By Author: Max Chaudhary | May 8, 2012
The Globe and Mail recently published an article that advocated an increase in the amount of immigrants to Canada. As a Toronto immigration lawyer, I find the online comments section of such articles strangely compelling. The vast majority of the comments were anti-immigrant, some parochially and even racially so. One compelling example included a post which contained a link to an RCMP most wanted list – a list with pictures, the majority of whom were visible minorities. Such an assertion cannot be reconciled with the steady reduction of crime in Canada since the 70s despite the opening up of immigration to Canada during that period.
The article is no doubt portraying a positive view of immigration to Canada, focusing on the success of Steinbach, Manitoba, a small town, in integrating immigrants. This has resulted in the growth of the town. Astute commenters pointed out that the majority of immigrants don’t settle in small towns but rather, in Canada’s three or four largest cities (which drives up real estate values and strains infrastructure in those aforementioned cities).
There were also highly praised comments which were from self-confessed old codgers, who bemoaned the older, central neighbourhoods in Vancouver which have been apparently overrun by hoards of Asian people with large amounts of money.
The appeal to environmental degradation was cited (i.e. that more resources shall be polluted and farmland shall be paved over with subdivisions); this is a logical argument given that the current immigration and Refugee Protection Act (at section 3) is utterly silent on safeguarding the environment. However, given the dearth of investment and research into green jobs economic growth shall inevitably be tied to environmental degradation for the near future. Canadians state that they care about the environment, but behaviour suggests that care only insofar as it does not negatively impact their living standards. Perhaps pro-environmental advocates can push for a change to Canada’s immigration laws. I wish them the best of luck.
Another logical argument for reducing immigration was the assertion that there should be more encouragement for Canada’s youth to take up the skilled blue collar jobs that pay a decent wage, and a corresponding discouragement for certain children to enter university (which would theoretically reduce the need to import foreign plumbers and electricians). This is something that cannot be legislated, and moreover, this won’t address the fact Canadians do not want to work in low skilled jobs such as a Tim Horton’s in Alberta. I have seen firsthand the efforts by Tim Horton’s franchisees in Alberta who offer a higher wage resulting in little or no response from the Canadian-born labour market; the reason? – Local Canadians don’t want to work the night shift.
The fact that 2nd generation immigrants are as a group successfully integrated into Canadian society was ignored, due in part because such good news does not make for selling newspapers. Such good news is only apparent if one looks at specialized literature from academics such as Arthur Sweetman. News media compete for your attention by highlighting the dramatic problems of life like murder and sex and terrorism: if it bleeds, it leads. Thus, those without the life experience of meeting and interacting with different peoples, those only acquainted with minorities through a mug-shot on a police website come to caricatures and generalizations about minorities.
The more reasonable position taken on the online comments section was to reduce economic immigration during an economic downturn. This may make sense.