How Canada Got Immigration Right
In my previous post on the most disturbing news we have had of the goings on in Cologne on New Year’s Eve and the even more disturbing developments regarding the aftermath, I made mention of how one hard truth some on the right will need to learn to live with is how current demographic realities have no solution that will not include some degree of immigration. The simple fact is we are not having enough children, and even if by magic young people started getting married and did start popping out kids tomorrow the next few decades would still involve us feeling an ever stronger crunch as the remaining Boomers continue to retire and consume more public resources in their ever longer Golden Years of dotage. Just as I ceaselessly tell my friends on the left (and yes I do have a few) that there is no way out of this that does not involve boosting our national birthrates, which by necessity will involve an end to the near endless binge of libertine gratification that young adulthood has become and a return to more traditional values of family and monogamy, I also do not flinch from telling more colleagues both on the conventional right and on the margins of the reactosphere that bringing in people of working age from other countries will also be necessary. So if immigration in some form is unavoidable, the question then becomes what form it should take? How do we insure the solvency of our government coffers and the stability of our economies while avoiding the very present pitfalls that come with bringing people from other cultures and backgrounds to our shores?
The model I would urge countries across the world to consider would be the one used by my own homeland of Canada. Over the centuries of its existence, the Great White North has absorbed millions of newcomers while largely avoiding the kinds of tensions and conflicts we see growing like mushrooms across Europe and in our neighbor to the south. I wouldn’t call things perfect. We’ve had several high profile cases of honour killings in recent years and more than a few terrorist plots, some successful and some not. We have been spared the worst of it, however. Partially this is due to the luck of geography. We have the great depths of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans separating us from the other nations of the world, and the one country we do share a border with happens to be the good ole’ US of A, which is largely an equally developed modern western nation of comparable wealth and living standards. This has allowed Canada to have the luxury of picking and choosing who we wish to enter our nation and who we wish not to. Illegal immigration is largely a non-issue here, and our refugee system is controlled and well managed.
But let us not be too modest. Canada also has had the good fortune of designing an immigration system that for the most part works (Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, has often quoted it as the kind of system he would impose in Great Britain if given the choice). Using a point system, applicants for immigration are examined and priority given to those who are highly skilled and well educated and deemed to be desirable for the good of the nation. The fruits of this very prudent approach have been studied, with the conclusion being that while in the States the massive influx of low-skilled and under-educated illegal immigrants has depressed wages and increased competition for jobs in Canada this phenomenon has been largely non-existent. Existing economic trends already indicate menial jobs that require minimal talent and aptitude are on the decline, importing more workers to compete for them is a pointless endeavor that will accomplish nothing other than swelling the ranks of those on Employment Insurance. Prioritizing those with skills and credentials are economy actually needs ensures that immigrants to Canada are able find jobs and stability, which decreases the likelihood of segregation and ghettoization, the nasty effects of which have been on full display elsewhere in the world in recent weeks.
Socially, the benefits of such an approach are also self-apparent. Taking in immigrants of a more highly educated background vastly decreases the likelihood of conflict and culture clash, so vividly demonstrated by recent incidents in Cologne. Upper-class professionals, even those of nations like Syria or Iraq, are less likely to hold the kinds of views we in the West find objectionable and far less likely to act on them even if they are held. A middle-class engineer earning a six figure salary with a house in Forest Hill, even if he does keep the prejudices of his homeland, is highly unlikely to go out on New Year’s Eve and molest women outside a subway station unlike his more financially precarious counterpart. The best insulation against radicalism is a well-paying job and a secure financial future. Those who have nothing are far more likely to indulge in petty crime or terrorism than those who have something to lose.
One very welcome side-effect of this focus on skills and education has been that, while avoiding overt racial prejudice Canada, has managed largely avoid the ethnic tensions increasingly coming to the fore elsewhere in the West. After those of a European background, the next largest minorities in Canada overwhelmingly hail from East and South Asia, groups that typically emphasize not necessarily assimilation but rather fitting in, and actually have higher levels of educational achievement and lower crime rates than native Canadians (one glaring exception apparently being illegal gambling, but hey no one is perfect). This means that, unlike the United States with its torturous relationship with its African American population, Canada has managed to avoid the emergence of a minority underclass and the associated bitter identity politics that go with it. Canada, the nation with a constitutionally enshrined requirement to promote multiculturalism, actually does a better job at integration than the melting pot of the United States.
Canada’s approach to immigration has largely served it well over the years. While not perfect (and the new Liberal government’s pledge to prioritize family reunifications over economic migrants could prove to be a tremendous spoiler) it has managed to avoid the worst of the problems our fellow Western nations have faced over the years and offers a clear lesson to our peers. Immigration in and of itself can work. The trick is to ensure that those who are given the privilege of entering our country are well positioned to be able to integrate into the culture and lifestyle of those of us who are already here. This should serve as a warning to many on the left whose advocacy towards immigration (at best) can be characterized as overemphasizing the desires heart while ignoring the advice of the head.