Academe in Crisis

Racism at Canada’s Universities is Wrong in any Form

Martin Gruenn and Noah Jarvis
August 14, 2023
If it isn’t clear that the “progressive” movement is its own opposite – regressive and reactionary – then the growing practise of Canadian universities to hire explicitly based on skin colour and other discriminatory criteria should remove any doubt. Perhaps worst, they are mindlessly and needlessly repeating if not amplifying mistakes made by the U.S. over the past 70s years – mistakes that south of the border are starting to be corrected. Martin Gruenn and Noah Jarvis survey the wreckage in Canadian academe, examine reams of evidence indicating hearteningly strong economic performance among many races and ethnic groups, and propose a nuanced, fair and empathetic restoration of the merit principle – one that takes on real discrimination where it exists while enabling any individual of merit to flourish.
Academe in Crisis

Racism at Canada’s Universities is Wrong in any Form

Martin Gruenn and Noah Jarvis
August 14, 2023
If it isn’t clear that the “progressive” movement is its own opposite – regressive and reactionary – then the growing practise of Canadian universities to hire explicitly based on skin colour and other discriminatory criteria should remove any doubt. Perhaps worst, they are mindlessly and needlessly repeating if not amplifying mistakes made by the U.S. over the past 70s years – mistakes that south of the border are starting to be corrected. Martin Gruenn and Noah Jarvis survey the wreckage in Canadian academe, examine reams of evidence indicating hearteningly strong economic performance among many races and ethnic groups, and propose a nuanced, fair and empathetic restoration of the merit principle – one that takes on real discrimination where it exists while enabling any individual of merit to flourish.
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If a giant legal redwood falls and Canadian universities don’t hear it, did it make any sound? Judging by their conspicuous silence, our academe appears unperturbed by if not oblivious to the U.S. Supreme Court’s torpedoing of affirmative action. In its landmark 6-3 ruling on June 29, the court found unconstitutional the exclusion of some people (mainly Asians) in favour of (mostly) blacks and hispanics. Commenting on one dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “Justice [Ketanji] Jackson uses her broad observations about statistical relationships between race and select measures of health, wealth, and well-being to label all blacks as victims. Her desire to do so is unfathomable to me…it is an insult to individual achievement and cancerous to young minds seeking to push through barriers, rather than consign themselves to permanent victimhood.”

African-American economist Glenn Loury called Thomas’ opinion (concurring with the majority) “magisterial” but speculated that U.S. universities will try other means to continue discriminating. He believes they might, for example, stop requiring SATs for admission or use narrow geographic criteria to favour certain groups. Harvard, one of the losers in the court case, signalled just such a possibility in its written response to the ruling, stating its commitment to “the fundamental principle that deep and transformative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences.” This recalls author Douglas Murray’s quip – “What experience is there other than lived experience”?

In late June the United States Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions, a practice Justice Clarence Thomas (top left) called “an insult to individual achievement and cancerous to young minds.” African-American economist Glenn Loury (top right) concurs but predicts that universities will continue racial discrimination through other means. Shown at bottom, demonstrators protesting the Supreme Court’s ruling in Washington D.C. (Sources of photos: (top right) Brown University; (bottom) AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Without saying it in so many words, Canadian universities have signalled that they’re with Harvard. The University of Calgary, amongst many, already explicitly practises racially discriminatory hiring. Our elites believe – or act as if they do – that disparities in economic outcome between identifiable groups are due to systemic racism or prejudice; that racism causes all disparities. Racism has been quietly baked into federal government policy in Canada for decades – and not-so-quietly expanded under the ambitiously interventionist Trudeau Liberals – to, among other things, include mandatory diversity statements in federal grant applications. Universities are scrambling to fall in line.

This despite the lack of evidence that disparities in outcome are due to discrimination. Race-based discrimination as practised in Canada is driven by politics and ideology, not facts.

Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts

In the Covid summer of 2020, with some major American cities in flames thanks to the “mostly peaceful” post-George Floyd riots, Justin Trudeau judged there was not nearly enough anxiety and rancour swirling in Canada, so promptly dropped another stink bomb into the nation’s polity. He declared Canada to be a “systemically racist” country.

In an alternate universe, the Prime Minister might have explained what he meant and why an American crime had anything to do with Canada. He could have defined “systemic,” tried to explain how the litany of past injustices suffered by American blacks applied to Canada and our history, or mounted a learned case for critical race theory – that sunny brew concocted by radical feminists and neo-Marxist academics. Instead, he just left his accusation floating in the proverbial punch bowl.

Dark “forces”: “The Bias Iceberg” (top left) and overt-covert racism triangle (bottom) are often used by “social justice” warriors to claim that Canada is full of systemic racism. Justin Trudeau has denounced Canada as systemically racist, seemingly unaware that his own infamous blackface episodes (top right) are classified as some of the worst acts of overt racism. (Sources: (top left graphic) Open Learning and Educational Support, University of Guelph/graphic; (photo) The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck; (bottom graphic) r2hub.org)

Or maybe he was thinking of the “iceberg of prejudice,” often depicted by activists, wherein irritating if fairly benign daily experiences form the tip of vast, hidden, impersonal forces holding people down. He may not know another illustration, a racism pyramid which shows “blackface/brownface” near the top, between anti-immigrant violence and “painting swastikas.”

More likely Trudeau was simply parroting the common “progressive” view that, beyond the occasional personal slights experienced by minorities, social and economic disparities themselves prove racism. But why, other than mere ideology, would one assume there’s a single cause for economic disparities? Whether anyone gets a certain job might depend on hiring bias in a particular instance, but the pipeline of applicants is controlled by any number of factors. Qualifications themselves or individual choice, while potentially affected by bias for or against certain groups, are clearly influenced by many interrelated personal or external elements, including culture and class.

The elephant in the room: African-American economist and commentator Thomas Sowell (left) analyzed the impact of culture on U.S. ethnic income patterns. Comparing Sowell’s data from the 1970s with 2021 U.S. census data shows a substantial change in group-based earnings as a percentage of the national average, with all but four groups having moved up. (Sources: (photo) Courtesy of Rod Searcey, retrieved from KPBS; (table) compiled by authors using data from Ethnic America by Thomas Sowell and 2021 U.S. Census Bureau)

Yet many believe that disparate outcomes are caused mainly or entirely by racism despite the fact that the assertion not only defies common sense but has been, if you will, systematically dismantled by multiple scholars, including African-American economist and commentator Thomas Sowell. Not only can things like geography or even sibling birth order affect outcomes but, as Sowell demonstrates, culture is the elephant in the room. In books like Ethnic America (1981) and Race and Culture (1995), Sowell cites reams of data describing how cultural factors within broad ethnic or racial groups result in complex income patterns. For this, he’s accused of “blaming the victim.”

Sowell’s data from the 1970s show that Americans of European background range from just above average in income (Irish) to 70 percent above average (Jews). Amongst Asians, Filipinos were about average in income whereas Chinese and Japanese-Americans were 12 and 32 percent above average, respectively. U.S.-born blacks were almost 40 percent below the national average income in the 1970s, but blacks of Caribbean origin were almost average.

The 2021 U.S. census (data from which was used for the accompanying table) shows how incomes have changed over the intervening 50-odd years. Several groups have moved up by more than 10 percent: Chinese, Puerto Ricans and even Native Americans, while Filipinos rose an astounding 43 percent. They’re now well above the U.S. average. All but four of the groups have moved up.

U.S. median family income data supports Sowell’s thesis, confirming tremendous ranges not only between but within groups. West Asian (Middle Eastern) and European nationalities have a similar income range, while Latin Americans have a similar low end but are about US$10,000 per year lower at the top. Outliers on the high side are the East Asian Taiwanese and Filipinos, some US$30,000 per year above average, and the South Asian Indians, almost US$60,000 per year above – an astounding 77 percent.

Blacks have the lowest average family incomes, but the highest nationalities within that segment – West Africans – earn right at the U.S. average, despite being recent immigrants. These dramatic differences are of course conveniently concealed by lumping the nationalities into racial groups – or worse, simplifying the whole nation into “white” versus BIPOC (blacks, Indigenous, “people of colour”) – to bolster the systemic racism narrative.

None of this data disproves racism. On the contrary, most groups clearly experienced varied persecution and discrimination – Jews, Japanese and Chinese, Native Americans and blacks of course, but also for a time “white” immigrant groups like the Italians and Irish. Their experiences paint a broad, sordid spectrum of historical mistreatment: ostracism, blackballing, exclusion, displacement, internment and slavery.

U.S. median family income data show dozens of “visible minority” ethnicities earning above the national average, as well as remarkable earning differences not only between various ethnic groupings but also within. Superficially similar nationalities such as Iranians vs. Iraqis or Chileans vs. Hondurans may have glaringly different outcomes. (Source of graph: Compiled by authors using 2021 U.S. Census data)

No surprise (at least, it shouldn’t be): life isn’t fair and humanity is fundamentally flawed. The larger surprise is that many of these groups succeed, some remarkably well – despite discrimination – and others don’t, which prompts difficult questions (or should). Diminishing discrimination against say, the Irish, might account for some of their success. But what Loury calls “social capital” may also mean that some groups are simply better equipped to seize opportunities.

Sowell notes that many groups do better as emigrants than they did “back home,” perhaps due to better opportunities and the fact that it’s the most enterprising who tend to emigrate. Then there are the puzzling ranges. In each grouping, superficially similar nationalities have vastly different outcomes: Indians vs. Pakistanis, Filipinos vs. Vietnamese, Austrians vs. French, Bolivians vs. Hondurans, Ghanaians vs. Dominicans. The more successful nationalities earn on average tens of thousands more per year, per family.

These glaring differences – not mere nuances – are apparently meaningless to the Left. Their reflexive response is to assist historically disadvantaged groups, at least visible minorities, regardless of their economic circumstances. Rather than redressing economic disparities, they seek what Sowell calls “Cosmic Justice.”

Notably, African-American activist and outspoken critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi charges that “racial inequity is evidence of racist policy” and, in one of his most famous quotes from How to be an Antiracist (p.19) , that “the only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination.” Kendi even believes that the term systemic racism is redundant because “racism itself is institutional, structural and systemic” (p. 18). Presumably racism then explains the under-representation of whites in the NBA, NFL and hip-hop, over-representation of “Asians” in scientific fields and (former) Swiss domination in watch manufacturing.

It’s not about colour: Canada’s “systemic barriers” that long hindered a foreign-trained doctor from establishing a medical practice or gaining a hospital position would understandably frustrate immigrants – but would harm all immigrants, regardless of skin colour or nationality. (Source of photo: Toronto Life)

Contrary voices like Loury advocate targeted aid to the communities most in need, like inner-city blacks. He is criticized merely for promoting community-specific measures like improved education opportunities and more secure neighbourhoods.

That said, “systemic barriers” like Canada’s closed-shop professions have frustrated immigrants for decades. The foreign-trained doctor or engineer driving a cab is an all-too-real cliché. But these particular barriers typically harmed all immigrants, not immigrants of only certain skin colour.

Despite compelling evidence that disparities arise for various reasons, it’s human nature to focus on barriers outside our control. Interviewed in June 2020, academic Debra Thompson recalled the anti-black racism she faced growing up in 1990s Oshawa, Ontario. After a post-doctoral degree at Harvard, she is now Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon. She was brought up understanding that “Black people have to work twice as hard to get half as much.” Such beliefs are surely fuel for the great equalizers in our governments and courts. As we shall see, organizations now explicitly reserve job postings for demographic cohorts like Thompson’s, but the roots of these policies reach into the 1960s.

Imagine Equal Outcomes, it isn’t Hard to Do

“My daughter is only half Jewish; can she go into the pool up to her knees?” This famous quip by beloved U.S. comedian and film actor Groucho Marx, skewering the anti-Semitic rules of a California country club, may seem like a funny reminder of the regressive early to mid-20th century. America has changed in 100 years, but if Canada wants to copy U.S. race policy – the way Trudeau appropriated George Floyd outrage – then watch out.

Following the Second World War, American blacks continued to struggle in acquiring civil rights, immigration from the developing world expanded and, later, multiculturalism and policies promoting minorities proliferated. Overt racism diminished, with racial slurs verboten in polite society, and even the much-mocked phrase “some of my best friends are…” marked a change in thinking. More significantly, the rate of inter-racial marriage – a strong barometer of good race relations – rose steadily, from 3 percent of newlywed Americans in 1967 to 19 percent in 2019.

The U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 codified the protection of minorities in hiring, promotion and firing. Stunningly, after that remarkable victory for equality, the U.S. government appeared to move seamlessly from discriminating against specific groups to myriad forms of government assistance for the same groups – using similarly arbitrary racial criteria.

In his recent book Classified, the Untold Story of Racial Classification in America, distinguished law professor David Bernstein describes how “amateur anthropology, sociology, interest group lobbying, incompetence, inertia…and happenstance” have driven the often odious racial and ethnic designations used by the U.S. government. He describes how an arbitrary mishmash of ancestry, appearance and/or community connection determines how much government favour a particular group or individual receives.

“Amateur anthropology,” “incompetence” and “inertia”: In his just-published book, distinguished law professor David Bernstein documents how federal and state governments use an arbitrary mishmash of ancestry, appearance and other factors to lump people into categories. Bizarre rules and numerous oddities result. (Source of right photo: Anchoring Truths)

Government largesse for minority businesses, college admissions rules and affirmative action in general, originally meant to help African-Americans, soon saw myriad groups lined up for preferences. They pointed to past discrimination such as rules keeping Jewish students out of Ivy League universities, barriers to Italians (and Catholics in general) gaining teaching positions at the City University of New York, or underperformance of groups like the Filipinos who, in the 1970s, had the lowest median income of any ethnic group in California. As shown above, the latter are now one of the most economically successful groups in the U.S.

Bernstein details the decades of legal challenges as people sought economic gain. Federal and state governments enacted ever-more bizarre rules around group categories, creating some (like “hispanic”) out of whole cloth and lumping people from Pakistan to the Philippines together as “Asians.” This resulted in numerous oddities, such as the Portuguese Rodriguez brothers – categorized as “hispanic” – in the 1980s getting 80 percent of Washington, D.C.’s contracts set aside for minorities. Tough luck for the 45 percent of D.C.’s population that’s African-American.

It’s no surprise that what Bernstein calls “identity entrepreneurs” soon emerged. These are individuals tailoring their racial or ethnic backgrounds to “maximize benefit,” claiming “white social identity in contexts where they may otherwise face racial discrimination and a nonwhite (sic) identity in other contexts where affirmative action preferences are available.”

As government groped for useable criteria, connections by blood, reminiscent of Jim Crow laws, often decided who belonged to certain groups and who didn’t. The case of the Cherokee Freedmen stands out – descendants of black slaves held by the Cherokee Nation before emancipation. The Freedmen fought for decades to be recognized as Cherokees, against frequent blood-based arguments from existing members. They finally won full rights of Cherokee citizenship by judicial ruling in 2017.

How the Affirmative Action Impulse Played out in Canada

Many of these examples echo what also was happening in Canada. Government has gone from protecting minorities to active discrimination based on race, ethnicity, etc. In response, people seek advantage by crafting their identity to get prestigious jobs. The number of Canadian academics inventing Indigenous heritage is piling up, for example. Applying racial filters to criminal sentencing has produced tragic failures, such as the leniency shown Myles Sanderson for his repeated violent behaviour that culminated last year in his committing mass murder in Saskatchewan. There are numerous similar, barely less horrific examples. These scandals are bad enough but, beyond the warped incentive structures, do such policies even help the groups for which they are intended?

Canada’s historical experience with visible minorities is much different from that of the U.S. largely because its racial profile until the 1980s was nearly 98 percent white/European. (Source of graph: Statistics Canada)

Historical context might help us understand what’s happening in Canada. First, until fairly recently, this country’s number of visible minorities was very small. Canadians were overwhelmingly of European origin until about 1980, with barely more than 2 percent of the non-Indigenous population being visible minorities. As late as 1971 only 0.2 percent of Canadians were black (compared to 11 percent of Americans). Many Canadians could literally have grown up without ever seeing a black person.

Canada’s fraught history with First Nations is similar. Between 1951 and 1971 our Indigenous population hovered between 1.2 and 1.4 percent (it is about 5 percent today). With over 98.5 percent of Canadians being non-Indigenous, and most reserves located in rural areas, it’s little wonder that ongoing problems faced by those communities didn’t register with many Canadians.

Canada’s experience, despite the assertions of Trudeau et al, is fundamentally different from that of the U.S. Past social strife was mainly among the 98 percent – French-English, English-Irish, Protestant-Catholic. The sheer immediacy of our vast demographic changes means Canada’s challenges are less about righting past wrongs than concerned with integration and accommodation in the here and now – ensuring that the people who’ve chosen to come here, and their children, are treated fairly and have every opportunity to succeed.

By 2011, over 20 percent of Canadians were foreign-born, representing more than 6 million newcomers since 1980. Seamlessly integrating that number, of myriad cultures and nationalities, isn’t a piece of cake. But the economic outcomes for these people and their children have been far from negative.

As previously discussed in C2C and reiterated by commentator Matthew Lau in this recent book, Statistics Canada reported last year on the economic fortunes of second-generation immigrants compared to legacy (or “white,” in the government agency’s language) Canadians. StatsCan does its best to present a glass half – or more – empty, as with women earning less on average than men or some minority groups having lower incomes.

The achieved economic prosperity of second-generation Canadian immigrants presents a stark contrast to the government-driven narrative of systemic racism. Among women, all but three ethnic groups are more financially successful than whites. (Source of chart: The weekly earnings of Canadian-born individuals in designated minority and White categories in the mid-2010s by Theresa Qiu and Grant Schellenberg, Statistics Canada, 2022)
 

In fact, new Canadians are doing remarkably well. Only three groups of women are doing worse than “whites” – and all are within 10 percent. Black women are within 4 percent of the “white” comparator used by StatsCan, likely within the margin of error, and a much smaller gap than in the U.S. As with the U.S. numbers, Filipino women are doing well, a full 13 percent better than the comparator, despite representing fairly new arrivals to Canada. Canadian men, by comparison, have a more balanced distribution – four groups above and five below “whites.” All except two groups – black and Latin American men – are within 15 percent of “legacy Canadians,” whose families have been here for generations.

Rather than proving the existence of systemic barriers, these numbers mirror the complexity Sowell observed in the U.S. data. Income in the broadly defined groups is quite variable and it’s likely that, if broken down to detailed nationalities, one “systemic” cause would not dominate. Consequently, it’s reasonable to believe the disparities have many reasons. While prejudice cannot be ruled out, its contribution to racial disparities is essentially unquantifiable and almost certainly low. If outcomes vary as much within broadly-defined minority groups as between them and legacy Canadians – as in the American data – it’s unlikely to be the dominant cause. That said, current lower incomes of black and Latin American men (not women) deserve scrutiny. It’s worth determining what’s behind this.

As with Sowell’s data in the U.S., these facts seem to matter little to most of the Canadian Left. Nominally, diversity is a cardinal “progressive” value – everything from superficial appearance to personality, interests, cultural and religious outlook, and a plethora of changeable genders. Despite this multi-dimensional rainbow of characteristics, employment distribution must somehow “naturally” be identical to group percentages in the last census.

The Americans embarked on race-based programs a full 20 to 30 years earlier than we did and have the social scars to show for it. Why our debate on race and minority rights is so sophomoric, and so far behind the state of debate in the U.S., is hard to explain. Part may again be due to history, Canada’s minority population only having expanded with the sharp rise in geographically diverse immigration 40-odd years ago. Canada need not repeat every error the U.S. made in race-related politics. Unfortunately, there is every indication that we will.

Racial Roulette, or Ticking the Boxes

Sadly, it appears Canada is all-in. Activist governments and willing allies in the public and private sectors fuel the race-charged climate.

Academia is a case in point. Controversy over discriminatory – overtly racist and sexist – hiring in Canada recently flared up, when various universities posted job ads specifying the required race or sex of the applicant. The not-so-subtle message was “white men need not apply.” The University of Calgary couched its policy in the technocratic term “inclusive excellence cluster hiring” which, in the ensuing furore, brought another type of cluster to mind.

The U of C’s report on the initiative was prepared by eight academics and support staff of diverse backgrounds (though excluding certain demographic groups) who produced a series of pretty demographic data tables followed by six bullet points of commentary. No rationale was given for the discriminatory program other than that “‘equity deserving groups’…remain significantly underrepresented” at the university.

Certain skin colours need not apply: The U of C’s “Inclusive Excellence” report justifies discriminatory hiring based on lack of significant representation of “equity deserving groups.” The existing gap between the university’s and StatsCan’s census numbers is believed to prove “systemic barriers.” (Source of table: UCalgary)

Related documents provided some context, glowing endorsements of – in not so many words – discriminatory hiring from numerous deans and poohbahs and “resources” like the National Scarborough Charter, an activist-driven admonition to “foster black inclusion in higher education.” There was a link to university president Ed McCauley’s letter – also written in the wake of George Floyd – acknowledging the university’s systemic racism. In a particularly leafy bowl of verbal salad McCauley asserted that “systemic racism requires a longitudinal…journey of listening, learning, compassion, and commitment to change, followed by action.” Presumably “cluster hiring” constitutes action, as in the Haskayne School of Business’s job posting which was limited to applicants classified as “Black Pioneer, African or Caribbean.”

Without explicitly stating it, because then it might actually be open for debate, the U of C clearly believes that any gap between census numbers and its own demographics proves “systemic barriers.” But its own report is far from clear on this. Visible minorities make up almost 15 percent of the institution’s academics – about 7 percent short of the 22 percent of all Canadians.

With female “underrepresentation” in engineering and contrasting “overrepresentation” in nursing, how could such numbers be explained from a “systemic racism” theory? Personal aptitudes and similar individual factors are evidently of no value in Canada’s universities’ ideological game.

But this doesn’t address the pipeline issue at all: the expected lag between when new Canadians arrive and when they’d qualify for academia, the minimum time it would take for second-generation Canadians to qualify, or the rate of staff turnover – which now takes even longer with the demise of mandatory retirement. Over 56 percent of Canadian blacks are first-generation immigrants. The qualification lag alone might arguably be several decades, so one might expect the number of current visible minority staff to reflect the percentage of the population in the early 2000s – i.e., 5-10 percent – not more recent census numbers.

The U of C also appears to ignore inconvenient details running counter to its systemic racism narrative, like the 35 percent visible minority professors in engineering. Their presence challenges the “systemic barrier” hypothesis, given this is about three or four times the percentage one might expect using reasonable pipeline assumptions. Is the U of C’s engineering faculty less racist than others, or are hordes of applicants somehow able to overcome the barriers?

In contrast, female representation in engineering, long a bugbear of the equalizers, is 23 percent, just under half of what it “should” be. How then does the university evaluate engineering: that it’s misogynist not racist? And what about education? It has almost 70 percent female faculty (nursing is over 90 percent) but only 18 percent visible minorities. Does this prove systemic barriers against men and minorities?

If the university believes there are actual barriers in its systems and processes, why doesn’t it use the data to find them? If there are real racists on hiring committees holding minorities back, why not ferret them out?

Clearly, the U of C and federal government have enough high-priced brainpower. Why don’t they produce nuanced programs using their own data with multi-dimensional, dare we say longitudinal, analyses? It’s hard, both the work itself and communicating it. But it’s the right thing to do. Instead, they’ll simply hire staff who fit the superficial requirements. Boxes ticked; job done. The U of C is just one example.

Whether coerced by the federal government or due to institutional ideology, racialism is proliferating across Canadian academia. The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design seeks applicants who identify as black, Indigenous, or as a “person of colour,” York university offers free event admission to students identifying as black or Indigenous, UBC programs force student applicants to list their race on the first page of the online admissions process, segregation by race expands on multiple fronts. The train has left the station – literally, with VIA Rail offering race-based discounts.

Racialism is proliferating across Canadian academia; above, two examples of many.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants from all over the world choose Canada every year and millions more want to come. This fact suggests that newcomers joining minority communities here know they’ll get a fair shot, while the economic data shows their children will do even better, with ample opportunities for post-secondary education. Which begs the question why universities, and the governments pushing them, are convinced they need to discriminate by race in order to be “fair.”

Restoring Merit to Canada’s Universities

Rather than mire themselves in racial controversies, universities could simply implement fair, merit-based hiring which – with all their resources – they could easily adopt. If they wanted to bulletproof themselves against accusations of discrimination, they could do a little more work and be transparent about their hiring processes.

It would first mean abandoning racial discrimination and demographic benchmarking against the census or other illogical metrics, gathering better demographic data (like in the U.S.). It would include studying the generational lag, i.e., how long it takes for newcomers to become qualified for various positions. Staff turnover would need to be calculated and factored in.

Next, the pipeline of candidates and what factors control it would need to be comprehensively analyzed. This could include characterizing the applicants demographically and judging how many are qualified. Shortlists, cleansed of personal data, could be made public and compared against hiring statistics. The institution would report on right processes and not just results. Hiring processes would be regularly reviewed to ensure fairness and neutrality, perhaps with test-driving of “blind” interviews and similar techniques.

The process would be clearly communicated and coherently defended, with university officials expected to rise above clichés and ideological signals. The relevant team would attempt to determine how closely the institution could even match current census data, and what the statistical odds would be of any given department approximating census numbers.

Restoring the centrality of merit while avoiding racial discrimination: To ensure neutral and discrimination-free hiring, universities could implement “blind” interviews, while to assist less fortunate groups, post-secondary institutions could cut their bloated administrative spending and direct the savings to financial aid could for needy individuals from various groups. (Sources of photos: (top) HR Digest; (bottom) Shuttertock)

This would create a solid foundation for dealing with real discrimination where proven. The university could also be charged by the provincial government with cutting its bloated administration and using the savings to provide more bursaries for poor students. Some identifiable groups are poorer, so this could materially help individual members without resorting to racial discrimination.

All of this assumes that university administrators and boards of governors want to resolve problems of real discrimination where these might exist. The previously cited Bernstein maintains that universities merely want “superficial diversity,” so that administrators can gaze across the quad and see a pleasing palette of human colours. This theoretically immunizes them against charges of racism. But what does it actually do for Canadian minorities?

We could learn from the discriminatory policies publicized by ethnic-Asian students in the recent U.S. affirmative action lawsuit (called Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College). Among other things, they cited that 71 percent of blacks at Harvard are from upper-middle-class or higher-income families, while 48 percent are children of immigrants. This was already true almost 20 years ago, when the New York Times reported that two-thirds of blacks at Harvard were either West Indian or African immigrants, their children, or children of bi-racial couples. Where does that leave blacks from “the Projects”?

In their decision on this case (as well as the companion lawsuit against the University of North Carolina), the American justices made another important point: must a system of racial preferences not end? Referencing its previous decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, the court noted that because “enshrining a permanent justification for racial preferences would offend the Constitution’s unambiguous guarantee of equal protection, the Court expressed its expectation that in 25 years the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” Grutter was decided in 2003.

As quick as some Canadians – hello, Justin Trudeau – are to appropriate some American ideas, sunsetting racial discrimination isn’t one of them. Section 15(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows discrimination if it “has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups.” This C2C article describes how this is playing out, as a recent, controversial Supreme Court of Canada ruling – Fraser v. Attorney General (Canada) – “basically deemed any law or program which results in anything but rigidly equal outcomes for every single demographic group presumptively illegal.”

In practise this would mean that, knowing the egalitarian nirvana will never be reached, racial discrimination in Canada will continue in perpetuity. While guaranteeing gainful employment to lawyers, diversity bureaucrats and equalizers of all stripes, it would perpetuate something intrinsically bad. Preferring one race over another is immoral and odious in whichever direction it may run, and will continue to breed injustice and resentment. It forcibly buries the qualities of individuals within arbitrarily chosen (and often constructed) groups.

No society is perfect, but Canada has an exemplary record of tolerance and fair treatment – through our civil rights protections, cultural hostility to racism and the obvious success of minorities right up to the highest levels of society. Infusing what Jamil Jivani calls “re-mix racism” into our universities and broader society can only pull us down.

So, do Canadian institutions like the U of C merely want to signal their (alleged) virtue, or do they really wish to help disadvantaged young people? Merely hiring minority academics from overseas for specified, specially constructed positions won’t cut it. Box-ticking and lofty pronouncements are easy. Implementing transparent, even-handed hiring practices will require thought, sweat and elbow grease, but will prove the process is fair and give those in economic need a hand up. And it would be the right thing to do.

Martin Gruenn lives in B.C. and holds a PhD in the natural sciences. Noah Jarvis is a political science student at York University and a youth leader in the Canada Strong and Free Network’s Conservative Values Tomorrow program.

Source of main image: Shutterstock.

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With America in decline at home and its influence waning abroad, the question of which nation might be the next global superpower has gained urgency. While the world arguably needs a dominant power to protect global order and prevent regional conflicts from spiralling, this can’t just be any country with sufficient arms and ambition. America’s replacement should be a moral superpower, one that safeguards freedom and enables prosperity for every nation, as the U.S. has done for the last 80 years. In the first installment of this two-part series, Lynne Cohen proposed that India could fulfill that role. She put forth 10 characteristics that together make a moral superpower, and dug into the first five, examining India’s economic and demographic strengths. In this second part, Cohen focusses on politics and power, assessing India’s performance on the final five criteria, starting with perhaps the most important – military might.

Why India Could Become the Next Global Superpower: Part I

It’s more than just dispiriting to behold the Canadian military’s disintegration and the current government’s deliberate neglect of our national defence. It raises the question of who might protect Canada in the future, given we can’t protect ourselves. For decades, the answer was simple: the United States. But with America in turmoil and decline, we can’t take that for granted anymore. Who could step up to become the next global hegemon? Lynne Cohen puts forth a provocative and bold answer: it might just be India. Cohen offers 10 criteria by which to measure the potential for a rising power to be not just expansionist, acquisitive or exploitative, but to become a moral superpower, one dedicated to safeguarding freedom and building prosperity for all. In Part One of this special two-part series, Cohen examines and rates how India has progressed in the first five criteria.

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