Fixing the system

Richard Haas who is a distinguished American diplomat and public servant and who is, currently, President of the Council of Foreign Relations, makes a key point:

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The only real solution to the ongoing global migration crisis, which bedevils politics in Europe, America and Canada, too, is to “contend” ~ somehow ~ with the violence, and I might add economic despair, “so that people will not feel compelled to risk their lives to flee” in search of safety or opportunity.

9ac2c7e4f61539b6093ada1ce755f5abThe best, likely the only way to really address the Syrian refugee crisis, as just one example, is to have Bashar al-Assad hung from a scaffold in Damascus, or something similar, and Vladimir Putin’s troops returned to barracks in Russia, where they belong. Similar things probably need to happen in several countries in Africa, the Middle East, West Asia and in the Americas, too.

Countries like Canada need a suite of polices that are coordinated and coherent and aim, at the border, anywhere on the border, to allow Canadians, and only Canadians, to decide who can and cannot enter Canada for any reason. Those policies must start with the idea that we do not want or need our borders to be open to anyone who wants to come here. Our policies need to be aimed at making Canada grow in a planned and controlled manner by accepting ~ sometimes actively recruiting ~ the sorts and numbers of people we want and, simultaneously,  discouraging unwanted migrants from coming here … and, as Dr Haas says, that involves removing the pressures that make them risk a long and sometimes dangerous trip to a place they do not, really, understand.

What Canada has, however, appears to be a ‘policy,’ if that’s the right word that is designed to ‘grow’ our population ~ something we need to do since our birth rate is in the 1.7 range, far below the 2.1+ needed to grow the population naturally, while not doing anything that might, even remotely, offend anyone fro any racial, religious or ethnic group. We get a lot of successful immigrant every year, year after year …

 

… and over time, in 25 or 50 years, the ‘face’ of Canada will change from older and white to younger and darker, and that will be, by and large, a good thing. Or it will be if we continue to select carefully from all of the millions who might want to come to Canada for their own benefit and choose those who will benefit both themselves and the larger community they join as the overwhelming majority of Chinese-Canadians, Indo-Canadians  and Philippines-Canadians have done and continue to do. I am equally conscious of the stellar contributions that many of my former colleagues who came to Canada from Eastern Europe, Africa and West Asia and the Middle East have made … race, gender, creed and ethnicity have nothing to do with ability but some people from some cultures have an easier time adapting than do other people from other cultures.

We should be conscious of the fact that when we take the best engineers from the Middle east (as one of my former colleagues was) or a good doctor fromEast Africa (as was the physician who treated me with great skill and care a few years ago) or the best accountants from West Asia (like the young lady who helped me with my taxes a few years ago) that we are not doing those countries any favours by taking their best people away from them. One of the policies that Dr Haas mentions that are needed to “reduce poverty” and so on might be to not take the ‘best and brightest‘ from the poorest countries. Perhaps one of our policies should be to improve our own education systems so that we do not need to “buy brains” from the third world.

imageThe people we want and need are educated, skilled ~ we need electricians and carpenters, not just lawyers and engineers ~ and they want to integrate into the Canadian mainstream. The people we take will change Canada in many ways: there will be more mosques, more temples, some Christian churches will be revitalized, too, but, in the main, we will become more secular as we become more diverse and our cultural values will become homogenized ~ I recently saw a video of a bagpiper, in full Scots-Canadian regalia, leading a procession of South Asian notables into some event or another … that’s real multiculturalism! Our current immigration policy actually works fairly well ~ some say we take in too few new Canadians, others that we take in too many; some say we are getting a good mix from around the world, others want us to focus our efforts more carefully; some say we are too ‘easy,’ others say that we are too discriminating; it sounds about right to me. The general immigration policy is OK, it needs constant ‘tweaking‘ to keep supply and demand in balance, that’s all. What is not OK is our migration policy which includes, right now, control of our own border and the handling of tens of thousands of migrants who, right now, are ‘lost’ in so far as the Canadian Border Service Agency is concerned because the system is, quite simply, unable to cope with the numbers. Not surprisingly even migrants who intended, on arrival, to work within the law just give up and get on with their lives, assuming, probably safely, that, eventually, they will just be accepted and allowed to stay here. The system is broken … that is Justin Trudeau’s fault and it is within his power to fix it. The fix will be costly, disruptive and politically unpalatable, but it needs to be done sooner rather than later.

I think that Canada has never taken a truly systemic approach to immigration … it needs to, soon.

Canadians need to understand why we actually need greater, but carefully controlled immigration and they need to understand why we should welcome, not fear, diversity. It is often said that Canada has too little history and too much geography, leaving aside our resource rich but difficult Northern regions, we still have too few people spread out dragon_chinese-lantern-festival-displayacross too much space … we actually need larger cities to improve productivity and to provide firm bases from which skilled, hard working people can deploy to work in remote, harsh regions. Ethnic and cultural diversity don’t just brighten our (ever evolving) Canadian culture they also deepen it by adding new ideas about people and history to it. There is no doubt that over a century increased Asian immigration will change the very face of Canada … and that is not a bad thing …

… so long as that changing face remains well educated, hard working/entrepreneurial  and socio-politically sophisticated.

But overall our immigration policy and system need to be both:

  • Selfish ~ in recruiting and selecting the people we want to come to Canada and contribute to our and their continued success; and
  • Broadly based  ~ so that we try to stem the tide of people needing refuge from turmoil in their homelands, even as we try to bring in people we want from countries that actually have a surplus of hard working, educated people.

Our current points based immigration system with generous ‘family reunification’ provisions needs only fine tuning to better focus it on recruiting who we need, but out foreign and defence policy is woefully inadequate and, even, inept at preventing an influx of migrants who need to flee their homelands. The former needs fine tuning, the latter needs a complete rethink.

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