In Australia both major political parties support record high immigration. This ensures that it is rarely questioned in Parliament or in the news. In Canada, the situation is even worse#main-fn1">1. Dan Murray reports that Canadians face a 'choice' at the Federal elections scheduled for 31 October of four out of five major parties which see nothing wrong with Canada's record high and growing immigration rate and none which are campaigning to reduce it.
At the end of week #1 of the election, some immigration-related questions for all parties
Four out of five major political parties in Canada seem to think there is nothing wrong with Canada's current high immigration levels.
Here are some details on what Canadians have heard on the immigration issue during Week #1 of the election. Questions for each party follow:
(1) The Conservatives : Prime Minister Harper has indicated that immigrants are an issue, but mostly as a source of potential votes. In the first week, he spent about a third of his time talking to ethnic groups. Significantly, his first photo-op of the entire campaign was in Richmond, B.C. where he appeared with a Chinese family. Although he said the Chinese family was a typical Canadian family, and that he was trying to protect the middle class, he will probably admit that his principal reason for visiting the Chinese family was because high immigration levels have resulted in the Chinese now being over half of the population there. Since 1990, the Chinese have become a large percentage of the populations of many other areas in Metro Vancouver and of areas in Greater Toronto. In another example later in the week, Mr. Harper repeated the tactic of appealing to ethnic groups by speaking to a group of East Indian (Sikh) business people in Mississauga to get their support.
Here are some questions politicians might want to ask themselves :
A. When a political leader makes a point of starting his election campaign with members of an ethnic group and then spends a large amount of time addressing other ethnic groups, particularly those who have recently-arrived in large numbers, what message does he send to other groups, particularly long-term Canadians? Is he saying that he will give priority to the interests of new groups at the expense of those of long-term Canadians?
B. Ridings such as Richmond and others have witnessed extremely high immigrant inflows for no obvious good reason. Is he saying that it does not matter that a surge in the newcomers has created a situation in which new immigrants now outnumber the long-term Canadians in those ridings?
C. Let's be frank with people of all political stripes. The approach of most political parties towards recent immigrants is a mixture of sycophancy and platitudes such as "creating diversity". The attitude that political parties convey is that anyone from anywhere has a right to come to Canada. And Canada's political parties will perform all the obsequiousness that is necessary to satisfy the demands of immigrants, particularly their demands to re-create their countries in Canada. Instead of this approach, why are Canada's politicians not asking these people two questions: If cultural, economic and environmental conditions were so wonderful where you came from (particularly in China and India), why are you here? Is there a good chance that your demands will re-create the same dysfunctionality in Canada that existed in your home countries?
(2) The Liberals : Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has indicated that he too thinks immigrants are an issue, but again mostly because of their votes. He also went to Richmond where he tried to outbid Mr. Harper by promising that his party would spend about $800 million to overhaul the current immigration system in the following ways : increase the number of immigrants; repeal the powers recently given to the Immigration Minister so that immigrants have "due process" ; spend $400 million to modernize information-gathering and otherwise streamline procedures for immigrant and refugee applicants; spend about $200 million over four years on improved language training for newcomers, and another $200 million over four years for internships, mentorship and work-placement opportunities.
Here are some questions:
A. Mr. Dion is saying that he will increase high immigration inflows and make more funding available for immigrant settlement. Is he also saying that in these uncertain economic times, he too thinks that immigrants and their interests (particularly their desire to increase the size of their ethnic groups) should take precedence over the interests of long-term Canadians?
B. By saying that he will repeal powers given to the Immigration Minister, is he saying that he will return Canada's immigration system to the days when the associated Canadian immigration industry sabotaged all efforts to control immigration?
(3) The New Democratic Party : Jack Layton has said that he will try to protect Canadian workers from losing their jobs to other countries by stopping tax cuts to Canadian companies that close Canadian factories and then outsource jobs to cheap-labour countries. He will target investments instead to stimulate innovation ; invest in low-emission vehicle production ; train new and displaced workers through a Green Collar Jobs Fund ; create a Jobs Commissioner to investigate shutdowns ; and develop sector-based industrial strategies. According to an NDP policy statement, New Democrats will commit an average of $2 billion a year to this program, aiming to directly create 40,000 new manufacturing jobs and thousands of spin-off jobs while protecting many more.
Here are a few questions for the NDP and Mr. Layton :
A. From the 1920's to 1990, when Canadians were losing jobs because factories were closing, it was standard federal government practice to reduce immigration levels so that unemployed Canadians would not have to compete with foreign workers. Why is Mr. Layton not recommending that Canada re-institute this strategy now?
B. At the same time as Mr. Layton is courageously recommending that the federal government protect Canadian workers, why is Olivia Chow, the NDP's immigration critic, saying that Canada needs more workers? Why is she saying that Canada's high immigration intake should continue? It is estimated that Ontario and Quebec have recently lost several hundred thousand jobs. How is bringing in 250,000+ immigrants every year supposed to help unemployed Canadian workers?
(4) The Greens : Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, has downplayed the environmental impact of immigration on Canada and said that the Alberta Tar Sands is a much more serious environmental issue. Since high immigration levels began in 1990, Canada has taken over 4 million immigrants and its population has increased by around 6 million. In a CBC radio programme on Sunday, September 15, Ms. May stated that immigration of the kind Canada has had since 1990 has produced economic benefits and created diversity.
Here are some questions for Ms. May :
A. Ms. May says that the problem of environmental degradation in Canada's major immigrant-receiving areas (especially Southern Ontario and Metro Vancouver) can be solved by sending those immigrants to rural Canada. The big problem with this approach is that it is naive. Many people have left rural Canada because there are no economic opportunities there. So why send immigrants there if they too will soon have to leave? In fact, why bring most of them to Canada in the first place?
B. Does Ms. May know that the Economic Council of Canada and individuals/research groups in other countries have concluded that immigration produces almost no significant economic benefits to host countries? In fact, is she aware that the Economic Council of Canada stated that if a country were looking for an economic stimulus, it should not look to immigration? Why is she saying immigration produces economic benefits?
C. Since Ms. May knows that several hundred thousand workers in Ontario and Quebec have lost their jobs, why is she not standing up for those workers by advocating a traditional significant cut in Canadian immigration levels? Is she saying that the creation of diversity takes precedence over the protection of Canadian workers?
D. At this time, all environmental organizations are advocating measures to minimize human impact in order to offset climate change. Why then is she, the leader of an environmental party, not advocating a population stabilization/immigration reduction policy for Canada? Wouldn't this kind of "Think Globally. Act Locally or Nationally." help Canada to minimize its environmental impact? Or are the environmental effects of 4 to 5 million recent immigrants a trivial matter? How about another 4 to 5 million? Is she saying there is no limit?
(5) The Bloc Quebecois: The BQ is the only federal political party to express concern about immigration and its effects. Last May, the BQ asked in the House of Commons that Canada's multiculturalism policy not be applied to Quebec. The BQ has also made clear in its brief to Quebec's Bouchard-Taylor Commission on Reasonable Accommodation that multiculturalism is a negative for Quebec. (In fact , about 83% of all presenters (the BQ included) to the B-T commission said they disapproved of religious accommodation.) The BQ sees that federal high immigration levels , multiculturalism and the Charter of Rights have been responsible for religious accommodation demands in Quebec. Since March 2007, many polls have said that roughly 80% of all Quebec residents said that they did not want to make religious accommodations.
Here are 2 questions for the Bloc Quebecois :
(A) When during the current election campaign will the Bloc Quebecois raise the immigration and multiculturalism issue?
See also: "Truth and immigration" by James Bissett former Head of Canadian immigration Service in the Ottowa Citizen of 18 Sep 08.
Australian public intellectual Phillip Adams has said, on his ABC program, Late night live, that he considers the bi-partisan support for high immigration, which ensures that it is rarely questioned in Parliament or in the news, a 'strength' of Australian democracy. As it happens, Canadian democracy shares this 'strength'.
What I wrote was in accord to my own recollection of what I heard on Late Night Live earlier in the year and also with other things I have heard or read from Phillip Adams on matters directly or indirectly related to population and immigration. However, Phillip Adams e-mailed me today to say:
I've never said that! I have said that a long history of bi-partisan support on immigration issues has sometimes been good....and sometimes very bad - as with White Australia and the refugee scandal.....BUT I'm no supporter of increasing the Oz population by either immigration or an increased birth-rate...for the obvious environmental reasons....
So, if I formed the wrong impression, then I apologise to Philip Admas, but however I may have formed the impression that led me to write what I wrote in the introductory paragraph, this is very welcome news. I look forward to Phillip Adams joining with the likes of Greens Senator Bob Brown in order to challenge the official ideology in support of population growth which is threatening to destroy this country's future.