Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Toronto Star thinks it's time to debate the economy. How about immigration while we're at it?

Immigration cannot be estranged from the economy. That is the simple truth whether you wish to acknowledge it or not. Ignoring it or pretending it doesn't exist will not make that truth go away.

In this editorial The Toronto Star thinks it is time to debate the economy. You can read it all here.

Time for debate on the economy

Jan 26, 2008 04:30 AM

As this week of financial turbulence came to a close, Canadians were offered solace in a prediction by outgoing Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge that the economy will not be hit by a recession, although growth this year will slow to 1.8 per cent.

That forecast, however, hinges on Dodge's sanguine view that the United States will also manage to skirt a recession. For the year as a whole, he sees growth in the U.S. trailing only slightly behind Canada, with an annual gain of 1.5 per cent.

While we hope Dodge is right, we fear he is wrong. A souring of sentiment is clearly evident on Wall Street, where Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup are now all predicting a U.S. recession this year, with growth about half of what Dodge is predicting.

The forces of recession in the U.S. would certainly spill over into Canada, and particularly into Ontario and Quebec, which are much more likely to follow a downturn in U.S. than the pattern of continuing growth in the more robust Western provinces.

And yet Ottawa has shown neither a concern over the possibility of such a scenario nor a readiness to take action to counter a slump. All the Harper government has put on the table is a five-year, $1 billion package to retrain workers in already hard-hit, one-industry towns.

The rest of the editorial focuses on budgets and aid packages but what is missing is immigration (no surprise there). If The Toronto Star feels that David Dodge is wrong and a recession, or a downturn at least if there is a difference, is in the forecast for Canada then how is the importation of 250,000-300,000 people into Canada going to make things any better? How is this going to help laid off workers? How does this help landed immigrants? How are these people going to find work in such an environment and by work I mean decent paying jobs with benefits not counter help at fast food restaurants and other low paying jobs? It won't.

At one time Canada's immigration policy was tied to the nation's expected economic performance. The math was simple. In good times we allow in so many. In bad times we bring in less and maybe none at all. And it wasn't such a long time ago that we did this. In the early 1980s the Liberal government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau decreased immigration targets in relation to the economy. This made perfect sense because mass immigration will most likely make things worse for Canadians in a weak economic environment. Now that is no longer the case and you will be castigated as a racist if you think immigration levels should reflect economic performance. This is what happened to the Reform party when it suggested such a heresy.

As immigration reformers we need to pressure our government and our officials to return to such a policy. You cannot expect The Toronto Star to do it because it won't. It has a vested interest in keeping immigration levels ridiculously high no matter what the cost is to Canada and Canadians. It looks like it is going to take a grass roots effort to bring sanity back to this nation's immigration system.

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