Saturday, 19 June 2010

100 Million Living In The Sao Paulo Of The North. (Updated with Martin Collacot commentary).

The National Post published an opinion piece in which the author fantasizes of a Canada with a population of 100 million. He assumes that a population of that size will be good for Canada because it will increase the nation's reputation on the world stage. Canada will become a major world player instead of the middle power (if that) the country already is. The large domestic market will allow Canadian art and culture to flourish and be exported abroad further increasing Canada's influence beyond it's border as well as prop up Canadian businesses. In short, bigger is better.

The main problem with the piece is that it is based on easily refuted assumptions the prime one being that Canadian's standard of living, and quality of life, will improve. The author cannot guarantee this which is why I turn to Daniel Stoffman's article titled San Paulo of the North: The effects of mass immigration on our cities. In this he describes a not too pleasant picture of what Canada's major urban centers may look like in the foreseeable future. Living in Toronto and witnessing first hand the direction mass immigration is taking the city I happen to side with Daniel Stoffman.

It is not unreasonable to assume that most, if not the vast majority, of Canada's 100 million residents will live in and around the country's five major urban centers (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa). These city's will become increasing unmanageable and unlivable.

The article gives no consideration to social cohesion, or political stability, as growing ethnic communities mature into fully functioning de facto colonies of other nations. No mention is given to pollution, waste removal, the strain on sewer systems, gridlock, urban sprawl, loss of green spaces, farmland and Canada's ability to feed itself, and so on.

As much as we like to think that Canada has a lot of room to spare not much of the country is habitable. How many will want to live in Nunavut or the tundra or anywhere in the Canadian north with its long winters and short growing seasons? Australia provides a suitable comparison. It is a large enough country but most of it is inhospitable desert.

I do not share the dream of a nation of 100 million inhabitants and if I do it is with reservation though I do concede that a population of 100 million is certain at some future date. However, the author wants to achieve this as fast as possible. The question is why? What's the point if Canadians' quality of life cannot be assured? Ask yourself this: has the Canadian standard of living changed at all for the better since the population grew from 25 million to 33 million today?

Update: Martin Collacott responds in the National Post.

For one thing, people living in Canada a century ago had a relatively modest environmental impact. Today, in contrast, our ecological footprint and consumption of resources are among the largest in the world. The Science Council of Canada cautioned more than three decades ago that Canada should slow down the growth of its population (then only 24 million -- compared with 34 million today) given such considerations as the fact that our prime agricultural land was limited and that we were one of the most energy-intensive countries in the world due to our hostile climate and energy-dependent lifestyle. The Science Council suggested that the biggest international contribution we could make in terms of consumption of resources was to moderate our population growth and strengthen our position as an exporter of food, services and technologies.

Another important difference is that we now have a generous system of government-funded social benefits that did not exist in Laurier's time. A century ago, immigrants had to make it on their own. If they weren't able to -- and many fell into this category -- they returned to their countries of origin or tried their luck somewhere else. Today, by contrast, even well-educated immigrants often have trouble finding suitable jobs. The average earnings of newcomers are much lower, and poverty levels much higher, than people born in Canada and those immigrants who arrived prior to 1980. This costs Canadian taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year.

It is doubtful, moreover, whether people living in our larger cities would welcome massive population increases. While Studin envisages new cities springing up in the Maritimes, the Prairies and the North, it is not at all clear how this will come about. With the exception of locations where there have been major new natural-resource developments, we have had limited success in creating economic opportunities that lead to significant growth in areas of the country where the population is stagnant or in decline, and there is no reason to expect this situation to change in the future.

In the circumstances, newcomers will continue to settle in places such as Toronto and Vancouver, where residents already have to deal with long commute times and expensive housing and are hardly likely to welcome a tripling of their populations. While some of the megacities of the world make interesting places to visit, they never rate among the most livable for the vast majority of their inhabitants.

Collacott is more correct in his predictions than Studin who losses himself to fantasy and wishful thinking. Demographics and immigrant settlement trends side with Collacott. It is likely that a nation of 100 million will most likely be concentrated in Canada's five major urban centers which is no different than the way it is today. And those major urban centers will likely reflect cities like Sao Paulo, Mumbai, and Johannesburg, interesting places to visit but I doubt you, or Studin, would want to live there.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If only these armchair prognosticators would ease themselves out of their comfortable sitting positions and actually travel to some 3rd world hell-holes that are comprised of 100+ million people... then, let's see if they still hold to their groundless supposition.

It's not rocket science, but why are their emigrants clamouring over each other to get to Canada, whereas the reverse flow is nil?

Anonymous said...

So...just who is Irvin Studin?

After conducting a little research via google, I found this page.

The above link may offer some clues to his thought processes, if you're interested. I only briefly scanned the material, myself, as I found his speech rather boring and too erudite for my own interests.

Suffice it to say, however, there are powerful forces that are intent on dismantling nation-states for the purpose of placing us all under the umbrella of a "one-world government", so perhaps Studin could be a shill working towards that aim.

This short video may help to explain.