Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and founder of the non-profit organization The Life You Can Save, has written a thoughtful essay in the Globe and Mail about the political problems created by migration. He concludes by saying, and I agree fully, that: “Political leaders who want to act humanely toward asylum seekers and other aspiring immigrants now face an awful moral dilemma . Either they go far enough toward stricter border control to undercut public support for far-right parties, or they risk losing not only that battle, but all the other values threatened by anti-immigration governments as well. In the context of Europe’s turbulent past three years, Ms. Merkel’s 2015 statement exemplifies both the inspirational value of proclaiming rights to be inviolable, and why, in the last resort, rights must have a limit.“
That’s the heart of it. As I said, people like Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Trudeau are, I am pretty certain, driven by commendably altruistic principles … but practical politics is not an especially altruistic business, as Chancellor Merkel demonstrated when she sacrificed her own altruism on the alter of political necessity. She has, as Professor Singer notes, told the German parliament (the Bundestag) that “Europe faces many challenges, “but that of migration could become one that determines the fate of the European Union.”” I do not believe she is exaggerating … I think that migration and border controls was one important factor in persuading people to vote for the Brexit; recent elections is AustriaHungary, Italy and Poland all turned, to some degree, on the question of migration. It is an issue in the USA and it is becoming one in Canada, too.
I’ve said, before and I ned to reiterate that:
- I share, broadly and generally, the Liberal Party’s views on immigration: we need more of it, 300,000 a year for the next few years but rising until, by about the year 2100 we are approaching a population of 100 Million ~ most if us having somewhat darker skins, eyes and hair and slightly different shaped eyes; and
- I agree that when a person makes it to Canada, no matter how they get here, and make a claim for refugee status that it must be heard in a proper and timely manner.
Where I part company with many progressives is that I believe that:
- Our immigration policy should be highly selfish and focused on rewarding success;
- Our refugee policy should be focused on helping refugees close to their homes rather than on bringing them to Canada; and
- Our migrant policy should include rounding up and detaining migrants and swiftly deporting those ~ that will be the vast majority of them ~ who are not legitimate refugees.
I consider myself a good Conservative, but I have some concerns about the opinions of many other Conservatives who do not share my views. The Conservative Party, despite the ‘outreach’ done by, especially, Jason Kenney and Stephen Harper, seems anti-immigrant. That may be unfair but it is how the party must look to many. I would like the Conservative party to adopt and enunciate clear immigration, refugee and migrant management policies that make good socio-economic sense to the Conservative base and to people in our many polyglot, ethnically diverse, urban communities, too.
We should be, as I said above, selfish and selective in deciding who can come to Canada but also open and welcoming to those who really want to join us and help Canada grow and prosper … and change. Being selective also applies to visitors and I was actually somewhat pleased to note a rather critical article in the Globe and Mail about the “soaring’ rate of rejection of visitors’ visas. The authors warn that our reputation is suffering but I disagree … I do not see a 25% rejection rate as being untoward … especially not when one looks at the countries with the highest rejection rates …
… I think fingerprinting visa applicants is a good (interim) move until biometric scans become normal and easy. I think the bureaucrats are doing a good job and doing the right things and doing those things the right way, too. I have absolutely no doubt (and I am close to one ethnic community) that e.g. student visas are being used to try to shortcut the family reunification system. I want us to be open to millions, tens of millions of New Canadians but I also want us to be greedy and selective.
As for refugees: I remain convinced that bringing more refugees to Canada is not the best or even a good option. The best solution is to help ‘fix’ the situation which made them refugees in the first place … sometimes the best policy tools for that are tank, guns and bombers … if we cannot or will not fix the problem then the second best course of action is to help countries like e.g. Jordan with handling ~ housing, feeding and educating tens of thousands of refugees in camps. The goal should be to do the greatest good for the greatest number … bringing refugees to Canada often fails both tests.
Migrants, even the irregular ones, who are streaming across our border deserve proper processing … but most of them do not belong and must not be allowed to stay in Canada … especially not adding a load to already overburdened social services. But I have banged on about that too often in the past few weeks and I have nothing new to add.
I think that Conservatives need to enunciate a coherent, generous and effective multi-pronged policy that aims to do what’s best for Canada to get the new immigrants we want and need, help address the world refugee crisis and deal swiftly, legally and fairly with migrants even as we work quickly to plug the loopholes in out border law enforcement. It will not be as generous as many will wish but it should appeal to a broad majority of Canadians if it is reasonable, achievable, fair and, clearly, in Canada’s best interests.