauga.

The election flyer of this candidate was printed in Pakistan. The flyer reads that Riazuddin has been member of chambers of commerce in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Australia, Sweden, France and the Netherlands, and has served as vice president at Chamber of Commerce in Sialkot, Pakistan.


Mohsin Abbas is an award-winning Pakistani-Canadian journalist, filmmaker and press freedom activist. He is the editor of Diversity Reporter, a multilingual weekly newspaper for newcomers and immigrants in Canada.

This post was republished with permission from Diversity Reporter.
Published in Commentary
Saturday, 08 November 2014 09:10

Hunter: From factory floor to legislative floor

This profile is one of a periodic series on powerful and inspirational women. By Jasminee Sahoye

She knew as a teenager that she had the potential to be a leader and not just an ordinary leader but someone who would run for office and take on challenges.

Ontario’s Associate Minister of Finance, responsible for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and the MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, Mitzie Hunter told a group of women in Brampton at a Professional Women’s Forum recently that her career path to run for office was on a list of things she wanted to do.

The Caribbean Camera

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Published in Politics
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 11:16

Why Ranking Schools May Not be Such a Smart Idea

by Charles Ungerleider in Vancouver

The Fraser Institute has added Ontario’s schools to a growing list of school rankings in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.  The Fraser Institute justifies its ranking as an aid to parental choice of schools. According to the Institute, “Where parents can choose among several schools for their children, the Report Card provides a valuable tool for making a decision. Because it makes comparisons easy, it alerts parents to those nearby schools that appear to have more effective academic programs.” 

The Fraser Institute believes that parents will seek to maximize educational benefits for their children when choosing the schools their children attend, but the research indicates that parents choose schools on other grounds.  On what basis do the parents who choose schools select the schools that their children attend?  Do the children of the parents who make a choice of schools benefit academically? If they benefit, by how much do they gain in achievement?  What are the consequences for the children of parents who do not choose, and for the schools from which some children have departed?

Like all parents, immigrant parents are concerned about the educational welfare of their children. They have often made great sacrifices in migrating to a new and unfamiliar country. Less familiar with the schools in their new community, these parents often ask me about the Fraser Institute rankings. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from the research about how parents use rankings to select schools for their children. 

Lesson 1: Parent decisions are not typically based on the evidence available.

Beginning in 1981, Scotland gave parents the right to request that their children attend a school outside the school attendance areas to which they had previously been assigned. The legislation required that educational bodies responsible for schools in their region publish brochures providing information about each school (including examination results), required that they take into account parental requests, and limited the grounds for refusing a parent’s request to send their child to the school. This experiment in school choice was the subject of considerable research.

One group of researchers interviewed more than six hundred parents who chose the school their children attended in three Educational Authorities in Scotland. Rather than seek the academically best school for their children, parent choices were fuelled by a desire to avoid the school in the area to which they had been previously assigned. Most parents were more apt to consider a school’s general reputation and how close it was to their home than they were educational factors such as examination results. In other words, they based their decisions on hearsay and convenience rather than evidence.

Those who made a choice were better educated and better off than those who did not choose the schools their children attended. Moreover, those parents tended to choose the older, previously more selective schools whose pupils were of more advantaged backgrounds and had higher academic achievement.

Lesson 2: Parents do not always make the best choices for their offspring.

When choosing among the previously more selective schools, parents were unable to differentiate those that were more or less effective. Instead, they choose schools whose socio-­economic compositions and examination results were marginally higher than the schools to which their children had been previously assigned. They did not necessarily choose schools that would maximize their children’s educational advantage. They inferred that, because children with higher examination scores attended the schools they selected for their children, that the school had caused the higher examination scores.

While schools obviously exert an influence on student achievement, they only account for approximately 30% of the difference in student achievement. The remaining 70% of the difference in student achievement is due to factors over which schools have no control. The many factors outside of school that influence student achievement include: parental education, educational aspirations and expectations, family income and living conditions, and community economic makeup.

Canada takes prides in being a multi-ethnic society that relies upon immigration and is accepting of immigrants

Despite having a wide range of schools from which to choose, more than 60 per cent of the parents requesting a placement considered only one alternative to the school to which their children had been assigned. Advantaged parents paid more attention to the information provided by teachers and school administrators and to direct observations made from their visits to the school than did less advantaged parents. Less advantaged parents were more concerned about the reputation and the disciplinary climate of schools.

Lesson 3: Parent choice has only a small impact on their child’s school achievement.

The school choice literature indicates that children whose parents choose their school will make only a modest gain in achievement: on average three to four percentage points. It is not particularly surprising that choice appears not to improve performance very much. If parents do not choose schools to maximize educational advantages for their children, such advantages are not likely to occur.

Lesson 4:  Parental choice leads to increasing economic and ethnic-­group segregation.

Economically advantaged families have resources such as time and transportation that enable them to choose, so they are more apt to do so. And the schools they are likely to choose are those with student bodies from families much like their own. As a consequence, choice produces higher concentrations of children from advantaged backgrounds in some schools and increasing concentrations of less advantaged students in the schools from which the more advantaged children have departed.

Doug Willms at the University of New Brunswick points out that, for poor students living in poor communities, there is a double disadvantage. There is the dis­advantage that comes from their own poverty and the additional disadvantage from the influence of their peers who are also poor. When choice removes the most able students from the peer group, the similarities among the remaining students increase. When most of the students who are left behind live in poor circumstances, their segregation amplifies and reinforces their difficulties.

Lesson 5: Inclusive schools – schools that have a healthy mix of children from the local neighbourhood – enjoy a balance of neighbourhood political support.

Charter schools are sometimes seen by parents as a way to maximize educational outcomes for their offspring, though the evidence suggests that this is not the case. Charter school student bodies are often more homogeneous than the public schools from which the charter students were drawn, resulting in ethno-cultural and/or socio-economic segregation.

In 1999, researchers studied the ethnic composition of fifty-­five urban and fifty-­seven rural Arizona charter schools. They found that nearly half of the charter schools exhibited evidence of substantial ethnic separation “large enough and consistent enough to warrant concern among education policymakers.” They observed that students who attend schools segregated along ethnic lines do not get the benefits of integration with students of a rich variety of backgrounds.  

They found that nearly half of the charter schools exhibited evidence of substantial ethnic separation “large enough and consistent enough to warrant concern among education policymakers.”

“Ethnic and class-­based separation,” the researchers argue, “polarizes the political interests which look out for neighbourhood schools, which results in further disparities in resources, quality of teachers, number of supportive parents, and the like. Schools without political support struggle and the students suffer.”

What seems clear from the evidence is that, while the achievement gains from school choice are modest, school choice has the capacity to fragment Canadians, reduce the influence that Canadian schools exert on the transmission of common values, and diminish social cohesion. Canada takes prides in being a multi-ethnic society that relies upon immigration and is accepting of immigrants. It can hardly afford practices that have, in other contexts, polarized and segregated communities along economic and socio-cultural lines. We need to take a closer look at the motivation of the Fraser Institute in fuelling parental anxieties through emphasizing differences among schools.


Charles Ungerleider, a Professor Emeritus of Educational Studies at The University of British Columbia, is Managing Partner of Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, LLP, a partnership of professionals with experience in applied research, policy analysis and evaluation in a variety of domains, including K-12 and post-secondary education, social services, justice, and health. He has served as Deputy Minister of Education in British Columbia, Director of Research and Knowledge Mobilization at the Canadian Council on Learning, and Associate Dean (Teacher Education) at The University of British Columbia. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

by Maria Assaf (@MariaAssaf) in Mississauga

Looking back on the mayoral and municipal elections in Ontario, it is clear that the only immigrant-related issue that gained some traction was the one relating to the “under-employment” of newcomers and the resulting loss to the provincial and national economies.

A quick survey of coverage from the races in the three most immigrant-rich cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Ottawa showed that immigrant-centered issues did not receive much interest. However, on Oct. 14, the Toronto mayoral candidates did debate economic and immigration issues. The incoming mayor John Tory was applauded when he suggested that intending immigrants should receive English/French training before arrival.

The new mayor of Canada’s largest city and the capital of multiculturalism, Toronto, is also on record saying, “[W]hile we celebrate the cultural diversity that comes from being the destination for new immigrants, we do not capitalize on what this means for our economy. Our diversity should be the recipe for business collaboration, idea generation and an unmatched inventory of relationships around the world.”

In Mississauga, where half the population is immigrant, the candidate whose platform included a specific promise to better integrate newcomers into the Canadian economy did not do well. Steve Mahoney had proposed low-interest loans and appointing an “ambassador” to help immigrants obtain accreditation, but the new mayor Bonnie Crombie is on record as saying the solutions are not that easy.

Main issue: under-employment

One of the biggest problems Crombie will be facing in terms of new immigrants will be underemployment, said Fauzia Khan, settlement manager at the Mississauga office of the Afghan Women’s Organization.

“Their credentials are not recognized, so they don’t find jobs,” said Khan. “They are suffering from that. They don’t find good jobs and then they go for like security jobs. And, of course, if they are coming from very white collar jobs, then it’s very hard for them.”

Gurpreet Malhotra, executive director of India Rainbow Community Services of Peel, agrees with her. “Canadian experience,” he said when asked to mention the principal issue affecting newcomers.

“Sometimes the degrees and the diplomas are not accepted over here and a lot of them have to re-qualify, re-train, go back to school and start all over again. That is a really big problem,” said Malhotra.

"I want us [Mississauga] to become a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. And focus on the knowledge economy, because that’s where the growth is.”

Obtaining accreditation for fields such as medicine, dentistry or engineering takes time and money – money many immigrants lack when they arrive in Canada. This means that quite often professionals in Canada’s sixth largest city often end up driving cabs, delivering pizza or doing clerical jobs out of immediate necessity. 

Food on the table

“They would like to use their skills, but they often cannot use them. They just need anything that puts food on the table for their family,” said Lynn Petrushak, executive director of the Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre.

 “We’ve been trying to do that for decades. Unfortunately, the issue of professional accreditation is a provincial matter and it resides with the colleges that give oversight to those disciplines,” Crombie said during her campaign.

As mayor, she would try to channel the channel her energies into advocacy. “The only thing we can do is provide advocacy,” said Crombie. “The provincial government has to work with the colleges that provide certification. That takes leadership from the mayor’s office to work with the premier to help get the colleges on board.”

Marina Rosas, a settlement employment councillor working in Mississauga thinks the government should do more. “There could be more programs where they could provide more financial assistance or more flexibility to help the newcomer getting a boost so they can achieve their goals,” she said. 

According to many immigrant organizations in Mississauga, even pizza delivery jobs are hard to find for newcomers. “Many, many of the people coming are highly-skilled and they are struggling to even get a taxi-driver job, and if I could say one thing about newcomers, they want to work,” said Petrushak.  

The reasons for this, she said, are “racism, language, opportunity. There aren’t a lot of jobs and it’s hard for newcomers to even get an interview or have a proper resume, because in a lot of countries, a resume is not something that is required.” 

Unfortunately, the issue of professional accreditation is a provincial matter and it resides with the colleges that give oversight to those disciplines,” Crombie said during her campaign.

Multicultural workforce

Official statistics show there are now 417, 585 people employed within the municipality out of a population of close to 750, 000 residents.

Mississauga has a vastly multicultural workforce, with over 90 languages spoken. According to the 2011 census, 47 per cent of the people have a mother tongue other than English. The top ten languages spoken include Punjabi, Urdu, Polish, Spanish, Tamil and Arabic.

In her campaign, Crombie talked about fostering foreign investment in Mississauga to increase revenue. She, as well as Mahoney, planned to use the city’s multiculturalism to achieve this. 

“I would create an international investment advisory council to leverage foreign investment from abroad,” she said. “They would sit here and give us recommendations on how we attract foreign investment from abroad. I want us to become a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. And focus on the knowledge economy, because that’s where the growth is.”    

According to many immigrant organizations in Mississauga, even pizza delivery jobs are hard to find for newcomers.

Under the previous Hazel McCallion administration, Mississauga received significant development revenue which helped finance services, create jobs and keep taxes low. But the city is now facing a widening infrastructure deficit which is expected to hit $1.5 billion in the next 20 years.

McCallion, who had ran the city for 36 years with little and sometimes no opposition at all, initially said she would stay out of the mayoral race. However, on Thanksgiving weekend, she endorsed Crombie. 

Affordable housing

Another issue is affordable housing. Mississauga has one of the longest wait-lists for subsidized housing in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It can take someone up to nine years to get affordable housing there. “It’s really important because if they don’t have housing, then they don’t have an address and their kids can’t go to school. And it’s expensive,” said Petrushak.

Crombie has vowed that she would require developers to make a certain percentage of the homes they build to be subsidized.

But she also said it’s time to change the idea of what a home is. “Housing is going to look different. We are not building single family homes, large homes anymore. We’re building stack townhomes, townhomes, condominiums. We are intensifying,” she said.

Another service immigrants are in great need of is childcare. “The childcare is a problem too, because right now they have to wait on a long list to get childcare-subsidy,” said Nicole Mak, a centre supervisor at the Cross-Cultural Community Services Association.

Mak said she would like the government to speed up the wait for subsidized childcare so that parents and elders can have time for language learning, community involvement or work.

In the meantime, newcomer and settlement agencies throughout the city continue to welcome immigrants on a daily basis and are eager to work with the municipality to help alleviate the problems ailing these residents the most. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Top Stories

 Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Québec Premier Philippe Couillard announced this past week that Ontario will host a joint meeting of cabinet ministers on…

Salam Toronto

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Published in National
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 23:01

Victim of discrimination awarded $8,000

An Ottawa man who was refused a job with a cleaning firm because he is “Black and a foreigner” has been awarded $8,000 by an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for the loss of dignity he suffered from the racial slurs.

Malek Bouraoui was denied a job last year by Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration after a company official told him they “only hire White men”. Bouraoui filed a complaint against the company to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which sent it to a Tribunal for a hearing. 

The Share News

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Published in National
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 02:01

The great Canadian whine

 

Did you know that B.C. and Ontario wines are winning international awards regularly, including at competitions in France, the UK, California and Switzerland? Have you ever had the opportunity to taste a B.C. award-winning wine, like an ice wine or Pinot Gris?

If you live east of Alberta, you probably haven’t. That’s because with over 250 licensed wineries producing 100 per cent B.C. wine, only a handful of labels make it into retail stores and restaurants east of Alberta.

Asian Pacific Post

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Published in Economy
Friday, 12 September 2014 07:00

“Immigrant Vote” to Gain Strength in 2015

With the opening of a new session of Parliament next week, the campaign leading up to anticipated federal elections in Oct. 2015 is likely to shift gears. The so-called “immigrant vote” is very likely to be in play, and, according to academics who’ve studied this topic for many years, this electoral bloc is going to be even more crucial in 2015.

New Canadian Media interviewed Prof. Phil Triadafilopoulos of the University of Toronto, who last year published a chapter titled “Immigration, Citizenship and Canada’s New Conservative Party” (co-authored with Inder Marwah and Steve White), (in Conservatism in Canada, ed. David Rayside and James Farney. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013).

We also reproduce relevant abstracts from the chapter to support his responses. 

1. What were the main findings from this study?

 I believe the key point is that the politics of immigration in Canada is the way it is because of the intersection of settlement patterns, our citizenship law, and our electoral system.  There is a structurally induced predisposition for relatively pro-immigration policies and rhetoric, shared by parties across the ideological spectrum.

  • We argue that the combination of immigrant settlement patterns, citizenship laws, and Canada’s single member plurality (SMP) electoral system create a context in which appeals to immigrant voters are required of any party with aspirations to national power.

  • [T]he interplay of these structures ensures that immigrants are able to express their interests and have them acknowledged in a politically meaningful way.

  • In sum, immigrants are concentrated in politically important urban regions.

  • To alienate large numbers of immigrant voters in dozens of federal ridings would almost certainly mean surrendering those ridings to other parties.

  • Data from recent Canadian Election Studies consistently show that visible minorities and immigrants tend to be more conservative than non-visible minority and non-immigrant Canadians on a number of contentious social issues.

2. You note that there was a dramatic change of stance on immigration as Reform/Canadian Alliance morphed into the Conservative Party. How do you explain this transformation? 

Yes, this is one of the arguments we make in the chapter. The party had to compete in Ontario and to do so it had to get beyond its predecessors’ reputations as being anti-immigrant.  The Conservatives could not simply declare this –[Minister] Jason Kenney had to go out and prove it in what amounted to political hand-to-hand combat (using handshakes as his weapon of choice).

  • [O]ne of the central impediments to the Reform Party’s national ambitions was the widely held view of Reformers as anti-immigrant, anti-French, and generally intolerant.

3. Do you think Conservative policy changes serve Canada's national interests in the long term?

Unfortunately, some do not.  The expansion of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program will likely lead to trouble in the future (as people overstay and slip into undocumented status). Changes to citizenship policy were heavy-handed and based on political reasoning and weak ideologically-based reasoning.  Changes to refugee policy has been unnecessarily punitive (and, again, taken for largely political reasons).  There have been many other changes as well – judging their long-term consequences is difficult at the moment.

 4. How were these changes different from ones that may have been made by the Liberals or the New Democratic Party, NDP?

The Liberals were similarly interested in narrowing access to asylum seekers and reforming the citizenship law – they failed to do so in part because the political incentives in the party were weaker.  It’s likely that the NDP would have hewn to the status quo circa 2006.

5. Do you anticipate that immigration and citizenship will be major electoral issues in 2015?

No – immigration is typically not featured during elections, though all the parties will look to gain support among new Canadian voters.

6. Given your findings, what does your study suggest on the subject of immigration generally being a non-partisan issue in Canada?

It will likely remain the case. There’s no political pay-off for populist anti-immigrant rhetoric at the federal level.

  • Canada is unique among major immigration countries in the degree to which immigration policy is de-politicized, and immigration itself is enthusiastically embraced by federal political parties. Quebec’s provincial politics since 2007 may be a partial exception to this pattern, but this has not had a discernable impact on Quebec voices in federal policy debates over immigration.

7. Do you have any further thoughts on the "immigrant vote" in the 2011 federal elections (you said it was inconclusive at the time of writing)?

We have not done the necessary analysis to move beyond what we have.  We hope to do so soon.  The key point is that all parties in Canada support a relatively liberal immigration policy, as reflected in annual admissions.  There is also consensus on the utility of an official multiculturalism policy – our Conservative Party is rather different than similar parties in other countries.

[In a separate study presented to the Canadian Political Science Association 2012 conference in Edmonton, Prof. Triadafilopoulos, Zack Taylor and Christopher Cochrane (all of UofT), concluded with this finding:

  • We focus especially on the Greater Toronto region because (a) 20 of the 23 seats gained in the 2011 election were located there, and (b) 41 per cent of foreign-born Canadians live there. Of the 20 new Conservative seats, eight were majority-immigrant and none had less than 30 per cent immigrant population. Similarly, three of the six seats picked up by the NDP were majority immigrant and none had less than 35 per cent immigrant population.
  • Our findings suggest that the Conservative Party enjoyed marked gains among immigrant voters in the 2011 election, and that these gains appear to have come largely at the expense of the Liberal Party. Taken together, this evidence suggests that the party’s ethnic outreach strategy may have indeed borne fruit in 2011. The NDP(New Democratic Party) also appears to have benefited from the support of a different segment of support that overlaps with the immigrant electorate: visible minorities.]

8. Do you think the "immigrant vote" will play a more critical role in 2015?

I do. Canada is changing quickly and the trends we identified are still playing themselves out.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Politics

     (PHOTOS: Over 50 people protested outside the Ontario Ministry of Corrections and Ministry of Transportation near Queen’s Park Monday, demanding that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne curb the power of provincial authorities to collaborate with federal immigration enforcement and make Ontario a ‘sanctuary’ province. Canada Border Services Agency racially profiled 21 people and checked […]

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Published in National

 Toronto (IANS): Sikhs in the Canadian province of Ontario will not be exempted from wearing helmets, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced. The Canadian Sikh Association said it received a letter last week from Wynne stating the Liberal government, for safety reasons, will not allow Sikh motorcycle riders to wear only turbans, the Toronto Star reported Wednesday. “After […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Top Stories

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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