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The San Francisco Chronicle's Vincent Woo writes about how an ostensible openness of San Franciscans towards immigration is not matched by their lack of support for affordable housing for immigrants (and others).

San Francisco is one of the most progressive cities in the nation, especially when it comes to national immigration. We believe so much in the natural right of people to join us here in America that we fought to keep our status as sanctuary city even in the face of being federally defunded for it. We pride ourselves on our rejection of plans to tighten immigration controls and deport undocumented immigrants. Yet take that same conversation to the local level and all bets are off. City meetings have become heated, divisive and prone to rhetoric where we openly discuss exactly which kinds of people we want to keep out of our city.

This is an ethically incoherent position. If we in San Francisco so strongly believe that national immigration is a human right, then it seems strange to block migration into our own neighborhoods.

Consider the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ decision to challenge the environmental review of a proposed housing project at 1515 Van Ness Ave. Despite the project’s plan to rent 25 percent of its units at a below-market rate, many members of the neighborhood preservation group, Calle 24, expressed anger that the project might bring tech workers into the Latino Cultural District.

Or that members of the Forest Hill homeowners association opposed a project that would build affordable housing for seniors and the formerly homeless on a site now occupied by a church. One of the grievances aired was that it might bring mentally unstable or drug-addicted people into the neighborhood.
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The Toronto Star's Noor Javed reports on how the Cathedral of Transfiguration, which gave the Markham town of Cathedraltown its name, is now finally open for worship. It's good that this building is finally going to be put to some use.

For residents of Cathedraltown, the news was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

After nearly a decade of seeing the towering Slovak Cathedral of Transfiguration in Markham closed to the public, local resident Mayrose Gregorios couldn’t believe it when she heard the news from two men doing cleanup work on the property one morning: the church would be open for weekend mass.

For as long as Gregorios had lived in Cathedraltown, a quiet subdivision near Major Mackenzie Dr., and Highway 404, whose name was inspired by the adjacent European-style cathedral, the empty building had cast a dark shadow on the community. The last service in the cathedral, which broke ground more than three decades ago, took place in 2006.

The reasons for the closure are believed to be twofold: The first, a decade-old dispute between the developer Helen Roman-Barber and the Eparchy for Catholic Slovaks of the Byzantine Rite in Canada, over the title to the land, left the cathedral without a congregation.

But in recent years, Roman-Barber, head of King David Inc., told residents the cathedral, with its magnificent 14-storey bell towers and cupolas plated in 22-karat gold, was closed so that the numerous detailed mosaics planned for the inside could be completed. An anticipated deadline of December 2015, set by Roman-Barber in a Markham staff report, came and passed. Residents stopped hoping for good news.

So two weeks ago, Gregorios woke up early and waited for the 18-tonne bronze church bells, built at the prestigious Paccard Foundry in France, to ring and announce the momentous occasion. When she didn’t hear them toll that day, she walked over to the cathedral, saw people streaming in and joined them.

“They said it was a private mass, but couldn’t stop anyone who wanted to worship,” she said, adding there were about 200 people in attendance. “It was a beautiful moment: the mass, the singing, the spirit of it all,” said Gregorios, who said the mass was in Arabic and English.
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MacLean's shares Laura Kane's Canadian Press article which shares a warning about not housing crises to start tensions over immigration.

The president of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is warning against an “us versus them” mentality in Vancouver, where he says foreign buyers are not the major factor driving unaffordability.

Evan Siddall delivered a pointed speech on Wednesday to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, where he said housing should not become a wedge that divides newcomers from long-time residents.

“When a white person buys a house, we don’t notice. When somebody of a different colour does, we do. That’s not good economics,” he said.

Vancouver’s skyrocketing housing prices have increasingly been blamed on foreign capital flowing from China. The British Columbia government introduced a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers in July in response to those concerns.

Asked by reporters whether he believed racism was playing a role in the housing debate, Siddall said he wouldn’t use such a “strong term,” but the contrast between “us and them” was a factor.
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Spacing Toronto's Arlene Chan profiles the exciting introduction to the public via the Toronto Public Library of an archive of Chinese Canadian history over the past century and more.

On Dominion Day, 1923, Canadians were in a celebratory mood. But those good feelings didn’t extend into any Chinatown. July 1 came to be regarded by the Chinese in Canada as “humiliation day.” The Chinese Immigration Act, known commonly as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banned virtually all Chinese immigration for the next 24 years. It stood as the most severe legislation of the more than a hundred anti-Chinese policies of the day. The successively increased head tax of $50 (1885), $100 (1900), and $500 (1903) failed to deter immigration, as intended, at a time when the vision for the country was a ‘white Canada.’

My mother, Jean Lumb, nee Toy Jin Wong, was three years old on that infamous day, but almost a year would elapse before a government bureaucrat photographed her for this official document. After all, the Chinese Exclusion Act not only halted immigration; it also required that all Chinese, whether born in Canada (as my mother was) or abroad, to register for an identification card within one year of the passage of the new law.

The card looks uninteresting in itself – a document that lived for decades in a shoebox. But in a recent interview for Ming Pao Daily News, a former employee of the now defunct Shing Wah Daily News, once the largest Chinese newspaper in North America, commented that the need to pass on and preserve this history to future generations is more urgent than ever. The connections to our past are fast fading with the loss of our elders.

Such documents will now be shared, thanks to a new initiative of the Toronto Public Library. The mandate of the Chinese Canadian Archive — which will be launched officially at a reception this evening (Tuesday) at the Toronto Reference Library – is to collect, preserve, store, and provide access for researchers and the general public.

“This archival program is a great opportunity to properly accommodate our family’s precious historic material that our children will not want to keep,” says Nelson Wong, whose father, W.C. Wong, was a prominent leader in Chinatown.

Mavis Chu Lew Garland, who grew up in Chinatown, wants others to know that her “half-Chinese family also existed in Toronto.” Garland’s sizeable donation of documents and photos reveals the extent to which her family honoured its Chinese heritage. “The items will now be available to be shared with whoever is interested in the Chinese culture, and in the people who valued them.”
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Torontoist's Nikhil Sharma describes how important Toronto's public library system can be for immigrants, thanks to settlement programs based at some of the branches.

Three years ago, Gong Zan Cang entered through the doors of the Parliament Street library for the first time. He lived nearby—it took him just a few minutes to get there in his wheelchair.

The 79-year-old immigrated to Toronto from China in 2002 to join his daughter who already lived here. He speaks Mandarin and little English.

Cang went to the library that day to attend one of its workshops, Tai Chi for Well-being. It wouldn’t be the last time, he’d be a frequent client of the library in the coming years.

[. . .]

[T]he TPL provides physical space for the workers in the branches and resources such as ESL collections, materials on resumés and job interviews, and electronic business resources.

Sixty-seven per cent of immigrants use Toronto Public Library branches once per month or more, compared to 46 per cent of non-immigrants, according to a November 2012 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

While there are 100 public branches across the city, the library settlement partnership program is only offered at 16 of them, which raises the concern of limited accessibility.
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The Daily Herald carried Ana Swanson's Washington Post article looking at the economics of immigrant food in the United States. I'm sure similar phenomena apply in Canada.

Eric Zhou grew up in China's Fujian province watching his father, an accomplished chef, whip up banquets of intricate Chinese dishes. But when Zhou moved to the United States and started working in a Chinese restaurant, he saw that his native cuisine was mostly considered cheap in this country, confined to greasy takeout counters and $7.95 lunch buffets.

So Zhou edged his way into a much more lucrative industry: Japanese food. Years later, he owns four Japanese and Asian fusion restaurants in the Washington area. With Chinese food, he says, "the price in America is too low. Japanese restaurants don't have this problem. To us, it's more suitable. It's a better life."

Zhou, 44, has joined thousands of other Chinese immigrants in the United States in seeking a leg up the economic ladder through Japanese food. From Ames, Iowa, to Lancaster, Pa., Chinese Americans have opened many of the sushi joints that dot suburban malls and city blocks across the country. It's the result of what experts describe as a striking convergence between U.S. ethnic-food preferences and the economic pressures facing a new wave of Chinese immigrants, whose population in the United States has tripled in the past 25 years.

Which cuisines sell well and which do not may seem a combination of chance and cultural tastes. But the outsize role of Chinese Americans in the Japanese food business, according to academics who have studied it, sheds light on deeper forces. The influx of low-wage Chinese immigrants -- China recently eclipsed Mexico as the largest source of immigrants to the United States -- has created fierce competition to provide cheap food. At the same time, Japan's wealth and economic success helped its cuisine gain a reputation as trendy and refined. So for many entrepreneurial Chinese immigrants looking to get ahead, Japanese food has often become the better opportunity.

"Chinese entrepreneurs have figured out that this is a way to make a slightly better living and get out of the ... world of $10, $5 food at the bottom end of the market," says Krishnendu Ray, who leads New York University's food studies program.
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  • Bloomberg notes an unexpected housing shortage in the Midwest, and considers the impact of the Panama scandal on the British Virgin Islands' economic model.

  • Bloomberg View calls for better regulation of the high seas, suggests (from the example of Yugoslav refugees in Denmark) that low-skilled immigrants can be good for working classes, and notes the failed states and potential for conflict in the former Soviet Union.

  • The Inter Press Service notes the fight against religious misogyny in India.

  • The Toronto Star's Chantal Hébert notes how voters in Ontario and Québec have been let down by the failure to enact ethics reforms in politics.

  • Spiegel looks at the spread of radical Islam in Bosnia.

  • Vice notes a photo project by a Swiss photographer who has been tracking couples for decades.

  • Wired</> looks at the US-European trade in highly-enriched uranium.

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I have a post up at Demography Matters taking a quick look at Francophone immigration in Toronto and Ontario.
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Selena Ross' article in The Globe and Mail earlier this month, mirrored at 24news.ca, looks at the growing number of French-medium schools in Toronto. As Francophones continues to immigrate to Ontario and older-established Francophones start to make use of these facilities, the numbers of students keep rising.

Despite guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, French-only schools in Toronto have historically been few and far between. For decades, a real fear for many francophones settling in Hogtown has been that they would fail to pass on their language and culture to their offspring.

A once-in-a-generation opportunity is starting to change that, and it promises a bigger cultural shift in Toronto. As enrolment in English-language schools declines, a crop of school properties is being put up for sale and the region’s two French school boards have jumped to buy. What no one predicted is the snowball effect that has followed each new school opening, drawing “invisible francophones” out of a reluctant assimilation and making new connections between them.

Lianne Doucet, a mother of three in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood, laughs and lowers her voice to a spooky register. “We always say, ‘We’re all around you.’”

The cultural isolation of Toronto-area francophones – whether by mother tongue or schooling – can be so extreme that many don’t know that Section 23 of the Charter promises French-language K-12 education for their children. The Toronto area’s first French-language school board was created in 1988, and there are now two serving the region, one public and one Catholic. Still, nearly 30 years later, the secular board, the Conseil Scolaire Viamonde, must diligently advertise its schools to get the word out, superintendent Sylvie Longo said.

It has had a lot of ads to put out lately: 12 new schools in the past eight years, with four more under construction. The board’s Catholic counterpart, the Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud, has opened 10 in the same time span. The two boards’ enrolment rose respectively by 33 and 16 per cent from 2008 to 2014.

That’s in sharp contrast with the shrinking English system. The Toronto District School Board’s enrolment dropped by nearly 5 per cent in the same period.

And still, French schools consistently fill up faster than predicted. École Élémentaire La Mosaïque opened in Toronto’s Danforth area in 2008 and has already had to rezone, unable to fit in all the eligible children. École Ronald-Marion in Pickering opened in 2013 and now needs portable classrooms to meet demand, while a French Catholic school in Stouffville is at full capacity and hasn’t even opened yet.

“When we build schools, they come,” Ms. Longo said.

Toronto may be one of the world’s most diverse cities, but within Canada, it’s also a bastion of English – and Quebec, a more obvious destination for francophone immigrants, is just a few hours away. Who are the tens of thousands of Toronto-area residents itching for all-French education?
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  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper predicting that hot Jupiters should have massive far-orbiting distant partners.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes that some robots are now as adaptive as animals.

  • Geocurrents shares Martin Lewis' Iran lecture notes.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Seoul Pride organizers vow to have a parade despite a police ban, precipitated by Christian hostility.

  • The Map Room's Jonathan Crowe notes that Yahoo Maps is going.

  • Towleroad observes that Mike Huckabee has removed his endorsement from the Duggars on his presidential campaign website.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi notes that creative types should update their wills, to protect their legacies.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that the Crimean situation will not be resolved by a referendum and shares alarmism about Russia becoming an Islamic state.

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In the Toronto Star, Allan Woods reports on the controversy surrounding plans to make Montréal's famous Sainte-Catherine street into a more pedestrian-friendly corridor.

It was once Canada’s Fifth Avenue, the frontline of the retail sector in what was known a century ago as the country’s commercial metropolis.

Standing sentry were department store giants like Ogilvy, Birks and Scroggie, which turned Montreal’s then-residential Ste-Catherine Street into the country’s pre-eminent shopping district. Nearly 100 years later, with the retail shopping sector in turmoil, downtown stores losing business to suburban supermalls, and aging infrastructure that is starting to fail, Montreal is getting a rare chance in the life of a metropolis as it prepares to remake a major artery almost from scratch.

As this city braces for the official plan to be unveiled later this week by Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, there is excitement about the possibilities but also trepidation for those who make their livelihoods running Ste-Catherine Street bars, boutiques and restaurants.

[. . .]

Before Montreal's Ste-Catherine Street was the city's major retail artery, it was primarily a residential area. In the remake of the street, seen here at Metcalfe Street in 1898, city officials say they want to bring back some of the greenery that has been lost to urbanization.

[. . .]

The plan to be announced this week could revolutionize what is an already iconic — through fairly traditional — downtown strip. The city has collected nearly three dozen submissions from individuals and associations with options such as doing away with street parking, installing heated sidewalks to melt winter snow, making extra space for patios and commercial kiosks, and even designating car-free zones to turn a shopping district into a pedestrian paradise.
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Writing for the South China Morning Post's The Hongcouver blog, Ian Young argues that Vancouver's real estate market is uniquely unaffordable to new entrants largely because of the impact of wealthy investors. Vancouverites and other West Coasters, thoughts?

One position states there’s nothing particularly unusual about Vancouver’s housing situation. Yet this He doesn't have a million either.neglects the fact that the city’s unaffordability is now globally exceptional, exceeded only by that of Hong Kong.

Foreign money might be a factor, concede some, but it must similarly influence other markets, right? Not really – since immigration data demonstrates that the influx of rich immigrants to Vancouver (80 per cent of them Chinese) is unmatched by any other city in the world, at least in terms of wealth-migration schemes that clearly define asset benchmarks.

Others seek to frame unaffordability as inevitable, since Vancouver is a city of limited land supply. But plenty of other cities are in the same boat: New York and Singapore spring to mind. Both are expensive cities, but Vancouver has left them in the dust in terms of unaffordability. If Vancouver (price/income ratio 10.6) could achieve the affordability of New York (6.1), or Singapore (5.0) I’m betting that Eveline Xia would be dancing down Main Street.

Surely Vancouver has always been unaffordable? A quick check of the stats will show that as recently at 10 years ago, Vancouver’s price/income ratio was in dancing territory, at 5.3.

[. . .]

An exceptional cause must be found for an exceptional situation, and for Vancouver, that can be found quite easily in wealth migration, which exploded in the past decade.
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News of the controversy in Ontario over the new provincial sex education curriculum have made it to other side of the planet. See, for example, the Russian Demographics Blog's coverage.

It's worth noting that the controversy appears to be rooted in misunderstandings and the occasional lie. Fears of "indoctrination" are overblown, at best, while there are any number of outright lies regarding some of the more ridiculous claims. Rob Ford has been quoted in the National Post as opposing it, even though he's actually quite wrong about what the new curriculum actually involves.

Ford says he’s against the provincial Liberals’ revised sex-ed plan because he has two kids in Grade 2 and Grade 4 who “should not be talking about what anal sex is” or what oral sex entails.

According to the new curriculum, however, kids will be in Grade 7 and 8 before they discuss anal and oral sex, as well as contraception, preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Students in Grade 2 will be learning about the stages of development and related body changes, and the concept that “no means no.”

By Grade 3, students will learn about same-sex relationships and children in Grade 4 will learn more about the dangers of online bullying.

Ford — who once made reference to oral sex on live television — says he told his children to walk out of class if they start being taught about anal or oral sex.


One thing noted by, among others, the National Post's Chris Selley is the extent to which opposition has transcended the conservative Christian community. Selley looked particularly at Muslims.

Thorncliffe Park elementary school, in a predominantly Muslim area of Toronto, reported attendance on Monday of 130, according to the Toronto District School Board — 130 out of 1,350 students. That’s just nine per cent who showed up, though on Tuesday it had rebounded … all the way to 16 per cent.

At nearby Valley Park Middle School — best known for controversially hosting congregational Muslim prayers in its cafeteria on Fridays — Monday attendance was just 38 per cent.

Their parents are mad as hell about Ontario’s new sexual education curriculum, and they’re boycotting the entire curriculum, for up to a week, as a result.


Five years ago, when then-premier Dalton McGuinty abandoned much the same curriculum, conservative Christians were generally considered the culprits or heroes, depending on one’s standpoint. And they’re still on the warpath against the curriculum, which with a few tweaks is finally set to go into effect for the next school year.

But the school boycott is a multicultural affair, and the most stunning absenteeism numbers reportedly come from the Muslim community, which was not nearly so prominent in the 2010 debate.

Reports from a Monday protest in Thorncliffe Park suggest concerns range from the specific (introducing the notion of “gender fluidity,” too early or at all) to the conspiratorial (accusing the government of “indoctrinating children with a minority lifestyle”) to downright apocalyptic: freelance journalist Javed Zaheer warns of the “total destruction” of his grandchildren’s generation.


Others, like Selena Ross and Sahar Fatima in their article in The Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/coalition-of-the-pure-how-ontarios-sex-ed-protests-hit-critical-mass/article24350160/">"Coalition of the pure: How Ontario’s sex ed protests hit critical mass", looked at how it transcended any one immigrant community. Chinese and Polish parents are also mentioned.

Part of me thinks that this inclusion of immigrant communities in the public discourse is a good thing, even if some people in these communities are disagreeing with what I'd prefer. Better that they participate than not, no? Part of me also wonders if, as Ross and Fatima suggest, this is also a consequence of disengagement on the part of these communities from the rest of the greater Toronto area, a product of failed communications between immigrant families and the educational authorities and of broader anomie. Three Torontos, perhaps, or two?
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The Toronto Star's Les Whittington and Nicholas Keung report on the Canadian government's warning to temporary foreign workers newly ineligible for status in Canada to leave.

As the rule of the four-year ban of re-entry rolled in Wednesday, the federal government warned temporary foreign workers who are due to leave that they will be dealt with swiftly if they try to go underground to avoid leaving Canada.

“Let there be no mistake: We will not tolerate people going ‘underground.’ Flouting our immigration laws is not an option, and we will deal with offenders swiftly and fairly,” Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre said in a statement.

The low-skilled workers are losing their work permits under a policy introduced on April 1, 2011 that requires any temporary foreign workers who have been here for four years to leave. They are also barred from returning for four years under the “4-in-4-out” rule.

As many as 70,000 workers now in the country will have to leave, according to the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, which projected the estimates based on the number of work permits issued four years ago and foreign workers who had already been working in Canada before then.

The Alliance points out that some of these workers may be in their first year of employment and have as many as three more years before having to leave.
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Ryan Schuessler of Al Jazeera America depicts the efforts of many Americans of Basque descent, concentrated in (among other areas) Idaho, to keep fluency in the Basque language going.

Standing against the wall of the crowded Leku Ona (Good Place) bar, Dave Asumendi took a sip of his wine as he watched a group of young people dancing in circles, moving to the music of a band that kept switching between Basque folk songs and accordion-infused Johnny Cash tunes.

It was Thursday night on Boise’s Basque Block, a small stretch of Basque-American businesses and cafes in Idaho’s capital. Asumendi had just arrived from the intermediate Basque language course taught at the cultural center across the street.

“It’s always been a lifelong burn to learn the language,” he said.

Asumendi, whose grandparents immigrated to the United States from Spain, is one of the many Basque-Americans who have mobilized to learn their unique ancestral tongue, which now has fewer than 1 million speakers worldwide. In recent years, the autonomous Basque government in Spain has invested significantly in language education, looking to boost the number of Basque speakers in Spain and in Basque diaspora communities.

One of the least likely beneficiaries of that largesse has been Idaho, which hosts one of the most active and vibrant communities of Basque-Americans in the U.S. and one where many community members are dedicated to keeping the language going. There are Basque classes for all ages and abilities — often taught by teachers paid by the Basque regional government — and even a Basque immersion preschool, plus a Basque studies department at Boise State University.

Idaho has the highest percentage of Basque speakers in the U.S. and is home to five of the top nine counties where Basque is spoken. In two of those counties — Lincoln and Owyhee — Basque is the third-most-common language spoken in the home, after English and Spanish.
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  • blogTO rates the top ten buildings built in Toronto over the past fifteen years.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at some of Kepler's candidate exo-Earths.

  • The Cranky Sociologists applaud Howard Becker, sociologist of deviance.

  • Joe. My. God. notes an Italian court's recognition of the citizenship of a foreign-born child of a same-sex Italian couple.

  • Language Hat notes a site promoting the Aborigine language of Yugambeh.

  • Language Log studies the problems of translating art language from Chinese to English.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money celebrates Kirby Delauter.

  • Personal Reflections reflects on upcoming elections in Queensland.

  • Peter Rukavina shares a link tracking electricity production and consumption on Prince Edward Island.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps the origin of Russian soldiers killed in the fighting in Ukraine.

  • Spacing Toronto looks at how, one day in Toronto, one railroad bridge was swapped with another.

  • Towleroad notes how a Texan man still hasn't been charged with the murder of a lesbian couple including his own daughter after almost a year, and looks at a hate crime in Russia.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the visit of El Sisi to a Coptic Christmas mass, the first time any Egyptian president made this visit.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russian policy towards Ukraine won't change until Russia changes, reports certain statistics from the periphery of Russia, and looks at the role of Russian media in encouraging ethnic violence.

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  • blogTO lists ten signs that you grew up in the Toronto neighbourhood of The Annex.

  • The Dragon's Tales links to Alva Noe's essay arguing that artificial intelligences are so far less capable than amoebas.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the sociology of being a houseguest.

  • Geocurrents' Martin Lewis notes that, while Scandinavian-Americans don't seem to vote as a cohesive bloc, Dutch-Americans do.

  • Joe. My. God. notes a ridiculous British noble who makes ridiculous claims about GLBT people.

  • Livejournaler mindstalk reflects on The Siberian Curse with its thesis that Russia's northwards orientation hurts its economy.

  • Spacing calls for a comprehensive study of urban transportation costs in Canada.

  • Torontoist notes Spacing's new store in Toronto.

  • Transit Toronto notes that tunneling for the Eglinton line has reached the area of Bathurst Street.

  • Writing Through the Fog shares beautiful street photos of Valetta, capital of Malta.

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CBC reports on a recent, very controversial, apparent search for undocumented workers in Toronto.

The arrests of 21 undocumented workers during a vehicle safety blitz Thursday is causing controversy for the Canada Border Services Agency and Ontario Provincial Police.

On Aug. 14 the OPP, along with officials from the ministries of transportation and environment, and the CBSA, took part in a vehicle spot checks in northwest Toronto, around Wilson Avenue between Jane Street and Highway 400.

CBSA told CBC News on Friday it arrested 21 people who were "in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act."

But, because the arrests were made during vehicle safety check, some question the methods and motivations of the CBSA and OPP.

Immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann said this is “not routine” and is, in fact, “a huge breach of public trust.”


The Toronto Star's Nicholas Keung has more.

While some said people were stopped by unmarked SUVs for what seemed to be routine vehicle inspections and failed to provide immigration papers, others claimed they were arrested at the parking lots of Tim Hortons, Coffee Time and Country Style while gathering for their morning pickups to job sites. Most arrested were men from Latin America.

The CBSA would only confirm that the officials conducted a joint “commercial vehicle safety blitz” in the area of Wilson Ave. between Jane St. and Highway 400. Twenty-one people were arrested for immigration violations, said spokesperson Vanessa Barrasa.

Within hours of the arrests, calls began pouring in to Toronto’s popular Spanish radio station, Boces Latinas, and alerts were broadcast to warn the community about the sweep. People in the Spanish community spread the message through social media, cautioning their loved ones.

“One of my friends just walked into the Coffee Time and opened the door. Two undercover officers moved in from the parking lot and asked for his ID. He was taken to two blue vans at a parking lot behind a bingo hall. There were other Spanish guys being detained there,” said Oscar, a failed refugee claimant from Costa Rica who has lived underground in Toronto for nine years. He spoke on condition that only his first name be used.


Immigration is a noteworthy fact in Toronto, as has been the issue of undocumented or illegal workers. February 2013 discussions about making Toronto a "sanctuary city" culminated in the June 2014 vote of city council to do so (Toronto Star, National Post). Immigration, however, is not an issue within the scope of cities in the Canadian system of governance.

Torontoist's Desmond Cole reported on one protest against this raid and some protesters' demands.

Suzanne Narain of Jane Finch Action Against Poverty said her group is demanding that Ontario become a “sanctuary province” where the undocumented can work without fear of arrest and detention. “We will not let undocumented people be deported,” Narain said. Toronto city council reaffirmed its “access without fear” policy in 2013 and pledged that undocumented people would receive equal access to City services. In 2008, Toronto Police contemplated but ultimately rejected a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy intended to prohibit officers from sharing immigration information with federal authorities.

Jaqueline Dwight, who works at a local community farm, said she was caught in stalled traffic on the day the raids were taking place.”The buses were moving very slowly—I wondered what was going on,” Dwight said. She added that she is “disgusted” by the federal government’s immigration policy. “There’s enough money in citizenship and immigration to allow people to work and develop themselves while they go through a legitimate immigration process. It doesn’t have to be like this.”

Mestanza told us he is dismayed that people without immigration status are being placed in maximum security prisons like Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton. “We are not criminals, we are working in this country very hard to raise our families.” Mestanza added that the federal government has knowingly benefited from the labour of undocumented migrant workers. “For many years, Canada immigration knew that in this country, there are so many undocumented people. Now, all of a sudden, they’ve decided time’s up, they have to go back.”


My comment there reflected my uncertainty on the issue.

I'm sympathetic to the people arrested, concerned about the possibility that the Canadian state might have acted illegitimately, and hope that their statuses can be regularized.

I also think that it's very important that there be clear rules and regulations regarding immigration and enforcement of these, so as to avoid anti-immigrant populisms. So far Canada has been fortunate enough to avoid these. Giving people who knowingly violated established rules and regulations regarding immigration a pass could end up jeopardizing far more people than them.


What do you think? What policies should Canada--and, conceivably, other countries--adopt in regards to undocumented workers? Are mass regularizations a good idea, or should we opt for stricter enforcement of existing laws, or perhaps something in between? Are there wider political issues we should be concerned with?

Discuss.
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  • James Bow celebrates his fourth published novel.

  • blogTO celebrates WiFi in Bay station and shares old pictures of the Junction.

  • Speed River Journal's Van Waffle examines the question of what caused new pollution in Lake Erie.

  • Spacing Toronto examines again the controversy over a billboard apparently unauthorized at Bathuest and Davenport.

  • Torontoist links to a project mapping specific songs to specific places on the map of Toronto, observes after Cheri DiNovo turmoil in the post-election Ontario NDP, and notes Dr. Barnardo's Home Children as well as the complex life of possibly-lesbian Mazo de la Roche.

  • Transit Toronto's James Bow approves of Steve Munro's post suggesting that underfunding and neglect will soon cause serious harm to the TTC and its riders.

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I'd seen the photo exhibit Landed: Together during Doors Open. Nicholas Keung's Toronto Star article highlighting this project will hopefully bring it more attention.

They are “love exiles” from around the world, and they have come here purely for love.

A new multimedia installation titled “Landed: Together in Canada” tells the stories of couples who decided to make Canada their home — though neither partner was Canadian — because there was nowhere else where they could settle legally as couples.

“When I was dropping off my partner at the airport, I wasn’t sure if we were going to see each other again. It’s like watching somebody drown.” That’s how one Indonesian-American gay couple described their separation before they reunited in Canada.

They found refuge in a country that recognizes same-sex marriage and embraces them with a relatively open immigration system.

Landed, which can be seen and heard now at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, was inspired by artist Sarah Foy’s own experience as an American love exile in Canada — though in her case her partner, Luise Heyerhoff, is Canadian.

“Within a couple of weeks of my arrival in Canada, I met another couple who landed here for the same reason. This inspired me to find as many couples as I could who immigrated to Canada because they could not live together in the U.S. or the country where the foreign partner is from,” said Foy, who met Heyerhoff in the U.S. in 2009 and landed here last year.

“It made me think that this is a pretty special place. If Canada hadn’t worked out, it’d have been the end of many of these relationships. It’s Canada or nothing else. I thought there’s a story to be told, and I wanted to find a way to share the struggles these couples went through for love.”

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