Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Commodification Of Canadian Citizenship.

Here's more on the scandals that sank the provincial nominee programs in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I.

From the National Post:
The Maritime provinces were among the first to sign on to the federal government’s provincial nominee program, a specialized immigration program aimed at giving provinces more control over attracting the kind of business investors and skilled workers who could fit their economic needs.
For P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, that meant the promise of an influx of wealthy immigrant investors whose deep pockets and international business acumen they believed could kick-start their struggling economies, refresh their shrinking populations and wean their governments off federal transfer payments. In exchange, immigrants got visas to live and work in Canada far faster than they could under similar federal immigration schemes.
But as of last month, immigrant investor programs had collapsed in all three provinces. In September, the federal government demanded the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency investigate P.E.I.’s troubled immigration program. Last month, New Brunswick announced it had called in the RCMP to investigate an immigration program aimed at Chinese investors that it had shut down a year earlier after a flurry of lawsuits. Earlier this year neighbouring Nova Scotia announced it had settled a $30-million class action lawsuit an immigrant investor program that has been shut down since 2006. The province says it has no plans to restart an immigrant investor program anytime soon.
This cuts to the heart of the bankruptcy of the immigrant investor stream revealing it to be nothing more than citizenship for sale.  ImmigrationWatchCanada.org sheds more light on this sham of a program here.

There are a few things we should take note of in the wake of the collapse of the provincial nominee programs in the Maritimes.

The first thing is the rampant fraud that was the oil that kept the motor running.  In the case of P.E.I, if the allegations hold, it is fraud the leads right to the door of the Premier's office.  If you think I am insinuating that whole immigration system is infected with fraud because of what occurred in the Maritimes then you are correct.  Recall it happened in three, not one, but three provinces.  One time is an isolated incident, two times is a coincidence, but three times establishes a pattern thus exposing a rot in Canada's immigration policy.

We should also note at how little the host populations - the inhabitants of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I. - benefited from the program if at all.  They certainly did not benefit economically because the so-called "investors" - mostly Chinese nationals looking to acquire Canadian citizenship as an asset by buying it - did not create any real jobs because they mostly created jobs for themselves by opening up small businesses like corner stores, spas, hair saloons, dry-cleaners, motels, and restaurants.  These business proposals were getting so ubiquitous that a bidding war erupted for those kinds of establishments.  On the cultural front Maritimers were inviting cultural suicide as they faced losing their identity to the rapid influx of an Asian colonizing force.

Thirdly it educates us on the fallacy of looking to immigration as the solution to the problems of population stagnation or decline.  It is well accepted by those not tied to the immigration industry and who take their credentials seriously that immigration cannot alleviate ageing populations or reverse population declines.  To disagree with this is to believe a myth.  In the case of the Maritimes if those provinces are having a hard time keeping their own people in their respective provinces what makes them think a bunch of foreigners are going to stick around long enough to grow their populations.  And not surprisingly they have retention problems when it comes to holding on to their immigrants.
The result has been that the Maritimes has some of the lowest retention rates for immigrants under the provincial nominee program, with some studies saying as few as half the immigrants nominated by the Maritime provinces end up settling there. The number of immigrants who stayed is almost impossible to gauge, since none of the provincial governments tracked whether its immigrants even set foot in the province. Nova Scotia’s auditor-general found that of 618 immigrants nominated under the province’s business mentorship program, only 212 were ever matched up with local businesses. In P.E.I., the auditor-general found just 368 of 1,100 immigrants ever registered with provincial authorities to let them know they had arrived.
The scandals that have engulfed the Maritime provincial nominee programs have proved a cautionary tale for a region enticed by the prospect of reversing years of population decline with a flood of new money and young families, but without the budget or expertise to manage its own full-blown immigration system.
Though the libertarian National Post seeks to root the problem in inexperience I think it more truthful to believe that most of the immigrants had little intention of staying in the Maritimes.  They were only there to stick around long enough to get Canadian citizenship so that the can skip town for greener pastures by either moving to elsewhere in the country (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary) or back to their homeland (China) with a Canadian passport in hand.

And why not?  What do the Maritimes have to offer anyone?  If population growth is a paramount concern for the Maritimes then it should be investing in industries that will support its current population and encourage population growth.  These would be industries that offer well paying jobs, like ship building or resource extraction as examples, that would act as an incentive for the local population to stay and grow as well as act as a magnet for others to move to the provinces. I know this is easier said than done but nothing worth doing is easy.  However, what I am trying to say here is that the Maritimes problem of population retention and growth is a domestic issue that needs a domestic solution by investing in the domestic population and economy.  Inviting foreigners from China to settle in the Maritimes who end up opening up restaurants, flower shops, corner stores, and dry-cleaners is not going to accomplish anything of real long-term value for the region.  This the cheap and easy route where the only accomplishment is the turning of the Maritimes into a Chinese colony of the Canadian East Coast ensuring Canada becomes the Asian colony of Canadasia from Vancouver B.C. to St. John's Newfoundland.

Another lesson is the limits to population growth.  How big a population can  P.E.I. realistically support?

Ultimately this is about the commodification of Canadian citizenship and the resulting devaluation of it.  By placing a price on it like the investor program does it means Canadian citizenship can be measured for its worth by placing a dollar value on it.  Canadian citizenship should be priceless of which the only way one can obtain it is by receiving it as a gift.  Sadly the Canadian government has cheapened the value of Canadian citizenship by relaxing the standards by which can obtain it, practically giving it away at wholesale prices to every Johnny-come-lately.  With the investor class one can simply buy it and as a Canadian how cheap does that make you feel?

No comments: