With less than two weeks to go before the end of the year, the Conservatives have cut funds from immigrant settlement programmes – especially those in Ontario – and called it a “redistribution” and used words like “programme review” and “value for money.” The Liberals and NDP are up in arms about this naturally, and people wonder about whether this is going to damage all of the newfound credibility that Jason Kenney has been building with immigrant communities.
Such speculation however doesn’t look at the kinds of links that Kenney has really been building, and how that’s fit into a lot of the other messaging he’s been sending out over the past couple of years, but which really intensified over the fall sitting. That messaging, of course, is about “good” versus “bad immigrants.” You know, the more settled and established business-oriented immigrant communities largely in suburban areas than refugees and those from poorer communities that are less likely to buy into the social conservatism that Kenney and company are peddling.
These cuts fit into that narrative – these programmes are for the poor and disadvantaged or more “undesirable” immigrants and refugees rather than the more settled (and moneyed) communities he’s been courting. Add to that myths that are spread about refugee settlement programmes, as though being a refugee is all fun and games to begin with, and these established immigrant communities, many of whom came here and worked hard to establish themselves, start parroting those same socially conservative talking points about all those “freeloaders” on the system when they came here with nothing and worked hard. And some of those immigrant communities have their own prejudices about The Other, and when he can turn one immigrant group against others, Kenney can claim that they’re not being racist and biased – look at how immigrant community x agrees with their positioning. And what’s especially disturbing is that a lot of mainstream media outlets don’t seem to be catching onto this pattern, instead of just applauding Kenney for all his reaching out to any community event with a buffet dinner.
Senator Elaine McCoy (who is made of awesome) looks at the problem with environmental assessments, including her own experience with co-authoring a report for Alberta Environment some ten years ago, and sees that because everyone is responsible for decisions, no one ends up being responsible. (Kind of like how voting on military missions in the House of Commons ensures that everyone is responsible and that no one can accept the blame). The changes that went through this year could go a ways towards correcting that problem, but the way it was implemented is problematic.
And Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star tours the Art Bank of Canada with John Baird, which is a rather delightful piece in an otherwise bleak period of political coverage.