Mindelle Jacobs, Welland Tribune (Welland, Ontario), October 2, 2009
For years, Canadians have been led to believe that mass immigration is necessary to fill labour shortages, make up for our low fertility rates and finance expensive social programs.
In a shot across the bow of political correctness, a new book by the Fraser Institute argues that these beliefs are myths and calls for a serious debate on Canadian immigration policy.
“Many of the reasons with which Canada justifies its high immigration intake are simply not valid and the economic and social costs are not open to discussion,” writes James Bissett, a former executive director of the Canadian Immigration Service.
“We may not yet have reached the tipping point,” he warns in the book, The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society. “But if we continue to sleepwalk into the 21st century and ignore this issue, we may find out too late that Canada has been unalterably changed.”
Various contributors weigh in on what they see as the consequences of mass immigration–Canada’s annual immigration rate is the highest in the world–and offer prescriptions for change.
Bissett calls for a temporary moratorium on new immigrants until the backlog has been eliminated.
He points out 80% of our immigrants are not in the skilled worker category but, rather, enter or are allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons or because they’ve been granted refugee status.
Canada needs to update its point system for selecting skilled workers so it better reflects the needs of the labour force, he adds.
In his essay, U. S. academic Vernon Briggs questions the quality of university education in certain immigrant-source countries. Very few Third World nations have elite universities, he writes, noting that only one institution from outside the industrialized world, the State University of Moscow, is on the list of the top 100 universities.
“The only way to ensure that the immigrants chosen will do better is to be more selective,” Briggs writes. “If Canadian universities chose foreign students the way (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) selected immigrants, half their classes would flunk out.”
Herb Grubel, Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-editor of the book, examines the feasibility of financing social programs like pensions, welfare and health care and concludes that in order to meet such objectives immigration would have to skyrocket to 165 million by 2050. That year alone, we would have to take in seven million immigrants, he says.
That, he adds, creates the “impossibly large” problem of finding jobs for all those people.
The book also contends that high rates of immigration threaten to undermine our national identity and social fabric.
Canada has become nothing more than a “global suburb” for immigrants with Canadian passports living abroad, argues Stephen Gallagher, of the Canadian International Council, a foreign policy think-tank.
And Salim Mansur, who also writes a weekly column for Sun Media, warns that Canada’s secular, liberal-democratic character and security are endangered by unrestrained immigration.
“Religious or cultural wars are won and lost on the grounds of how confidently and tenaciously antagonists hold to their respective . . . values,” Mansur writes.
Critics will no doubt view this book as an anti-immigrant diatribe. On the contrary, it’s a plea for a smart, retooled immigration policy and a slap in the face to those who would stifle discussion on such a crucial issue.