Archive | July, 2010

Army Chief Gets Extension

Posted on 28 July 2010 by .

The decision of Pakistan’s federal government on July 22 to give second 3-year-term to the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has important ramifications for Pakistan’s war against terrorism, its interaction with the military establishments of the allies and internal political dynamics. Now General Kayani will hold on to his office until November 28, 2013.

This decision did not surprise anyone because it was expected that the Army Chief would get an extension. The decision is welcomed by most political parties and leaders, although the PMLN was cautious in talking about the extension and the Islamic parties, known for their sympathy and support for the Taliban and other militant groups were not happy.

Unlike the military operations in the tribal areas in 2003-2007, the new operations launched under the leadership have been quite successful. The Army, the Air Force and the Paramilitary Forces launched an effective operation in the Swat area in the last week of April 2009. The South Waziristan operation was pursued in October-December 2009. During 2010, the Army is active in other tribal areas where it has weakened most militant groups. However, the problem is far from completely tackled.  This made it imperative to let the present Army leadership continue with its counter-terrorism policies.

The continuity in the army is also relevant to sustaining international equations with the U.S. and NATO military command in Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command, NATO military establishment and the Pentagon.  These relations are critical to pursuing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. Further, given the fact that the political track is gaining more attention with an emphasis on exploring dialogue with and accommodation of selected Taliban groups, the continuity of Pakistan’s security leadership and a relationship of mutual understanding between Pakistan and the security command of the U.S. and the NATO is critical.

In the domestic Pakistani context, Kayani’s focus has been on rehabilitation of the image of the Army, especially its top command, tarnished in the course of the Lawyers’ movement against  General Pervez Musharraf.  Most serving army officers were gradually pulled out of civilian assignments (2008-2009). The Army and the ISI maintained a nonpartisan disposition in the 2008 general elections.

The Army top brass focused attention on morale building among its personnel. Greater attention was given to providing material rewards to junior officers, NCOs, JCOs and soldiers that were neglected during the Musharraf’s days.  Special attention is being assigned to the welfare of the families of the personnel killed in counter-terrorism operations. This goodwill will help Kayani in the second tenure.

Kayani has not generated extra ordinary pressure on the civilian government and has stayed aloof from the speculative report in the media that the military and judiciary would join together to dislodge President Zardari and the PPP-led federal government.  Only two issues generated some tension between the civilian leadership and the Army top brass. These were the attempts by the civilian government to place the ISI under the control of Interior Ministry and the objections of military top brass on various references to the military and the intelligence agencies in the Kerry-Lugar bill in September-October 2009.

The on-going counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency has created a relationship of interdependence between the military and the civilian leadership. The latter cannot cope with militancy and terrorism without the full support of the military. However, the military needs civilian ownership of the current security operations.

There is a shared decision-making on key foreign policy and security issues, including religious extremism and terrorism, by the President, the Prime Minister and the Army Chief. This guarantees political stability and greater civil-military coordination.

This is not the first time that an Army Chief has been given extension.  General (later Field Marshal) Ayub Khan who completed his first four year term in January 1955 got a full term’s extension up to January 1959.  In June 1958, Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon extended his tenure by another two years up to January 1961. However, he assumed power in October 1958. He resigned from the Army command and appointed General Mohammad Musa Khan the Army Chief on October 28, 1958. Musa Khan got an extra full term in 1962. Three Army Chiefs gave extensions to themselves while they held the levers of political power. They were Yahya Khan, Zia-ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf.

Kayani’s extension means that only one Lieutenant General loses the chance of becoming Army Chief; others would retire anyway.  The Army looks nicely after retired senior officers, i.e., perks, post retirement jobs, etc. Further, such a person can be accommodated in some other important position. The Chairman, Joints Chiefs of Staff is retiring in October which makes the senior most position available.

Kayani’s professional stature and political clout will depend on the performance in countering terrorism and his role in helping Afghanistan and the U.S. to find an honorable way out of the ongoing internal strife.

Any direct involvement of the military in politics and governance will divert its attention from the primary task of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency that gives respectability to the top military command both at the global and domestic levels.  Even if the civilian government performs poorly, the top brass of the military should show restraint and patience.

Author: Hassan Askari

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Centennial College students getting into the Caribana spirit

Posted on 28 July 2010 by .

TORONTO, July 27 /CNW/ – This year’s Scotiabank Caribana Festival will feature an unusual costume showpiece that stands two-stories high, built primarily by students from Centennial College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture, under the continuous guidance and support of Tribal Knights Mas Camp, Caribana costume designers.

This will mark the first time an Ontario college has participated in the King and Queen Show and the Scotiabank Caribana Parade. Scotiabank Caribana Festival is an exciting two-week cultural explosion of Caribbean music, cuisine and performing arts. On the night before the Scotiabank Caribana Parade, The King and Queen Show will reveal two band members who will be named king or queen of their band. This project is unique because it is a student-led initiative.

The School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture’s dean Shyam Ranganathan and Tribal Knights’ costume designer Dexter Seusahai met and collectively discussed the idea of a project. Volunteers were sought and the team assembled came up with a theme.

“It is a rain-forest theme,” said Norine Bedminster, one of the Centennial student volunteers. The chosen theme and design aligns with the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture’s mission to promote responsible and sustainable cultural heritage tourism.

The costume weighs a whopping 200 pounds. “I am working out just to be able to carry this costume around at the parade,” says Salome Odeny, the student masquerader who will be wearing the costume at the July 31st Parade. Odeny, who is from Kenya, is a third-year Hospitality and Tourism Administration student at Centennial College.

Canadian and international students at Centennial College are working together on this project. With initiatives such as this one, students learn how to work in teams towards common goals. It is also giving Centennial College’s international students the opportunity to practice their English language skills outside an academic setting.

The King and Queen Show will take place on July 29, at Lamport Stadium, 1151 King St. West.

The Scotiabank Caribana Parade will take place on July 31 from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. starting at Exhibition Place & Lakeshore Boulevard located at 200 Princes’ Blvd. Admission is free. Visit caribanafestival.com for more information.

Culture is located at 941 Progress Ave., Toronto, Ont., M1G 3T8.

The middle class retirement income problem – The case for a voluntary pension plan

CALGARY, July 22 /CNW/ – There is a looming shortfall of retirement income for lower middle and middle class Canadians, according to Prof. Norma Nielson, who has called on regulators to carefully consider the role of government in providing a new way for Canadians to save for retirement.

In a research paper released today by The School of Public Policy entitled “Should Government Facilitate Voluntary Pension Plans?,” Nielson examines the benefits of creating a regulated Voluntary Pension Plan (VPP) that would allow earners and employers to contribute to a large, co-mingled investment pool. The VPP would face the same regulation as employer sponsored pensions (RPPs), but would bring the benefits of being able to invest in a wider variety of instruments to a wider audience, thereby mitigating risk.

“The current pension system in Canada, while protecting many employees, is sufficiently complex that it serves as a barrier to middle-class individuals, especially this who work for small- and medium-size employers,” says Nielson, a Professor in the Haskayne School of Business. “The VPP could be a solution that allows professional investment services to be more readily accessible to solve what is solidly a middle-class Canadian problem.”

Nielson’s review of recent research argues that the CPP and other programs provide adequate retirement income for low income earners, and that high income earners use the opportunities they are afforded under the current system to save and invest adequately for retirement. However, those in the middle do not have sufficient disposable income to adequately save enough to provide a middle class retirement.

Cancellation of Youth In Transition Survey Shortsighted

OTTAWA, July 22 /CNW Telbec/ – The federal government’s plan to cut the Youth in Transition Survey, and several other student surveys, will make it all but impossible to make informed education policy.

“The government’s misguided assault on student-focused research will leave policy makers shooting in the dark,” said David Molenhuis, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “We risk losing the ability to make informed decisions about social and economic policies regarding education.”

The federal government recently announced its intention to cancel funding for the Youth In Transition Survey (YITS), National Longitudinal Survey on Children and Youth, the National Apprenticeship Survey, and the Program for International Student Assessment, currently carried out jointly between Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Statistics Canada.

These studies are the primary sources of information on who is attending and who is excluded from post-secondary education. They provide vital information on students, their first post-graduation interaction with the employment market, and the relationship between education and employment. The YITS and the PISA, are required to fulfill international commitments to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s data services. Without this information, policy makers will not be able to tell what is working or identify necessary changes to make students in Canada internationally competitive.

“If policy isn’t going to be guided by empirical research, then what will it be guided by?” added Molenhuis.

Empowering business educators in developing countries

Ivey School of Business making extensive case collection available

LONDON, ON, July 19 /CNW/ – Business cases are one of the most powerful building blocks of management education. The Richard Ivey School of Business is taking a definitive step to make cases more accessible in the least developed countries around the world.

University faculty members in 39 countries with per capita GDP of less than $2,000 a year will now be able to use all cases from Ivey Publishing’s catalogue of more than 7,000 cases at no charge.

This includes countries such as Zimbabwe, with an estimated GDP in 2009 of $200, Rwanda, with an estimated GDP of $1,000; and Cambodia, with an estimated GDP of $1,900. Please see the full list below.

Distributing to more than 100 countries, Ivey Publishing is the world’s second largest producer and distributor of comprehensive, decision-oriented cases.

“Case teaching is a strong way of communicating management education to current business students and to the next generation of business leaders,” said Paul Beamish, Director of Ivey Publishing and Professor at Ivey Business School.

“This is definitely a good initiative. Ivey is one of the leading business schools in the world. Exposure to Ivey cases will give students a good grounding in business, it will help improve the quality of management in companies and it is also good for the economy in those countries,” said Elie Chrysostome, Associate Professor of Strategic Management and International Business at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh. He is originally from Benin, one of the 39 countries whose universities are now able to access the case collection at no charge.

Faculty members in eligible countries are required to register with Ivey Publishing (cases.ivey.uwo.ca) to access the cases. The cases can only be used in-country and cannot be electronically distributed.

“Case-based teaching allows students to act as real business managers and to effectively apply theory to real situations,” said Beamish, who is also the Director of Ivey’s Asian Management Institute and Director of Ivey’s Engaging Emerging Markets Research Centre.

Ivey Publishing is the largest producer of Asian case studies in the world. Ivey is the top producer of China-based cases, including hundreds available in Chinese. Through case-teaching workshops and case-writing workshops conducted in partnership with universities in developing regions, Ivey has contributed significantly in advancing case-based business education around the world. To keep Ivey Publishing’s case collection current, Ivey adds 200 classroom-tested case studies each year.

The 39 countries eligible to participate: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Canadians continue to give their schools high marks

EDMONTON, July 14 /CNW Telbec/ – The majority of Canadians continue to grade the nation’s schools with either an A or B, according to polling results released this week by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). The Federation’s Annual General Meeting begins today in Edmonton.

“Six out of ten adult Canadians surveyed this past spring rated schools in their own communities with an A or B, and 53 per cent awarded schools in their province or territory similar grades,” says CTF President Mary-Lou Donnelly.

“Not only do Canadians rate schools in their own communities more highly than those in the remainder of their province or territory,” notes Donnelly, “but parents of children attending public school tend to rate the job their schools are doing more highly than non-parents.”

The findings are contained in the National Issues in Education Poll conducted by Vector Research for CTF between Feb. 18 and March 5, 2010. Some 2,591 Canadian adults took part in the online poll.

The survey also asked respondents to rate the job schools in their communities are doing in relation to six issues. Some 78 per cent of those polled rated as “good” or “excellent” the job their schools are doing with respect to giving girls and boys an equal chance to succeed. Seven in ten believed their schools are making sure all students feel respected, welcome and included. Two-thirds of respondents believed their schools were ensuring Aboriginal and other ethnic minority groups the same chance to succeed in school as white children. Close to six in ten participants rated their schools in the top two categories on questions of respect for sexual orientation, equal opportunities for rich and poor children, and inclusion of students with physical, emotional and learning disabilities.

The National Issues in Education Poll examined a wide range of issues, including Canadians’ priorities for education spending as well as attitudes towards measuring student achievement, emerging problems such as cyberbullying and programs and activities that foster citizenship.

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How Green Is Brown?

Posted on 28 July 2010 by .

As Canadians move into “election-readiness mode”, South Asian Diasporic voters might learn that they have a lot in common with the Green Party of Ontario.

For those of us who go unnoticed on the shores, we are soon to catch the eye of the political tide. To wash away our vote, a wave of political campaigns is headed our way. And heading the wrong way at the 2011 elections will almost certainly inaugurate the end of 2012. In my opinion, it is not even “who” we vote for at the elections that will make the difference: it is “what” we vote for. This, I believe, is the seat of government malfeasance.

For a moment, consider the world for those whose lives have been hit by social injustice, violence, economic inequalities and ecological ignorance: they have not been left with much of a world, have they?

And, before we know it, there will not be much of a world for most of us too.

And this, I must remind you, is not an apocalyptic dance to the tune of Jim Jones.

Pulsating with personal and global responsibility, the Green Party of Ontario (GPO) is readying itself to appeal to the electorate to realize the need for a government that is committed to green values.  Mike Schreiner, GPO leader, recognizes the urgency for this shift and is motivated to realize seats for Green MPPs at Queen’s Park.

“An innovative policy approach and a minority voice are desperately needed at Queen’s Park,” says Griffin Carpenter, GPO member.

And rightfully so.

In May 2010, the Environment Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) announced that Ontario will not meet its greenhouse gas ( GHG ) reduction targets in 2014 and that emissions will rise between 2014 and 2020. This announcement was also coupled with harsh criticism for the Liberal government’s failure to enact a coordinated energy-efficiency and conservation plan.

These failures not only mar any of the successes of the Liberal tenure, but, more importantly, call for an immediate assessment of how core GPO values can alter Ontario’s landscape.

And this is where I come to the question of my editor, Asma Amanat : how green is brown? Are the two compatible?

As I discussed a story on GPO with her, I understood that it is not our business to think for our readers : we are not in the business of buying votes. But we could certainly invite our readers to think, for themselves, about party values in the political scene.  We realized that I must “present an option” rather than “ buy your choice”.

So I shall do just that.

When placed under the microscope, each political party has pros and cons in its genes. However, presenting the green platform would allow the South Asian reader to, hopefully, understand green philosophy with or without casting a GPO vote. At a time when the political circus is far too chaotic to become a part of our already frenzied lives, we decided to view the political as personal and examine how we might already have a green value or two in us that we might want to translate into the political.

I understand that going “green” has, admittedly, grown into a fad. It signifies concern without a signified concerned. This, however, only motivates me to match GPO values with the South Asian values I am aware of in order to realize the power of green.

If you visit GPO’s website ( http://www.gpo.ca), you will come to meet the party’s 10 key values.

Let us question if brown has anything in common green :

1)      Sustainability : if the GPO is concerned with establishing better resources for the future, isn’t this a mantra that brought most, if not all, of our family to this part of the world? Canada is what they did for the kids, no?

2)      Social Justice : if acting locally and globally is the basis of a just society, who better than the Diaspora to champion this cause?

3)      Grassroots Democracy : if people must meet together to discuss change, has this process not been the heart of our various community centres?

4)      Nonviolence : Ahimsa?

5)      Decentralization : if the GPO is committed to lessening the gap between the people and the state, does this not resound with our regular calls for adequate representation?

6)      Community-based Economics : need I explain how brown this is?

7)      Gender Equality/Feminism : Aqsa Parvez?

8)      Diversity : Unity in diversity?

9)      Personal and Global Responsibility : if the GPO studies our footprints on this planet, why not make sure we leave a healthy one?

10)  Ecological Wisdom : what are we doing for our kids?

Green and brown are not as far apart as we think. Now this is not to say that the GPO is your instant choice. But it certainly is a choice that you have been presented with.

Should you consider this choice more seriously, the party is building its team for 2011 and is welcoming students to partake in their internship program and familiarize themselves with the political grid.

For more info on opportunities, drop an email to admin@gpo.ca or call (416) 977-7476.

Author: Ali Abbas

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There is no honour in killing – it’s just murder

Posted on 28 July 2010 by .

Painting all South Asian or Middle Eastern cultures and religious traditions with the same brush is not only unfair but it’s inaccurate. Just take a critical look the latest stories about “honour killings.”

From left to right: Jawinder “Jassi” Kaur (25), Aqsa Parvez (16), Methal Dayem (22), Lubaina Bhatti Ahmed (39), Sahar Daftary (23), Amandeep Singh Atwal (17), Amina Said (17) and Sarah Said (18), Sandeela Kanwal (25), Surjit Athwal (27), Rukhsana Naz (19), Fadime Sahindal (32), Heshu Yones (16), Anooshe Sediq Ghulam (22), Maja Bradaric (16), Sahjda Bibi (21), Anita Gindha (22), Shafilea Ahmed (16), Gulsum Semin (20), Hatin Surucu (23), Banaz Mahmod (20), Samaira Nazir (25), Sazan Bajez-Abdullah (24), Sabia Rani (19), Ghazala Khan (18), Caneze Riaz (39) and daughters Sayrah (16), Sophia (15), Alicia (10), Hannah (3), Hina Saleem (21), Morsal Obeidi (16), Aasiya Hassan (37), Ayman Udas (30), Du’a Khalil (17), Khatera Sadiqi (20), Lidia Motylska (19), Müjde B. (18), Pela Atroshi (19), Rim Abu Ghanem (19), Sabina Akhtar (26), Uzma Rahan, 32,and sons, Adam (11), and Abbas (8) and daughter, Henna(6), Tulay Goren (15)

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives seem to think that this is a prevalent practice in communities of South Asian or Islamic traditions, but let’s face it – these tragic cases, as sensational as they are, are isolated and are not tradition or something communities tolerate.

Murder is a serious crime and under Canada’s Criminal Code, there is a process to convict and condemn those who are found guilty.

In their July report, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy documented 12 honour killings in Canada since 2002. Yes, even one is too many but why is the Conservative government suddenly worried about 12 dead women, when thousands are killed or go missing every year?

The death of any woman is an honour killing. We just have different names for it or it happens in a different form. But essentially, it’s violence against women, gender-based violence or woman abuse.

Every day, we hear examples of men (husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, boyfriends or partners) who abuse and kill women with whom they have a relationship. The underlying problem is about power and control – issues that the man needs to resolve within himself. And this goes beyond culture and religion.

But if the Conservatives were serious about stopping crimes and violence against women, they should seriously reinvest money and support to women’s groups.

Organizations, such as the national Status of Women Canada, and numerous regional and local women’s shelters and support groups carry out educational and awareness campaigns on the need to end violence against women, including specific programs directed at men to identify their issues.

I wonder if the 12 women killed in the name of honour have restored honour to their family name. I also wonder if it’s honourable to have a member of the family rot in jail on charges of murder or assault. In the end, murder is murder and there is no honour or pride in that.

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Investing in AIDS

Posted on 28 July 2010 by .

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq announced the renewed Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI), which features the creation of the CHVI Research and Development Alliance. The Alliance will enable Canada to be a leading contributor to global efforts in developing a safe, effective, affordable and globally accessible HIV vaccine.

“Through the launch of the CHIV Research and Development Alliance, Canada continues to lead the way in the global fight against HIV and AIDS,” said Minister Aglukkaq. The announcement “reflects our Government’s continuing commitment to help find a cure for this devastating virus which crosses borders, cultures, genders and backgrounds.”

The CHVI Research and Development Alliance is a network in Canada that brings together leading researchers from the public and private sectors, as well as the international community, to develop innovative solutions to the challenges facing HIV vaccine development. The Alliance will focus on scientific excellence and a number of significant investments to help researchers get potential HIV vaccines from the lab to internationally recognized clinical trials.

“Canada has the expertise, experience and resources to make a significant contribution to this global effort to develop HIV vaccines,” said Minister Clement. “For one, the Government of Canada is proud to invest in the development of technology, and engage the world-leading capacities of our private sector to help accelerate the development of an HIV vaccine.”

Another important component of the renewed CHVI is the Government of Canada’s investments, through the Canadian International Development Agency, in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in low and middle-income countries. The investment is intended to help deliver improved access, better services and programs, and a higher level of education about HIV with the goal of reducing the number of HIV positive mothers who transfer the virus to their unborn children. This may help pave the way for the introduction and acceptance of an HIV vaccine when it becomes available.

“As the development of an HIV vaccine will take time, it is important to continue to support global HIV prevention to reduce infection rates,” said Minister Oda. “Our investment demonstrates that we are committed to addressing HIV and contributing to solutions globally to slow its spread.”

“We recognize Canada’s significant contribution to the global effort to find a safe and effective HIV vaccine,” said Dr. Stefano Bertozzi, Director of the HIV Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This approach marks a significant step forward in the work to find a safe and effective HIV vaccine.”

While the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were developing the Alliance, work on the CHVI’s existing programs has continued.

As part of its $60 million commitment to the CHVI, the Canadian International Development Agency’s has committed $16 million over five years to support research teams in Africa. The teams will work to strengthen the capacity of African researchers and institutions to carry out future HIV/AIDS prevention trials in Africa. CIDA is providing this funding to the Global Health Research Initiative, which is providing, in turn, research grants to support seven Canada-Africa research teams over 2009-2014.

Through the CHVI Emerging Team Grant program, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently awarded $2 million over five years to two research teams in Canada. This investment will fund collaborative Canadian research in HIV vaccine discovery and social policy, and will help to facilitate knowledge sharing and capacity building in the research field.

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Greater Diversity in Workforce but Equality and Inclusion is for all in public service – Minister Jason Kenny

Posted on 28 July 2010 by .

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat distributed a news release stating that the honorable Stockwell Day, president of the Treasury Board, in consultation with the honorable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism asked for a review of the provisions of the Public Service Employment Act to ensure that while diversity is supported in the public service, that no Canadian is barred from public service opportunities based on race or ethnicity.

“Our government strongly supports the objective of greater diversity in the federal public service. That has been one of my priorities as minister. I’m pleased to say that since coming to office, we have seen a number of visible minority Canadians and Canadians from diverse backgrounds have increased in the federal public service. In my own ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, over 17% of our thousands of employees are from visible minority backgrounds. That exceeds the number of people from visible minority backgrounds in the available workforce. So we have actually exceeded both the government targets and the presence in the overall Canadian workforce of visible minorities.  Also 63% of our employees are female..in promoting greater diversity in the federal public service, we must be sure that we do not exclude people. It must be based on the principle of equality of opportunity, not exclusion on the basis of racial or ethnic grounds.

We can and do advertise government positions in ethnocultural media occasionally  – such as the Canadian Forces and the RCMP and CSIS do in order to draw applications from diverse cultural communities.

If most Canadians get the impression that they are being unfairly discriminated against and not even allowed to apply for jobs in their government, that are funded by their tax dollars, that this will undermine the general positive goal of greater diversity and the reasonable and fair measures that we have undertaken to promote that diversity.

I should also point out that apparently only 1% of the positions offered in the Canadian federal public service have been exclusionary on the basis of race and so in our ministry. There were five such closed exclusive competitions last year and in the broader federal public service, it has been limited to 1% of the – of the job postings that have excluded people on the grounds of race.”

Responding to one question, Minister Kenny said “in my own ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, we have piloted a very successful youth – young newcomer internship program. The young newcomer internship program provides internship opportunities in our ministry for refugees who have arrived in Canada and gone to Canadian universities. Many of these people are then able to go on and get full – full-time employment in our ministry. So we are able to do all of those things without using the unfair, unjust tool of telling Canadians from certain backgrounds that they cannot apply.”

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Service Ontario Centers in Peel Region Are Upgrading Their Systems to Provide Ontarians “a better customership.”

Posted on 21 July 2010 by .

These centers provide either driver’s license and vehicle registration services to Ontarians or OHIP, however these services will now be integrated to serve residents of Mississauga and Brampton better. These services will be expanding to 300 Service Ontario Centers across the province. The goal is to have services available “under one roof,” so that the residents don’t have to travel more than 10 kilometers to access these services. 95 out of 300 Service Ontario services have integrated their services so far.

Minister Harinder Takhar demonstrates integrated services at Service Ontario centres with Minister Linda Jeffers and MPP Vic Dhillon

Minister Takhar recognizes Ms. Carrie Simpson of Service Ontario Centre at 1 Wexford Rd., Brampton

“This is one thing we really, really wanna get right,” said Minister Harinder Takhar, Ontario Minister of Government Services while making the announcement at Service Ontario Centre at 1 Wexford Rd. Brampton.

“Now people [Bramptonians] won’t have to go to Mississauga” for health cards, he said. “We’re making it convenient for people to do business with us.”

1 Wexford Rd. Service Ontario had provided services to 289,000 Ontarians in the year 2009. Since July 18th, its computer systems have been upgraded to issue or renew health cards also.

Minister Takhar recognizes Ms. Heather Chipman & Mr. Gary Collins who manage Service Ontario Centre at 2150 Steeles Ave. East, Brampton on behalf of Trade

Minister Takhar recognizes Ms. Louise Porter of Service Ontario Centre at Mclaughlin Rd.

Integrated, better service and flexibility remained the theme of Minister Takhar’s announcement in Brampton and Mississauga.

The centers would be open late and on weekends “if needed,” Mr. Takhar said.

Ms. Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources, was “pleased” with this integrated system, saying “residents of Brampton have been telling me for years that they needed this [integrated system].”

MPP Charles Sousa joined MPP Takhar at ServiceOntario centre at Westdale Mall, Mississauga. He said that only  45% Ontarians are satisfied with government’s customership, “so there’s quite a gap,” which would be filled by integrating the system to provide public service to people.

In addition to this, 24 hours’ service is available for people online at http://www.serviceontario.ca/

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OMDC Hosts Digital Dialogue Conference in Toronto

Posted on 21 July 2010 by .

Several hundred senior-level content creators working in book publishing, film, interactive digital, magazines, music, television gathered at the Allstream Centre in Toronto, June 29th,  to discuss key issues facing Canada’s creative sector – including the shaping of a national Digital Economy Strategy.

The conference, organized by the Ontario Media Development Corporation, featured top experts sharing their observations of what is happening both online and offline.

New York Times Magazine columnist Virginia Heffernan, says books and reading are alive and well, thanks to online content and digital media.

Highlights of the conference included a talk by Virginia Heffernan, author of  “The Medium,” a weekly column about Internet culture, for The New York Times Magazine. Heffernan noted that digital media is encouraging reading rather than leading to its demise. “The apocalypse is not coming. People are reading all the time,” she said. “People are measurably engaged and relaxed when they are on the Internet.”

The day-long OMDC conference included panels on digital strategy and inspiring success stories.

The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) is an agency of the Government of Ontario. OMDC’s mandate is to build Ontario’s cultural industries’ capacity and competitiveness. Through tax credits, programs and services for the film and television, book and magazine publishing, music, and interactive digital media industries, OMDC maximizes opportunities for growth and innovation in Ontario and abroad. Ontario’s cultural industries contribute billions of dollars annually to the economy and generate thousands of highly skilled jobs.

The Honourable Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture at the Digital Dialogue conference.

The Digital Dialogue conference was video taped and can be viewed on OMDCs website: www.omdc.on.ca

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We want to get Youth back – Michael Ignatieff

Posted on 21 July 2010 by .

After a few hiccups (breaking down of the bus and rumours about a job at Munk Centre of University of Toronto)along the way since the beginning of his summer long Canada-wide bus tour,  Mr. Michael Ignatieff arrived in Brampton at MP Gurbax Malhi’s home on Saturday afternoon. With the street packed with cars and MP Malhi’s garage and backyard full of men of various ages and a very few women, his home was recognizable from far as Liberal Express, the bus carrying Mr. Ignatieff, his wife and others, was parked right in front of MP Malhi’s home.

MP Ignatieff & his wife with MP Malhi's family

With aroma of desi food in the air and people enjoying themselves in spite of heavy rain drops that dropped from sun-filled-sky from time to time, we saw MP Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West), MP Ruby Dhalla (Brampton Springdale), MP Navdeep Bains (Brampton South), MP Andrew Kania (Brampton West) and MP Gurbax Malhhi of course, among the crowd. MP Malhi’s home seemed like a true reflection of South Asian hospitality.

The Liberal leader met with members of South Asian media in the basement of MP Malhi’s home where a broad range of topics were brought up.

Mr. Ignatieff talked about his trip to seven ridings, how he had come across Harper’s garage (Harper’s garage is a name of a garage), how he had talked to people and flipped hamburgers and engaged people by being among them.

Explaining the reason for taking the bus trip, he said, “It’s the way of showing respect; it’s the way of listening and it’s the way of getting the message across,” he said.

In response to the question by Generation Next, the leader of the official opposition said that he is the only leader who has toured colleges and universities “to get young people back in the politics.” He told us Liberal Express is full of young people. He encouraged youth to not “stand out,” but be part of the political process. He is willing to compete with any other political leader to win over youth votes.

As of now, in Toronto, NDP seems to have a stronghold in University of Toronto. NDP MP Olivia Chow’s staff is seen at almost every gathering in and around UofT. Last year, on Club’s Day at UofT, NDP had the greatest number of student supporters. Many students see NDP’s policies to be student friendly.

Could this change? With Mr. Ignatieff’s experience as a professor, can he convince the youth and get them aboard his bus? Well, we would have to see when the next election comes around. Nonetheless, MP Ignatieff will be touring this Fall to colleges and universities.

Like students’ votes, Liberal Party can work hard to win over women as well. While Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairman of ruling Congress Party in India and Ms. Benazir Bhutto, twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, are household names, women remain underrepresented in political parties of Canada. Mr. Ignatieff reveres Mrs. Gandhi and Ms. Benazir as “inspiring.” He concedes that “we gotta get more women in politics. No question about it!”

One of the issues common to youth, women, elders and citizenry in general is telephone bills. Pointing to his left pocket while sitting beside MP Malhi, Mr. Ignatieff said we all want something that’s “good on our pocketbooks.” He promised that a Liberal government would ensure “real competition” in telecom industry where telecommunication companies will have a fair play in competition. He noted that a great number of Canadians are still using dial-up internet. But this will change with the Liberal government as it will invest in building telecom infrastructure.

MP Ruby Dhalla had tabled a Bill last year that would allow seniors who have lived in Canada for as little as three years to be eligible for old age security. This Bill however, didn’t have a lot of support from Liberals. MP Ignatieff’s response to lack of Liberal support for the Bill is “Canadians are not ready to go there yet. We can go only as fast as your political party will allow you to go.” But he noted that Canada’s Pension Plan was introduced by Liberals and that it maintains rights of seniors in Canada.

Mr. Ignatieff has criticized Prime Minister Harper for “neglecting” relationship with China and India. Now that Prime Minister Harper has met with Prime Ministers Hu Jintao and Manmohan Singh, he says “I’ve just come back from China, and Chinese leaders there [in China] asked me where was Canada for three years from 2006 – 2009. Harper put that relationship [with China and India] in deep freezer…now that he [Mr. Harper] has woken up, [it’s] good for him and Canada. But we wasted three years.”

“The future of Canada depends on building relationships with India and China. If we don’t [build relationships with China and India] we won’t be able to create jobs for our kids and grandkids. It’s that simple,” he said, resolutely, in response to Generation Next’s question about ties with India and China.

As for the G-20 Summit, he held Prime Minister Harper responsible for holding G-20 Summit in Toronto, saying “the cost [of the summit] went through the roof” and the entire Summit was “badly managed.”

And Mr. Ignatieff will be back in Ontario because “I know where the votes are,” he laughs with others.

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Liberals Can Never Let Down Sikh community – Ignatieff

“When the chips’re down we’re the party of equality, we’re the party of multiculturalism, we’re the party of immigrants.”

MP Ignatieff cherishes Sikh members of Liberal Caucus, and is willing to win over even more members of Sikh community. Acknowledging Sikh community’s services and contribution to Canada for over a century, he said Liberal party has “equality right in the centre” of its values and that Liberal Party will “always keep it in the centre.”

MP Sukh Dhaliwal and MP Andrew Kania had introduced a petition in House of Commons that would have recognized the atrocities of 1984 as “genocide,” however the petition was never read.

At the time Mr. Ignatieff issued a statement “It is used here to provoke a charged, visceral response which will not bring Canadians closer to mutual understanding and closure in regard to these tragic events,” Mr. Ignatieff said in a statement, adding his party would “never stand with those who seek to polarize communities, or aggravate the tensions around long-standing conflicts that divided us in other lands.”

In response to whether this statement would alienate Sikh community with the liberal Party, Mr. Ignatieff retorted “all Canadians need to understand the tragedy that took place in 1984. We’re friends of Sikh community, and when one community is hurt, it hurt all of us.”

He noted the differences within the Sikh community about not agreeing over the catastrophic incident of 1984. “[It’s] a contested truth,” he said adding on that Canadian Sikhs need to come “to shared truth…to make a decision…as a fellow Canadian..I share the feelings” of Sikh community.

However “it’s not up to government of Canada or House of Commons” to “decide such matters,” he added.

Affectionately putting hand over MP Malhi’s back, MP Ignatieff said that MP Malhi knows that “Liberal Party can never let Sikh community down.”

He added that MP Bains is part of Liberal Party because he believes in Liberal values; Dr. Dhalla knows that “when the chips’re down we’re the party of equality, we’re the party of multiculturalism, we’re the party of immigrants.”

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Mosaic – the Bigger the Best

Posted on 21 July 2010 by .

“This was the best year we ever had. Looked like the weather gods had finally decided to give us a break. A glorious sun shined all day Saturday and then when it became unbearable as the temperature hit 30 degrees on Sunday afternoon, a thunderous cloud appeared from nowhere and poured tons of water on us and brought the temperature back to twenty degrees.” Asma Arshad Mahmood, the chair for CCAI and festival director of TELUS Mosaic 2010 was gleaming with joy and pride as she talked about the 5th annual South Asian heritage festival that took place over the past weekend.

Hazel McCallion the mayor of Mississauga came out both on the gala night as well as on the outdoor festival opening. She was all full of praise for the festival, its organizers and the South Asian community in general for bringing art and cultural activities to the downtown of her city.

Mosaic’s line up of this year was its biggest ever as well as the biggest and best in Canada this year.

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