Missing the Point

June 22nd, 2006

In a recent speech, Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the need to keep Canadian borders open against calls that immigration was breeding terrorism in Canada.

As if we have a choice.

The debate is no longer about whether Canada should remain open to immigration. That debate became moot when Canadians realized that low birth rates and an aging population would eventually lead to a shrinking populace. Baby bonuses and other such incentives couldn’t convince Canadians to have more kids, and demographic experts have forecasted that a Canada without immigration would pretty much disintegrate as a nation by 2050.

So, if Canada needs immigration to avoid becoming one giant nursing home before going gently into that good night, why are we still acting as if closing our borders is a viable policy option? Instead of debating a non-issue, Canada needs to focus its energy on the real challenge: preventing the ghetto-ization of our immigrant communities.

As much as some people might prefer to receive immigrants from England and France, the reality is that those most likely to want to immigrate to Canada come from non-Western cultures. The success of Canada as a nation depends on our society’s ability to avoid marginalizing those cultures that seem different from the mainstream. Integration will not occur without meaningful opportunities for Canada’s immigrant population to participate in our economic, cultural, and political institutions.

Accomplishing this integration and avoiding the problems of ghetto-ization may be a challenge, but it is a worthwhile one. Given Canada’s demographic realities, the only serious immigration debate to be had is how best to address this challenge. However, as long as our Prime Minister and others find it necessary to focus on rebutting calls to close the borders, valuable energy is being wasted. Like paying bonuses for babies, closing the borders is an outdated concept, and Canada’s politicians would be wise to steer clear of this retro debate.

Blog written by David Cohen on Friday, June 23, 2006

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4 Responses to “Missing the Point”

  • On November 12th, 2010, Anonymous said ...

    did you read “Who gets In” By Danielle Stoffman or “Betrayal and Deceit” by: Charles M Campbell???

  • On November 12th, 2010, Anonymous said ...

    If you read either book, you’ll realize that Canadian workers are losing $30.8 billion a year from a wealth transfer from employees to employers in the form of lower wages and Canada has the 2nd largest contigent of terrorist groups on our soil after the U.S.

  • On November 12th, 2010, Anonymous said ...

    What about overcrowding and enviornmental decay? Do you really want to live in India and China like conditions where you can’t turn around without bumping into a few hundred people? What about the fact that the points system was invented under the pearson government but that we take only less than a querter(23%) of all new immigrants under it. The other 770,000 every 4 years don’t know English or French nor have any useful skills…yes skills do make a difference…the farming economy of 1902 had many unskilled jobs but the info economy of 2002 has few and many dead end low paying ones. Did you ever consider these things?

  • On November 12th, 2010, Anonymous said ...

    Only 17% of people are born outside this country..In the U.S it’s 10%. Immigration can’t make the population older or younger…it can’t make us richer(if it could then everybody in India and China would be a millionaire and most developed places like Europe would have faded away long ago).

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