Anyone who thinks people choose Canada because of multiculturalism or bicycle lanes in big cities would do well to remember our last municipal election, when Rob Ford received over 50 per cent of the votes of Torontonians born outside Canada. I can tell you my own tale — a couple of summers ago I taught ESL in a Toronto suburb. My students were teenagers new to Canada. I asked them why their parents came here. Almost down to a kid they said, “Because we couldn’t get into the States.” They did not say, “Because Canada is diverse and signed the Kyoto Protocol.” They did not have a Panglossian view of this country. They saw it as they saw the United States — free and fair — though not as powerful a draw.Let us abandon all self-fellating Trudeaupian platitudes and just accept the fact that what draws most immigrants to Canada is the perception of it being nothing more than an ATM and a shopping mall. We are just America-lite minus the world wide hate.
I know, I know, they come here for a "better life" which often results in a worse life for us but the "better life" can be defined as such: an ATM and a shopping mall.
I know, I know, you are going to tell me that it can be difficult to immigrate to Canada but comparatively speaking, when it comes to immigration systems Canada is as easy as it comes.
They certainly do not come here for the climate. It cannot be because of our Canadian values because those values are not particularly unique to Canada and can be had through all the western world. They do not come here for the food nor our culture since even we Canadians have a hard time trying to figure out what that is. Besides, were they so committed to fully integrating into the Canadian mainstream then one has to wonder why they exert so much effort at preserving their non-Euro-American identities in North America resulting in an explosion of ethnic enclaves in Canada's largest cities.
It is clear to me that materialism is what draws them to Canada. I cannot fault them for this impulse since it is a natural human trait that drives one's actions albeit not a very noble one. And since the majority come from the underdeveloped, poor nations of the world anywhere is likely to be a step up. But it is tantamount to having someone admit to you that they only love you for your money. This reveals the person to be selfish and shallow and you lose all respect for them as a human being.
So is this a problem then? If we are nothing more than just consumers living in a consumer society, if we are nothing more than just shoppers living in shopping mall Canada, then it is a problem if it inhibits one's ability to consume and thus participate as a citizen and be happy. If happiness can be derived by consumption then the immigration system is adversely affecting Canadian's levels of happiness by driving up the cost of living by inflating the cost of housing; by increasing commute times created by urban sprawl and traffic congestion resulting in fuel costs eating up more disposable income; by contributing to inflation by over supplying the labour market leading to a stagnation of incomes and chronic under-employment; by reallocating public monies (money we pay in taxes to deliver services such as health-care and education) to an under-performing immigration system that could otherwise be invested in programs to increase the standard of living of all Canadians. Ultimately it increases competition for resources that can determine present and future earning potential (and level of happiness) by increasing demand for coveted spots in school, for retraining programs, and through preferential hiring policies.
If you identify more with Canadian culture, history, and the country's world renowned natural beauty instead of being a consumer in shopping mall Canada then the picture is not any better. Encouraged by official multiculturalism and the view that Canada is, indeed, just a shopping mall we have created an immigrant population, and growing, who have no interest to preserve Canadian culture nor remember the nation's history and it's accomplishments without reimagining it some self-serving fashion. In fact a Canadian cultural identity is hobbled by multiculturalism because it is still relies on foreign sources for it's definition much like Canadian culture has been criticised by being too heavily influenced by first the British and then the Americans resulting in a poverty of uniquely Canadian content. Immigration driven urban sprawl is eating up valuable farmland, threatens green spaces, and places stress on our natural habitat that over the long term is just as environmentally ruinous as the Alberta tar sands if you think about it.
Greater importance needs to be placed on selecting immigrants who actually want to come here and appreciate Canada for the country that it is and who want to fully integrate without making as much of a cultural impact as possible. I do not know how this can be accomplished. Perhaps dramatically cutting back on intake numbers and allowing for more to be personally interviewed would do the trick. We already have a population who think this country is nothing but a shopping mall. We do not need to add onto that by bringing people in from abroad who think the same way as well. What kind of nation building is that?