The wrong message

This billboard …

bernier-billboard … is provoking some controversy in Canada, not least because, while it features Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party logo, that party denies putting it up. In fact, as one can see by the text at the bottom, it was put there ~ several appeared across Canada ~ by the True North Strong & Free Advertising Corp. The True North Strong & Free Advertising Corp. is registered with Elections Canada as a third party and, as of 16 August 2019, it reported “Partisan advertising expenses” of almost $60,000, presumably for these billboards which are reported to have appeared in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.

I suspect that Maxime Bernier’s party welcomes the free advertising and is not going to disavow the message … even though it is the wrong message for Canada. As I have explained before, several times, Canada needs more (not fewer) well screened and selected immigrants ~ likely many more. Mr Frank Smeenk, who runs True North and is also president of a Canadian resource company, and M Bernier are both quite wrong … stupidly wrong.

I’m not going to repeat all the details, but:

  • First, Canadians are not reproducing (having children) at a high enough rate to even maintain our current (and ageing) population of 37+ million. Without immigration, our population will begin to shrink. “Oh, that’s good,” a few Canadians will say, “there will be jobs for native-born Canadians.Nope, not gonna happen … we have, since about 1970, become a society that is entitled to not have to do the hard, low paying dirty jobs ~ we Screen Shot 2019-08-24 at 11.35.50Screen Shot 2019-08-24 at 11.32.36have a social safety net that allows very large numbers of Canadians to not work very much at all and still receive “benefits” that keep them (poorly, to be sure) housed and fed. Many, many Canadians will not work on a road repair crew or in a seniors’ home: the work is hard and dirty. Immigrants do that; and
  • Second, without new immigrants to ‘grow’ the workforce, it won’t matter because we will not have enough money (tax revenue) to repair roads or maintain the social safety net that provides care for seniors.

Only really, really stupid people think we do not need more immigrants.

How many more is debatable. I, for example, side with the Century Initiative which says that Canada needs to have a population of 100 million by the year 2100. I accept that there will be a price to be paid ~ more than one, actually ~ to get there. I do not agree with Professor Herbert Grubel about the costs, but I do agree with him that “Canadians need a rational and full discussion whether the costs and risks stemming from much higher immigration levels and population are worth the ideological benefits claimed by its advocates.” (I do not think any who advocates for increased immigration is claiming ideological benefits … poor choice of words on Professor Grubel’s part.)

The big signboards put up by True North Strong & Free Advertising do not contribute anything to that debate. They merely shout a slogan, but then slogans are about all Maxime Bernier has to offer these days. He, personally, might be, I suspect he actually is, well informed on the issue but he cannot appeal to his base with reason.

There is a case to be made for restricting immigration, at least temporarily; there are costs to immigration and many people suggest that we will, soon, have to confront another global recession. The last one was in 2008-09 and they seem to come every six to ten years. I don’t think the case against immigration is a good one, but I agree we must listen to it. True North Strong & Free Advertising is not making a case … it’s just shouting at us.

Screen Shot 2019-08-17 at 20.56.50Ahmed-Hussen-Lisa-MacLeodI would like to see the Conservative Party acknowledge that Justin Trudeau’s instinct, to increase immigration, is correct but he and his Liberal colleagues cannot be trusted to manage the process well enough.

We know, Canada knows, at the bureaucratic and at the business and industry levels, what sorts of people Canada needs ~ it’s not just physicians and engineers, we need plumbers and carpenters and many other skilled tradespeople, too, including people to work in e.g. nursing homes. We know where they are, too … we know that, in recent years, China, India and the Philippines have provided us with many, many well-educated, sophisticated, hard-working, entrepreneurial immigrants who integrate quickly and easily into the Canadian mainstream. We should, in my opinion, enhance access to Canada for qualified and properly screened immigrants from those three countries.

1297763124124_ORIGINALb441ce3b7b188b9I would like to see Conservatives like Michelle Rempel (Alberta) and Bob Saroya (Ontario) crisscrossing Canada to make the case for immigration, generally and especially, this year, for a special programme to ‘fast-track’ properly screened immigrants from Hong Kong. I also want them to remind Canadians that Immigration Illegal Migration and Refugees Immigrants, either. We have three quite separate and distinct issues: immigration policy, refugee policy and border control; and each issue requires its own separate and distinct solution. In my opinion, we need more immigrants, fewer (actually zero) illegal migrants and a whole new, utilitarian approach to refugees, one that really reflects our national values.

What we don’t need are mindless slogans. Frank Smeenk and True North are, of course, free to shout their slogans and to support what they believe is Maxime Bernier’s policy. But they are not contributing to a useful public debate and I think they are sending exactly the wrong message.

 

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