Sunday, August 14, 2011


Immigration levels are already too high in Canada

Former federal Liberal cabinet minister Robert Kaplan recently proposed that Canada increase its population to 100 million through increased immigration in order that we become more influential on the world stage. While some may find this visionary in its scope, it totally fails to take into account the realities of today's Canada.

Many of our larger cities are already groaning under the weight of high immigration intake that is increasing congestion, house prices and costs to taxpayers. A recent paper by Herbert Grubel and Patrick Grady estimated that newcomers cost Canadians between $16 and $23 billion a year because of what they receive in government benefits over what they pay in taxes.

Added to this is concern over the increasing concentrations of immigrants who come from cultures and traditions very different from those of most Canadians. An example of this is the controversy over Muslim prayer sessions at the Valley Park Middle School in Toronto, where 80 to 90 per cent of the students are Muslims. Such problems can be expected to occur more frequently even at current levels of immigration.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is quite right when he questions whether Canadians are ready to accept higher immigration levels. He recently told the Vancouver Board of Trade that we do not have the resources or ability to integrate much larger numbers of immigrants every year and pointed out that we can't flood our taxpayerfunded services or put pressure on real estate markets.

While Kenney is the most effective immigration minister we've had in a long time and is prepared to acknowledge and deal with some of the most difficult issues, even he would appear to be off-base in his belief that most Canadians accept current levels of intake.

When Canadians state that they are happy about immigration in general, this should not be interpreted as meaning they are satisfied with the numbers we are bringing in, particularly if this affects them (which is the case in larger cities, where most newcomers settle). An Ekos Research survey released in November, for example, found that, while 71 per cent of respondents said they felt immigration was good for Canada, this declined to 48 per cent when asked if they thought it was good for their neighbourhood.

A recent poll by L├ęger Marketing found that 55 per cent of Calgarians thought their city was already too large and only 39 per cent thought it had the right number of people. This means 94 per cent didn't want it to become larger - which will be increasingly difficult to achieve unless we dramatically reduce immigration since most of the population increase will be from this source. Only five per cent of the people in Toronto and Vancouver wanted their numbers to increase. Yet Toronto is projected to grow by three million people and Vancouver by almost one million in the next two decades if current immigration levels are maintained.

That there should be a gap between what our leaders think we want and what the average Canadian wants is not surprising. The Centre for Immigration Studies in Washington found that among opinion makers in the United States (members of Congress, leaders of church groups, business executives, union leaders, journalists, academics, etc.) only 18 per cent thought immigration should be reduced compared to 55 per cent of the public.

Although various reasons have been advanced for why Canada should continue with high immigration levels even if this causes problems for many Canadians, at least some fallacious arguments have been discarded. The present government, for example, does not attempt to perpetrate the myth that immigration is a realistic way of dealing with the costs associated with the aging of our population. A more pervasive fiction, however, is we must have largescale immigration if we are to meet looming labour shortages and that Canada cannot prosper without a constant infusion of workers from abroad.

The fact is, most of our labour shortages can be met domestically if we make the best use of our existing workforce and educational and training facilities - rather than rely on quick fixes from outside.

This point was made not only by the Economic Council of Canada 20 years ago, but has been reiterated and updated more recently by renowned labour economists such as Alan G. Green of Queen's University and David A. Green of UBC. David Green recently told a conference in Vancouver that using immigration to fill labour-force gaps carries pitfalls and that natural market responses to labour shortages, such as pay hikes, can be obstructed when immigration increases the supply of workers and thus reduces wages.

Similar conclusions were reached in a major study released this month by one of Australia's leading academic centres that deal with immigration and labour market issues. The Monash University study found that immigration was not the best way of meeting labour shortages in key industries in that country and that the promotion of the idea that immigration was essential for this purpose was in part a "scare campaign" being waged by immigration lobbyists (Australians tend to be more blunt about such matters than Canadians).

While Canada should remain an immigrant-friendly country and invite newcomers to come here in reasonable numbers, it is clear that not only would we be foolish at this point in our history to embark on a massive increase in population by means of immigration as suggested by Robert Kaplan, but that maintaining anywhere near current levels brings with it almost no benefit to most Canadians and, indeed, is very costly.

SOURCE





Fourth "asylum" boat hits Australian waters since Malaysia deal signed

THE Federal Government's immigration woes have deepened with a fourth boat of asylum seekers hitting Australian waters since its Malaysian deal was signed.

The arrival comes as new figures reveal there are already about 65 child asylum seekers in detention pending deportation to Malaysia. It is expected nearly all minors in detention would be expelled under the Government's swap deal if the High Court allows it. The Government has said it would not give a "blanket exemption" to minors, saying there would be case-by-case decisions made.

But the UNHCR says it would not support a deal where young people were not given adequate care.

There are now 266 asylum seekers in limbo on Christmas Island, more than a quarter of the 800 the Government hopes to deport in a four-year deal.

Human rights lawyers have launched a High Court challenge, to be heard from August 22, to try to force the Government to assess their claims in Australia.

A source said there were 31 unaccompanied children on Thursday's boat who now face expulsion to Malaysia. They bring the total tally of unaccompanied minors up to almost 50. Another four families with three young children were among 102 asylum seekers on Thursday's boat.

As part of its asylum seeker plan, the Government will send a delegation to PNG to organise a processing centre on Manus Island.

But the PNG Government is facing a Supreme Court challenge over its legitimacy, and new Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has been warned by opponents against making big decisions before the matter is heard.

The challenge says parliament had no grounds to declare Sir Michael Somare's prime ministership vacant on August 2. Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop claims the Manus Island deal is unconstitutional and threatens to take it to court. "It's not right that Australia keeps on passing this problem to its neighbouring country, in PNG, and Nauru and now Malaysia," he said.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said a PNG deal would not work without a Malaysian one. "If you have only offshore processing as part of your regime then that's not a deterrent, because the majority of people who are found to be refugees who are processed on Nauru, for example, ended up in Australia," he told the ABC.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said: "The Government should get over their stubborn pride and pick up the phone to Nauru."

SOURCE

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