Friday, 29 June 2012

A Six Month Moratorium But No Change In Intake Quotas.

Immigration reformers have been demanding this for years and it appears the government is going to do it albeit for a short time.

Two articles appeared in today's Toronto Star about Ottawa's intention to halt new immigration applications.
Ottawa will stop accepting new immigration applications to the federal skilled worker and investor programs starting Monday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says. 
Kenney said the skilled worker program will be reopened in January, when “important changes” will be made. However, the investor program will be halted indefinitely so the government can “make progress on processing its existing inventory.”
So it looks like the government has issued a six month moratorium for applications for the skilled worker program.

However Jason Kenney has made it clear that there will be no drop in the number of immigrants Canada brings in.  What a shame!
Kenney was quick to say after his speech that the move will not mean a drop in the number of immigrants coming to Canada. 
In this year’s budget Ottawa announced plans to legislate away a backlog of 280,000 applications made under the skilled worker program before 2008. The government said it’s a necessary part of modernizing the immigration system. 
Even after removing all those applications, there are plenty of others still waiting, Kenney said.“We still have 110,000 people waiting there. Why put more people at the back of that queue especially right now when we’re returning 300,000 people’s applications? There’s just no point in any longer stockpiling people in the back of a backlog,” he said. 
The Immigrant Investor Program backlog stands at about 25,000 cases.
The Immigrant Investor Program should be done away with completely as it's nothing more than just a citizenship for sale scheme.  It's rife with fraud and encourages abuse and contributes very little to creating actual jobs Canadians can live on.  It's a joke and an embarrassment we still have it.

As for the six month moratorium I find this interesting because it is applied to the skilled worker program only.  It is not applied, it appears, to temporary foreign workers or live in care givers and other related low-skilled to semi-skilled labour.  Why is that?  This suggests that the Canadian economy is not creating the kinds of jobs necessitating the importation of a highly skilled workforce or that Canada is quite competent at producing this labour force itself and has no need to import skilled immigrant labour.

I'm thinking the later.  If that is the case then why are immigration quotas allowed to remain high when we clearly do not need them?

Are There Similarities Between Spain and Canada?

I read this in today's Toronto Star.

It's about Spain's debt crisis and some things from the article stood out.

Friede, 48, offers the bare storyline of the preceding years: her arrival from Cameroon in 1990, one in a flood of immigrants to Spain at the time. The acquisition of an apartment in 2004, with a 30-year mortgage on which she and her husband paid little more than interest, the loss of her job and her husband’s ultimate skipping out of her life. And now what? {...} 
From Madrid, Fernando Rodriguez de Acuna Martinez contextualizes Spain’s housing bubble. Parts of the storyline are familiar, echoing first the U.S. and later, Ireland. Take an easy credit recipe mixed with a lending war between financial institutions, topped up with real estate developers hoping to capitalize both on internal demand driven by a latent baby boom and external demand for vacation properties on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. {...}
The construction boom fuelled employment. Easy credit fed consumption. And the risk levels were only heightened as the banks strong-armed the country’s valuation companies to artificially inflate real estate values. It went like this: historically the recommended loan-to-value guideline for borrowers was set at 60 per cent. That galloped to 80 per cent. 
“They took all those valuations aside and started to give all the way up to 100 per cent,” de Acuna says. And beyond. Between 2004 and the peak in 2008, valuation companies were over-valuating homes by as much as 20 to 30 per cent. 
Here’s an ugly number. De Acuna’s real estate research firm, which has been crunching sector data since 1980, has tallied Spain’s surplus housing stock: 1.9 million units sit empty. 
If the economy doesn’t worsen — and that’s a big if — there could be recovery here in Barcelona two or three years hence. Look south, however, and note the ghostly apparition of empty buildings dotting the coastal regions through the provinces of Castellon and Valencia and on. “Castellon is so overdeveloped we don’t see the probability of recovery in the next 20 years,” de Acuna says.
A key ingredient missing from the "recipe" are immigrants.  You can't make loans without someone to sign it and this is where immigrants come in.

What I found interesting is that woman profiled in the article is an immigrant to Spain from Cameroon, one among "a flood of immigrants."  And she arrived in 1990.

That's an important year because that's around the time Canada was upping it's immigrant intake quotas as well.  It's also around the time the U.S. housing bubble started to take off.

I've written about immigrants and housing bubbles already and it's not far fetched to believe Canada's banking institutions lobbied the government to increase immigration levels because they wanted a steady and increasing flow of clients to sign loans since the Canadian population wasn't growing fast enough for their quarterly profit reports and indeed threatened to contract in the near future.  This is not good for share holder value.

Other things to note are that Canada's interest rates are at historic lows making credit cheap.  No wonder then that Canadian household debt is bigger than ever causing the Bank of Canada to call it the biggest domestic risk.  Economic growth is crawling at a snails pace while real income remain stagnant.  And let's not forget Canada's housing market is "red hot" which is a euphemism for "over valued" thanks in large part to Asian speculative capital and immigrants buying houses on cheap credit.

I hope Canada is not in a housing bubble but it could be.  The fact that the government has no intentions to decrease immigrant intake quotas - the largest in the world per capita - in a time of low growth and high unemployment may be a nod to the realization that the housing market has become so dependant on the immigration system now that to even turn down the tap just a little may be the catalyst that triggers a housing market crash of Canada's own making.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Chronic Gridlock, Growing Pains, And Failing To See The Elephant In The Room (it's mass immigration stupid!).

A few articles appeared in the Toronto Star about Toronto's chronic gridlock problem and as should be expected not one dared to notice the elephant in the room.

One was printed today about the ten most congested arteries in Toronto.  Of the ten only two are located downtown.  The other eight are located outside the downtown core in areas heavily settled by immigrants but no one seems to have bothered to notice this.  They have noticed, or are at least partially blaming, the contributions the condo boom is having on traffic and we all know by now who is a major player in Toronto's condo market (hint: look east towards Asia).
The condominium boom is being blamed for the fact that five of the city’s 10 most congested intersections are on Sheppard Ave. 
Councillor David Shiner, whose Willowdale ward has two of the busiest at Sheppard and Bayview and Sheppard and Leslie, says it’s only going to worsen as more developments get approved. 
“You haven’t seen nothing yet,” Shiner said, during discussion Thursday about the clogged intersections at council’s public works and infrastructure committee. 
Shiner noted that just this week, the North York community council gave its blessing to 4,000 new condo units, the latest phase in a massive 20-hectare development on Sheppard between Bayview Ave. and Leslie St.
It's clear Toronto has a traffic problem but the question is what's to be done about it?

Solutions being proposed invariably mean taxpayers in Toronto and the surrounding area can expect their wallets to get lighter and bank accounts smaller because higher taxes and toll roads are on the way.

In this Toronto Star editorial Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion is awarded praise for suggesting higher taxes to fund efforts to tackle gridlock.
In a refreshing departure from the wilful blindness exhibited by some civic leaders (Mayor Rob Ford, take a bow), McCallion unabashedly called for new taxes to ease gridlock choking traffic flow — and the economy — in the Greater Toronto Area. 
“Income tax, sales tax, (vehicle) registration tax . . . I have no preference,” she told reporters last week. “I just know we need it, and we need it quickly. We’ve got to get a handle on congestion.” 
She carried that message to Queen’s Park, meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty, but it isn’t yet certain if the government will listen.
The implementation of toll roads has been generating a lot of discussion as a solution to ease traffic gridlock and fund public transportation.

But like I said everyone is wilfully blind to the elephant in the room and refusing to acknowledge that mass immigration is the major cause of all of this.  Toronto's neighbour to the east, Mississauga, provides a lesson on how this came to be.

Mississauga is also feeling the effects of gridlock but why shouldn't it because it too is being swamped with immigrants due to spillover like when you fill up the sink with too much water and keep on doing so even though everything in the surrounding area is getting wet.

You see Mississauga is experiencing growing pains .
The suburban dream of high lifestyle and low taxes has come crashing to earth. The old model of growth-by-development-charges no longer applies. Although it is unfolding first in Mississauga, the same fate awaits any number of sprawl cities in the GTA and beyond.{...} 
In the end, though, was the stark truth of a 7.4 per cent city property tax increase (before the regional increase is factored in), something that doesn’t sit well in a jurisdiction that long prided itself on being the next best thing to free.{...} 
Despite its relative youth — Mississauga was incorporated in 1974 — it has hit middle age with a thud. The city whose main claim to fame was that it had no public debt is now looking for $450 million to stay afloat. 
In the meantime, infrastructure is starting to fall apart. Built as cheaply and quickly as possible, it was intended to allow for growth, not accommodate a community. Little wonder, then, that Mississauga’s infrastructure deficit is expected to hit $1.5 billion in the next 20 years. 
Even the city’s roads department — that holy of holies — faces cuts. Though traffic numbers are going up drastically, future projects will have to be curtailed by $25 million, and the annual $2.8 million funding gap for road repairs will soar to $8.2 million by 2016.
Before you know it you're knee deep in water and worried about the damage the water is causing.  You ponder how to effectively address the rising tide failing to realize, to your detriment, that all you have to do is turn off the damn tap.

This is how the debate over Toronto's traffic gridlock is.  It's like everyone woke up one day and realized that Toronto's traffic is terrible and that we should do something about it but never give consideration to what's causing it.  And they never will.  They do know mass immigration is the problem but since it's politicians who are doing the talking and are reliant on the immigrant vote they don't wish to cause any offence for the sake of their political careers.

This is yet another example of when a better life for you means a worse life for us.  When immigration is discussed it typically avoids the effects it has on the host society yet we feel those effects everyday when we commute in the nation's major cities, especially here in Toronto.  While public transit can help alleviate gridlock it's no solution to the socially damaging effects - and environmentally damaging effects - of mass immigration on the nation's cities and our lives because public transit gets crowded too.  So much in fact that it is often better to avoid it and walk a few blocks if you can.

This also illustrates how mass immigration is affecting us financially.  We are now facing the prospects of higher taxes and toll roads (also a tax increase) for the sake of mass immigration, diversity, multiculturalism and all that nonsense Canadians don't really care about but are told we want for some reason.  My proposal, the one never considered, is cut immigration altogether.  We don't need the numbers we're bringing in as they are far too high already and it's clear immigration is the problem here.  And solving the problems immigration is creating means more money out of Canadians' pockets whereas what I propose would save us money in the short and long-term.  Besides large cities do not necessarily make better cities.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Anybody Remember The History Of The S.S. St Louis?

Because there's a few people in Israel who sure do need a history lesson right about now.
The government is preparing a mass deportation of refugees back to their South Sudan homeland. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein next week will argue before the Jerusalem District Court that there is no legal obstacle to the expulsions since individual checks will establish that none of them faces any threat to their lives in South Sudan.{...} 
However, attorney Anat Ben-Dor of the Refugee Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University, who filed the petition for the groups, said: "A humanitarian crisis is developing in South Sudan, which is expected to lead to extreme famine. In addition, the border conflicts with Sudan are continuing, so in these circumstances the decision to return the Sudanese to South Sudan is premature and irresponsible."{...}
The Justice Ministry yesterday released a statement saying the decision to expell the migrants was made on the basis of the Foreign Ministry's position paper, which said it was possible to return South Sudanese migrants to their home country only after it was established that they are not eligible for asylum.
Reports from the United Nations and human rights groups and testimonies by activists and citizens warn of severe human rights violations in South Sudan, continuous warfare and a critical shortage of food, water and medical care, which are leading to a humanitarian disaster. 
The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently ruled that the return of South Sudanese to their country must be done on a voluntary basis, due to the country's instability.
In related news it's kristallnacht 2012, Israeli style.

Furthermore Israel enacts law allowing authorities to detain illegal migrants for up to 3 years.
A law granting Israeli authorities the power to detain illegal migrants for up to three years came into effect on Sunday, in the wake of widening public controversy over the influx of African migrants who cross into Israel along its border with Egypt. 
The law makes illegal migrants and asylum seekers liable to jail, without trial or deportation, if caught staying in Israel for long periods. In addition, anyone helping migrants or providing them with shelter could face prison sentences of between five and 15 years. 
The law amended the Prevention of Infiltration Law of 1954, passed to prevent the entry of Palestinians as part of emergency legislation. The law is expanded to address migrant workers or asylum seekers who enter Israel without posing a threat to Israel's security.
I know what your thinking and I'm not going to go there but at least they're not forcing them to take group showers.  That'll be a little too obvious don't you think?

Look, I'm not one to criticize Israel.  Despite these latest events it's still the freest state in the Middle East.  There's a reason the migrants are going to Israel and not Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, or the Palestinian territories.

What's irksome is the apparent double standard here.  It seems what's good for the Goyim isn't good for the Jew.

With that said I understand them.  I don't condone the violent outburst and I'll admit that some of the measures being enacted to deal with illegal migration may seem draconian but I do understand where this is coming from.

Israel wants to keep it's Jewish character and there's nothing wrong with that.  If it sees illegal migration as a threat to that character then it has a right to monitor it and control it just like Canada has a right, nay an obligation, to monitor and control its immigration system to maintain Canada's Euro-American character that the vast majority of Canadians have come to identify with.

And some context needs to be established for the riots.  The riots took place in a depressed, working class area of Tel Aviv where the migrants have flocked to.  The working class is the primary victim of an unchecked immigration system.  Working class life is hard enough without mass immigration and illegal migrant labour making things worse.  When those seeking a better life is making your life worse you may very well lash out in one way or another.

Of course this is no excuse for the outburst and targeting of illegal migrant workers but it should draw our attention to the causes of illegal migration and perhaps by addressing them you can stem the flow.  But I also know the asylum system provides a convenient avenue to lie one's way into the country and this may be what is happening in Israel like it happens (a lot) in Canada.

So, I may be critical of Israel here but I do understand them.

How Immigration Negatively Affects The Birth Rate.

Here's an Op-Ed from the Toronto Star arguing it should be a Canadian priority to get the birth rate up.  I don't disagree with it but I do take issue with how it skirts over the immigration angle.

The author mentions immigration in passing and when he does he implies immigration as part of the solution to counteract a demographic decline.  While immigration can contribute to population growth any positive effects it is intended to have on reversing or stabilizing an ageing demographic trend and continue population growth are negligible at best.  As long as the national birth rate remains below replacement levels and continuous population growth is the desired goal then increasing numbers of immigrants are going to be needed indefinitely to keep the population growing.

The problem with this is that it is not a feasible course of action.  The immigration system is already too costly for it's own good and forever allowing increasing numbers of immigrants into the country each succeeding year is unsustainable.  The system will eventually collapse on itself and precious tax dollars will be eaten up by it that could otherwise be spent on improving the economy.  So while some see immigration as part of the solution I see it as part of the problem and here's why.

If increasing the national birthrate is desirable we need to look at causes for why it's low in the first place and I think the answer to that is obvious: it's damn well expensive living here.  The cost of living is high and immigration has helped make it so.

It does this by inflating the cost of housing.  Vancouver is one of the most unaffordable cities in the world at the moment and this has to do with sky-rocketing house prices driven into the stratosphere by Asian immigrants and money.  The picture is the same for Toronto as well as Calgary and Montreal.  The cost of housing is the costliest of family expenditures and as more and more of a couple's disposable income is going into providing a home for their family it means less money available to have more children.

Another effect is on incomes.  Immigrants have not improved the incomes for the majority of Canadians.  Far from it.  They have driven their incomes down or at best contributed to their stagnation in the face of inflation.  Again this translates into less disposable income for families to have more children.

Because of this immigrants and their Canadian born children characteristically adopt similar birthrates as their Canadian counterparts do with few exceptions; Muslims being one but that has to do with religious reasons and a lack of shame in exploiting the welfare system.

The author argues, and I agree, that Canada needs to get the national birthrate up.  Throughout most of Canada's history the nation's population grew naturally and less so because of immigration.  We need to do this again and stop turning to immigration as the solution.

As an aside there are some questions that should be raised.  One is do we really need continuous population growth?  Perhaps population stabilization is more desirable. Also, maybe there are benefits to population decline that are not being entertained.  I think it's worthy of analysis.  In any case, for the population growth advocates out there I ask you this: is the Canadian standard of living higher today in a nation with a population with 33 million people than it was when Canada had a population of 25 million?  I don't think so. In fact I think it's possible that we're worse off.

Canada Needs Immigrants To Staff The 'McDonald's Of The World.'

Freudian slip or off the cuff remark?
Being jobless in Canada just got more worrisome after the Harper government said unemployed Canadians will face tougher requirements to hang on to their Employment Insurance benefits. 
The crackdown is meant to push unemployed Canadians off the insurance rolls and into the workforce, even if it means they must accept lower-paying jobs or work they may not want. 
“This is going to impact everyone because what we want to do is make sure that the McDonald’s of the world aren’t having to bring in temporary foreign workers to do jobs that Canadians who are on EI have the skills to do,” Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said Thursday.
How do we unpack that statement?

Being Minister of Human Resources I think it's safe to assume she is privy to the details of Canada's job market and if we are to take anything away from what she said I'd say she is implying that much of the labour market growth in Canada is coming from the steady rise in the number of fast-food restaurants and other franchise operations that now litter the landscape like discarded trash along the highway.

How about that?  Much attention is given to the labour market growth in Canada's resource sector but we seem to be ignoring that McDonald's, Burger King, Tim Hortons, Dairy Queen, Wal-Mart, Subway, Swiss Chalet, Tim Hortons, Target (opening in March 2013 and formerly Zellers), Loblaws,  Taco Bell, Harvey's, Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Pizza Pizza, Ikea, Future Shop, Best Buy, Tim Hortons, Great Canadian Super Superstore, Time Hortons, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Tim Hortons, Tim Hortons, and Tim Hortons are major contributors to it as well.

I don't know why they're being ignored.  I guess no one wants to hear or report that a bulk of the job growth is to be found in dead end, minimum wage, counter and floor help at franchise operations.  I guess we're all supposed to rejoice in the fact that it's 2012 and we're still a nation of hewers of wood and drawers of water.  Which reminds me, Research In Motion is planning to lay-off as few as 2,000 people worldwide this summer with the possibility of more to come but I digress.

Perhaps the real problem is to be found not in the lack of those willing to staff those jobs but in the growth of those businesses in the first place.  If they weren't built then there'd be no demand for labour.

Do we really need another Tim Hortons in this country?  Is the economy going to crash due to a lack of McDonald's restaurants?  How about preventing foreigners from buying their way into Canada by purchasing an unneeded fast-food franchise and placing it where there is no labour available to supply it?

We need to regulate these operations.  They shouldn't be restricted from building them but they should be restricted to relying on the local labour market to find workers.  If they can't find them then they should raise the wage being offered to attract them.

This how the free market is supposed to work.  When there's more demand the price goes up.  But the temporary foreign worker program distorts this by flooding the job market with imported overseas labour, increasing the supply, and driving wages down even to the point were it will be legal to drive them below the allowable minimum.  This is how the real "free market" works.  Businesses love it when it makes them rich.  When the "free market" fails to cooperate the business community runs to the government for help.  It's nanny-state for them, free market discipline for everyone else.

But what does mediocre politician and future Cadillac pension recipient, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley care?  She and her Harper crony Conservative Senator husband Doug Finley will collectively receive $4.3 million in lifetime salary and pension benefits care of the tax payer.  Wait, maybe her zeal for getting Canadians off EI and working makes sense now.  Someone needs to pay for that bullsh**t and it certainly isn't going to be her.