- Posted January 30, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Naturalized citizens: Your thoughts on immigration reform
Jason Winning Golden Fleece
Jason Kenney like his namesake is out to win the Golden Fleece and this fleece is revamping the hitherto badly managed, disoriented immigration system. To cleanse the Aegean stables is a real herculean task, but Jason with the confidence and capability of classic namesake has conquered one stage after another. He has come up with innovative concepts and his latest one of Start-up immigrants is real break-through.
“Shaping the Future,” the 96-page report says some of the changes are potentially positive, such as refocusing the federal skilled worker program, an initiative to bring in skilled trades people, an appeal process for selected refugee claimants, increased protection for caregivers, and transition to permanent resident status for eligible visa students. But other changes have been very “problematic,” including a decision to wipe out immigration application backlogs legislatively; a moratorium on family sponsorships; reliance on temporary foreign workers to meet labour market needs; tightened citizenship requirements; a safe-country list of refugees whose claims would be fast-tracked; and mandatory detention of asylum seekers who arrive en masse.
He has recently quoted the New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, on his conceptualization of the ideal immigration system as one with a “strong fence, but a wide gate.” As promising as this metaphor sounds, the question that many potential immigrants to Canada have is what would such an immigration system actually entail.
According to Minister Kenney, the kind of system that Canadians would support is one based on two caveats: 1) “the system should be characterized by fairness and integrity” and 2) “we must see immigration working for Canada’s interests, which of course also means working for the interests of newcomers.”
I must say that the Minister has deep perception of real issues but to his credit, he has not tried to side step. This in way means that the ultimate has been achieved. The re-launch of FSWP focuses on a few specific areas that, research has shown, significantly impact on the economic success of immigrants. These include: language proficiency, age, Canadian work experience, and Canadian education. However, it is not honky dory. There are many an issue that need his care.
The history of Canadian immigration is predominantly urban. The vast majority of immigrants move to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, in that order. In each of these major cities immigrants have increasingly been creating ethnic enclaves, which Statistics Canada defines as neighbourhoods in which more than 30 per cent of the population is a visible minority.
Tens of thousands of Metro residents are among those who each year quietly make their housing choices based in part on whether they will feel comfortable with the cultural and ethnic makeup of a particular neighbourhood.
Canada had only six ethnic enclaves in 1976. Now Metro Vancouver alone has more than 110. Many neighbour-hoods in Richmond are more than 70 per cent Chinese, while others in north Surrey are 70 per cent South Asian. Meanwhile, many neighbour-hoods in Tsawwassen, south Surrey and the North Shore remain predominantly white. Similarly in GTA, while Brampton can be called mini-Punjab, Mississauga is becoming pre-dominantly Muslim, Richmond Hill is becoming a Chinese enclave et al.
Similarly, many Canadians are suspicious about some forms of arranged international marriages. Kenney is being praised for taking a hard-line against marriages of convenience, those difficult-to-prosecute frauds in which would-be immigrants jump to the front of the queue by pre-tending to be committed to a Canadian citizen. Although arranged marriages often stand the test of time, expect Canadians to become more critical of immigrants who try to bring certain illiberal customs to this northern nation – including in some cases institutionalized homophobia, genital mutilation, domestic abuse, polygamy and gender inequality.
Canadians’ boast of building a true multicultural society – characterized by creative dialogue and a new synthesis of cultures – will not occur through just our legendary niceness, which can sometimes mask distance and superficiality.
Authentic inter-ethnic bonding occurs when people can honestly face real social tensions, including some of those outlined here. Inter-ethnic relationships, which continue to be on the rise, may be the best way to help us cross these cultural boundaries.
As Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam has discovered, fondness between people of different backgrounds, religions and world views is most likely to swell when we take the risk of getting to know others – as friends, lovers, teammates or family.
Minister Kenney needs to pay attention to the crucial issue whether we need immigration at all or not? And if we do, do we not need to scale down the number of immigrants every year. Whether one ultimately agrees with their views or not, the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform deserves great credit for trying to stimulate real debate on these crucial issues, which most Canadians, including journalists, seem to want to avoid.
Here are the first 10 of the widely held claims that are debunked on the CIPR website:
MYTH #1: High levels of immigration are required to ensure Canada’s prosperity.
MYTH #2: With an aging population and lower fertility rates, Canada needs high levels of immigration to provide the workers and tax base required to support social services for retirees.
MYTH #3: Canada is sparsely populated and can support a much larger population.
MYTH #4: Canada needs large numbers of immigrants because it will face massive shortages of skilled labour in the coming decades.
MYTH #5: We need immigrants to do the jobs Canadians won’t do.
MYTH #6: Canadians support high levels of immigration.
MYTH #7: As one of the more wealthy countries, Canada has an obligation to share its bounty with people from poorer countries who want to come here to benefit from our standard of living.
MYTH #8: If we don’t let people from other counties immigrate here legally, they in any event find other ways of coming.
MYTH #9: Canadian society is constantly enriched through the increasing diversity brought about by large-scale immigration.
MYTH #10: Immigrants built Canada and are needed to continue this process in the future.
Canada’s population is surging despite far fewer children being born in the country. The bulk of the nation’s fast growth relies on foreign newcomers. Statistics Canada’s census figures reveal children born in Canada account for only one-third of the country’s growth of almost six per cent since 2006, the highest rate of all G8 countries.
With Canadian women having fewer babies, and the large baby boom generation beginning to die off in two decades, Statistics Canada projects in-migration will become an even more powerful engine in the future – accounting for four-fifths of all population growth in 2031.
Canadian aboriginal women, along with Muslim women, have had the highest fertility rates in the country, averaging roughly 2.4 babies. Hindu and Sikh women typically give birth to about two babies, while Catholic and Protestant women, and those with no religion, average about 1.6 offspring. Based on ethnicity alone, the lowest birthrates in Canada have been among white, Japanese, Chinese and especially Korean women, all of whom deliver children at a rate below the average. While Canada has the fastest-expanding population in the G8, the U.S. comes in second, growing by 4.4 per cent. But that’s mostly a result of more American babies being born, according to Statistics Canada.
It’s the same case with France, where it was mostly births that swelled the country by 2.8 per cent.
Germany’s population, however, has declined by almost one per cent since 2006. Canadian politicians and business leaders often say that we need high immigration to strengthen the economy.
But in spite of Germany’s slight drop, the country of 80 million is being praised these days for its economic growth and the way it has outpaced its rivals.
Questions surrounding Canada’s immigration-fuelled growth strategy are especially important for urbanites. The census shows more than one out of three newcomers end up in the country’s three major cities: Toronto first, followed by Vancouver and then Montreal.
The non-partisan Pew Forum’s army of researchers, mostly academics from scores of countries, project that Muslims will, indeed, grows in relative size in the next two decades – expanding to 26.4 per cent of the world’s population by 2030, a modest rise from the current 23.4 per cent.
The Pew Forum’s 209-page report, coordinated in the U.S., also acknowledges that Muslims do generally have higher birthrates than the rest of the world’s population. But not to the extent many fear.
What does it predict for Canada
That the Muslim population of this country will triple by 2030, to 2.7 million.
That in two decades Canada will have the second highest number of Muslims in all of North and South America, behind the United States and ahead of Argentina.
Indeed, the Pew Forum forecasts that 6.6 per cent of the Canadian population will be Muslim by 2030, a jump from the current 2.8 per cent.
That means Canada will have a much higher percentage of Muslims than will the U.S. (where Muslims will make up only 1.7 per cent of the population) and Argentina (where they will account for 2.6 per cent of all residents).
The biggest Muslim source countries for Canada in the future are expected to be Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Algeria.
The prospect of Canada having 2.7 million Muslims (such as the Metro Vancouver Muslims in photo left) represent a massive change compared to prior to 1961, when Canada only had 1,000 foreign-born Muslims. But the Pew figures don’t add up to a looming Muslim takeover of the country. There is no doubt that Islam is on the rise in Europe, but not in runaway fashion.
Minister Kenney is well on way to have wreaths of laurels around his head, but I would be politically incorrect and say the immigration either needs to be stopped, or reduced appreciably. Some of the radical suggestions are:
1. Cut the number the number of immigrants appreciably
2. Stop so called family reunion- let the immigrants’ state in their application all the members who want to come. The seniors who come here are a burden to the society and more importantly lead a life of isolation. As a matter of fact, we shall be performing an act of mercy to these people, who do not, repeat do not, want to come, but are coerced for the sake of pensions and welfare schemes. They are just lost souls.
3. Make the language condition still more stringent. As immigrants they must- irrespective of age or status, be proficient in English and /or French.
4. As a corollary of that, the expenditure on providing interpreting and translation services must stop forthwith; and if some already inducted people require these services, let them be paid for by their sponsors.
5. The so-called resettlement services should be stopped. People who come as skilled workers, or as students, do not need them. These services are essentially useless and are an unnecessary burden on the tax-payer.
6. Encourage Canadian women to have more children. A system of rewards like that adopted in USSR can be adapted.
I am fully cognizant of the fact that such proposals shall evoke a hue and cry from lily-livered liberals and all those who profit from such activities; but we have to catch a nettle firmly. Drastic diseases need drastic remedies and the nation is sure that Stephen Harper and his minister Jason Kenney are capable of taking effective, principled stand. Jason has done great, but definitely needs to do still more.
Dr. Bikram Lamba, a political & business strategist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org