What’s driving populism? It isn’t the economy, stupid – Bricker and Ibbitson

Bricker and Ibbitson further develop their 2013 thesis in The Big Shift: The Seismic Change In Canadian Politics, Business, And Culture And What It Means For Our Future in which they argued that there was a permanent shift towards more conservative politics, particularly among immigrant groups. Two years later, the 2015 election largely proved them wrong, as immigrant-rich ridings largely shifted to the Liberals.

Even so, they still maintain Conservatives have an advantage over progressives.

However, while their diagnostic relies overly on Putman and Kaufman, along with US and European examples, and less on understanding the significant differences with Canada (see Michael Adams, Could It Happen Here?: Canada in the Age of Trump and Brexit), their key policy prescriptions – need for respect for immigration-related concerns, downplay grand theories about immigration advantages (Barton Commission and Century Initiative to note) – are sound.

The current Ontario PC leadership convention and subsequent June election will provide an early test in Canada’s largest and most diverse province:

…So what is a better approach than simply dismissing the cultural insecurities of voters? First, leaders in politics and journalism and the academy and other fields need to respect where people are coming from – even when they profoundly disagree with where people are coming from.

“If people have concerns, and their concerns are being expressed in anti-immigration sentiment, then you’ve got to ask: Are these people just straight-out opposed to immigrants or do they have something else they’re fearful of or concerned about?” Prof. Loewen said. “And you’ve got to speak to those concerns in an even-handed and honest fashion.”

Second, play down the grand theories about the advantages of immigration, globalization and economic diversification. It’ll all be labelled fake news. And do not appeal to people’s compassion. There is little of it about. Instead, show – don’t tell, show – how immigration is making things better on your street, in your neighbourhood. Make it positive and make it personal. Micromessage.

In these conversations, conservatives have one advantage over progressives. Conservatives share the same attitude toward economic issues as most middle-class immigrants from places such as the Philippines, India and China, Canada’s three top source countries.

Conservatives and many immigrants favour business over government, the private sector over the public sector. They want fewer regulations and less bureaucracy, more freedom and greater personal responsibility, including responsibility for protecting the family and community.

Stephen Harper’s decade-long tenure as a Conservative prime minister depended in part on his party’s ability to coalesce immigrant voters in suburban ridings in greater Toronto and Vancouver with traditional rural and Prairie conservatives.

Not only can that coalition be politically advantageous, it creates a space where people who might be tempted to embrace nativist sentiments can find themselves talking and agreeing with like-minded new arrivals. For social cohesion, such conversations are precious.

Some would say the best way to address concerns over immigration would be to scale back the number of people coming in, especially from countries whose cultures are far removed from Canada’s Christian, European settler heritage. We can’t endorse that view. We know how important immigration is to smoothing the curve of an aging society with low fertility rates. And personally, we adore the multicultural ferment of our big cities.

But we must understand and accept that cultural insecurity affects millions of our fellow citizens. We must address those concerns by celebrating the best of what they cherish and by showing how immigrants cherish the same things – perhaps even more than some of the more progressive of their fellow citizens.

We need to remind ourselves that we are all in this together, old stock as well as new, and we all need to listen to each other with respect.

Otherwise, the next Donald Trump, the next noxious referendum, the next wall of exclusion await us all.

via What’s driving populism? It isn’t the economy, stupid – The Globe and Mail


Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media: John Ibbitson

Good piece by Ibbitson:

CNN has a new commercial that features a picture of an apple. “Some people might try to tell you it’s a banana,” says the narrator. They might even scream that it’s a banana. “They might put BANANA in all caps. … But it’s not. This is an apple.”

The ad was, of course, immediately attacked by right-wing columnists. “Trump Derangement Syndrome has struck CNN and is taking a terrible toll,” wrote Thomas Lifson at American Thinker.

The American media have become so deeply polarized that each side has now lost any ability to listen to the other. Each accuses the other of committing fake news – stories based on false facts that are intended to deceive. But the deeper problem resides in columns and editorials and blogs and tweets that take implacable stands, distorting facts and belittling opponents, ignoring or disrespecting other points of view.

On Thursday, on the RealClearPolitics aggregator website, you could find headlines such as “The Bone Spur Bozo in the White House,” and “Does the Dems Dossier Trick Count as Treason?”

So why aren’t Canadians screaming at each other the way the Americans are?

One answer is that “we don’t have Donald Trump as prime minister,” observes Janni Aragon, who teaches political science at the University of Victoria. The President personifies the anger embedded within American discourse. But Prof. Aragon adds that the differences in media reflect differences in the political cultures of the two countries.

America, she says, is a land divided. In Canada, “divisiveness is not as strong.”

There isn’t a single political leader in Canada whose platform mirrors the nativist, anti-immigrant, authoritarian strains that we see in President Trump and his supporters. Nor, with a few minor, on-the-fringe exceptions (We’re talking about you, The Rebel), do Canadian media cater to racist phobias.

Why not? There could be several reasons.

Since the first Loyalist settlers arrived in the late 1700s, Canadian political culture has been tinged with what has been called a “tory touch,” an upper-class British tradition that stresses collective obligations over individual liberties. This sense of noblesse oblige underlies many of the value assumptions of the mainstream media.

Our small and scattered population also contributes, says Kirk Lapointe, who held a variety of positions in Canadian media (he was once my boss), and who teaches journalism at the University of British Columbia. There are so many Americans, he points out, that fringe publications can profitably publish, giving extremists a voice. But Canadian publications must cater to more moderate views in order to win a large enough audience to make a profit.

Mr. Lapointe hosts a Vancouver radio talk show. In his experience, extremists don’t attract listeners. “I see a fair amount of revulsion when someone like that tries to grab the microphone,” he said in an interview.

Canada’s large immigrant population is also a steadying influence. With four in 10 Canadians either an immigrant or the son or daughter of an immigrant, nativist voices have little hope of dominating the print, broadcast or digital conversation.

Pollster Michael Adams has published a book, Could It Happen Here? that compares Canadian and American political and social values in the age of Trudeau and Trump. To cite just one powerful statistic: According to one poll, 50 per cent of Americans believe that “the father of the family must be the master in his own house.” In Canada, the figure is 23 per cent.

To explain these differences, Mr. Adams refers to a chronic streak of paranoia that has long run through American politics, and Horatio Alger-like belief that anyone can make it to the top – so if you don’t, the system must be conspiring against you. He also cited the baleful influence of evangelical religion, gerrymandered Congressional districts and increasing income insecurity.

“In this paranoid atmosphere, people feel entitled not only to their own opinions but also to their own facts,” he believes. “And now, in the age of the internet, each is his own publisher and editor locked inside an ideological bubble with fellow travellers.”

This paranoid polarization infects the right more than the left in American politics. There is no progressive equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart News. But the left is not immune to intolerance.

At the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) last week, a small group of protesters self-identifying as antifascists interrupted a forum on, of all things, how best to challenge hate speech. “No Trump, no KKK, no Fascist U.S.A.” they yelled, shutting down a question-and-answer session that resumed later in another room.

The discourse in Canadian politics and journalism is far from perfect. Indigenous Canadians, especially, do not see their values and priorities reflected in either Canada’s political culture or its media. Newsrooms are far less diverse than the communities they cover.

And Prof. Aragon warns of the tendency of American cultural influences to “trickle up” across the border. Polarized American media risk polarizing Canadian media through the sheer power of proximity.

Nonetheless, as President Trump sends out one angry tweet after another, Canadians retain deeper wells of moderation and goodwill than their American cousins.

In this country, just about everyone seems to agree that an apple is not a banana.

Source: Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media – The Globe and Mail

The fascists are mobilizing in Donald Trump’s name: John Ibbitson

Appropriately strong column by Ibbitson:

Not all the people who support Donald Trump are Nazis, white supremacists or more mundane racists. Some genuinely believe that the institutions of the republic have become so corrupt that only a wholesale, populist cleansing will redeem the American promise.

But for whatever reason they support him, Mr. Trump’s followers are enabling a President who stokes race hatred, who will not condemn Nazis and other fascists, whose words and deeds are leading white supremacists to kill on a street in New York, on a subway car in Portland and now during a melee in Charlottesville.

We can empathize with people cast adrift by the economic storms of globalization and the digital revolution; we can understand, though never condone, their resentment over the fact that a minority of children born in the United States today are white, that the evolution of the American myth embraces a racial and sexual diversity that they can’t comprehend.

But empathy has limits. The fascists are mobilizing in Donald Trump’s name. They may be few in number, but a larger, still-silent minority may come to approve their message, if not their methods or regalia. Unless this President’s malignant poisoning of the body politic is contained, there will be more riots, more confrontations, more deaths. Unless he is contained, future historians may see Charlottesville as an overture to something even uglier and deeper and more dangerous.

Donald Trump exhausts us. He tries to tear down the social safety net. He seeks to wreck the global trading system. He attacks a free press. He threatens war against other weak, dangerous men. And he does it all at once, day after day. His assaults on democracy and civility are so multifaceted – and his term has barely begun! – that it’s tempting to turn away, to hold your family tighter and just try to carry on.

But those who believe in democracy, in a free press, in racial harmony, in peace, have to fight back. What’s so frustrating for Canadians is that there is little we can do on this side of the border, except watch in horror and pray.

Source: The fascists are mobilizing in Donald Trump’s name – The Globe and Mail

Khadr is to Trudeau what the census was to Harper: John Ibbitson

Interesting parallel and difference. Note Ibbitson’s point on the census cancellation decision:

Fast forward to this summer. When news broke that the federal government had settled Omar Khadr’s lawsuit for $10.5-million and an apology, critics angrily alleged the government had turned a confessed terrorist into a millionaire. Caught off guard, the Liberals kept changing their story. Previous governments had violated Mr. Khadr’s Charter rights and this government was simply doing right by him, Justin Trudeau maintained. When that didn’t fly, the Prime Minister insisted that the government was saving the taxpayers money by settling for a smaller amount now, instead of a larger amount later. People aren’t buying that one, either. Seven in 10 oppose the settlement, according to an Angus Reid poll.

When the census story broke in 2010, the Liberals painted Mr. Harper as a philistine prepared to destroy knowledge for the sake of a blinkered ideology. Similarly, the Conservatives are using the Khadr settlement to paint Mr. Trudeau as not only soft on terrorists, but willing to pander to one. The census charge stuck to Mr. Harper, and the Khadr charge will likely stick to Mr. Trudeau.

There is, however, one crucial difference between the census scandal and the Khadr affair. In the former case, Stephen Harper was entirely in the wrong. Although he refused to admit it, he cancelled the census to starve the government of data that could be used to justify programs that Conservatives oppose. It truly was an act of political vandalism. But Mr. Trudeau can make a much better case for his actions.

You don’t have to believe, as some do, that Omar Khadr was an innocent child who suffered terribly in Guantanamo for a crime he never committed, and whose confession was forced from him in a travesty of justice. You can instead believe that Mr. Khadr is a piece of work. It doesn’t matter. The Supreme Court ruled that his Charter rights were violated. He was going to win the lawsuit. The Liberals were simply bowing to the inevitable.

The Conservatives believe that doesn’t matter, that the government should have battled to the end and paid what the court ordered grudgingly and without an apology. Reasonable people can disagree on this point. There was no reasonable case for cancelling the census.

Still, the Liberals are going to wear this. There is nothing for Mr. Trudeau to do now but what Mr. Harper did in 2010: hunker down and wait for the agenda to move on.

If Stephen Harper could survive the census, surely Justin Trudeau can survive the Khadr affair.

Source: Khadr is to Trudeau what the census was to Harper – The Globe and Mail

Immigration, intolerance and the ‘populist paradox’: Ibbitson on Banting

Good summary of Keith Banting’s talk at the recent Conference Board of Canada’s Immigration Summit (and his earlier talk on the Hill), although with more of a pessimistic spin than Banting:

We may think most Canadians support the federal government’s wide-open immigration policy, which has made Canada a beacon of tolerance in this increasingly intolerant world, but the reality is more worrying.

Support for immigration in Canada is soft and vulnerable. Governments must act to strengthen it, if this country is to avoid the polarization and conflict afflicting the United States and much of Europe.

These are the findings of Keith Banting, who researches public policy at Queen’s University. Prof. Banting and I each gave a talk on immigration policy at a recent gathering sponsored by the Conference Board of Canada. This column is based on his remarks, which were much more interesting than mine.

Six out of 10 Canadians support the federal government’s target of accepting 300,000 immigrants a year, the highest intake per capita of any country in the developed world, according to a 2016 Environics poll. But four in 10 do not, and almost six in 10 believe that “too many immigrants do not adopt Canadian values.” Support for both immigration and multiculturalism – which welcomes diverse cultures within the Canadian mosaic – is far from universal.

Canadians, Prof. Banting believes, are every bit as susceptible as Americans or Britons or Poles to a lethal combination of economic insecurity and cultural anxiety. Many of us fear we may lose our job to a machine or to a foreigner in an overseas factory, even as the 1 per cent accrue more and more of the common wealth.

And some descendants of Canada’s settler culture fear that their Christian, European heritage is being overwhelmed by new arrivals from developing countries.

Meanwhile, a string of terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere contributes to the fear that some newcomers or their descendants seek to do us harm.

Drawing on attitudinal research by former graduate students and the Queen’s University Multicultural Policy Index (http://www.queensu.ca/mcp), Prof. Banting paints a much more ambiguous picture of support for multiculturalism in Canada.

“The population could roughly be divided three ways,” he argues. “One third of Canadians really don’t support multiculturalism. One third are enthusiastic multiculturalists. And one third are what you could call ‘soft multiculturalists’: They support the current policies, but with reservations. And that support could change.”

Canadians living outside Quebec roughly correspond with Americans when asked whether they support such policies as allowing religious headgear for police officers and members of the military (about six in 10 oppose), requiring employers to make a special effort to hire minorities and immigrants (about four in 10 oppose), being allowed to wear a hijab (the Muslim head scarf) while walking down the street (about two in 10 oppose) and other markers of multicultural tolerance.

In responding to many of the questions, people in Quebec showed less multicultural tolerance than either Americans or Canadians outside Quebec.

Could such ambiguous support for multiculturalism lead to the creation of a populist, nationalist, anti-immigrant political party in Canada? Not immediately, Prof. Banting believes. For one thing, most Canadians who confess to economic insecurity do not blame immigrants for that insecurity. Eight Canadians in 10 agree with the statement: “The economic impact of immigrants is positive.”

As well, Prof. Banting refers to what has been called the “populist paradox.” There are so many immigrants and children of immigrants in Canada – 20 per cent of our population was not born in this country – that no political party can win government without their support.

These two factors make the rise of someone like a Donald Trump or a Marine Le Pen – the nativist French leader who came second in that country’s recent presidential election – less likely in Canada.

But the undercurrents of dissatisfaction are real. Canadian governments must repeatedly and convincingly demonstrate the importance of immigration to economic growth in this country. And they must confront the causes of income inequality and the fears fuelled by it.

Conservatives and progressives will address those priorities in different ways. But they must always keep them front and centre. Canada’s future depends on it.

Source: Immigration, intolerance and the ‘populist paradox’ – The Globe and Mail

Trump may praise Canada’s immigration model, but he would never adopt it: Ibbitson

Good analysis by John Ibbitson:

Although Donald Trump praised Canada’s immigration system in his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, he does not understand that system. To emulate the Canadian model, Mr. Trump would have to transform not only U.S. immigration, but his own thinking.

“Nations around the world – like Canada, Australia and many others – have a merit-based immigration system,” Mr. Trump observed in his address. “It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”

This is correct, as far as it goes, which is not very far. Yes, this country employs a points system that recruits immigrants based on their ability to integrate into the Canadian economy.

But if Mr. Trump truly wished to adapt the Canadian immigration ethos, he would have to embrace concepts he currently rejects. First and foremost, he would have to fling open the doors.

The United States brings in about one million legal permanent residents each year, about a third of one per cent of its population. Canada will bring in 300,000 immigrants this year, just under nine-tenths of one per cent of this country’s population. So to make the U.S. immigration system more Canadian, Congress and the Trump administration would need to almost triple the current annual intake, to around 2.8 million new arrivals a year.

That increased intake, if the Canadian way became the American way, would include 280,000 refugees. While most immigrants to Canada are either economic class or family class, about 10 per cent are refugees, brought in on humanitarian grounds. The United States typically brings in about 70,000 refugees a year, a quarter of the Canadian equivalent, and Mr. Trump wants to ban refugees entirely. That’s really not very Canadian of him.

The President believes immigrants should be self-supporting, and indeed they should. But the most successful immigrants to Canada often do not have the professional degrees or fat bank accounts Mr. Trump no doubt has in mind. As my colleague David Parkinson reported, Canada seeks immigrants not only for the professions and knowledge industries, but in the skilled trades and other blue-collar sectors.

Those sorts of jobs in the United States are often filled by illegal Latino workers. To emulate the Canadian system, the United States would have to convert the stream of illegal immigrants from Mexico into a legal stream. Mr. Trump is trying, instead, to choke off the flow altogether.

The President would have to welcome Muslim immigrants. The Canadian system is blind to ethnicity or religion. Muslims are as welcome as any others, provided they meet the criteria. Mr. Trump, in contrast, wants to ban the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States in any circumstances.

Most important of all, Mr. Trump would have to embrace multiculturalism: the celebration of diversity within a united society. Such a concept would be alien to the President and his supporters.

Immigration is the key to prosperity and growth for any advanced country. Both the United States and Canada have a fertility rate below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per mother. (The United States is at 1.9 and Canada is at 1.6.) Efforts to increase fertility rates in Europe and in Quebec have mostly failed. (You cannot bribe a couple to have a child; it is insulting even to try.) Immigrants are the best – indeed, the only – way to keep an economy filled with young workers paying the taxes needed to sustain the growing ranks of the retired.

But Mr. Trump, however much he might praise the Canadian model, will never adopt it. That sort of openness to the world just is not in his nature.

Source: Trump may praise Canada’s immigration model, but he would never adopt it – The Globe and Mail

The politics of 2036, when Canada is as brown as it is white: Ibbitson

Good column by John Ibbitson on the political implications of the 2036 projections on Canada’s demographics (and a much more likely prediction than his earlier one in his book The Big Shift, although he still sticks to the Jason Kenney line that immigrants are inherently more conservative, which the 2015 election indicated was overly simplistic, given the diversity among immigrant groups and the wide margins the Liberals enjoyed in 33 visible majority ridings):

…The transformation of Canada is already far advanced, and continuing. By 2036, the agency predicts, as many as 30 per cent of all residents will not have been born in Canada. Another 20 per cent of the population will be native-born, but with at least one immigrant parent. Since the vast majority of immigrants come from Asian or Pacific nations, within 20 years Canada will likely be as brown as it is white.

Some old-stock Canadians, as Stephen Harper called them, will resent this. No one asked them, they will say, whether they wanted the European, Christian country they grew up in to be transformed into something so cosmopolitan. They lament the loss of traditional values and social solidarity. Some of them look with envy to the United States, where Donald Trump surfed nativist resentments all the way to the White House.

But a Canadian Donald Trump – at least one who wins a general election – is unlikely. There is no future courting the angry white vote. There just aren’t enough angry white voters.

Some Conservative leadership candidates are flirting with nativism nonetheless, because the Conservative Party membership is older and whiter than the general population. But, in fact, Conservatives should welcome immigrants. The Philippines, India and China accounted for 40 per cent of new arrivals in 2015. They are economically and socially more conservative than many of the native-born; many of them voted for Mr. Harper in 2011, and they are a natural constituency for the Conservative Party.

Justin Trudeau, however, won suburban ridings with large immigrant populations across the country in 2015. Politically, keeping those voters loyal is his first and most important task. Winning them back should be the first and most important task of the next Conservative leader.

The massive demographic shifts under way in Canada speak to both growth and decline across the country. In 2036, StatsCan predicts immigrants will make up at most 10 per cent of the population in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. About a third of Montreal’s population could be immigrant, but in the rest of the province they will be hard to find. In Ontario and British Columbia, about a third of the population will be foreign-born, and Alberta should be near 30 per cent.

In terms of both population and politics, Canada will be a country of large, growing, young, diverse cites, with everything in between older and whiter and continuing to decline.

Quebec will struggle to make its voice heard: those whose mother tongue is French will decline from 21 per cent of the population today to 18 per cent in 2036. The number speaking English as a native language will also go down, but up to 30 per cent of Canadians will have a mother tongue that is neither English nor French.

Canada is losing its old-time religion. Ninety per cent of Canadians identified as Christians in 1970. Today, it’s two-thirds, and will be just over one half by 2036. Christianity is not being displaced by other religions – only 7 per cent, at most, will identify as Muslim by 2036 – but by no religion at all. A quarter of all Canadians today identify with no faith, and that number could reach a third by 2036.

The fact that this country has deliberately transformed the makeup of its population in a way no other country has managed, or even attempted, speaks to the tolerant, diverse society in which we live. Multiculturalism works and Canada is proof.

If you’re grinding your teeth at this, if you long for the Canada that was, it’s easy to understand your frustration. That Canada has gone away. By 2036 it will be barely a memory.

Source: The politics of 2036, when Canada is as brown as it is white – The Globe and Mail

Note to Conservatives: There is no future in Donald Trump Lite – The Globe and Mail

From the ‘big shift’ to understanding Canadian political realities, John Ibbitson reflects on the Conservative leadership race.

While I share his general assessment, I always worry about complacency and assuming that Canada is resilient to the overall political trends in the US and Europe. Better to be less categorical; after all, whenever European leaders pronounce multiculturalism dead, there is an echoing chorus in Canada:

To varying degrees, several candidates for the Conservative leadership seek to unravel the conservative coalition forged by Stephen Harper, hoping to replace it with a populist, nativist movement similar to the one that elected Donald Trump.

Either they will fail and a Harper Conservative will win the leadership, or one will succeed, condemning the Conservative Party to many years in the wilderness. Because the Trump coalition simply doesn’t exist in this country.

Canada routinely ranks among the happiest nations on earth. The 2016 United Nations World Happiness Report had us at sixth, behind the Nordic countries and Switzerland.

Happy countries share in common governments that are committed to sound finances. They also enjoy high-quality public health care, education and other social services, something Harper Conservatives support. Harper Conservatives also join other Canadians (six-in-10, according to most polls) in endorsing high levels of immigration. Immigrants are welcome in Canada because our immigration policy is based on economic self-interest rather than compassion, and because the points-based system ensures that no one ethnic group dominates others.

And although the Ontario manufacturing sector has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs since 2000, the province as a whole is prospering, powered by the service-sector economy of Greater Toronto, the high-tech sector centred in Kitchener-Waterloo, and new, smaller, manufacturers springing up in Southwestern Ontario….

In this context, another word for happiness is trust. If citizens trust their government to spend tax dollars on needed services, their police to treat them fairly, their central bank to protect a sound currency and so on, then populist uprisings will be few and weak. All in all, Canadian citizens trust the Canadian state.

But in the United States, trust is eroding, thanks to foolish wars, government waste and free-riding fat cats, leading to ideological warfare and populist rebellions.

In the rust-belt states that swung to Mr. Trump, white working- and middle-class voters blame foreigners for taking away their factory jobs, environmentalists for shutting down the coal mines, Latino migrants for changing the ethnic mix of their communities, and Muslims for making them feel less safe. They trust neither the state nor each other.

There are doubtless some Canadians who are this angry. But you won’t find many of them in the suburban ridings of Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver, dominated by new Canadians. You won’t find many of them in Calgary and Edmonton. People are hurting there, but they know the downturn in oil and gas prices is to blame for the slump, not immigrants or low-wage factory workers overseas.

That doesn’t mean Kellie Leitch, who is channelling a toned-down version of Trump memes, has no chance of winning the leadership. Only about 100,000 Conservative party members will vote for a leader, and that membership is older and whiter than the nation itself.

But whoever wins will have to appeal to voters in Mississauga-Erin Mills, to choose just one Greater Toronto example. That riding is 60 per cent non-white. In 2011, the Conservatives won the riding with 21,646 votes. In 2015, that vote went up slightly, to 21,716. Contrary to popular belief, the Conservatives held their suburban immigrant base in the last election.

But the Liberals took the riding by nearly 6,000 votes. Two thousand NDP voters switched to the Liberals, and the overall turnout increased by about 9,000 votes. (At 68 per cent nationally, turnout in the 2015 election was the highest since 1993).

Will turnout in 2019 drop back down to the post-2000 norm of around 60 per cent? How many disillusioned Liberal voters can be won over to the Conservative side? Can Conservatives broaden their support among suburban immigrant voters? These are the questions Conservative strategists should be asking – not whether the party can foment and surf a populist backlash.

Riding a wave of anger won’t get you very far in the sixth-happiest place on earth.

Source: Note to Conservatives: There is no future in Donald Trump Lite – The Globe and Mail

Leitch echoes Trump – and a Canada we left behind: Ibbitson

Good commentary by Ibbitson, recalling past debates over removal of ethnic quotas for immigrants:

By calling on immigrants to be screened for adherence to “Canadian values,” Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has reopened a very old and tired debate over who makes a good Canadian. She may not remember that the answer for many used to be: someone who’s white.

A reader sent an electronic clipping of an article from Legion Magazine printed in 1974, three years after Pierre Trudeau first declared multiculturalism – the celebration and preservation of distinct cultures within a united Canada – as the official policy of the federal government. The Liberals were working on a new immigration plan and sought the Legion’s input. As the organization that represented veterans at a time when there were many more of them, the Canadian Legion was a powerful voice. That voice called on the government to shut the doors.

From Confederation until the 1950s, this country had imposed quotas and other measures to encourage European and prevent Asian immigration. Those quotas “permit a greater flow of immigrants from countries that have historically given fine citizens to Canada,” wrote Robert D. McChesney, the society’s executive vice-president, in a report that was reprinted in the magazine.

But the Diefenbaker government started dismantling those quotas, and the Pearson government replaced them with the colour-blind points system still in use today. Since Europe was now prospering, this meant most new immigrants would have to be recruited from what was then called the “Third World.”

The Legion believed this was a mistake. “Precedents already exist to restrict immigration from certain parts of the world,” McChesney wrote. The Legion’s members “are not yet prepared to see these restrictions lowered, and indeed there is some evidence that they should be extended.”

Rather than using a points system, immigrants should be selected based on “the ethnic composition of the country as recorded in the census.” Since Canada was still overwhelmingly European, this would ensure a European-based intake.

Not wishing to appear intolerant, the 1974 report stressed that “the quality of a prospective immigrant is of prime importance, and that the place of origin and ethnic background should be of a secondary consideration.”

The Legion also opposed admitting refugees because of the impact they might have on “the cultural well-being of the country,” and because “their interest in becoming Canadian citizens is remote or at the best incidental.”

Finally, the report recommended “some system must be devised to screen the applicant more efficiently.”

In 1974, the Legion represented more than 367,000 Canadians, many of them veterans of the Korean War and the First and Second World Wars. Those veterans sacrificed for their country and when the wars ended they built the Canada we live in today.

But the country was changing in ways they found difficult to accept. Already, demographers were warning that the birth rate had fallen to the point that more immigrants from developing countries would be needed to sustain the population in the long term. They were right. Today, one Canadian in five was born elsewhere, and population growth is almost entirely reliant on immigration.

It is only human nature that the Boomers’ parents resented the ethnic transformation of their country. But in demanding strict screening of all immigrants coming into Canada for “Canadian values,” Kellie Leitch is not simply echoing the preachings of Donald Trump; she is evoking a Canada that was already in eclipse half a century ago.

How can she hope to win the party or the country by being so far outside her time?

Source: Leitch echoes Trump – and a Canada we left behind – The Globe and Mail

Conservative Party’s fortunes hinge on immigration policy: Ibbitson

Good overview by Ibbitson of the varied immigration positions of the Conservative leadership contenders (the Harper support mentioned below reflected in part the weakness of the other parties as well as the strong outreach by former Minister Jason Kenney):

Under Stephen Harper, the Conservatives enjoyed broad support from immigrant Canadians, many of whom are economically and socially more conservative than many native-born Canadians.

But when the party promised during the 2015 election campaign to root out “barbaric cultural practices,” it made Conservatives look anti-immigrant.

New Canadians will support the Conservatives, but only if they believe that Conservatives support them.

Source: Conservative Party’s fortunes hinge on immigration policy – The Globe and Mail