Saturday, 25 October 2008

Canada should take note as the U.K. moves to cut immigration amid rising unemployment and fears of racial tension.

Harsh economic and social realities have compelled the United Kingdom to lower immigration targets amid rising unemployment and fears of increasing racial tension. What makes this announcement all the more astonishing is that it is a Labour Party government in London that's doing it. This is like an NDP government in Ottawa cutting immigration numbers but unlike their U.K. counterparts such talk will never come from the NDP who are just as dependent on "ethnic votes" as are the Liberal Party and increasingly the Conservative Party. This is ironic since immigration has always been, and still is, used as a weapon to attack the labour movement and any gains it has made for the working people of Canada over the past century.

You can read the story here at the Times Online.

Immigration to be cut as unemployment soars

Phil Woolas tells Times of urgent need for policy change to ease racial tension
Richard Ford, Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson

Strict limits are to be imposed on immigration amid fears that unemployment rises in the economic downturn will fuel racial tension.


In what many will see as extraordinary remarks for a Labour minister, he told The Times that the economic backdrop changed everything. “If people are being made unemployed, the question of immigration becomes extremely thorny . . . It’s been too easy to get into this country in the past and it’s going to get harder,” he said.


Until now the Government has shied away from curbing levels of immigration, which have reached record levels under Labour.


With immigration still a big issue of public concern, Labour is under pressure to toughen its approach after the Tories revealed plans for annual limits on numbers entering the country.


Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, which argues for balanced migration, described Mr Woolas’s comments as a potential breakthrough. “It is the first time that a government minister has actually linked immigration and population. If they succeed in delivering, they will have done our country a considerable service,” he said.

It's unfortunate such frank discussion is rarely voiced by Canadian politicians especially from those whose party forms the current government. Those who do are typically denounced as racist or bigoted or xenophobic in the media and then told to shut up by party leaders when the only crime they committed was being patriotic.

What we really learn here is that there is such a thing as too much immigration and the United Kingdom has been forced to accept this fact whether it wanted to or not. Like Canada, public discourse concerning immigration in the U.K. has been dominated by multiculturalist rhetoric where the sky's the limit when it comes to setting immigration targets. But this is all fantasy. Focusing on the superficial benefits of mass immigration, like the diversity it brings and the many ethnic restaurants you can eat at, distracts us from addressing the more pertinent and pressing concerns that mass immigration imposes onto a host society. Such concerns are employment, poverty, crime, integration and assimilation, ethnic enclaving, transformation of Canadian public spaces to foreign ones, reducing the host population to minority status, immigrant as colonialist, threats to the environment, increasing density, traffic congestion and pollution, etc.

The U.K.'s recent reversal follows on the heals of Spain's immigration problem where boom times turned bust burdening that country with a superfluous immigrant population imported to feed the period of growth. And now the country doesn't know what to do with them. Australia revamped its points system that effectively weeds out immigrants before they land, a move that is enjoying remarkable success.

Of course we are told that Canada is suffering from a job shortage and therefore Canada's situation is different from the U.K. And so restricting immigration numbers it harmful to the current and future health of the economy. But what kinds of jobs are going unfilled is rarely made clear. When the details do creep out we learn that many of these jobs are part time or temporary and low waged. We are told immigrants are needed to sustain job growth even though many, many immigrants to Canada have failed to secure employment in their fields. The premier of Saskatchewan was in Ontario recently trying to attract immigrants to his "booming" province but admitted to the Toronto Star that many of the immigrants are overqualified for most of the jobs going unfilled leaving us to speculate as to what he means by that. Also, Canada has the highest educated workforce in the industrialized world, more so than the United States, Germany, and Japan so why more immigrants? Also, many immigrant communities are plagued by poverty rates and chronic underemployed yet if Canada is desperate for skilled workers then why are these immigrants skilled being passed over by Canada's business community? Can systemic discrimination always be the reason or is it becuase Canada's job shortage is mostly in low waged, low skilled, part time and temp jobs?

These lessons fall on deaf Canadian ears. The move to reduce immigration targets in the U.K. was barely mentioned in the Toronto Star (but generating many comments illustrating immigration is a hot topic for Canadians). As there are global examples that uncontrolled mass immigration is a problem, and that some countries are acting to control and restrict immigration, Canadians are still being told we need even more immigrants, the reasons being speculative and assumptive. As the U.K., Spain, and Australia seek greater control and restrictions to their immigration systems Canada is still being burdened with the highest immigration intake in the world and if some people have their way that burden will become heavier, economic and social realties be damned.


Anonymous said...

It now appears that Britain's new immigration minister, Phil Woolas, had his knuckles rapped for even making such a heretical suggestion because he's backtracked from his original stance.

Sometimes, it seems that immigration reformers move one step forward, then are pushed back two steps whenever we gain some ground in this vitally important issue.

PaxCanadiana said...

Wow! What can I say? Where there was once some hope now lingers disappointment yet I am not surprised. What a coward.

Thanks for the update.

Anonymous said...

Maclean's and Canadian Business magazines recently launched a series of online debates, called "Thinking the Unthinkables." The first installment features Maclean's national editor Andrew Coyne and former head of Canadian Immigration Services James Bissett debating this statement: Should Canada adopt a more wide-open immigration policy, or should we be more focused on targeted immigration based on Canada's market needs. You can view the debates here: