The New Great Migration

A few weeks ago I suggested, in a post on Army.ca, that another Great Migration in which millions, even tens of millions of people ‘decide,’ if that’s the right word, to relocate for a whole host of good (to them) reasons, is underway. I also posted a sample of a few earlier great migrations, from circa 500AD to the enormous, current migration of millions upon  millions of Latin Americans to the USA, and my worry that the new great migration is the real issue du jour.

I remain persuaded that this migration, not Da’esh or climate change, should be the “top of mind” issue for Canadians and for our governments ~ although both Da’esh and climate change may be catalysts that help to drive parts of the migration.

The new great migration is coming from the Middle East and Africa and it is headed, first, to Europe.

It is not surprising that the Middle East is a source: there are, literally, millions of educated young people who, for a whole host of reasons, cannot make good, productive lives for themselves in their homelands. One of the reasons they are so dissatisfied is that their governments have decided that their children should not do menial work ~ like being aero-engine or avionics technicians, for example* ~ and so foreigners (Americans, Canadians, Filipinos, Pakistanis, and Palestinians and, and, and …) are hired to do everything from construction work to accounting and medicine.

Africa is a more complex issue. Many economists see Africa as the new “big growth” area … it is filled with opportunities, many of which are being funded and managed by the Chinese. But young, educated Africans have lost hope and are seeking new opportunities elsewhere.

The root causes for the new great migration is the same for both Africa and the Middle East: bad governance.

Europe is, already, experiencing the first shocks of the new great migration. Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel has replaced America presidents as the world “indispensable person” but even the new “iron lady” has been seriously damaged by the popular reaction to migration. It is migration, not Brexit, that is likely to shatter the myth of European unit. It is reported that thousands are rioting in the Netherlands against a planned refugee hostel … that’s the Netherlands, one of the most liberal and, generally, peaceful and progressive places in Europe.

Migration is also dividing America … not just the new great migration: Americans have yet to work out how to cope with the tens of millions of Latin Americans who are still arriving, illegally.

Despite the many, many people in Canada who agree with Donald Trump ~ and I count some of those amongst my acquaintances ~ Canada needs immigrants. We’ve been lucky, so far, because some countries, most notably China and India, have a surplus of well educated, sophisticated, entrepreneurial young people and those countries actually encourage emigration because they know that dissatisfied people create social and political problems. Emigration/immigration serves us all well.

We may be less well served by immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Some will be less that adequately prepared to join our society;  please see my earlier remarks multiculturalism. Customs like female genital mutilation, just for example, are not Muslim problems, they are African problems that have crept into a few Islamic communities because Islam has spread, rapidly, into Africa. Additionally we do Africa (and the Middle East) no favours when we take their best and brightest ~ doctors and accountants and engineers ~ to drive our taxis and clean our offices,** rather than leaving them to build their own societies, at home.

We need to think about far, far more than just 25,000 refugees from the ongoing Syrian mess. We need to think about 250,000, even 2,500,000 “new Canadians,” over the next very few years, who will come from sources that are less “traditional” for us. It’s time to discuss this and to get ready to accept and integrate them into the Canada we all want for them and for our grandchildren.

__

* I saw this, with my own eyes, some years ago on a visit to an Arab country. A senior officer showed me a hanger full of ultra-modern jet fighters and expressed his pride in his air force. I suggested he didn’t really have an air force, not for more than one hour, anyway, because all the technicians were foreigners who could and would “down tools” if ordered by their own governments.

** I have seen this, too, with my own eyes, here in Canada.

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