John Ibbitson, writing in the Globe and Mail, has re-opened an important, ongoing debate about our attitudes towards immigration. He cites, mainly, data from a study by Queens University which shows that:
- “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;”
- “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;” and
- “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.“
I do not have any comment on the data except to say that I agree that “Support for both immigration and multiculturalism – which welcomes diverse cultures within the Canadian mosaic – is far from universal … [and] … that support could change.”
In my opinion:
- First, I am an enthusiastic supporter of an immigration target of 300,000 or more per year, but, and it’s a Big BUT, I am very concerned about how we manage the flow. I want immigration policies to be 100% in support of Canadian interests … while I believe that so called “family reunification” is, often, in our national interest it should NOT be an overarching concern. I believe that we should, first and foremost, encourage immigration from countries that have a track record of success in sending us people who thrive and prosper in Canada … I think many, many officials agree with me and that is why the biggest “source countries” for immigration are China, India and the Philippines. Our officials, in Canada and serving abroad, understand that people from the Philippines, India and China are very likely to succeed in Canada and to become good, productive, Canadians. I would like to see our immigration polices more tightly focused on getting more immigrants here, faster, from those three countries even if that means lengthening the queues from, say, Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia … through to Zambia and Zaire. But we must recognize that we get, mostly, “good” immigrants from everywhere … when we have “communities” in Canada who have disproportionate problems with social integration it is likely because they are refugee communities, not immigrant ones; and
- Second, I suspect that our refugee policy is, and has been for decades, misguided. We are likely to spend over $1.2 Billion to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada. I think that is a waste. I believe that $1.2 Billion, spent in, say, the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan might have done a lot more long term good for about 75,000 Syrian refugees. It would not have been as sexy, there would not have been as many really great photo-ops for the prime minister but it would have been much, much better public policy. Refugees are, by definition, people who are fleeing from their homes in fear of life and limb. Some will never be able to go home again and they will need to be resettled but many will want to return to their homes if and when the international community helps legitimate “liberation” movements to overthrow illegitimate tyrants and make homelands safe, again, for those who fled. In my opinion Syria is one of the places where real refugees want to and might be able to go home again; ditto Somalia and Sudan. The money we spend on resettling Somalis, Sudanese in Syrians in Canada is wasted and should have been spent on helping twice or even three or four times as many refugees in camps in Jordan and Kenya and so on.
My ideal immigration is not based on race or creed but it is culturally sensitive ~ I want more and more immigrants who will, fairly easily, integrate into the Canadian socio-economic mainstream. Equally, I want fewer and fewer newcomers who will find it hard, even with massive public support, to adapt to Canadian ways. I want public money spent to help legitimate refugees ~ but in the most effective ways, which, rarely, includes resettling most refugees in Canada.