2016/07/26 Leave a comment
While I disagree with much of what Collacott argues – the European examples come from too different histories and geographies, the costs of immigration cited are based on the flawed Grubel-Grady study – I do share some of his cynicism with respect to the announced consultations.
It would be better to appoint an independent panel or commission to review the full range of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism issues to have a serious and independent study to help guide longer-term policy (see my previous IRCC Discussion guide on immigration: What about citizenship?):
Canada has probably worked harder and had relatively more success than any other country in welcoming and integrating people of different backgrounds from around the world. The “national conversation’s” assertion that “Canada’s strength lies in its diversity” however does not correspond with reality.
While a well-managed and moderate increase in diversity can enrich a society in various ways, it is also clear that unlimited diversity has a negative effect on societal cohesion and national identity. This has been well-documented by scholars such as Harvard professor Robert Putnam, whose research found that, as urban communities become more and more diverse, the levels of social cohesion decline and there is less trust among residents.
This has been amply demonstrated in Europe, where the social as well as economic integration of many immigrants with very different cultural values and traditions from those of the host nations has been impeded as their numbers grew and they became heavily concentrated in urban areas.
The suggestion that Canada’s strength lies in its diversity, nevertheless, implies that our society will endlessly benefit from becoming more and more diverse.
The question then has to be asked why the Government is promoting its “national conversation” based on a slogan that doesn’t make sense.
The answer becomes clear from other sections of the conversation’s press release when it states that the government is committed to an immigration system that supports diversity and helps to grow the economy.
The fact is that, while immigration makes the economy larger, it doesn’t improve the standard of living of the average Canadian: it simply creates a larger pie that is divided into more, and usually somewhat smaller, pieces. Indeed the latest research indicates that recent immigration is very costly to Canadian taxpayers — to the tune of around $30 billion a year — in addition to raising house prices beyond the reach of most young Canadians in large cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, increasing congestion and commute times and putting heavy pressure on health care services.
While there been periods in our history when we have benefitted from large-scale immigration, this is not one of them. Canada does not face major labour shortages and has sufficient human capital and educational and training facilities to meet almost all of our needs from our existing resources.
The “national conversation” is clearly a public relations exercise designed to convince members of the public that they are providing serious input into how immigration can benefit Canada. The terms of reference, however, leave no doubt that its real purpose is to promote large-scale immigration and diversity in order to increase political support for the Liberal Party of Canada rather than to serve the interests of Canadians in general.
We very much need a comprehensive, well-informed and balanced review of immigration policy — but not the phony “national conversation” the government is attempting to foist on the public.