Plenary Sessions of the 2004

National Metropolis Conference

March 25 to 28, 2004

Plenary 1 - Thursday, March 25
Subject : Immigrants, visible minorities and the labour market: where does discrimination begin?

Background :

The conference's first plenary session coincides with the closing of the 2004 Action Week Against Racism, an annual event that is presented and funded by the Ministère des Relations avec les Citoyens et de l'immigration du Québec (MRCI).

Data from various sources indicate that the labour market situation of immigrants and members of visible minority groups (both Canadian-born and immigrant) is less favourable than that of persons born in Canada who are not members of a visible minority. It is not always easy to identify the causes of these differences, or to determine the extent of the role played by discrimination based on a person's origins. Are there other factors at the root of the observed differences? To shed complementary light on this issue, stakeholders working in various sectors will be asked to share their opinions. The first part of the discussion will focus primarily on employment, unemployment and income statistics for immigrants and visible minorities, taken from the census, the CIC Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC), the MRCI survey on workforce entry of skilled-worker immigrants, and the Statistics Canada and Canadian Heritage Ethnic Diversity Survey.

The four invited speakers have been asked two general questions:

In your opinion, to what extent are the problems discussed the result of discrimination ?
What corrective action, if necessary, should be taken to reduce the differences noted ?

Meeting Chair :

Yvan Turcotte, MRCI, Montréal (Presentation)

Presenters :

Arthur Sweetman, Queen's University, Kingston (Presentation)
Émile Vallée, Fédération des Travailleurs du Québec, Montréal
Noureddine Belhocine, Maison Internationale de la rive sud Presentation in french
France Pelletier, National Bank of Canada, Montréal
Presentation in french

Plenary 2- Friday, March 26
Subject : Inclusive citizenship, identity and diversity

Background :

A growing number of observers abroad have shown considerable interest in the strategies developed by public policy makers in Canada designed to establish inclusive citizenship. It is also generally acknowledged that these approaches are worth considering. This plenary session brings together experts from Canada and abroad in order to analyse the strategies that have been successful and the avenues to be explored in the future for maximizing benefits. The experts discussed three central questions:
1. What is the current role of government in creating inclusive citizenship? What should it be?
2. What tools (legislative, educational, policies on diversity, and so on) are available to governments for implementing these strategies? Should governments develop other tools? How are governments limited in their interventions in this area?
3. Given the current context (in particular the growing diversity of society, as well as the impact of September 11, 2001), in what way should the concepts of citizenship, identity and diversity be developed through public policy? When preparing their answers, the presenters will be invited to pay particular attention to the issue of religious diversity and its implications.

Meeting Chair :
Richard Clippingdale, Carleton University, Ottawa

Presenters :

Marie McAndrew, Université de Montréal, Montréal
Varun Uberoi, Oxford University, Oxford
Tamar Jacoby, Manhattan Institute, New York

Rosaline Frith, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ottawa
Eileen Sarkar, Canadian Heritage, Ottawa

Plenary 3 - Saturday, March 27
Subject : International cooperative management of migration

Background :

Discussion about international migration has intensified in recent years. As a result, this issue is one of the priorities of organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union, and quite a few countries. At issue is not only whether, but also how to manage the phenomena associated with international migration. It is extremely important to determine whether cooperative migration management can create mutual advantages for both countries of origin and destination. Developing countries continue to be concerned with the loss of skilled human capital, but are often interested in the emigration of these skilled workers because of the money they send back to their country of origin. Developed countries increasingly welcome migrants' human capital, both skilled and unskilled, but remain concerned with maintaining sovereignty over their borders both for security reasons and to maintain a flow level that their societies and labour markets can successfully integrate.

Recently the Metropolis Project, the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration, the Global Commission on International Migration, the Berne Initiative, the Society for International Development and other organizations have been looking at whether international cooperative management will be able to help all the countries concerned with migration to benefit from the phenomenon. In this session, speakers at the forefront of this issue presented:

1. the origins of these discussions and initiatives;
2. the current status of talks and new achievements;
3. descriptions and mandates of key organizations (including the IOM-OIM) and their perspectives on the current situation;
4. their points of view on the interests of various players;
5. the possible role that Canada could and should play in the movement towards international cooperation now under way.

Meeting Chair :

Howard Duncan, Metropolis, Ottawa

Presenters :

Joseph Chamie, UN, New York (Presentation)
Robert Paiva, IOM-OIM, Geneva (Presentation)
Colleen Thouez, Global Commission on International Migration, Geneva (Presentation)
Howard Adelman, Princeton University, Princeton
Diane Vincent, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ottawa (Presentation)

Plenary 4 - Sunday, March 28
Subject : Immigration and multilinguism: rethinking the issues of integration and social cohesion in the context of globalisation

Background :

Languages will grow in importance in the 21st century. Acquiring high levels of fluency in one or more languages shapes access to the working world, information, community life and citizenship. Increased economic, political and social ties among nations provide greater opportunities for exchanges and contact between languages. And languages are at the heart of the revolution in our communication technologies. Furthermore, migratory flows have intensified, and this has sparked a discussion about the roles that languages and their status play in defining the new socio-politico-economic balances throughout the world.

Historically, linguistic homogeneity has been associated with the definition of social cohesion within a State. Is this true today? In this era of globalization, the challenge in upcoming years will be to strike a balance between respecting cultural and linguistic diversity and bringing "citizens" closer together under common banners that bear fairly broad, complex definitions of identity. How can we then ensure a balance between policies that simultaneously promote the use of a common language and respect for the mother tongue of the immigrant? For example, we might wonder how the management of multilingualism, as it is being discussed in the immigration context, leads to a reconsideration of the concepts of integration and social cohesion, depending on the particular angle taken.

Meeting Chair :

James de Finney, Université de Moncton, Moncton

Meeting chair :

Peter Leuprecht, McGill University, Montreal

Presenters :

Françoise Armand, Immigration and Metropolis, Montréal
Pierre Georgeault, Conseil supérieur de la langue française, Québec
Jack Jedwab, Association for Canadians Studies, Montréal
Monica Heller, University of Toronto, Toronto

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