John Ivison, writing in the National Post, says that recent polling suggests that “that the consensus that has characterized Canadian attitudes towards immigration for the past four decades is in danger of shattering.” He quotes Michelle Rempel as saying that “the consensus is under pressure because the Liberals have bungled aspects of immigration policy like the “irregular” border-crossing file … [and, she added] … “The consensus is not breaking down, but the public is looking at what is happening with the asylum seekers and they don’t think the social contract criteria are being met,” … [but] … “The debate shouldn’t be about numbers but about the process by which we set those numbers.”” I agree with her; I think that most Canadians understand that immigration is good for us and more, well managed, immigration is probably better, too.
What is wrong is that the Trudeau Liberals cannot manage anything except the lowest forms of trying to buy our votes with our neighbours’ money. Canadians are starting to see through the Liberal’s “sunny ways” facade and what they see behind the smiles is most often either confusion or anger, and sometimes both when Team Trudeau realizes that Canadians are not buying their oh so progressive platitudes. The anger and confusion are understandable, I guess, after all those progressive platitudes worked so well on the campaign trail in 2015, but it’s not good governance and more and more Canadians can see that all too clearly.
“It’s clear that immigration will be one of the key battlegrounds in the 2019 election,” John Ivison says, and “The Conservatives would seek to close the loophole in the Safe Third Country Agreement that allows people to enter Canada illegally from upstate New York, and expedite the removal process of those people whose refugee claims were rejected. Rempel admits there is also pressure coming from within her own caucus to put a number on what immigration levels would be under a Conservative government … [but, she says] … “I’m not going to treat this like an auction for votes,” … noting that on the Syrian refugees issue, her party had pledged to admit 10,000, which persuaded the NDP to raise its commitment to 15,000 and the Liberals to trump them all with a promise to admit 25,000. Yet, as she points out, unemployment rates among Syrian refugees remain stubbornly high more than two years after most arrived.“
The numbers are a minor issue. The key is to have a sensible plan that says why, when and how we will admit the people that Canada wants and needs to help us all grow and prosper in the 21st century, and why and how we will reject those who merely want to take advantage of what they perceive to be either our generosity or our unwillingness to secure our own border.
We, Canadians, are a generous people and we are fortunate that history and geography gave us the means to make ourselves safe and prosperous. We should ant to share our good fortune with others … by welcoming many of them, those that we think will make positive contributions to our society and to our culture and by helping most others to make better lives for themselves in or near their homelands.
John Ivison says that “Unlike many other centre-right parties, the federal Conservatives have long been pro-immigration. In 2015, levels remained at a historically high rate, with 271,833 new permanent residents landing in Canada … [and] … During the Harper government’s term of office, 2.8 million people arrived as permanent residents in Canada, mainly from countries like the Philippines, India, China and Pakistan … [and, within that numbers] … The mix was heavily weighted towards those chosen for their skills and education levels— in 2015, 63 per cent were economic class migrants, 24 per cent arrived under the family reunification program, and 13 per cent were refugees.” There is, in my opinion, room to refine the mix a bit; it should be something like 65% economic class immigrants; 25% family reunification, being limited to parents, adult children and siblings, and only 10% or even fewer refugees because, as I have pointed out before, more than once, bringing refugees to Canada or to Britain or Australia is not always or even often the best way to help them.
The consensus that is in danger of breaking down is, Mr Ivison writes, “based on a broad recognition that Canada’s worker to retiree ratio — 4.2:1 in 2012 — is set to decline precipitously to 2:1 by 2031 … [and] … It is widely understood that a decade after they arrive the labour force participation rates for immigrants is comparable to those who were born in Canada. And it is accepted that immigrants and the children of immigrants are generally better educated that the Canadian-born population (almost half have a bachelors degree, compared to one quarter for the latter).“
“But,” John Ivison says, “the complexion of the immigration system is set to change. The mix planned by the Liberals will by 2021 see economic class migrants fall to just 51 per cent of the total of 350,000, with family reunification numbers increasing by more than one third to account for nearly 30 per cent of the total and refugee numbers rising by 44 per cent to reach 19 per cent of the total … [and that is totally back~asswards, see my comments above, but] … The increased number of family members admitted into the country is likely to play well in ridings with large immigrant populations — as it did in the 2015 election.” Which is, as I said in the second paragraph, the Liberals’ whole agenda: winning seats, not making Canada better for Canadians, new and old.
“The government has allocated an extra $440 million to improve processing and settlement programs, and an additional $173 million specifically to manage irregular migration levels,” Mr Ivison reports, and “A further $50 million has been given to provinces to pay for temporary housing for “irregular” migrants … [but, Ms Rempel] … pointed out, throwing money at the problem does not make it go away. “The issue for many people is that they see higher numbers (of illegal migrants) at Roxham Road, and the higher social costs, and say we should reduce numbers,” she said.’
Michelle Rempel, he says “is trying to hold a line that is under pressure from “open borders” policy on the left and “closed borders” policy on the right” of the Conservative Party, and, he adds that “She needs to sharpen her messaging, if she is to succeed in persuading Canadians this is not just a numbers game … [but, he adds, and I agree, fully] … it is a line worth holding.“
He adds that “The debate over immigration in Canada has not descended into bigotry and resentment because it has worked for four decades. As Stephen Harper noted in his recent book, Right Here, Right Now: “Make immigration legal, secure and, in the main, economically-driven, and it will have high levels of public confidence” … [but, John Ivison says] … public support is on the decline thanks to illegal migration, porous borders and an increase in the proportion of non-economic migrants.“
He concludes, and I agree, again, that Michelle “Rempel’s argument is that Trudeau has lost the “social license” to increase immigration levels and only the Conservatives can restore it. Whether that can be done without giving a number on entry levels remains to be seen.“
The Trudeau Liberals are destroying the liberal consensus on steadily increasing levels of immigration. They have done so by playing partisan politics with a vitally important programme. It would be a shame, for Canada, if the consensus does, indeed, collapse. Those Canadians who want a better, more prosperous Canada need to abandon the Trudeau Liberals and unite behind Ms Rempel’s Conservatives.