In a recent column in the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson writes that “Our immigration system is geared to attracting high-skilled workers in the professions and trades. But our economy also depends on people whose work we undervalue, and they too should be welcomed to Canada as permanent residents … [because as Usha George, director of the Centre for Immigration and Settlement at Ryerson University said, “The pandemic revealed that many people who were described as low-skilled were really essential workers,” but] … Surveys show a significant minority of Canadians … [many of who, I (sadly) believe, are a vocal part of the Conservative voting base] … believe that immigration levels are too high. There is plenty of evidence on social media that some Canadians of European background resent high levels of non-European immigration.“
Mr Ibbitson reviews the pretty basic arithmetic that predicts ‘natural’ population growth and concludes that, “Canada’s fertility rate has been declining since the 1970s, and is now more than half a baby shy of replacement rate. Without immigrants, our population would soon start to … [get older and then decline, and] … Aging societies across the developed world need immigrants to fill vacant jobs and to pay taxes to support the elderly, whatever nativist know-nothings may think … [and, because of that ] … In the not-too-distant future, rather than the federal and provincial governments choosing which applicants get to come to Canada, we will be begging potential newcomers to pick us over the American and European competition. The sooner we get used to that idea, the better.“
Another simple fact is that too many Canadians, including some conservative Canadians, have the unhealthy belief that ← this someone like this is, somehow, superior or more valuable to society than is someone like this →. Leaving aside some societal views on gender and race, the relative “value” of work is being reassessed, right now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers in long term care homes ~ disproportionately female and recent immigrants or temporary foreign workers ~ are, rightfully, being called heroes while many are wondering what regiments of highly-paid, bilingual civil-servants are doing while they “work” from home at full pay.
It’s simple, really: Canadian families have not, for two generations, had enough children to keep our population from first aging and then shrinking. There is nothing to indicate that will ever change; it is a global phenomenon. As we become richer we have fewer children. Some people don’t like that fact. And that’s OK, no one says that a few angry white men have to like facts, but they remain facts and not even Donald J Trump could change facts. Real Conservatives need to face the facts and ask themselves what kind of a future they want for Canada. Shall we be old, poor and weak? Or shall we be big, rich and strong? The choice is, really, that stark and that bloody simple. Only simpletons look for ways to avoid making it. John Ibbitson says, and I agree 100%, that the Government of Canada needs to get its head out of its political hind end and make some serious decisions about that, soon.
I suggest that the Conservative Party of Canada needs to embrace what is called the Century Initiative and announce that it wants to make Canada big, rich and strong ~ a socio-economic powerhouse ~ with, by the year 2100, a population of 100 million. And yes, that means that in 75 years your great-great-grandchildren (and mine) might look a bit different. If that’s a problem for you then I suggest that the Conservative Party should not want your vote.