A couple of weeks ago John Ibbitson wrote, in the Globe and Mail, that “At the moment, Canada enjoys the unique competitive advantage of being the only major developed, English-speaking country that hasn’t gone crazy.” He was speaking about immigration policy and specifically about America’s (actually Donald Trump’s) decision to restrict immigration and Britain’s decisions to leave the European Union thus, making it, the UK, less attractive to many immigrants. As is so often the case, he forgot to mention Australia which, like Canada, remains open to immigration ~ but like Canada is temporarily closed to almost everyone (neighbouring New Zealand might be excepted, soon) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australia might be placed in a tiny handful of really attractive countries for immigration because it, its national government, unlike America’s, Britain’s and Canada’s, responded sensibly to the Hunan virus before it started to eat the world. Canada’s national response, Justin Trudeau’s response, has been a monumental failure.
The immigrants about whom John Ibbitson is speaking are those with skills in the high-demand technology fields ~ communications and electronics, including robotics, biotech, information, including AI, and the like. These are the people that Asia (China and India, especially, but also Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) are producing in abundance and who have the education (knowledge, skills and discipline) that too many young people in America, Australia, Britain and Canada seem unwilling or unable to want to gain. A walk through your local university’s applied sciences buildings will prove my point. The Maths, Engineering and hard sciences classes are filled with either new Canadians, usually visible minorities or foreign students, again mostly visible minorities, mostly from Asia.
For a whole host of reasons, too many native-born Canadians are electing to study in the arts and social-sciences faculties. Heaven knows, Canada needs some historians, journalists and classicists … but we don’t need many more young people with degrees in gender studies or theatre arts working as baristas on every corner. But that’s a long term problem that our provinces, who are responsible for primary and secondary education ~ including the underlying philosophy behind education ~ need to tackle. And some are, just tentatively, starting to do so, but it is the work of a generation. It, making elementary and secondary education work for Canadians, should be a major goal of all Conservatives and of the provincial governments they elect.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in the creativity which our, Western, liberal, education systems seems better able to provide than do its “rote learning” Asian counterparts ~ Apple and the jet engine, Google and the radio, and Microsoft and the corporation were, after all, products of that Western, liberal world. But, for reasons that are social, I think, not political, we have drifted away from being creative and have set our sights in being progressively conformist.
That being said, I broadly agree with John Ibbitson. Canada, by doing nothing much since Stephen Harper left office, has remained sane while America and Britain have gone a bit crazy.
I need to repeat something I have said before: “Immigrants ≠ Refugees ≠
Illegal Irregular Migrants … [and] … We have three separate issues that require three separate policy solutions.” For the moment regular, legal immigration is a vital necessity because we are not producing enough high school graduates who are able and willing to fill our science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) schools in our universities and community colleges. We, one of the richest countries in the world, have put ourselves into the position of needing to import brainpower.
Of course, it’s not brains that we are importing ~ as I have said, many, many times, all people, regardless of race, creed and gender are about equal in terms of being smart or stupid, honest or venal, brave or cowardly and so on. But right now, in the early 21st century, too many native-born Canadians seem unwilling to do the hard work necessary to enter a mathematics or engineering programme at a Canadian university (Ditto for America, Australia and Britain, I fear.). We know that Canadian high-schools can and do teach enough of the right material because every year we see top scholarships awarded to top high school graduates …
… but, too often there is a troubling common factor to those bright young people: they are the children of newcomers to Canada, they bring to Canada some values that we used to have but seem, to me, to have lost.
So, the problem isn’t political, is it? It seems, to me to be social. It looks, to me, like we, parents and grandparents, have decided that education isn’t about our children and grandchildren achieving a better life than we had … it isn’t about learning to think critically and, therefore, creatively, it is about everyone conforming to a common, progressive, norm. We seem to have swapped the notion of the collective farm for the collective “hive” mind.
More, tomorrow, about jobs and people.