Immigration must be an election issue
Ambassador James Bissett
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
In his September 6 column in the National Post, Robert Fulford wrote that the forthcoming election was one that was “going nowhere.” One of the reasons it may be going nowhere is because some of the most important issues facing Canada are not going to be discussed. One of the most critical of these is immigration. Canada is facing an immigration crisis but immigration policy will not be on the agenda of any of the political parties.
In the so-called “ethnic ridings” each of the parties will promise to keep immigration levels high and will repeat the myth that we need immigration to combat our aging population and keep the economy growing by supplying desperately needed skilled workers for our labour force. Most economists in Canada and elsewhere have concluded that immigration does little to enhance the economy and that immigrants cost more in the benefits they receive than in the taxes they contribute. However, our politicians are not concerned about facts – they are concerned about votes and see every new immigrant as a potential voter. What counts for our politicians is numbers.
Canadians are led to believe that most of the immigrants and temporary workers are selected because they have skills, education and training that will enable them to contribute to our (and their) economic welfare. The fact is that only about 17% of our immigration intake is selected for economic reasons. The remaining 83% come to Canada because they have been sponsored by their relatives or because they are refugees, or there are humanitarian reasons for admitting them. It’s little wonder then that 51% of those immigrants who have landed since the early 1990’s are living below the poverty line.
His stated figure of 17% of immigrants enter Canada for economic purposes is the lowest I have seen so far. The highest is around 25% so it is safe to say that 17-25% of all immigrants enter Canada via the economic class. When we factor in immediate family members to that number (wife and dependent children of the successful economic immigrant applicant) the figure jumps. Thus, officially the government and mass immigration advocates can say that half of all immigrants enter Canada through the economic class but you have to be aware that the spouse and any children are included in those numbers. So, strictly speaking, it is a lie to say that half of all immigrants to Canada are here for economic reasons. The real number, as has been just pointed out, is much, much lower.
There are more effective ways of helping resolve global refugee and humanitarian problems than by immigration. Augmented developmental assistance and increased financial contributions to international refugee organizations would be more useful. More to the point, our politicians do not justify the high numbers on humanitarian grounds but tell us immigration is for the benefit of our economy and our labour force - and this is simply not true.
Canadians are known to have one of the largest ecological footprints of any country in the world and every immigrant who enters Canada from Asia within several months acquires a similar size footprint as the average Canadian. The extraordinary high levels of immigration since the early 1990’s destined to Canada’s three major urban centres of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, have caused serious environmental problems: traffic congestion, garbage disposal, escalating health, education and social welfare costs, as well as rising crime rates. Sadly, the stress on an already eroding infrastructure caused by massive immigration is a subject that cannot be discussed because of an ideological hang up about multiculturalism and diversity which for some reason now symbolizes the twin pillars of the new Canadian identity.
If you get the opportunity to attend a candidates meeting then press the immigration issue but arm yourself with the facts first. Never ask a question you don't know the answer to. You can safely assume that the candidates, or your MP, are totally ignorant of the reality of Canada's "immigration crisis" and you can easily dumbfound them when presented with information gleaned from this blog and elsewhere. Believe me, I have first hand experience with this. They will spew the same tired rhetoric that is so easily refutable.
If questioning the candidates or your MP is a daunting proposition then challenge the assumptions whenever they arise in conversation with your family, friends, neighbours, or co-workers. The point is to get the word out and get people thinking and let them know that it is okay to criticize Canada's immigration policy openly but do it with civility and compassion. This is our country. We have a say in how it is to be governed and it is our right to openly disagree with issues that are affecting the society and country we live in.
Also, out of blogger courtesy I give a nod to five feet of fury which is where I poached the above link from, among others, and will probably not be the last. It's because Kathy Shaidle is a much better blogger than I could ever be. See for yourself and check out her blog.