How Canada will become a superpower, making the Northern Rim the envy of the world

Institute of Geosciences of the Universidade F...Image via WikipediaAlthough climate change could still have devastating effects for much of the world, some regions stand to benefit immensely. Canada, Scandinavia, and even Greenland could all become economic powerhouses, making "The New North" a very attractive destination. This is one of the central premises of respected climate scientist Laurence Smith's new book, The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future, which is published later this month. Just as the Pacific Rim has gained ever-increasing economic importance over the last half-century, melting in the polar regions will allow a similarly powerful Arctic Rim to develop, providing an unprecedented economic jolt to Canada, Russia, the northern United States, Scandinavia, Iceland, and Greenland.
Smith calls these countries Northern Rim Countries, or NORCs for short. While the rest of the world's resources will be badly overstretched by climate change - Smith sees a 4.5 degree increase in temperature as abest-case scenario, and anything up to 10 degrees is possible - the vast natural resources that are currently frozen beneath the Canadian or Siberian tundra will be unlocked. That will both make current residents of these areas much wealthier and attract lots of new immigrants. Canada in particular could see massive population growth thanks to oil resources that are only surpassed by those of Saudi Arabia. The Canadian population could grow by 30 percent in the next few decades, which is comparable to India's current growth rate.
Collectively, these NORCs would be the world's fourth biggest economic power, trailing only the BRIC countries (the combined might of Brazil, Russia, India, and China), the European Union, and the United States. The Northern Rim could be the only place in the world where climate change will cause increased crop production, which could turn Greenland into the world's very unlikely breadbasket.
Water will also be a hot commodity - summer shipping lanes in the Arctic will finally provide a direct trade link between Europe and the Far East, which will provide further drive for Northern Rim economic growth, not to mention make a bunch of sixteenth century kings very happy. The NORCs could also have huge supplies of fresh water, which might become a major trade item depending on how severe the effects of Climate Change are elsewhere.
Smith says looking for the bright side of global warming is unfamiliar territory for him, but he realized he couldn't ignore the possibility when researching the human side of climate change in the northern regions:
"I kept badgering people for stories about climate change. They'd sigh and oblige me, but then say, 'There's also this oil plant going up behind me' or 'All these Filipino immigrants are pouring in.' Within about two months, I realized there is a lot more going on up there besides climate change. Climate change is a critical threat to many people, but it isn't the sole development in their lives. I went up there to write a book about climate change. I came out of it writing about the world and the big pressures it faces."
Not all of his predictions are so rosy, of course. Alternative energy technologies still won't be up to the task of meeting global energy needs in 2050, meaning we are stuck with fossil fuels for a long while yet. In fact, he thinks coal, the dirtiest of all energy sources, might be the only option for impoverished nations struggling to meet the energy demand. Megacities - cities with more than ten million people - will only increase in number, but he doubts they will become any more livable. In fact, he says many megacities in the developing world are already "hell on Earth", and they will only get worse during the energy crunch.
Wildlife could also be badly affected. Smith believes we will see the greatest mass extinction event since an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Many species will be forced to migrate northward to survive, which will also cause widespread hybridization between those species already in the north and their cousins currently in the south.
Smith stresses that the NORCs won't displace more southern economic powerhouses, but they will offer a very attractive alternative:
"It's not that London or L.A. are going to become empty wastelands. Even in 2050, there will be far more people down here than in the north. But many northern places that are now marginal or not really thought much about will emerge as very nice places to be. In many ways, the stresses that will be very apparent in other parts of the world by 2050 - like coastal inundation, water scarcity, heat waves and violent cities - will be easing or unapparent in northern places. The cities that are rising in these NORC countries are amazingly globalized, livable and peaceful."
So which cities in particular will see the biggest benefits from this climate change? Smith points to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary, Edmonton, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Ottawa, Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Moscow as cities that will all grow in size, economic power, and prestige over the next few decades. He also identifies ten "ports of the future" that will be hubs of the Arctic Rim shipping lanes: Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; Churchill, Canada; Archangelsk, Dudinka, and Murmansk in Russia; Norway's Hammerfest, Kirkenes, and Tromsø; and Nuuk, Greenland.
There's also some cause for optimism that indigenous people in the NORCs will actually benefit from these changes. Self-determination treaties are common in many of these countries, which give indigenous peoples control over the natural resources on their lands.
Ultimately, Smith doesn't mean to minimize the immense challenges that global warming will give us, but that still doesn't mean we have to ignore the potential benefits:
"It's like the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. There's a new part of the world that's emerging, with vast continents and a harsh geographical gradient but also resource and immigration bonanzas. Humanity will increasingly look north in response to the four global pressures of rising population, resource demand, globalization and climate change."
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The quiet Americans who are Canada’s invisible immigrants

President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Mi...Image via Wikipedia
From Monday's Globe and Mail
Canada takes pride in being a country of immigrants. Scholars devote much time to researching the social and economic outcomes of newcomers, most of whom hail from visible-minority communities. It is fitting, then, that someone has delved into Canada’s fourth-largest immigration source: Americans.
These invisible immigrants – there are one million, more than at any time since the Vietnam War – are a unique group. According to a leading American geographer, they come to Canada not for economic opportunities, but for the country’s set of values.
Of course, every immigrant’s motivations are intensely personal. However, extensive research by Susan Hardwick, a professor at the University of Oregon, shows that the over-arching inspiration for moving north of the border is an idealistic one.
Americans are attracted by their view of Canada’s more liberal culture. That includes support for a universal public health-care system, positive attitudes toward gays and lesbians, gun control laws and multiculturalism.
In British Columbia, for example, Prof. Hardwick found that most recent arrivals from the U.S. reported their primary reason for leaving was the idea that Canada is a safe refuge for liberal thinkers and idealists.
There are also a growing number of what she calls “midlife mavericks,” who are seeking new lives in what they see as the promised land.
The trend, it seems, is enduring. Reciprocal migration means Canadians need not worry about the brain drain south.
Prof. Hardwick attributes the spike in American immigration, in part, to dissatisfaction with the conservative policies of former president George W. Bush’s years in office.
Now that President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is in the White House, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper leads a Conservative minority government, will liberal Americans sour on Canada? Early research results show that American immigrants are not inclined to move back, especially in light of Canada’s stronger economy.
As well, given Tea Party activism, anti-immigration policies in states such as Arizona, and popularity of commentators such as Glenn Beck, liberal Americans remain unsettled by U.S. political culture.
American-Canadians are enthusiastic Canadians. Even those who retain dual citizenship embrace their new identity. Two-thirds of American immigrants have a “very strong” sense of belonging to Canada, according to the Canadian Ethnic Diversity Study. For many, Canada is the “America idealized” in the post-9/11 world, says Prof. Hardwick.
American-Canadians also earn higher salaries and are more educated than other immigrant groups in Canada.
Canadians should embrace these newcomers, and be careful not to tar them as overly individualistic, flag-waving or materialistic – stereotypical traits often, wrongly, associated with Americans.
The presence of American immigrants is doing as much to shape Canada as the influence of newcomers from China, South Asia and the Philippines.
Canadians should resist the urge to repeat negative clichés about the U.S., and view Americans as among the most buoyant new Canadians.
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There Is No Wealth but From Men: Why Immigration Is Good for the Economy

Thousands gather in favor of immigrants rights...Image via Wikipedia
2010 has been rife with anti-immigrant rhetoric and action on both sides of the Atlantic. There were the atrocious anti-migrant riots in Italy and the passing of controversial Arizona law SB 1070. France has taken a demagogic turn, which some commentators dub xenophobic. Even Canada, which is celebrated for its progressive immigration policies, has experienced unprecedented immigrant-bashing rhetoric around the arrival of a boat carrying Sri Lankan self-proclaimed refugees.
There is an emerging conventional wisdom across the Atlantic that increasingly characterizes immigrants as a prime source of the ills of our societies. But do economic studies back this up? In short, no.
Immigration has an undisputed effect on economic growth. Migration reduces imbalance in the labor market without imposing a significant impact on public finances. Indeed, without immigration, the population of several European countries, particularly Germany, Spain and Italy, would have declined long ago. In Canada, over 70% of the growth in the labor force during the 1990's is attributable to immigration, a figure that could someday reach 100%. Given the overrepresentation of young people among immigrants, immigration also brings down the age of the population, relieving pressure on the pensions systems. Moreover, migrants help grow a host country's market access by creating valuable business networks with their countries of origin. The benefits continue. In most member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the proportion of immigrants with university degrees is greater than that recorded for the native population. A recent study demonstrates that immigration fuels innovation, an economic boon. From a historical point of view, the example of the great transatlantic migration, from Europe to the Americas of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century has amply demonstrated the salutary effect of immigration on growth.
Conventional wisdom is also wrong in linking immigration and native unemployment. The notion that immigrants cause natives to lose their jobs is simply not supported by empirical results. There is not a fixed number of jobs in an economy, and immigrants often do not compete directly with native workers in the labor market.
Migrants are first and foremost consumers who help expand the economy even before stimulating the labor supply. Their demand stimulates the supply of goods and services which in turn lead to job creation. Except in very special cases, immigrant inflows are extremely low compared to the workforce already available in a country. As such, the absorption of newly arrived migrant on the labor market generally proves to be relatively easy. In fact, when the economy is in a recession, migrants are the first to lose their jobs.
Most studies in fact demonstrate the existence of a positive relationship between immigrant and native labor forces. In fact, people coming from earlier waves of migrants are most directly in competition with newly arrived immigrants rather than the natives. In time of expansion, workers tend to raise their expectations and to shy away from activities that are most painful and least valued, thus generating the need for the recruitment of low-skilled immigrants. Consequently, the idea that immigrants take the jobs of the natives seems to be simply xenophobic political posturing.
Regarding the impact of immigration on wages, a recent meta-analysis of the available data concluded that the impact of immigration on the earnings of the native born population is statistically insignificant. Migrants are not responsible for alleged decrease of salaries or social dumping. Migrants are convenient scapegoats.
In countries with limited sectoral and geographical mobility, foreign labor can alleviate the shortages. The foreign workforce, being more mobile than the native one -- since migrants have relatively less material and family ties in their host country -- helps diffuse tensions in the labor market and helps reinvigorate certain regions. Some shortages are already apparent on the labor markets of most OECD countries, particularly for specialties related to new technologies and health.

Immigration has no significant impact on public spending. Indeed, the great majority of immigrants do pay taxes and add public revenue, particularly high-skilled immigrants. The consequences are positive for some public services, such as defense and interest on the national debt, for which immigrants do not impose costs. The bolstering effect of immigration on the U.S Social Security's finances is particularly compelling.
Economic data provide us with two certainties. First, immigration has positive effects on the overall prosperity of a nation. Second, with the ailing economy, migrants are used as scapegoats by uninspired politicians to scare up votes. Indeed, isn't the United States, a country completely made up of immigrants, the boldest example of the benefits of immigration for a nation?

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Alberta to review its Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Alberta Legislature BuildingImage via Wikipedia
Updated: Fri Sep. 03 2010 15:49:44
The province is extending an $850,000 program that helps temporary foreign workers.
Even though the economy has not fully recovered from the recession, the province says investing in foreign workers now will help down the road.
"One doesn't need a crystal ball to come to the conclusion that Canada, and most Western countries, will be facing a severe and acute labour shortage in several decades to come," says Thomas Lukaszuk, Alberta's minister of employment and immigration.
On Friday, the province announced their financial commitment will go towards groups who help foreign workers transition from their home country to Alberta.
"While our focus will always be jobs for Albertans and Canadians first, it is important that we recognize the contributions of temporary foreign workers to our province - making them feel welcome and included in our communities is simply the right thing to do," says Lukaszuk.
"We need that kind of support. We need the government to be involved, to recognize our efforts, our conditions as temporary foreign workers," says Magno Daria.
Daria came to Alberta three years ago as a temporary worker. Today he works for the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.
Along with the financial commitment, the province says it will review the impact of the arrival of these workers on Alberta's workforce, its communities, and its people to identify future programming options.
"With the changing economy of Alberta, I believe this is the right time for us to take stock, to take a look at what has worked well, and what needs improvement," says Teresa Woo-Paw, the MLA for Calgary Mackay.
"When you have a program that you know will ramp up again, why not use the time of a temporary slow down to step back, reflect on it," says Lukaszuk.
The findings and recommendations from the review will be presented by spring 2011.
More than 60,000 temporary foreign workers live and work in Alberta.
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Country List for Immigration Medical Exams Updated

Medical Exam BedImage by csc4u via Flickr
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 1, 2010) - Most long-term visitors from Mexico, Croatia, the Bahamas and 42 other countries and territories can now enter Canada without a medical exam, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced today. In addition, medical exams will no longer be required for agricultural workers from those 45 countries and territories.
The medical examination requirement remains in place for all temporary residents who will be working in an occupation in which the protection of public health is essential. This includes workers in the health sciences field and those working with children.
This announcement does not affect permanent immigrants or refugees, who will continue to be required to undergo a medical examination before entering Canada. Temporary residents planning to stay longer than six months may also need an exam, depending on CIC's periodic assessments of the health situation in their countries of origin.
"We are committed to ensuring there is a balance between welcoming visitors and newcomers to Canada while protecting the health and security of Canadians. CIC uses an objective threshold to determine whether a country or territory should be added or removed from the designated country/territory list," said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Today's changes follow a regular review of the three-year average tuberculosis incidence rates of all countries and territories. A threshold of 15 cases per 100,000 is used to determine whether a country or territory should be included on CIC's designated country/territory list, which is then used to determine whether a temporary resident applicant requires an immigration medical examination. 
Mexicans applying to be temporary residents in Canada should account for about 40 per cent of those who will benefit from today's announcement. In 2009, had Mexico not been considered a designated country, about 6,000 fewer Mexican applicants would have required medical exams. The cost for medical exams is based on local rates, with fees routinely costing up to $200, while the processing time for medical exams is generally between 2 weeks and 2 months. 
"Today's changes will improve the free movement of people to Canada, while at the same time maintaining the integrity and fairness of our immigration system," continued Minister Kenney.
Four countries/territories have also been added to the designated country/territory list as a result of this review, including Wallis and Futuna.
For the full list of countries and territories affected by the review of the designated country list, please see the Backgrounder. For a list of countries or territories where medical exams are still required, please see the complete designated country/territory list.
For more information on medical examination requirements for temporary foreign workers, foreign students and visitors to Canada, please visit CIC's website.
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Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Communications Branch
Media Relations
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