Opinion

A Welcoming City for Immigrants

It should concern us all when immigrants - and the new ideas, new approaches to problem solving, new music and art they bring wiht them - feel marginalized and unwelcome in our city.

By Christopher Kiely
Published June 16, 2010

Like many of you, I followed the saga created by the "open letter" from Mahesh Butani. When I read Mr. Butani's letter, I noted the accusations Mr. Butani directed. Although they were undeniably leveled at an individual, I couldn't help but see the accusation applying more toward the city and perhaps the country itself.

Let me be clear: I have not discussed this with Mr. Butani, nor do I even know him. I just thought the anger and frustration so apparent in his letter had to be about more than a couple of sentences in a speculating puff-piece.

I began to wonder about the accusation in a city context. Within minutes of Googling some Hamilton institutions that came to mind, I realized there is a distinct lack of diversity among Hamilton institutions.

To be fair to the HCF, according to their website the members are selected by the following (oh, and they're all white too):

There are more examples, but the intent of this article is not to debate whether or not the city's institutions lack diversity. The lack of ethnic diversity is real, blatant and beyond denial. The reasons for this lack of diversity may be debatable, however.

Cynicism Toward Politics and Institutions

Is there a lack of desire to take part in these institutions? I was speaking recently with a friend of mine who owns a business in downtown Kitchener (a city struggling with similar issues as Hamilton but on a slightly smaller scale).

He told me about a successful local businessman who had immigrated from Africa and how he recommended to this fellow businessman that he should seek election to Kitchener City Council. Kitchener's Council suffers from the same lack of ethnic diversity as Hamilton's.

The response to my friend's suggestion was along the lines of "Why would I want to do that?" He found the mere suggestion almost ridiculous.

Do immigrants from countries where politics and institutions have long been enablers of human misery or bastions of crime and corruption bring those sentiments with them to their new country? Are there discouraging obstacles for immigrants who want to take part in local politics or institutions that cause them not even to bother trying?

I believe the answer to both questions is yes. Cynicism toward politics and institutions can run very deep in some countries from which immigrants to Canada originate. Since a growing number of immigrants are refugees, that sentiment may be running deeper than normal these days. The predominantly white-dominated culture of Canada must certainly be a shock to many immigrants as well. It must be difficult to get involved when you struggle to find a place.

Remember, this is a country that didn't have an 'urban music' radio station until the year 2001 and the application to the CRTC for an urban station in 1990 was turned down in favour of a country music station (like we needed more of those).

Spicer Commission

In 1991, the Mulroney government commissioned the "Citizen's Forum on Canadian Unity" - also known as the "Spicer Commission" - a traveling road show that set up community forums and canvassed Canadians about unity issues.

If you ever care to read the report, you will come across many quotes talking about the need to "be Canadian" and the waste of government money on multicultural initiatives. The report was very careful to avoid any inflammatory language but if you read between the lines the desire for a homogeneous "Canadian" (i.e., preferably white) culture is apparent:

What does it even mean to be "Canadian first"? Should the Chinese immigrant open a Harvey's franchise instead of a Chinese food restaurant? Should the immigrant from India reject cricket and watch hockey? If they do not, are they failing to be "Canadian"?

Canadian culture has been forged through immigration since the days of Giovanni Caboto and Jacques Cartier. The culture of Canada was created by immigrants from England, France, Italy, Ireland, and so on. They came here and kept their traditions, and over time those cultures and traditions formed the Canadian identity.

So why should it be any different now? Is it because the immigrants are now visibly different and are no longer of predominantly European ancestry? We can debate the true meaning of these types of "be Canadian" statements, but I believe an excerpt from a Kitchener-Waterloo Record article from the time (written, as it happens, by my father) will clear up what these people really meant:

I have attended Spicer meetings in Kitchener and Wellesley and found them to be depressing exercises. Even if the racist slurs and belligerent statements can be written off as the views of a bitter minority... It was often acrimonious and the comments about some minority groups disturbed... some people appear to be targeting minorities for Canada's current economic downturn.

If there is anything positive, it's that with all the racial slurs, unfounded opinions, prejudice and acrimony, there has yet to be any violence at a Spicer meeting. In almost any other country in the world there would have been riots, knifings, brawls, gunfire and bombings by this time.

Maybe we are too Canadian for such things. Maybe we just don't care.

To its credit, the Spicer Commission did get this part right:

The struggle of minority ethnocultural communities is largely one of turning around the way things have been done in the past, on the premise that while society is changing, institutions are not.

Immigrants are Vital For a City

We're almost 20 years removed from the "Citizen's Forum on Canadian Unity" now. I would have used a more recent example but it appears that since 1991 our government has learned not to provide Canadians an open forum on unity just so we can display our collective racial prejudices.

Still, we hear much of that same rhetoric: the need to "be Canadian", the insinuation that immigrants are to blame for our economic woes, and the sentiment that our government should not support multicultural events.

When I first began writing this article, I realized that I am a middle-class white guy and perhaps not the best person to point out these issues. However, as I thought more about it I began to think of those things as less of a constraint and more of a reason to write the article. If said middle class white guy can notice these things, the problem must be far more poignant for visible minorities and new immigrants trying to find their place in a new home.

The inclusion of new immigrants is vital for a city. In New York city, Jewish and Italian immigrants filled the neghbourhoods left behind by the Irish. In Toronto, Chinese immigrants filled the neighbourhood left behind by the Jews (i.e., Spadina Ave.). These waves of new immigrants become essential components of a more natural form of urban development.

We can simply continue to wait for the "Creative Class" to find us, spurring developers to build trendy condos, restaurants, and cafes (while also sparking the debate about gentrification and displacement of the poor). Or we can also embrace the constant flow of new immigrants who tend to live side-by-side with current residents of marginal neighbourhoods and with the support of the community, slowly and more naturally convert marginal neighbourhoods into more vibrant ethnic hubs.

There is also evidence showing new immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs. That is a vital role in a city desperately looking to grow new businesses and jobs. But as a recent Spectator article highlights, Hamilton isn't retaining its new immigrants. This isn't the first time our inability to retain immigrants has been pointed out to us.

This is why it should be of great concern to all of us when anyone who faces prejudice on an often daily basis, who sees very little of their cultural identity represented in our mainstream culture, and who sees a total lack of ethnic diversity in the city's institutions, finally braves the daunting task of climbing the ivory tower (pun intended) only to get kicked off the ladder before they even have a firm grasp on the bottom rung.

Immigrants and the new ideas, new approaches to problem solving, new music and art (not to mention the often super-tasty food) they bring with them, are essential parts of any healthy and vibrant city. So to Mr. Butani I would like to say: don't give up. Even if you don't reach the top of that ladder yourself, you are still blazing a trail for those who we hope will follow. It takes people who refuse to move to the back of the bus to bring change.

Christopher Kiely is a "middle class white guy" who was raised to believe certain things and has watched the world do the complete opposite for 30+ years. He attended Mohawk College in the 1990s, has traveled around some since and now lives with his family in Hamilton.

94 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By frank (registered) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 09:38:07

Hey, I'm sad that Country 95.3 is gone! :(

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 10:08:13

Fantastic. Well thought out and well reasoned. As a fellow 'middle class white guy' (from Alberta no less!), I am apalled at the current state of Immigration in Canada - and the GTHA in particular. I was on an elevator in downtown T.O. and with me were two other 'middle class white guys' wearing suits and a woman who was not white, carrying a vacuum cleaner. On the little 'news update' screen above the elevator door, it flashed the announcement of a report that said that Toronto was doing a lousy job of integrating it's newcomers. One other guy in the elevator shook his head in agreement, but the woman with the vacuum cleaner didn't even notice the story - she didn't need to. She was (in all probability) living it. Thanks.

Comment edited by jasonaallen on 2010-06-16 09:12:00

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Rene Gauthier (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 10:42:00

Good points to ponder, Chris.

Whenever people start talking about immigration policy or complain about immigrants taking jobs, I always point out that this country is a nation of immigrants. The difference between Canada and the U.S. is that we don't demand that they cut ties with their country of origin.

And we shouldn't. I like to learn as much as I can about their cultures, because I like to consider myself a citizen of the world rather than just a country.

With that in mind, what does this city have to offer an immigrant these days? Do we have any jobs? How about entrepreneurial assistance? If we're wondering why immigrants aren't staying here, maybe we should take a look at our downtown core.

It's a mess. It's crumbling. The city is rotting from within. And what have they done? They wreck buildings as soon as it's too late. And why? We forget that downtown is a reflection of the city as a whole. City Hall needs to take a more active role in its stewardship of the downtown core if we want to show the world that this city is ready to do some business.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 11:02:21

Interesting article and I'll have to read it again more carefully when I'm not just on a coffee break.

But one thing comes to mind when I head people shake their head at "lack of diversity": time.

When the Italians came to Hamilton in large numbers in the50s, 60s and 70s, they were not represented on councils and boards. For all sorts of reasons: other priorities, lack of experience, language problems, lack of personal investment in their new home. But take a look at Hamilton city council now: the children and grandchildren of those immigrants seem pretty well represented.

Time is not the only answer: people from some groups gain prominence in the broader community more quickly than others for reasons that are sometimes clear and other times baffling.

Nevertheless, I think that it's a little bit early to start wondering why there are no Tamils or Afghanis on city council - about two generations too early.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-16 10:02:51

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By z jones (registered) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 11:14:41

^I wonder if we can't find ways to speed up that integration without a phony "melting pot" process.

Also, the fact that immigrants aren't staying in Hamilton like they used to tells us something else has changed.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By gullchasedship (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 11:34:57

You mean we don't have any white immigrants?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 14:12:21

I've got to ditto Moylek's post. A generation ago, this city really was a wonderful place for immigrants. It's just that back in that day, those immigrants were Italian, Polish, etc. My own family (and most of our family friends) came here from Argentina. Ask the younger members of these all-white organizations where their parents came from.

Even then, Hamilton has (according to Wikipedia and I can't be bothered to figure where it got it) proportionally the 3rd-largest immigration population in Canada.

So in spite of our colossal screw-ups, they still come here. And for the last decade or three, those immigrants haven't been white. I'm betting change in these councils is just around the corner.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-06-16 13:13:18

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 14:40:42

But one thing comes to mind when I head people shake their head at "lack of diversity": time - Kenneth

Very true Ken, these things do take time, that is why I brought up the findings of the Spicer commission… that will be 20 years ago next year. 20 years is a significant amount of time, I would have hoped to see more things change. The Spicer Commission was very clear about a lack of involvement in institutions. Many of these institutions have appointed boards, therefore no obstacles such as elections, and the prohibitively costly election campaign exist, yet we still can't achieve diversity. There is no excuse for that.

Nevertheless, I think that it's a little bit early to start wondering why there are no Tamils or Afghanis on city council - about two generations too early. - Kenneth

This also is true, but what about Vietnamese, Chinese or Jamaicans? In 1991 there was 1/4 million Caribbean and 1.1 million Asian immigrants in Canada. 20 years later they still are not sufficiently represented.

I understand the time issue and realise not every new wave of immigrants is going to be able to be instantly represented. But we can't wait for the inclusion (for lack of better word) of immigrants to simply happen the way we once did. Even if we consider we have done an okay job in the past (which obviously I do not believe we have) we need our new immigrants to find their place in our society quicker than we have in the past. They are a valuable resource that we can't just allow to struggle on their own to make it. They are no longer coming to the fabled "land of opportunity".

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 14:42:42

Hey, I'm sad that Country 95.3 is gone! :( - frank

I won't hold that against you frank : )

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 15:01:27

I am no Gandhi!

Although Gandhi’s life has left a deep impact on mine, and I am privileged to share the same birth date with him – his approach to unleashing change in society was immensely more nuanced then what I will ever be capable of summoning.

How would have Gandhi handled discrimination today? How would have Rosa Parks today, handled her right to be treated equally, since that fateful day on December 1, 1955?

We can only guess that it would have been in the very same way they did back then – since the politics of marginalizing humans, has not changed much since Adam and Eve were marginalized by the power structure – for simply acting out on what their minds considered was right.

We all are guilty of saying that the power structure fails to change with the times. The fact is - time never changes, a few among us simply fail to evolve in time.

Those that walked before us left conclusive proof of the enormous damage that is done to society from the act of marginalizing humans.

From acts of disrespecting humans – springs disrespect for the planet itself. Most among us have learned that this is the true starting point for sustainability on our planet.

A few however continue to believe that power comes from: subjugation of a few who they do not consider to be equal; and the manipulation of the many who they patronize.

How do we change those who continue to hold humanity back? We don’t. We simply expose such individuals and take power away from them. I did tell you, I am no Gandhi.

The lives of many like Gandhi and Rosa Park has given us a system that has served us well enough. If it did not, anarchy would certainly be prevailing.

What Gandhi and Rosa Park probably may not have told us is that our planet is dying. We know that now.

Policies for respecting people, the planet – the city and the very life that we all seek in it, have already been written up many times over.

Time will not change even after the earth dies. We cannot wait for evolution of the human mind to bring change on this planet – for we are running out of time.


PS: Thank you Christopher for your thoughts!

The City of Hamilton has been making serious efforts to break the cycle of abuse. They have come up with this web portal so far. And possibly this group too.

However they cannot tackle such a serious issue on their own.

A much more effective group that was set up earlier - the Hamilton's Media Advisory Council. unfortunately has left much to be desired after having seen their conduct so far in this election. This group needs to start addressing this issue much in the the same way that you have here - if they are at all serious about our community's well-being.

It is only from such honesty that you have shown in your writing here that real change can come to Hamilton.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2010-06-16 14:05:45

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By observer (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 15:38:47

Keep in mind the population of visible minorities in Hamilton is 13% according to the 2006 Census which is low by comparison to other Canadian cities. 18 out of 20 white people on the Hamilton Community Foundation pretty much reflects this.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By edb (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 16:02:45

Being the son of immigrants (DP's to be more exact) I grew up understanding the difficulties encountered by newcomers. However, be for we get too warm and fuzzy here about the new wave of mostly 3rd world immigrants let's recognize a few things. First, many immigrants arriving after WW2 were INSTRUCTED where they could reside once processed. There were no immediate government cheques, free housing or teams of immigration lawyers lining up to defend the "rights" of the new comers the moment they felt slighted. Also, a great deal of immigrants from Europe came with LEGITIMATE credentials from recognized educational institutions and were still forced to "carry vacuums" due to language barriers. There were no protests, no human rights commissions and no lawsuits against the federal government for mistreatment. Yet this very generation happily worked, contributed, and to a certain extent assimilated while creating the civilized and productive society we ALL enjoy now. I challenge any reasonable person to explain the benefits whether social or economic
to abandoning the tradition of a European skilled based immigration policy to one that now panders to a large class of economic "refugees" with seemingly little interest of assimilating. Has anyone considered that these "white guys" everyone seems to be angry with or ashamed of have actually EARNED the positions in life they occupy? This country welcomed my family and for that they were always great full as am I. However, I refuse to be quilted into supporting any initiatives or policies fueled by an ethnocentric class determined to undermine the stability of our relatively functional society in order to further an agenda apparently based on race and divsion.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By z jones (registered) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 16:20:05

^Ethnocentric white guy is ethnocentric.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Howard Elliott (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 16:26:15

Among other organizations and individuals working hard to make Hamilton as welcoming as it can be are the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council and Hamilton's Centre for Civic Inclusion -- see following link:
http://www.hcci.ca/index.html

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 16:39:15

A few however continue to believe that power comes from: subjugation of a few who they do not consider to be equal; and the manipulation of the many who they patronize.

How do we change those who continue to hold humanity back? We don’t. We simply expose such individuals and take power away from them. - Mahesh Butani

Excellent statement Mahesh!

"Evil is nourished and grows by concealment" - Virgil

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 16:54:38

Kiely >> There is also evidence showing new immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs.

People are motivated by self interest. It will take them a few years to embrace the idea that government, not hard work and is where the money is made in Canada. When that happens, we will see far more nonwhites on city council.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 17:09:01

Other places you won't find visible minorities proportionally, in my experience: volunteer organizations which help the broader community. Probably for the many of the same reasons that they're not found on boards and councils.

Seriously: before we carry on bashing all the privileged middle-aged white people sitting on various boards and councils, take a look at who it is who puts in all of the thousands and thousands of volunteer hours for Hamilton's little leagues and scouts and guides and free festivals and fundraisers for Lions-club-funded parks and Rotary-funded skating rinks: middle-aged white people. A lot of those people are of Italian, Polish, Dutch or German descent, of course.

I'm not bashing recent immigrants for being free loaders. I'm saying that most of them have different priorities and that it takes a generation or three to get to the point of being ready to contribute to the general weal - it might take that long for families from other countries to even be aware of how much paid and unpaid public service it takes to make this new home of theirs work as a society.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-16 16:21:25

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 19:14:51

I wonder too, about the "you're not from Hamilton" prejudice that exists against those who haven't been here for ______ years. I think that cripples Hamilton too. Last week someone from Hamilton called me a "foreigner", and told me to go back to where I came from! And we're both whiter than white-out.

Back to the core issue, though, I always wonder when I hear white Hamiltonians say racist things. There's unequivocally a lot of white people who are poor here, but however complex the causes of that are, it's certainly not because a recent immigrant took their job.

Then I usually ask the same white person when their family came to Canada...

We all come from somewhere. My grandmother came here about sixty years ago, and the rest of my family's come from other countries and been here about a hundred years or slightly longer... and while I only retain scraps of the culture, I'll make Mennonite pershky and zwiebach and German potato salad... A painting hangs in my office with my Scottish grandfather and their clan's tartan in it... but though they were Scots, they lived in Ireland for decades before they came here... so which do I claim?

Culture is never cut and dried... and who's to say where my descendants "come from" in fifty years when they move to Australia or Mexico or wherever else they end up?

I find it amazingly frustrating how we miss out on aspects of other cultures that could be real solutions to some of our city's problems, simply because they're different.... whether that's building small spaces so they function for more people, or co-housing/extended family options, or diets based on legumes and grains, or the type of small businesses that we don't encourage because they don't fit into our norms.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-06-16 18:39:52

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By knaana (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 20:34:55

It's amazing that people think that racialized people are newcomers. The African (Black) community has been in Hamilton since the early 1800's. I know this fact is not in your history books. So please do not tell people of colour to wait for another 2 or 3 generations before they can have access "power" and "privilege" that has been for too long reserved for whites .

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 21:02:45

Howard, Thank you for your comments!

Yes, I did not mention HCCI - reason being that I believe it has been at the mercy of the city council for its funding and survival since its inception, thereby limiting its role and reach.

However, I am unsure if the HIPC / LIPC (which I did mention in my post above) is fully operational, considering the its funding was held up last year.

All said, we have more abbreviated organizations pursuing similar goals than we have meaningful results to speak of.

Sure it has created jobs for a few in the process - just as in our local Poverty Industry. But have the symptoms disappeared?

How can it? when the root cause that powers this social evil is never tackled head-on.

While the existing approach has directly cost the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars to date, it has cost this city millions upon millions of dollars in lost business and goodwill over decades.

We can always write off such expenses as the cost of doing business -or- even as cost of making Hamilton ready for business with the world.

"According to a study conducted by the Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, only 14 per cent of leaders in corporate, public, elected, education and non-profit sectors in the Greater Toronto Area are non-white."

"The numbers are highest at agencies, boards and commissions (22 per cent), and lowest in the corporate sector and on the boards of media organizations (4.8 per cent). Visible minorities comprise 15. 4 per cent of elected officials."

"The report that looked at 3,348 leaders reveals lack of inclusiveness at senior levels. The Conference Board of Canada (CBC) estimates that unemployment and underemployment of immigrants cost the economy between $3.4 billion-$5-billion a year. And there are missed opportunities in investment, global markets and leadership."

Now do you see why I believe the media has such a critical role to fulfill in the remaking of our city?

My original affront was real. Not because the media hurt me personally, but because from where I stand, it clearly hurt us all equally.

I still believe that the Hamilton Media Advisory Council - a voluntary body, is still the only model that is equipped to bring rapid measurable change in our community - if it chooses to do so.

Best,

Mahesh

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2010-06-16 20:15:06

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2010 at 22:11:53

Moyle has a better grasp on this issue. Kiely seems to be reading too much into raw statistics, and seems in too much hurry, perhaps to appease a politically correct sense of guilt. While I could care less about skin colour, I'm not too keen to have foreign values brought to our councils and am already distressed at how quickly our heritage/ institutions are being dismantled in preparation for the great globalization ahead. Kiely reads the Spicer observations/ recommendations as PC negative. I find his interpretation of Canadian identity ludicrous in that he gives no weight or positive value to the preponderance of the British portion of our heritage or more importantly, institutions. His example of a Chinese Harveys is plain silly - and a telling weakness of his entire thesis. It seems that good food in an ethnic restaurant is enough to seduce him into accepting immigrant values in toto, without regard to the downside that is emerging for instance, in Europe.

Let me close with a challenge: Find an immigrant who wants Canada to become just like the country he/she left.

If this proves impossible, then just maybe we should be less hasty in exchanging our Canadian heritage for new-fangled, unproven, politically correct, technology friendly, globalist ready, socially engineered ideas, attitudes and way of doing things.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By omygod (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 22:49:11

BobInnes you forgot to mention that all you wrote above is correct only because you says so. Attitude like yours brings a bad name to any city, not just Hamilton. Your silly challenge prove only one thing, and that is you have not traveled outside of this city in your life? Bet you must be scaring yourself ever morning looking into the mirror, with views like that. Are you the same guy who rants on the Hamiltonian blog from time to time? Please do go back there.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Someone with real experience (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2010 at 23:47:53

Chris Kiely you have done yeomans service in writing well about an important issue. If a non-white person had written this, they would have been accused of playing the race card. One thing I would change – substitute non-white Canadians for “Immigrants”. It is non-white Canadians who are experiencing alienation and exclusion, many of them who are recent immigrants and many of them who have been in Canada for well over 25 years paying taxes and participating on the fringe of Canadian public life.

Take any public or community organization in Hamilton – supported by taxpayers and community contributions – and you will hardly find any position of power or influence being occupied by someone who is non-white. This is a terrible indictment and something must be done to highlight this problem.

The City of Hamilton staff – do you see anyone in senior positions? One person – Abdul Khan – was hounded out for daring to speak up and for challenging the status quo. Instead, the City is deeply involved in nepotism. A soon to be retiring father arranges a position for his young son in a certain department. A wife arranges a job for her husband in the same department. How many Councilors have chosen to pretend they don’t know? This stinks to high heaven.

The School Boards, the Childrens Aid Societies, the big non-profit organizations that receive large sums of tax payer money, the LHIN’s, etc and the list goes on and on. NONE of them have non-white people in senior positions.

It is not true that immigrants prefer to go into the private sector and become entrepreneurs. No, the truth is that many of them are shut out of jobs in the public sector. They have no alternative but to start their own business.

Howard Elliot, I don’t doubt your sincerity when you say that Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council and Hamilton's Centre for Civic Inclusion are working hard to make Hamilton welcoming. But what have they really done? I suspect these organizations are set up in a lip serving way and as smoke screens and to deflect criticism so that real hard change does not have to be confronted.

A recent study in Toronto showed that federal organizations that were compelled to report on diversity initiatives in their organizations actually ended up having a higher percentage of minorities in their organizations than average. Rather than proudly proclaiming that they are “equal opportunity” employers (Code for “we don’t have employment equity goals”) organizations in Hamilton should actively promote that they are seeking representation from under-represented groups. And, they should report on their success.

Finally, if nothing is done at a local level, there is going to have to be the push for a Provincial Commission of Enquiry on the status of minorities in Hamilton. People like the Mayor should take note of this.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 08:45:46

I'm not too keen to have foreign values brought to our councils - Bob Innes

Big surprise, the local FCP candidate doesn't like "foreign values".

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 09:17:56

One thing I would change – substitute non-white Canadians for “Immigrants”. It is non-white Canadians who are experiencing alienation and exclusion - Someone with real experience

Very true SWRE. I chose "immigrants" because I wanted to make the point about how important it is to harness the talents and ideas of the new immigrants as they come to this country and city. Also, that term tied in with much of the supporting material I used.

But you are 100% correct, it is not just new or recent immigrants that experience alienation and exclusion. Non-white Canadians who were born here or have been here for many years still experience prejudice.

It is not true that immigrants prefer to go into the private sector and become entrepreneurs. No, the truth is that many of them are shut out of jobs in the public sector. They have no alternative but to start their own business. - Someone with real experience

I don't doubt that some immigrants become entrepreneurs out of necessity. But however they arrive at that, whether it be necessity or desire, business ownership is a crucial part of a successful immigration strategy while also serving to be a powerful force for urban renewal. We should all want new immigrants to open new businesses of their own and prosper.

Thanks for the feedback SWRE.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Armchair Urbanist (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 09:53:47

Diversity? But then how will we get our own version of Portland in Southern Ontario?

http://www.newgeography.com/content/001110-the-white-city

Comrades, we need homophily, not diversity, if we're going to turn this City around! More people like us: who like drinking lattes and shopping for art; people with advanced degrees in subjects like Cultural Studies, who can loudly tout "the creative economy" while leaving our non-English-speaking neighbours to clean our offices for us (what better way for them to learn our hard-working, self-serving Protestant ethic!); we need people in this town willing to put up their trust funds as collateral for mortgages on decaying heritage properties and to fund start-up companies that work with ideas, not material objects; we need bike lanes to take us to markets where we can buy expensive organic food for our full bellies; and, above all, we desperately need more more jobs that sit us in front of computers all day, and lifestyles that lock us to them at night, allowing us to wax poetic about the white Utopia on the horizon--that, my friends, is the path to the promised land!

Portland North, here we come!!!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:26:25

Take any public or community organization in Hamilton – supported by taxpayers and community contributions – and you will hardly find any position of power or influence being occupied by someone who is non-white. This is a terrible indictment and something must be done to highlight this problem.

Well, the long-time head of the public school board (Chris Spence, now in Toronto) was black, for what that's worth. But I don't think that I could think of more than one public figure in 50 who is black. And given that 2% of Hamilton's population is black, don't you think that's scandalous?

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-17 09:28:10

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:51:05

Hello BobInnes,

I personally happen to know a British engineer and a British Architect (both white and now retired in their seventies), who had been grossly discriminated against in Ontario - for having foreign (UK) education!! There are many more white anglo-saxons, both male and female from England and other parts of Europe, who faced similar discrimination locally, over the last many decades.

Having researched this subject to death, I also know that over a century ago, Ontario (after many false starts), literally modeled their architectural education and professional practice of architecture, directly on the standards and principles of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and on École des Beaux-Arts.

RIBA was also the base model on which architectural education was founded in India and most of the British colonies over a century ago.

Discrimination in Ontario against white foreign architects,(there were no coloured ones to discriminate back then), started as early as the 1920's - primarily as a tool to protect the turf of unscrupulous architects who had arrived in Ontario - earlier than the American architects, who were being invited by local businessmen to build in Ontario and Quebec - because they were offering better design and value than was available locally.

All innovation in architecture (incl. highrise steel-frame buildings), was unfortunately happening back then, in cities like Chicago, Buffalo, and New York. -- It was not originating in Ontario, but was only imported here by visionary clients; or simply copied by local Architects - some of whom had even literally formed a boys club in Toronto to prevent 'foreign values' from corrupting their world -- (which really meant: we don't want any competition from outside - but your ideas were ok!)

It is historically documented that architectural education and architectural practice in Ontario during the late 1800's was a total mess and a national embarrassment:

" ...However, behind the public face of design, architectural life in Canada during the 1880s and 1890s was in turmoil. The Canadian public had lost confidence in its designers, students were forced to study abroad to secure a first-class education, professional rivalry was unscrupulous, architectural competitions a scandal...."- Kelly Crossman, Architecture in Transition From Art to Practice, 1885-1906

No doubt Ontario's architectural heritage is primarily British. -- Yet, British architects and engineers who came to Ontario after the initial wave of immigration, with far superior education than what the locals possessed back then - were discriminated against and often marginalized for their foreign education! It was just not white males who faced this.

In 1891 according to the British census there were "twelve ladies practicing architecture in London alone, besides others in large towns.

In 1939 five women were registered as architects in Canada: two educated in Canada, two in Europe and one who had qualified via apprenticeship.

In 1960 of the 2,400 architects registered in Canada, 30 were women, a total of 1.25%.

This may tell you a little bit more than you may want to know about the insidious nature of discrimination that exists to this day in Hamilton and across Ontario - A kind of discrimination that is in a class of its own, with no parallel to be found anywhere in the world.

When you make a statement such as: "While I could care less about skin colour, I'm not too keen to have foreign values brought to our councils" -- quite frankly it makes me laugh!

Our current mayor is a foreign-born immigrant, as was our previous mayor. Did both of them in your view - bring with them their 'foreign values' to the council?

Supposedly they too must be working silently in the nights to "dismantle heritage/ institutions in preparation for the great globalization ahead"!

Does Meredith's experience from last week of someone from Hamilton calling her a "foreigner", and telling her to go back to where she came from -- remind you anything here?

And you accuse others here of being in a rush?

I sincerely recommend that you watch this video, (which I posted only a day before, on another blog here). It is by someone who does not read too much into raw statistics - and instead helps clarify much about that darn "foreign values".

I hope I have helped clear some of the cobwebs from the "Canadian identity" that seems to be stuck in the attic for far too long!

Mahesh P. Butani

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By 'Nuff Said (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:39:08

Lincoln Alexander became Canada's first black MP in 1968, representing Hamilton West.

40 years later, that riding is championed by David Sweet.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By thompsmr (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:41:29

Armchair Urbanist: interesting take on the construction of "progressive" idea, and the cultural values and assumptions that comes along with the phrase. and yes, it's always interesting and awkward to ask questions about who gets to be part of and valued in our cities.

maybe this graph should be making us ask a few questions about ourselves? www.newgeography.com/files/whitecity1.png

Comment edited by thompsmr on 2010-06-17 10:42:37

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 13:29:02

@'Nuff Said (anonymous)

40 years ago that riding did not include Ancaster/Flamborough and the rest of the rural/suburban areas. For Pete's sake, Linc ran for the PC party. Even then, Sweet never cracks 50% - it's just he runs against a divided centre/left vote between the forgettable Arlene MacReallylonghyphenatedlastname, Gordon Guyatt (who went to a conference instead of the last debates - he apparently puts his medical career over his political one) and the Green party rep... and the Green message is still basically "you can vote for the Liberal platform without voting Liberal!".

/disclaimer: likes Guyatt.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-06-17 12:29:31

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 13:54:33

/disclaimer: likes Guyatt.

Funny. Guyatt made me aware that I had become political about cycling when I saw his last election flyer: it said that he was dedicated to the environment and commuted by bike. The accompanying picture showed him in shorts and a t-shirt, riding a mountain bike on the sidewalk next to a big, empty suburban street.

When I went blearghl and then lectured my innocent wife about all the bad messages he's delivering, I realized: I'm now political about cycling. So Gordon Guyatt turned me from a guy who bikes a lot to a Cyclist. :)

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-17 12:57:24

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By z jones (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 14:20:06

^Hilarious! Remember that George W. Bush is a guy who bikes a lot too, but he's no Cyclist.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By walter z (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 14:32:45

When my parents came from Europe in the 30's , there were no social agency nets / no real help from government / no english classes. Anything you did to upgrade your family status was because YOU wanted a better life. and yes I remember " dumb hunki and stupid polok " slurs etc nobody got a free ride or free OHIP or monetary help... And we never thought there was a right to be in politics or management just because we were non-english or a visible minority... all in due time will the changes in demographics happen .. I'm a little tired of hearing all the "new" immigrant demands and entitlements. Try going to one of their countries and making the same demands.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By z jones (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 14:44:52

Try going to one of their countries and making the same demands.

I love this argument. Really love it. Canada is just fine because it's no worse than the countries refugees are trying to escape from. Atta way to set the bar nice and low.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By trevorlikesbikes (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 15:22:41

@ Z JONES

You slipped into a totally different subject, refugee's and immagrants are not exactly one and the same.

Refugee: an exile who flees for safety (political, physical or what have you)

Immagrant: A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country

While all refugee's may be immigrating, only 15% of immigrants coming to Canada are refugees.

The Refugee system in canada is much easier to navigate than immigration...and once on Canada's beautiful soil it pays much better as well.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 15:42:04

maybe this graph should be making us ask a few questions about ourselves? www.newgeography.com/files/whitecity1.png - thompsmr

Very interesting and honestly, not too surprising. I agree that it should make us ask questions about ourselves but we need to be careful not to read to much into those stats as well.

I would hate to have someone take a superficial look at that and conclude - whites make progressive cities and blacks do not. Many socio-economic factors come in to play.

Is it simply a matter of race or does it have more to do with social class, education, economics and opportunity? White Americans have been fleeing mixed inner-city neighbourhoods for decades (unfortunately some of my relatives were among them). What they leave behind are inner cities with decimated tax bases and large percentages of low income visible minorities. It is hard to be "progressive" in that case. White flight and the decline of inner-city America is a whole other can of worms on top of what is being discussed here.

Also it should be mentioned, since some folks here like to tout Portland's progressive city planning (and often rightfully so), that just because a city has become progressive on the civil engineering side of things does not mean they are progressive in a societal context. Portland is known to be a very white and some even say racist city, with a checkered past.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 15:59:30

When my parents came from Europe in the 30's , there were no social agency nets / no real help from government / no english classes. - walter z

I have a hard time with the "it sucked for me, it should suck for them" logic Walter.

Things change, even as recently as the 1980s, plain old hard work could get you a long way in life... but that simply is not the case anymore.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By 'Nuff Said (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 16:09:58

@ Pxtl:

The riding has changed, yeah. As it probably did every few years between the time Linc was elected and the time Sweet was. I was generalizing. I was also struck by the somewhat progressive precedent of Linc's win, something that Hamilton loves to celebrate despite (I think) it being an anomaly on a largely Caucasian 164-year political continuum.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 17:47:05

Kiely, I thought you might get it but for your edification, i am no longer an FCP candidate and the foreign values i object to might include sharia and polygamy. Are you in favour of sharia and polygamy? Coming to a province/ council near you as demographics change. Ask the prophet himself.

Not to mention all the ethnic gangs that contribute to our special mosaic. When we import "a people" we import more than their cuisine.

When I said "preponderance of the British portion of our heritage or more importantly, institutions" Butani thought i was referring to the tiny sliver of Canada that designs buildings and so shone a brilliant laser on that subject. To help our mayor hopeful and others not following my message, let me be clear: Neither I (nor i suspect, anyone here) bears any ill toward immigrants. But i and i think many other have a big problem with immigration policies, its parasitic industry, ethnic politicization, multiculturalism beyond the founder's intent and the erosion of the institutions at the core of Canadian history. I'm leaving affirmative action out of that list for now as any such policy needs careful and sparing application, subject to much debate. Mahesh, speaking of rushing, before you rush out your reply, you might take care to understand (or ask) exactly what others are saying and craft a response that both enhances your campaign and answers to the question. So far it looks like you are grinding an ax rather than showing mayoral qualities. Throwing out an hour long video on an unrelated topic is equally unimpressive. Try treating me/ us as (a) prospective voter instead.

Pity no one took up my challenge.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 20:48:32

Are you in favour of sharia and polygamy? Coming to a province/ council near you as demographics change. Ask the prophet himself. - Bob Innes

Your kind are predictable Bob.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 20:51:34

But i and i (sic) think many other (sic) have a big problem with immigration policies, its parasitic industry, ethnic politicization, multiculturalism beyond the founder's intent...

Founders intent? Seriously? Jeebus Bob, you're going to have to lose the teabagger lingo if you want to be taken at all seriously. Talk about foreign values. The idea that the 'founders' (or Fathers of Confederation as we like to call them here) had some kind of rigid 'intent' that must be strictly adhered to, is entirely American.

Oh, and I hate to break it to you, but polygamy is not a 'foreign' value. The biggest threat of polygamy comes from our own native born, lily-white FLDS community. But I guess it's only bad when brown people do it.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By d.knox (registered) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 21:32:40

I work quite a bit with EFL and ESL students, both adults and children. I've worked overseas and in Canada. I think the experience has broadened my horizons, but also shocked me (I was naive). For example, many people in developing countries, who do not live in Canada, do not want to live in Canada!!! That was shocking to me. Canada is such a great place that I assumed in my first overseas teaching experience that any people who were interested in learning English were doing it to come to Canada (or more likely, the USA). Nope.

The other shock - some people who have come to Canada actually hate it, and can't wait to go back home. Nothing we've done - it's just not home. Immigration is a mixed experience and as an immigrant child, I saw first hand the trauma of the experience (and we were lucky not to have a language barrier). Shouldn't really have been a surprise - my mother still doesn't love Canada and still hates Hamilton (even in the '70's, she thought the downtown was horrifying and disgraceful).

Still, I think we do a great deal to assist with integration. We have more programs for refugees than immigrants, granted, and we make the credential verification experience for educated immigrants quite difficult. But still, we (I speak provincially since I'm not familiar with programs nationally) seem to do a fairly good job of helping immigrants adjust. That is certainly the feedback I get, even from seriously depressed students who cry daily that they are no longer in the place they tried so hard to get away from.

So I take the long term approach. Eventually everyone becomes Canadian, and what we mean by Canadian continues to change. It's nice. Like us.

Comment edited by d.knox on 2010-06-17 20:35:50

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 21:54:53

'Nuff Said wires

I was also struck by the somewhat progressive precedent of Linc's win, something that Hamilton loves to celebrate despite (I think) it being an anomaly on a largely Caucasian 164-year political continuum.

Dare I bring simple statistics into this again? That seems to get me downvoted.

Ancaster seems to have been part of five successive federal ridings, with 25ish different individuals sent off to the House of Commons to represent it. One of those 25 was the Right Honourable Lincoln Alexander. In 2009, only one in 50 Hamiltonians was black - and I dare say that there are more black people in Hamilton now than there have ever been.

So in a city with a black population peaking at about 2%, 4% of the West-end MPs have been black.

A question for you, 'Nuff Said : just how many black MPs would you want to see in this riding before you'd say it's "fair" and that Linc was not "anomalous"?


I'd better be clear before I'm misunderstood. I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist: racism exists. We have fewer racists now than we used to, I believe, but we still have racists and people encounter racism. Racism is bad. Xenophobia is bad. People should not be scorned for being of a different colour or ethnicity or nation of origin. Just to be clear.

But before we decry the lack of members of group X in government, on boards, etc., let's review the demographics and see what kind of proportions we might expect at best.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-17 20:58:16

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Someone with Real Experience (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2010 at 23:01:32

Bob Innes, I sense a deep despair in you about how your world has changed in so many ways and you are fearful of more change. The bogeyman for you is non-christian white heritage people. What I recommend for you is to take the opportunity of visiting the cradle of christianity - in the middle east, and witness the christian cultures and colours there and you'll be shocked to find out that the blue-eyed christianity and heritage that you envisage is but a small component of the world. You remind me of that proverbial always angry man who finds out that Santa Claus is not real and who can never get over that fact.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2010 at 23:25:16

What I recommend for you is to take the opportunity of visiting the cradle of christianity - in the middle east, and witness the christian cultures and colours there and you'll be shocked to find out that the blue-eyed christianity and heritage that you envisage is but a small component of the world.

Absolutely.

I find it both terrifying and thrilling that Canada's such a youngster as far as countries go... terrifying because our identity is hardly formed as Canadians.... absolutely thrilling because we still have no clue how rich of an identity Canada will have in another hundred years.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 00:42:18

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 00:47:08

Kiely, instead of observing my predictability (happily guilty), how about answering the question. Sharia, polygamy, yes or no. Just for the record.

Highwater, sorry about the teabagger lingo but i sorta like it. Call me Teabagger Bob if you like. Fathers, founders .... makes no difference. Do you actually think they intended for tradition / institutions to be thrown out willy nilly? You have no respect for the balance they created? What arrogance. What will we get instead? The NAU? Maybe you'd like a President Harper! Bet you'd like that since you're so fond of change for change's sake.

Did I say FLDS was good? Last I heard the practice was outlawed/ stopped. Whole lotta ASSumptions about what I'm saying.

Supposedly real experience opines: "Bob Innes, I sense a deep despair in you about how your world has changed in so many ways and you are fearful of more change ..." which is a good start but then wanders off into his own religious imagination. Nothing to do with me or anything i said. But yes, despair i do, mostly in the economic and civic realm, but also here in the social/ religious realm. Other than outright fraud, manipulations, criminality (cause for anger, not despair), the cause for despair comes really from the utter lack of ability to honestly confront the problems at hand, or even define them, especially within a global/ historical context - as evidenced amply in various responses to my comments and in the way Hamilton (and the media) is handling the many situations confronting us. And yes, the teabagger part of me thinks there is a globalist component to all that is going on that is unexamined and potentially very dangerous. All I want is for someone to stand up and examine, not dismiss issues, take them seriously and plan how Canada/Hamilton can resolve them. Until I see that, well, please pass me a teabag. Make it a camomile. It could be a long wait.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 08:51:43

Funny thing, I voted down grassroots comment (even though I agree with a lot of it) and voted up Bob's comment (even though I mostly disagree with it) because Bob is at least trying somewhat to be civil.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By 'Nuff Said (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 09:20:43

@ moylek:

"Anomaly" was referring more to the point that Linc's feat in the '60s hasn't been repeated since, anywhere in the city, as far as I know.

To be clear, I'm not calling for a quota driven system or even speculating as to why his 1968 election was a one-off (though the service was multi-term). The more valuable "simple statistics" would arguably be the relative demographics of contenders, and I suspect the most striking imbalance of all might be gender... although here again, Hamilton West's Ellen Fairclough was a groundbreaker once upon a time.

Interesting that both of these Hamiltonians served under the oft-maligned Tories.

(Hamilton West was also the riding that hosted federal bids from Baldasaro/Tucker in the '80s.)

I made the mistake of muddling the ridings in my initial post, but Ancaster's political fortunes were wrapped in the Hamilton-Wentworth muddle for the longest time.



Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 10:42:21

"Anomaly" was referring more to the point that Linc's feat in the '60s hasn't been repeated since, anywhere in the city, as far as I know.

True. And I'd just as soon see it repeated: that kind of visible success is good for everyone. But again: given the demographics of Hamilton (approximately 87% pinky-beige, IIRC), we really shouldn't expect that it would be repeated any time soon. Hamiltons' black population, prior to the influx of West Indians and North Africans in the past 20 - 30 years, was small.

Hamilton's populations of non-pinky-beige people and of recent immigrants (and these are highly overlapping sets) are still relatively small. And both populations skew young (having higher birth rates than established Canadians of all shades and origins combined). And recent immigrants are more likely to be busy struggling to establish themselves socially and economically: public office and prominent community positions are mostly a generation away.

I really believe that we can explain much (not all) of the apparent "lack of representation" this way* ... rather than jumping straight to wringing our hands and fretting over how awfully unfair Canadian society must be. That's not smug complacency, it's just a sensible way to begin thinking about the questions of representations.


* Exceptions abound, of course. Just for example: there was the long-standing discrimination against blacks; we needn't enumerate the problems Native people face (granted, not immigrants :) ); and there are immigrant groups whose members tend (in aggregate - individuals are individuals) not to do well in school (some white, some not white), which presumably relates to underrepresentation later in life.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-18 09:53:28

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:01:30

Aw shucks Nobrainer, I was hoping for a higher downvote score - I'm going for the record. Not to be obstreperous mind you, just that I'm hoping that by ruffling a few feathers, folks might start thinking a little harder but instead, distraction, denial and derision seems to be the order of things around here. Perhaps folks have trouble distinguishing between the sentiment of Kiely's article, which I'm quite sympathetic toward, and the details of implementing his views, which Moylek did a good job of questioning and which made me think more deeply about the implications of what Kiely was saying. This struck a raw nerve in me that thinks Canadians, egged on by interest groups with something to gain, have been too eager to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Can somebody dare to say, or is even able list the myriad ways we are indebted to our (primarily) British thousand year heritage? Or has that been trumped by PC, political correctness or more understandably perhaps, has the real problem of racism blinded us to all the many other aspects of Canadian life that should be considered separately?

Funnily enough, I mostly agree with Grassroot's comment too, a least the initial part that was clear, which might make one wonder about all the assumptions they're making about me.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:14:59

When identities collide...

Immigration brings local, national and international identities into sharp focus – resulting in unsettling feelings and hyper awareness of norms and practices.

Some view the resulting collision of identities from immigration, as an event that will take away the 'familiar' from their static environment.

Others view this collision as an opportunity to create new colours, texture, tone and dynamism in a static environment.

A global city is one that has successfully managed to harness the energies released from such collision of identities, by facilitating convergence of ideas.

The built form of a global city is rarely the starting point to begin understanding its dynamism. For its genius lies buried deep within its transnational identity which is born from convergence.

Cities that fail at such convergence, continue to struggle with their identity and only manage to remain 'familiar' [unchanged], while suffering economic and cultural stagnation.

Acute awareness of the need to harness the energies from this collision of identities – has resulted in the emergence of a new profession of cultural mediators.

Hamilton will need these new professionals very soon – to navigate through its transition to a global city.

There exists a tremendous opportunity for our existing base of artists, social workers and educated unemployed to grow into this new role of cultural mediators.

A real opportunity is posed here to create from ground up an education facility in our downtown core, to train Hamilton's cultural mediators who are grounded in arts, sociology and urban anthropology.

Our new front guards – the cultural mediators, will facilitate convergence far more confidently than our many costly organizations, to usher in that warm fuzzy feeling one gets, on visiting global cities like New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Toronto..., where the energies from collision of identities have coalesced into co-existence and co-creation of an economy based on true diversity, interconnectedness, and grassroots innovation.

Cosmopolitans and locals engaged in a world culture – is something very distinct from the scripted [self-conscious] creative class engaged in creative cities.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2010-06-18 10:18:46

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:18:53

Kiely, instead of observing my predictability (happily guilty), how about answering the question. Sharia, polygamy, yes or no. Just for the record. - Bob Innes

Let me put it this way… I want Sharia law and Muslim polygamy to be a part of our culture as much as I do Christian polygamy and pedophile priests, (i.e., NO).

I know where you're coming from Bob, I've dealt with people like you before, you are unfortunately not that unique. The rhetoric of xenophobia and fear spewed as "the word of God" is comforting for many of the ignorant and small minded, but it is pabulum to the free-thinking. I am sad for you that the your God seems to fill a void caused by anger, despair and fear… but that's not my God and I will not claim that God as my own simply on your insistence.

I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose, and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mole Mountain (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:51:36

Sensible debate, by and large. But recent history demonstrates that sense isn't innate.

http://www.thespec.com/article/235824

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:52:36

I'm not picking on you in particular, Kiely, it's just that yours is the most recent instance of a phrase we've heard a few times hereabouts of late: "people like you".

"People like you." Roll that around on your tongue. Taste the lingering sneer. Wait a bit and note the aftertaste of echos of that phrase from the past.

Vile, isn't it?

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-18 11:02:10

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 12:11:55

"People like you." Roll that around on your tongue. Taste the lingering sneer. Wait a bit and note the vile aftertaste of echos of that phrase from the past.

Vile, isn't it? - Kenneth

That is what you're going to point out as "vile" in this thread Kenneth???

Interesting.

But I will not deny the "sneer" is intended. You can ponder the comments of Bob Innes with civil consideration, but I will not. For me there is nothing to ponder... I have heard it all before and rejected it as ignorance, veiled racism, or simply stupidity.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 12:50:28

That is what you're going to point out as "vile" in this thread Kenneth???

Yep. Bob Innes' opinions may be objectionable to some people, but they are shared by many people and he asserts them without obvious intent to offend. He helps keep this place from being an echo chamber. And grassroots' tirade needs no comment. But you are countering "xenophobia and fear" and you've used a phrase that suggests prejudice and dismissal. I was surprised.

I suppose that I expect better than "people like you" from a reasonable, well-spoken defender of diversity. I thought that perhaps you - and others who've said similar things lately - hadn't thought about how that sort of thing sounds.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-18 12:01:08

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 13:52:06

But you are countering "xenophobia and fear" and you've used a phrase that suggests prejudice and dismissal. I was surprised - Kenneth

Not intended that way Kenneth, I say "people like me" all the time and I am not trying to be prejudicial or dismissive to myself. If you object and find that (of all things) "vile", I apologize.

Bob Innes' opinions may be objectionable to some people, but they are shared by many people and he asserts them without obvious intent to offend. He helps keep this place from being an echo chamber. And grassroots' tirade needs no comment. - Kenneth

I am not trying to hang labels on Bob, I do not know how he came to his reasoning on this issue. I have had experience with others of similar (practically verbatim) reasoning and through closer involvement with them found their reasoning to be formed by one of the three factors I mentioned above (e.g., ignorance, racism, or stupidity). I have debated with Bob before and certainly try to keep it civil even if much of what he says makes me cringe (although I have agreed with him on economic issues). But Bob makes no bones about what he believes, he puts it out there (often to much criticism) and is more than willing to engage in debate/discussion, as you accurately put, "without obvious intent to offend"… and I do respect him for that.

As for grassroots' comment, I would much rather side with someone who says something I fundamentally agree with in a less than civil way than with the person who says objectionable things eloquently.

This is a difficult topic, many raw nerves are exposed when discussing race. For this reason I tried not to make too many assumptions or draw absolute conclusions. While I pointed out the lack of diversity I did not label the city, it's institutions or citizens as racists. I put forth the possibility that some of the lack of diversity could be a lack of desire on the part of immigrants to take part in Canadian institutions and mainly I tried to stress that we need to do better if we want to see the most benefit from immigration. I never claimed to be an expert or have all the answers, the idea was to get people talking and that has happened. But when it comes to confronting the "Canadian first" mindset and lack of support for multiculturalism I will challenge those opinions because, as I point out in the article, this rhetoric can be used to camouflage the true meaning of what is being said. Bob is still using much of that same rhetoric today and it is (to some) seemingly innocuous, persuasive and believable… that is why it is so dangerous and I do not take (or treat it) lightly.

Let me clear up what is actually being said:

I'm not racist, I just fear immigrants are going to destroy my superior White Anglo-Saxon way of life.

Let me just say that all and all I am pleased with the debate this has sparked. We need Bob and others to state their beliefs, I don't have to agree with them or in some cases even give them much consideration (opinions that illicit negative physical reactions rarely require further consideration), but I do support them being voiced… and challenged.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 14:58:34

opinions that illicit negative physical reactions rarely require further consideration

Well, we differ here. The more violent my reaction to something someone says, the more carefully I examine the reasons for my reaction. Sometimes I decide that I'm intensely right and my opponent is fiendishly wrong, but other times I find an cherished opinion with insecure foundations (which may or may not be right).

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-18 14:12:02

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 15:33:49

Well, we differ here. - Kenneth

Some things are just wrong and that negative physical reaction is my "gut" (for lack of better word) telling me so. I often trust in my guy instincts and feel I have good reason to. It is usually a subconscious physical reminder of a past experience... sort of like my gut telling me "You've heard this before and it was BS".

And I have heard all this before Ken. I grew up in KW when the Heritage Front were prevalent, I had friends get lured by the seemingly benign rhetoric only to get led further down the rabbit hole to become racist skinheads. If you want to agree or sympathize with Bob, which I have a hunch you do (why else spend so much time challenging me and filling this thread with excuses?) that's fine. But I rejected everything Bob says 20 years ago, I don't need to enter the debate again… from what I can tell the spiel hasn't changed.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 17:02:50

If you want to agree or sympathize with Bob, which I have a hunch you do

Honestly, some of Bob Innes' posts here gave me a case of the tl;dr's so I don't have a good idea of his whole philosophy wrt to immigration and integration. I've agreed with parts that I've read and disagreed with others, but I thought that he was debating in good faith, asking specific questions and responding to specific points.

My own interests in this thread have been to clarify the ground on which the debate lies, not so much to draw conclusions about what the answers are.

But, hey, don't let my actual beliefs, aims or goals interfere with your pigeon holing :)

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-18 16:10:00

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 17:48:03

My own interests in this thread have been to clarify the ground on which the debate lies, not so much to draw conclusions about what the answers are. - Kenneth

Sure Ken, if you think challenging my statements in this thread accomplish that, that is fine.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Someone with Real Experience (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 19:12:10

Kiely, your very timely and poignant post and topic about the lack of diversity in the upper echelons of our tax payer funded public institutions has unfortunately been hijacked by the Bob Innes' of the world and their apologists like Kenneth.
They wish to split hairs about everything in order to deny the reality "experienced" by minorities in Hamilton who have been shut out of public life. Rather than listening, and trying to discern what is the cause of this angst felt, they will trumpet their trite explanations that have no basis in fact.
The situation is clear on the ground. Amongst all the various public institutions in this City, and amongst over 500 senior positions on staff or Boards or Councils, ( and I don't mean professionals such as Physicians) tell me how many NON-WHITE men or women there are.
Answer is: NONE.
Shame on Hamilton!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 20:08:04

We might be getting somewhere. Kiely said of me

I do not know how he came to his reasoning on this issue.

A first bit of humility -- very welcome. A good place to start the questions. Then...

I have had experience with others of similar (practically verbatim) reasoning and through closer involvement with them found their reasoning to be formed by one of the three factors I mentioned above (e.g., ignorance, racism, or stupidity).

I grew up in KW when the Heritage Front were prevalent, I had friends get lured by the seemingly benign rhetoric only to get led further down the rabbit hole to become racist skinheads.

I respect personal experience and I'm sure I would have felt the same as you had I been in the same shoes. But policy is a different matter. I don't care if an idea came from Jesus Christ or Hitler himself, I try to look at it independent of who offered it. Most people cannot or will not do that. These days, I'm trying to look more through the lens of history to see if an idea might be durable. All those wonderful modern economic ideas seem to be crumbling to pieces and I'm certainly wondering if all the new fangled social engineering will stand the test of time. Political correctness tops my list of bad ideas/ bad reasoning. Many folks here seem quite susceptible to PC.

So I liked your response to sharia, polygamy and pedophile priests. Touche. We agree on something at last.

Just please be more careful about assumptions you are making about my views/logic. Just because I support(ed) FCP does not say anything about my views on religion or diversity. At that time (before 2008) my concern did indeed focus on how the (nuclear) family is being impacted by all sorts of modern social and economic policies/ forces. I felt, and still feel they carry a needed perspective. But the world has moved on and larger battles loom.

Then you said - trying to paraphrase me:

I'm not racist, I just fear immigrants are going to destroy my superior White Anglo-Saxon way of life.

Take out the word 'white' and I'll be happy to wear that. As I said, skin colour makes no difference but methinks I'm supposed to be embarrassed not amazed at the institutions, history and gifts of AngloSaxon civilization/ culture - as modified by Canada's constitution and practices. What would you prefer? Globalism under the UN/IMF/ World Bank/ International court/ Climate Tax? Name a country? Why do you think foreigners emigrate here in the first place? Hard as it is for a deferential Canuck to believe, just maybe there is 'superior' stuff here worth preserving. Discard indeed, the bathwater of racism, but please, cherish the 'baby' that is Canada and the dream/ wisdom of the founding fathers - or whatever it is i'm supposed to call them!

Comment edited by BobInnes on 2010-06-18 19:12:28

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By d.knox (registered) | Posted June 18, 2010 at 20:31:36

This thread is no longer reasonable.

Prejudice against immigrants is bad. Accepted.

Michelle calls Meredith white trailer trash and Christopher, who thinks racism is bad, fundamentally agrees?

Hmmmm, racism is a form of prejudice. It's not just hatred or dislike for dark people or different people; it's prejudice. Michelle's comment sure sounds racist to me. But it's okay because it's against white people? Or because it's not against an immigrant?

How progressive.

Comment edited by d.knox on 2010-06-18 19:37:07

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2010 at 22:36:48

Bob Innes,

Here are some thoughts of other anglo-saxons on: 'Canadian Identity' and 'Superior Ways' - as you continue to look through the lens of history:


"...we must quickly learn and earnestly desire to do something never before achieved in Canada; to learn to live together as a people in equality. To be truly Canadian in the 21st century means we must find within ourselves a new tolerance and we must fight a latent desire or need to be racist." ..."Can we fashion an enduring concept of citizenship and identity that will unite the people of this country, separated not only by vast stretches of land, but by language, race, religion and culture?" ~ Sen. Donald Oliver, 1998, The Canadian Essence: Rethinking Canada for the 21st Century Conference.


"Have Canadian values remained constant since 1970, 1950, 1930, 1890? Are there new values emerging which all Canadians share?"

"Beauty in the Canadian garden comes from the many colours, and sizes, and varieties of the flowers which bloom in it. Ours is not a monoculture, but a pluralistic society." ~ Patrick Boyer, 1998, Opening Remarks: Rethinking Canada for the 21st Century Conference.


The House of Difference: Cultural Politics and National Identity in Canada ~ Eva Mackey.

"Eva Mackey's The House of Difference is an study of the construction of national identity in Canada. ...Mackey explores techniques whereby Canada's "dominant culture" manages internal diversity for the purposes of creating its own national identity."

"Her analysis challenges the tendency of some critical theorists to emphasize the homogenizing nature of nation-building, and shows that Canada, rather than seeking to expunge or homogenize cultural pluralism, has tended to appropriate it, pressing it into the service of a variegated process of identity construction. ...and she argues that, such appropriation obscures the ongoing hegemony of Canada's dominant culture."


WHITE: Richard Dyer

"Dyer argues that "white culture" has so established itself as a norm as to become invisible and that "coloured" cultural entities are defined in terms of their differences from the "white". [The Dyer Straits of Whiteness - a critique by Todd M. Kuchta]


Bob, fears often are nothing more than a misread of a situation - and all that may be required is a good cleaning of the lens, and a re-read of history.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2010-06-18 21:40:46

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2010 at 01:58:15

Mahesh: - There's lots of people plying their wares on all sides of the various issues here. At least I know who to call on if I need a good reference on something!

I wish that all we needed to do was clean my glasses but somehow, I don't think that changes much. I wish i actually was just misreading the situation and that when i woke up, it was just a bad dream. Really. So much easier. But I seem to be moving ahead, if ever so slightly, by adopting/ preparing for the worst case scenario, listening to 'crazy' so-called conspiracy theories, looking to teabaggers and ignoring the positive scenarios promulgated by various boosters here on stadia, Aerotropolis, LRTs and other expensive/ high tax solutions,not to mention the social topics we are discussing. Sunny optimists never see a problem. Gee, I wonder why. I prefer a more cautious appreciation, hoping to anticipate and resolve problems before they become insoluble. Making haste slowly seems better than pell mell rush. Relatively speaking.

But, reflecting on Kiely's original article, making Hamilton more welcoming to immigrants, the sentiment of which I applaud, if we have objections on how, as i do, perhaps we should try to identify what the alternative is. Kiely wants to blame whites, or perhaps is proposing a welcoming committee - nice job if you can get it, or affirmative action? Moylek seems to suggest immigrants allow more time and accept more responsibility/ reality? Not sure what Mahesh wants/ suggests, in 30 words or less. My schstick is the role of honesty, or if you will, identification /eradication of bias (ie PC bias) in the discussion. There is a great need of that here, even if just to acknowledge the various different discussions and the talking-past that goes on.

Comment edited by BobInnes on 2010-06-19 00:59:48

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Village Green (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2010 at 08:54:54

Three words toward common ground: BRING BACK EARTHSONG

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2010 at 12:12:51

Bob: What stand out most here are two words in your above post:

"Relatively speaking" [...in a relative manner; in relation or respect to something else; not absolutely...]

(word count=28)

Mahesh P. Butani


Reference: This classic example from Prof. Akiyoshi Kitaoka, shows us that our eyes and our mind play tricks on us on most days.

They are trying to inform us of your two words - silently pleading us not to live absolute lives.


Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2010-06-19 11:44:58

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2010 at 16:41:12

Bob,

If you do buy into the idea that our eyes and minds often do play tricks on us - then I sincerely believe that you should get to know the thoughts and work of Robert Ezra Park":

"an American urban sociologist, one of the main founders of the original Chicago School of sociology - (sometimes described as the Ecological School)... which specialized in urban sociology, and research into the urban environment by combining theory and ethnographic fieldwork ...best known for the development of the symbolic interactionist approach. It focused on human behavior as determined by social structures and physical environmental factors, rather than genetic and personal characteristics."


"The marginal man...is one whom fate has condemned to live in two societies and in two, not merely different but antagonistic cultures....his mind is the crucible in which two different and refractory cultures may be said to melt and, either wholly or in part, fuse." [Robert E. Park, 1937]

"Go and sit in the lounges of luxury hotels and on the doorsteps of the flophouses; sit on the Gold Coast settees and on the slum shakedowns; sit in the Orchestra Hall and in the Star and Garter Burlesque. In short go and get the seat of your pants dirty in real research." [Robert Park, 1927]


Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2010-06-19 15:42:31

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2010 at 16:57:36

This is tangential to the discussion, but I thought it worth sharing.

I can only hope that for the immigrants that come here now, they can have an experience like I did last night.

My mother, a wonderful lady who works part-time at Best Buy, hadn't visited Germany for three decades, and she was finally able to go this year and visit relatives, including some she had never met.

So last night I saw a staggering, staggering amount of photographs and history... and heard stories.

She had toured the coal mines my great-great-great grandfather and his son worked in. I saw pictures of some of the items he used (e.g. the lantern) are still kept by the family.

World War Two... words cannot describe, of course. Such a mess. Such a tangle. Talk about leaving a country and not wanting to bring all of the country's values with you... I saw pictures of the military hospital my great-great grandmother worked in, and more of my grandmother who was able to come here not long after (Not that popular of a decision at the time, to marry a German girl and bring her home, but my grandfather did - and she built a life here). There are dozens more of just that time I didn't get to see.

At the same time, I heard stories of families still there, who had stayed and rebuilt lives - everything from working as servants in homes of large families... to the couple of modest means my mother stayed with... to more distant cousins (one and his wife drive matching Alfa Romeos and own a vineyard for fun... :) wow).

I'm speechless and amazed at what my family has come from, what they've done and who they've become become. I'm proud of my grandmother who came here and lived a life of quiet dignity, free from the values that ran so counter to her own --- at the same time, bringing an incredible wealth of dignity, skill as a seamstress, and respect for people with her. I'm also proud of family who are still there and have built lives for generations. I'm incredibly proud to know more of both my family who stayed, and my family who left. And I want to be someone who does good here too.

I hope that the immigrants of today will get a chance to have the same experience one day and see good lives here and good lives of family who stayed... , even if the experience is, as mine was, secondhand through my mother's eyes. I wish them a good life in Canada and their family well at home if they choose to stay - of course every country and every political situation is different.

And I certainly hope that they find this country one of acceptance, freedom, employment and a rebuilt life as mine did. I hope they get to leave negative things like racial prejudice and discrimination behind, and use their strengths... and I hope that their kids will grab onto the opportunity this country holds just as the parents did.

The "how" is always tricky, but I hope the end result - and good things - for all.

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-06-19 16:06:20

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Touched (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2010 at 00:53:25

Meredith,
I found your post very sincere and meaningful and you certainly encapsulated in your personal story the hopes and dreams that all who have come to this great country carry deep in their heart.
Your grandmother and your mother are to be congratulated for their stoic efforts, and you too for not having your nose in the air and for wanting to see other immigrants do well in Hamilton.
As long as there are people like you rooting for those who are todays underdogs, there is hope.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By AHepburn (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2010 at 16:22:42

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” by A. Hepburn

BobInnes said: "Let me close with a challenge: Find an immigrant who wants Canada to become just like the country he/she left."

Well Bob here are are few I found from our past: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_First

and a few from our present: http://www.canadafirst.net/

I live in a place called Midland in the north that tried very hard to become exactly like the one we left behind and succeeded. Besides our very beautiful landscape, we are proud to have Ontario's first European fortress, and also the first recreated Indian Village in Canada.

While my kid now studies culture at a college in your city, I seek out culture in my frequent travels to England and many cities in East. Maybe you should join me on my next trip abroad, to feel the joy of discovering that we are never alone.

Cheers!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By AHepburn (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2010 at 16:52:58

Susan Swan's impact on the Canadian literary and political scene has been far-reaching. She also coined the term “the burden of adjustment” to describe the adjustment demanded of readers by sexist or racist prose.

Swan compared the burden to the less difficult adjustment one makes reading Shakespeare or say, any novel where the gender and race of the protagonist is different than the gender and race of the reader.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 21, 2010 at 09:53:38

Michelle calls Meredith white trailer trash and Christopher, who thinks racism is bad, fundamentally agrees? - d Knox

To be clear I agreed with the first part of her post not the "off the rails" portion directed to Mahesh.

I should have been more clear d Knox, you were entitled to call me out on that.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-06-21 08:58:19

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 21, 2010 at 09:56:59

I respect personal experience and I'm sure I would have felt the same as you - Bob Innes

Experience has shown me the rhetoric you use is dangerous Bob, you may come by it and express it honestly but it is also used by nefarious groups to attract people to their racist cause... you should be aware of that.

the dream/ wisdom of the founding fathers - Bob Innes

I'm curious who you view as the "founding fathers" Bob?

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-06-21 09:04:03

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 21, 2010 at 10:14:19

Kiely wants to blame whites, or perhaps is proposing a welcoming committee - nice job if you can get it, or affirmative action?

Really Bob?

Where did I say any of that?

I never said it is all the fault of white people, I never proposed affirmative action and I'm not sure what you even mean by "welcoming committee". I don't see a basket of muffins and specialty coffee helping anyone.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 21, 2010 at 10:32:36

The "how" is always tricky - Meredith

This is what I had hoped to discuss more of Meredith - how do we do better than we have in the past?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 21, 2010 at 11:21:27

I'm curious who you view as the "founding fathers" Bob?

http://mokellyreport.files.wordpress.com...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 21, 2010 at 17:07:24

Kiely: As i said earlier, i'll run with any good idea, regardless of the source/originator. So i can easily acknowledge bad groups are concerned about the same problems as me. Am i supposed to fall into the politically correct camp for this reason? Just to make you and Highwater happy?

I suppose your founding fathers question is really asking me if i'm Canadian or American ... or perhaps a trick question invoking a consideration of native issues. Whatever. As noted, I'm mostly sympathetic to the (US) tea baggers's aims, at least the initial aims i'm somewhat familiar with. No doubt the movement could morph into something nasty if unanswered concerns are allowed to fester. Naturally, in Canada, the discussion is more muted. This may be part of the problem since legit concerns are going unacknowledged here too.

Maybe i mistook your stance as blaming us wasps. I tried to guess what your solution was and would be delighted to have you lay it out. Regardless, I always get the idea that PC thinking seeks to bury our mostly British heritage/ rules/ customs/ institutions/ traditions and adopt anything else but - all hidden behind the banner of positivism/ multiculturalism. Seeing how the rest of the world is run, the apparent unsustainability of our 'culture/group' and considering what the newfangled globalist bankster ideas are, I think we should make haste much more slowly in disposing of Canada's historical 'structure' that we have not already dismantled.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 22, 2010 at 09:08:04

I suppose your founding fathers question is really asking me if i'm Canadian or American ... or perhaps a trick question invoking a consideration of native issues. - Bob Innes

Not at all Bob, it is an honest question. You keep mentioning "founding fathers" but I'm not really sure who you are referring to. As a dual citizen myself I don't really care if you're an American and I promise I'm not going to pull the "but the natives were here first" trump card on you.

Maybe i mistook your stance as blaming us wasps. I tried to guess what your solution was and would be delighted to have you lay it out. - Bob Innes

I rarely debate from the extreme points of view Bob (which I believe blaming it all on WASPS or all on immigrants would be). At the same time I do not claim to have all the solutions, (or sometimes any). Solutions may well involve a change in our immigration and refugee systems, changes in attitudes of both Canadians and immigrants, trying to understand why immigrants do not get involved in our institutions and why they do not stay in Hamilton,(again maybe that has something to do with both sides). I'm not blaming any one group of people I am asking - what can we do to make this process better? Because it appears like it isn't working at a time when we need it to work better than ever.

Neither making excuses for the status quo nor blaming the WASPS is going to accomplish that.

Careful with the tea baggers Bob... that is a motley crew ; )

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-06-22 08:10:39

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted June 22, 2010 at 10:11:50

Am i supposed to fall into the politically correct camp for this reason? Just to make you and Highwater happy?

I suppose your founding fathers question is really asking me if i'm Canadian or American ...

I don't really care if you support the teabaggers. I was just pointing out the irony of complaining about the 'foreign values' supposedly infecting our body politic, while at the same time embracing the foreign notion of 'Founding Fathers' and other foreign ideas espoused by the teabaggers. You seem to only have a problem with 'foreign values' when they come from brown people.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2010 at 14:54:54

Highwater: You're focusing on semantics. Sigh. If there had been a huge wave of disgruntled commies immigrate from Russia after the iron curtain fell, I'd have more of a chance to complain about some foreign white values, no? And given that Britain founded (more or less) both the US and Canada, you can perhaps forgive my poor semantics. American values are foreign only insomuch as the two countries have diverged, more or less.

Which i hope kind of explains why i'm not overly bothered to distinguish between the US's Founding founders and our own Fathers of Confederation for purposes of this discussion. The wider world refers to Anglo-American civilization, culture, economies, etc.

Kiely: Kudos for pushing an issue that needs attention. We can waste a lot of time arguing philosophical points, semantics, etc. What really matters is where the rubber hits the road - actual policies. Having had all this input from readers, can you give us a few thoughts on what you think should be done? My own recommendation would be something along the lines of either enhancing the newcomer's Oath of Allegiance so as to address troublesome points or alternatively to have our lawmakers alter policies/ laws/ constitution (!ok, the last is a stretch!) to address these points in such a way that demographic changes cannot undo what we are trying to achieve. Probably other ideas are needed as well so what is needed is a leader with imagination, a sense of history and heart.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 23, 2010 at 10:38:31

Having had all this input from readers, can you give us a few thoughts on what you think should be done? - Bob Innes

That would be a whole other article Bob. I will give you two ideas that I firmly believe in though, even one I think you'll like ; )

1) Strengthen our immigration/refugee system. This includes being tougher on the criminal elements, enforcing deportation orders, making sure the rules are being followed, etc… but also includes making it easier (i.e., less costly) for foreign trained professionals to get their credentials accepted in Canada and breaking down barriers to meaningful employment in their previously chosen professions. The immigration/refugee system does need some improving. I'm sure we've all heard the stories of students or hard working people being deported while criminals are not and while these may be anomalies they are ones we cannot afford to have happen. The system has to work well (almost to the point of being beyond reproach) or it provides propaganda ammunition to anti-immigration movements.

2) Education, education, education. A strong, integrated (economically and racially), well funded and FREE public education system from kindergarten right through College and University. An almost complete overhaul to our education system to reflect the different ways kids learn and to remove the overwhelming emphasis on university education leading to white-collar jobs as being the acceptable norm and only measure of success. The "great equalizer" must rise again.

I also believe in a strong constitution... for many reasons.

I think we can chew on those suggestions for a while : )

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 23, 2010 at 17:40:57

Sounds good Kiely, especially item 2, sentence 3 in particular. Shades of Jane Jacobs.

Immigration is a bit trickier. To make things easier for immigrants, one has to address the standards issue. I'll be the first to say we are way over regulated (standards unnecessarily high) but that is a different issue than the actual capabilities of professionals. Given your comment elsewhere about engineers' lack of practicality, would you want more engineers coming from cultures with more of a class system that can develop a real bias against practical (hands on) experience much more than is ingrained here? That's a specific foreign value on my list - despite the same attitude can be found in individuals here.

But I have a different take on the entire issue of bringing professionals in - what else is new! I'm sure most readers here (besides me) are supportive of Canada's foreign aid program and think we should do more. I ask instead, what on earth are we doing vacuuming professionals out of countries we should be giving more aid to? Either we should just admit we like pillaging poor countries and cancel all aid, or we should stop robbing their expensively trained and needed professionals as a first step in helping them help themselves. The curmudgeon in me would rather be a proud pillager than a sniveling hypocrite! Then we wont have to lower our standards so they can work here, no? Similarly, as practical, I thtink we could require our own grads to work as needed in underserved communities for some period of time.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 23, 2010 at 21:25:21

Kiely writes ...

A strong, integrated (economically and racially), well funded and FREE public education system from kindergarten right through College and University. An almost complete overhaul to our education system to reflect the different ways kids learn and to remove the overwhelming emphasis on university education leading to white-collar jobs as being the acceptable norm and only measure of success.

I'm completely there with the problem of white-collar education being the new norm. But I don't understand a few other things.

How would an "economically and racially" integrated free public education system differ from the one we have (aside from the post-secondary part)? Would you bus kids from Ancaster to the North End and vice versa to keep the economic balance?

And what about racially equality? Would you make more Italian and Polish kids go to public schools? Would we ban sectarian schools altogether?

And as for accommodating the different ways kids learn, well ... you should talk to a few teachers. I know teachers in three public boards who are going nuts with the ever-broadening requirements for document, accommodating learning styles and disabilities. It's probably well intentioned, but the paper work and busy work and interference is appalling.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-06-23 20:30:34

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted June 23, 2010 at 22:42:31

Re:

How would an "economically and racially" integrated free public education system differ from the one we have (aside from the post-secondary part)? Would you bus kids from Ancaster to the North End and vice versa to keep the economic balance?

This is something I'm personally a fan of, and other cities have seen positive results from it. Terry Cooke's comments (which were re-posted here) is a good start.

http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/10...

Other cities have shown what this might look like.. perhaps we can learn from them in our own city.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 10:10:34

To make things easier for immigrants, one has to address the standards issue. - Bob Innes

One of the main obstacles is actually financial and bureaucratic. It takes paper work and money to get credentials recognized. Extra cash and the desire to deal with cumbersome foreign bureaucracy are two things many immigrants do not have. I don't want to see us lower our standards to accommodate, we have them for a reason. We need to make it easier to be able to prove foreign credentials.

Given your comment elsewhere about engineers' lack of practicality, would you want more engineers coming from cultures with more of a class system that can develop a real bias against practical (hands on) experience much more than is ingrained here? - Bob Innes

I've worked with engineers from many regions: America, Japan, Europe, Australia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, etc... The main differences I see depend on age, more than region/ethnicity. Old(er) engineers anywhere are typically arrogant (some to the point of being outdated and out of touch). Young engineers in Canada aren't as arrogant but many just seem to want to sit in front of computers and "design stuff". The young engineers I've worked with from Asia have been the best at getting practical experience. Also because many of these countries seem to be able to produce engineers but not mechanics, the young engineers are often used to fill "lead hand" positions usually filled by journeyman tradesmen in this part of the world, and that is good experience for them. I would rather work with the sharp young engineers coming out of Asia (e.g., Singapore, Indonesia, China, even young Japanese engineers) any day of the week. The type of engineering arrogance I see from some "Western" and old(er) Japanese Engineers doesn't exist in them. They're out in the field, learning and listening to what the hands-on people (i.e., mechanics/technicians) have to say.

I realise there is a lot of generalization in the above statements (not all western engineers are arrogant, not all young Asian engineers are great) and I can't back it up with facts or anything, that has just been my personal experience. I guess what I'm saying is I wouldn't worry about it too much. The one's I've worked with that I'd be worried about, would never get their credentials recognized. The youth in developing countries however are remarkably switched-on. Frankly, we should be worried... but that's a whole other topic.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 16:46:37

How would an "economically and racially" integrated free public education system differ from the one we have (aside from the post-secondary part)? Would you bus kids from Ancaster to the North End and vice versa to keep the economic balance? - Kenneth

Some cities that have done this have bussed kids. I think we might be able to look at redrawing some boundaries first (if we can see any significant impact that way). There are other ways of accomplishing this besides bussing (integrated neighbourhoods would help) but to answer the question, I would not be against bussing.

We segregate right now. Often poor performing students are lumped in to one school (e.g., Parkview) we should simply stop doing that, that would be a good start. Also providing complete funding to our schools so parents and kids no longer have to do fund raising (a practice which favours kids in more affluent neighbourhoods) in order to provide extracurricular activities and sometimes just basic necessities would help to "equalize" our schools.

And what about racially equality? Would you make more Italian and Polish kids go to public schools? Would we ban sectarian schools altogether? - Kenneth

I believe in a single publicly funded education system. I would not ban sectarian schools, (that is a freedom I believe in) but I would not fund them with taxpayers money (I believe it is a freedom people can pay for themselves). And to answer the inevitable question, yes I would eliminate funding to the Catholic school board.

And as for accommodating the different ways kids learn, well ... you should talk to a few teachers. I know teachers in three public boards who are going nuts with the ever-broadening requirements for document, accommodating learning styles and disabilities. - Kenneth

I know a few teachers, I believe they are very good and I have discussed these things with them before. They didn't raise those issues. And even if they did, it isn't about them and what they want, it is what is best for the students. Could we make it easier and less cumbersome for the teachers? We probably can, but if the current batch of teachers don't want to teach so all kids learn, than I don't know what to tell you Kenneth... get some new teachers. The one thing a couple of my teacher friends have told me is the whinging from teachers that is often projected as "sticking up for education and our kids" is actually just them defending their turf for their own self interest.

But let me take a step back, because I'm not sure we're even talking about the same thing. For example, what effect would creating a trades based co-op program for high school students who do not learn in the traditional classroom environment have on regular "traditional stream" high school teachers??? I envision specialised teachers performing those functions... hopefully leaving the teachers in the "traditional stream" with more time not less. Properly funding and staffing our schools will help teacher overload as well.

I will concede that the required changes probably will not sit well with some teachers but changes will need to happen within the schools, teacher's colleges and the teachers' unions. A good example of change required within the union is the current lack of recognition for tech teachers. Tech teachers are trades people who essentially receive no credit for their education and start at or near the bottom of the teaching pay scale. This is why across the country we have problems attracting tech teachers. What journeyman trades person wants to take a (often drastic) pay cut to go teach? The answer appears to be, very few and understandably so. I can offer an heavy equipment mechanic with 5+ years experience a $100K a year job, becoming a teacher will pay him a fraction of that.

It won't be easy Kenneth, a lot needs to change in my opinion and there will be multiple challenges on multiple fronts, I acknowledge that. This is a bit of a hasty and not the best thought out reply, but hopefully you get my gist. As I said in a post above: The youth in developing countries however are remarkably switched-on. Frankly, we should be worried...

We need to get our youth switched back on.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 17:20:35

Public education is a make work project. If education has value, it doesn't need to be given away for free, because people will buy it. A great test of this would be to give vouchers to people and let them trade on the open market. Some people would sell their vouchers to others and some would buy vouchers for more expensive schools. Rather than have a one size fits all education policy, which is what we have today, people would decide the best level of education for themselves and their children.

Why don't we all listen to government created music, or consume government prepared food, or wear government designed clothes? It's because we all recognize that we have unique preferences. Our lives are far better because WE get to choose what we want. Why is education any different?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 25, 2010 at 10:52:59

Public education is a make work project. - A smith

I usually just ignore your comments A smith, after all:

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere" - Voltaire.

But that statement is just about the most ignorant thing I have ever read.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 25, 2010 at 12:39:08

Yeah, that one's almost worth the Billy Madison rant.

Aww, screw it, let's do this:

"what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. "

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 26, 2010 at 12:49:32

Kiely: Your response re engineers - interesting - but I got hit with two events yesterday that by reflection discouraged me about Hamilton. I visited a Pakistani cafe/restaurant in Toronto and about 9pm visited Spencer Smith Park on my way home. Both were vibrant. Nothing in Hamilton quite like them. The first seemed to be breaking the mold/rules/orthodoxy about how to build a restaurant, the second, an example of creative 'diversity' included a bunch of astronomers (including a professional) sharing with the public. I saw Saturn for the first time.

Today i drove back to Burlington. Why? Because their newspaper (online adverts) outsmarts ours and the people in Burlington are sharp, much sharper than people in Hamilton so its too frustrating dealing with relative idiots. Someone pointed out earlier that many immigrants (the more talented) high tail it outta here as soon as they can which hits to the point of your article. Along the way i got a lecture as to a possible solution. Our entire democratic system is wrong headed - it serves to maintain entrenched elites as you pointed out. Incumbency has diabolical benefits. Ancient Greece solved this problem by choosing many of their magistrates and other officials by lot as well as having direct democracy (citizens vote directly on motions). They also adopted several measures to encourage participation. One might wonder how dummies were kept out of the system but i suspect that demographics and proximity/ participation plus only allowing qualified citizens to vote made the system work relatively well. This sounds almost diabolical, but suddenly makes sense for many topics, not just immigration. We passed up MMP but yesterday's happenings made me feel we have to do something drastic and we have to do it now. Back to basics sounds good to me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_de...

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds