Immigration, again

Sticking with how Canada is similar to Australia, I make no secret of the fact that I favour much increased legal, well-regulated immigration for Canada. I find much that makes good sense in the view of the Century Initiative which aims to grow Canada to 100 million people by the year 2100. Not everyone agrees, a lot of Conservatives disagree, some quite vehemently.

Here are two links, from Australia, that, I think, make the anti-immigration case about as well as I have read it:

  • First, the Financial Review says that “An Australia that maintains its current immigration rate or even increases it will inevitably become more Asian as the percentage of Asian immigrants and their descendants rises as a proportion of the total population … [this is exactly what is happening in both Australia and in Canada and it is what I believe should continue to happen, but] …  By contrast, were Australia to choose to stop immigration, Australia’s steadily growing ethnic diversity would be called to an indefinite halt. A vote to stop immigration would signal that multiculturalism had gone far enough, and that its further progress needed to be checked. The further Asianisation of our population would also stop.” The author, Sam Roggeveen, wishes that what he calls the “cosy cross-party arrangement” on immigration policy which persists in Australia would break down and, therefore, foment a full out public debate on immigration policy, including rates; and he thinks it might be the left-of-centre Labour Party that may (but I think it’s unlikely) abandon the consensus; and
  • Second, Russ Gittins, the economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald says that “The nation’s economic elite – politicians of all colours, businesspeople and economists – long ago decided we need to grow our population as fast as we can. To them, their reasons for believing this are so blindingly obvious they don’t need to be discussed … [but] … Unfortunately, however, it’s doubtful most ordinary Australians agree. A survey last year by researchers at the Australian National University found that more than 69 per cent of respondents felt we didn’t need more people, well up on a similar poll in 2010.” He also says that “The growth in our economy has been so weak over the past year that they’ve had to stop saying it, but for years our politicians boasted about how much faster our economy was growing than the other economies … [ditto for Canada, but] … What they invariably failed to mention was that most of our faster growth was explained by our faster-growing population, not our increasing prosperity. Over the year to June, for instance, real gross domestic product grew by (a pathetic) 1.4 per cent, whereas GDP per person actually fell by 0.2 per cent … [again this parallels Canada’s experience, and Mr Gittins opines] … That’s telling us that, despite the growth in the economy, on average our material standard of living is stagnant. All that immigration isn’t making the rest of us any better off in monetary terms.

Both articles are worth a full read, even though Sam Roggeveen’s is a bit lengthy, especially by those who disagree with me and want Canada to cut back on immigration because both make good points about politics and economics. Russ Gittins points out that increased economic activity (growth in GDP) which is fuelled only by a growing population does not mean that anyone, not newcomers and not “old stock” Australians or Canadians, either, are gaining in prosperity.

People like me who favour increased levels of legal, regulated immigration must not do so just because it appeals to a cosy consensus that might garner votes in urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver. We must make an argument that millions, and tens of millions of new Canadians ~ the majority, likely, coming from China, India and the Philippines, as they do now ~ will actually help us to grow our whole economy, including the resource-based parts. We must also recognize that the kinds of immigrants that Canada wants and needs are most likely to want to settle in what the late Professor Michael Bliss called “New Canada,” the regions West of the Ottawa River where both economic and social factors make immigrants more comfortable and which they, in turn, will make more prosperous.

The main argument against increased immigration is, it seems to me, cultural: many Canadians (and Australians and Americans too)  are afraid that our cultural norms and values will be swamped by wave after wave of African and Arab and Asian immigrants. I wonder if that’s about immigration or about the low levels of “attachment” that too many of us have to our own culture. Canada, like America and Australia, was a European country built on lands that were settled at the expense of First Nations. I emphasize the word was because data suggest that we are, rapidly, changing into a mixed society wherein people of European origin will, very soon, be a minority. Nothing will change that because we aren’t going to expel millions of Canadian citizens. If Canadians value our traditional, pre-1960s, culture then they (we) had better take individual action to support it, but that’s another topic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s