The Hon. Lucienne Robillard Minister of Citizenship and Immigration re:
Not Just Numbers: A Canadian Framework for Future Immigration
Prepared by: Paul Fromm Editor Canadian Immigration Hotline for Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform Inc. C-FAR, Inc., P.O. Box 332, Rexdale, Ontario, M9W 5L3. Ph. 905-897-7221 Fax: 905-277-3914 E-mail: Note our protest at having been denied the opportunity to present our views and the Decima Poll we commissioned in person to the Minister at the Toronto hearings, when the same chance was granted to hordes of special interest groups! Click on for full story]The Public Consultations ProcessThe report Not Just Numbers: A Canadian Framework for Future Immigration was to form a focus point for changes and improvements in Canada’s immigration policy. We found the consultation process that led to the creation of this document highly elitist. Few immigration reformers or critics were consulted.
The consultations in several cities seemed top heavy with immigration lawyers and spokesmen for various ethnic and refugee groups — valid participants, of course, but not always representative of the rest of the Canadian public who must live with the consequences, good or bad, of immigration policy. Nevertheless, Not Just Numbers offered some useful pointers toward new directions. It missed the chance to suggest fundamental reform, as we’ll discuss later, but it did set out certain helpful principles. On January 6, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced that she would be seeking public reaction to this document and, to that end, would travel to five Canadian cities and would accept written submissions up until March 9. The deadline for advising that one would like to be heard at one of the public hearings was February 5. We questioned this rush to judgment on such a crucial issue — who should join the Canadian family. In a nation that has seen such massive population changes since our approach to immigration switched in 1965 from our traditional sources in Europe and the British Isles to the Third World the question of who will be allowed in is vital. We were surprised at the tight time frame and the lack of advertising, again, outside the usual self-interested members of the immigratioin lobby.
The original five-city tour was insulting. While Halifax, which receives few immigrants, was to have a visit, Alberta — Edmonton and Calgary being major recipients of immigrants — was overlooked. Subsequently, however, Edmonton and Ottawa were added, and an extra day each in Vancouver and Toronto was worked in. In good faith, we commissioned a poll by Decima Research which we hoped to present at one of the hearings; indeed, in communications with the Legislative Review Secretariat, we indicated our willingness to appear in either Vancouver or Toronto. Assuming that these were bona fide consultations, we never dreamed that we would not be granted the opportunity to present our findings. Nevertheless, we were turned down and, despite personal representations by myself to Mr. David Manicom in Vancouver, that decision held. A quick review of the list of groups presenting across Canada confirms the suspicion that the consultations were nothing of the sort but merely the immigration industry talking to the immigration industry, an in-house debate among the largely self-interested, special interest groups who feed off the system: refugee advocates, many minority organizations, ESL lobbyists and others who service immigrants and refugees. Virtually nowhere was there a voice for the general Canadian public who must bear the impact of immigration.
Our mandate is to be that voice or, more modestly, one of those voices. Perhaps, a hint of the elitist and exclusionary approach was hidden in the January 6, 1998 press statement from the Minister which announced that she would consult “with some sixty organizations in the immigration sector, as well as other sectors involved, on the various issues examined int he report.” Following a scathing report from Canada’s Auditor General, Mme. Robillard’s hand-picked Legislative Committee reviewing Canada’s immigration policy hastened to launch a half-hearted campaign to solicit public participation. Despite a frothy window dressing of democratic rhetoric, the Commitee neither publicized pending hearings, nor was the address for written submissions published anywhere (the advertising budget at Immigration Canada must be earmarked for more pressing matters). The insignificant number of Canadians who DID manage to ferret out an address, were promptly informed that individuals not already affiliated with the immigrant and refugee/settlement gravy train need not apply. Having dispensed with pesky citizens who still presume the right to an opinion, the committee was at liberty to select participants from among an ever-increasing pool of immigration boosting industries (all of which are either directly or indirectly subsidized by Canadian tax dollars). The list of successful applicants ensures that this “review” will perpetuate Canada’s present government OF the immigration lobby, BY the immigration lobby and FOR the immigration lobby. The Auditor-General recommended that current immigration trends be drastically clipped and pruned — presenters may be relied upon to fertilize the money tree. Canada’s “committment to diversity” is mysteriously sidelined whenever opinions are sought on the virtues of immigration. Under relentless minority lobbying, Mme. Robillard has denied one of the key language recommendations — much grief-stricken space has been devoted to Recommendation #49, without mention of # 25 which states that immigrants arriving here without French or English proficiency would be expected to contribute something (not pay completely) toward their language training — not an unreasonable expectation and completely in accord with Canada’s traditional immigration model. Well represented English as a Second Language teachers have deplored any hint that future beneficiaries of Canada’s largesse might reasonably be expected to speak either official language before arrival – or assume some of that responsibility on arrival. Immigration lawyers will continue to press for more unskilled, undesirable, even criminal admissions, in the perfectly understandable wish to see business continue to expand. There will be amplified calls to tighten up loose cannon consultation groups and immigration lawyers will have the market to themselves. Refugee and immigrant settlement organizations will agitate for more liberal and permissive reforms, since government funding is the pivotal feature of their committment.
These groups will not debate the merits of Canada’s current immigration policy — just the final tally. When the Committee published its 172 recommendations, it did so under the title Not Just Numbers. Ironically, the Committee’s partisan selection process ensures that this review will indeed be a question of numbers — how MANY immigrants, and how MUCH money for the usual privileged groups? Like baby birds, those admitted to the Legislative Review Committee’s cozy little nest-feathering confab will instinctively stretch, strain, and open their beaks as wide as possible. In short, every activist acheing to reinterpret, revise and reinvent Canada (while enriching himself) is there. After all, attendance is a boring requirement in the endless rounds of consolidating funding. As usual, Canadians who wonder WHY Canada must be completely eradicated, have been marginalized and excluded from discourse before the event, although they are more than welcome to pick up the tab. Immigration policy over the past two decades has seldom reflected public opinion or consensus. Documents included in the government’s Green Paper on Immigration as far back as 1976 recognized that people were consistently opposed both to the numbers and makeup of Canada’s immigration. Much the same situation persists today. We warn: There can be no real social peace or harmony unless an immigration policy is crafted that reflects the will of the Majority. Continuing to hear only selfish special interest groups is a programme for disaster!Immigration Policy Must Reflect the Will of the MajorityOur guiding principle is that, in a democracy, public policy must reflect the will of the Majority. Canada’s immigration policy has been overly responsive to the special pleadings of immigrant groups — let more of our relatives in, lower the qualifications so that more of our countrymen can come to Canada.
The result is that Canada has been flooded with large numbers of people with few skills in languages used in Canada, with few job skills and, in a distrssing number of cases, with deadly diseases or serious criminal behaviours. To that end, we recommend an immediate five year moratorium on all immigration or refugee intake in order to reduce unemployment. Our Decima Research Poll taken February 7-15, 1998 found 50% of Canadians overall (51.4% in Quebec) favoured a five-year moratorium. Nation-wide, 43.9% opposed such a moratorium. Thus, we urge a five year moratorium on immigration. This is consistent with Canadian public opinion. We urge that the five years be used for a full page 4 public discussion, not a two-month rush to judgment. This thoughtful public debate should offer interested groups access to television. Far too often the state-subsidized CBC carries the views of only the immigration lobby. Finally, population changes effect permanent alterations in a country. The revolutionary immigration changes in 1965 have led to the present situation where 85% of those entering the country are from non-traditional sources or the Third World.. According to recently published figures from the 1996 Census, 11.2% ot Canada’s total population are visible minorities, “up from … 6.3% in 1986.” (Statistic Canada 1996 Census: Ethnic Origin, Visible Minorities) People have an absolute right to determine the shape of their future and their country.
A full discussion is necessary. Our Decima Poll detected considerable public uneasiness about the disproportionate numbers of people from the Third World in current immigration patterns. Asked about the current intake of persons from the Third World, nationwide 48.3% found it too high, 39.6% about right, and just 3.05 too low. The numbers of those who found the Third World intake too high soared to 56.6% in British Columbia, 52.9% in Alberta, and 51.2% in Ontario, the areas of the country most impacted by this type of immigration. A mere 2.2% in B.C., 3.0% in Alberta, and 2.6% in Ontario felt Third World immigration was too low. Many Canadians express concern about their changing neighbourhoods. Asked, to react to the statement, “Some people believe that immigration should not upset the ethnic balance of a community,” 43.7% nationwide agreed, while 36.1% disagreed, and 3.8% didn’t know. Finally, after this full public debate where all sides are heard, we urge that the Minister craft a new immigration policy and then submit this to the public in a binding national referendum. Thus, the resulting immigration policy will havce the support of the Majority of Canadians.Our “Absorption Capacity Has Been Reached” — Mme RobillardA further reason for a five-year moratorium on immigration is the present situation of bruital, intractable unemployment.
Canada seems stuck at 1.4-million Canadians or about 9 per cent of the labour force permanently out of work. There seems no short-term prospect of any improvement. To bring in another 225,000 to 250,000 persons per year is immoral and cruel. The Minister acknowledged these problems long cited by immigration reformers like us. The Calgary Herald (October 24, 1997) reported: “She noted that 60 per cent of immigrants go to Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver and the ‘absorptive capacity’ of the country has been reached.” Ironically, having admitted the sponge was saturated, she announced an increase in immigration for 1998 from 200,000 to 225,000! Utterly iollogical! In a Globe and Mail (October 24, 1997) report at the same time, she said immigration could not be increased more “while so many people already in Canada cannot find jobs. She also said increased pressure by immigrants on social services in urban centres is a concern.”
Sadly, Not Just Numbers, recommends more of the same — no mercy for Canada’s unemployed: “In the interim, numbers should be maintained at approximately the current level.” (Recommendation 14) For this reason, despite some useful recommendations, we see the report as little more than a coat of fresh paint on a car wreck!Immigration Is SelfishTo talk sense about immigration, we must start with the axiom that all immigration is selfish. No one moves from a good land to a wretched one voluntarily. However personally traumatic it may be, an immigrant chooses to move to better himself. Doubters are invited to check out the Haitian, North Korean or Burmese — I guess it’s now the Myammar — embassies. There are no lineups of would-be immigrants outside their doors. Why? The reader is likely chuckling at the obvious answer: No one in his right mind would wish to migrate to those wretched lands. Exactly. The pro-immigration propaganda in Canada is that immigration, especially diversity, “enriches” us. If it does in the odd case, it is entirely by accident. Immigrants do not seek a new land to “enrich” the inhabitants but to enrich and better themselves. Knowing this, then, a prudent country will seek to carefully screen and regulate immigrants to ensure that they can and do contribute, that they will not be a burden and that they do not bring criminal ways or disruptive social or moral practices with them. Finally, North Americans, especially Canadians, have been fed a poisonous gruel of guilt by the self-interested immigration lobby. We have been haranged that to oppose immigration is some form of smug superiority or, that term that reduces even sturdy men to cringing wimps, “white supremacy.” How, it is demanded, can you dare impose your standards or your cultures on newcomers? That is a clear sign of white supremacy.
The very act of immigration settled the question of superiority. As it’s axiomatic that no one leaves a better place for a worse, the immigrant himself has acknowledged the superiority of the land to which he has immigrated. By coming to Canada, the immigrant has admitted in a most dramatic way, that this land is better than the one he’s left. The reason these lands are better is the culture. Canada is based on a Christian culture of caring for one’s neighbour.
Both share a legal culture of respect for the rule of law and a system that strives for impartial and fair justice. Both have a political system rooted in Britain that emphasizes the consent of the government and representation of the governed. It is this political and moral culture that make this land the desirable havens they are for immigrants, so desireable that many will lie or bribe flesh-smuggling “snakeheads” to take them there. Effete academics may debate the merits of one culture over another. Immigrants by the act of flocking to Canada have provided a resounding rebuke to cultural relativism. They have acknowledged the overwhelming superiority of the land to which they have come.Specific Recommendations:
- The Good
A hopeful beginning to a common sense approach is contained in Recommendation 1. It speaks of “explicit recognition of active participation in Canadian society as a requisite for citizenship.” Of course, Canadian citizenship is too precious to be merely a passport of convenience for certain wealthy offshore people or for people who have come here, burrowed deep within their ethnic communities and shown not sought to learn our language or our institutions and have not sought to participate in the larger community. Also on solid ground is Recommendation 4 (a) which outlines the first objective of a new immigration act as being to “facilitate the entry … of those persons who will contribute to Canada’s prosperity and to the economic well-being of Canadians.” Thus far the report seems to be asking the right question of prospective newcomers: What’s in it for us? Recommendation 31, in outlining criteria for Canadian citizenship is good. However, a minimum five years residence should be required. Recommendations 26,35, 49 and 64 relating to the requirement that the Self-supporting Class immigrants, their spouses and children over the age of 6, be able to pass a proficiency test in one or both of Canada’s official languages is eminently sensible. Language ability is crucial to gainful employment and to participation in Canadian society.
A prospective immigrant should indicate his good will by qualifying himself and his family linguistically. If the person can’t or won’t, we can really question whether he is a good prospect for entry into Canada., The current costs of ESL are punitive to Canadians — especially those in areas hardest hit by Third World immigration: Toronto, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton. We estimate that ESL costs the Canadian taxpayers at all levels a minimum of $500-million annually. It is only reasonable that those who wish to join Canadian society should bear the cost of being taught one or both of our officiallanguages. In our Decima poll, we asked: “Should Canada require that immigrants and refugees be able to speak English or French?” Canada-wide, 72.6% answered yes, while only 24.6% said no. Those answering yes rose to a stunning 84.3% in Quebec, as against just 13.9% responding no. However, the Minister has been furiously lobbied by selfish organizations of ESL teachers, seeking to keep a steady supply of clients for their services, and numerous ethnic special interest groups advancing the preposterous proposition that it is “racist” to require newcomers to know one of our official languages or to pay to be so taught. Their position is not only supremely arrogant but calls into question their desire to be good Canadians. Recommendations 47,48,49,50,51,52,58, and 59 relating to core standards for the new Self-Supporting class of immigrants are solid proposals and fit in with the objective of finding people who can contribute to Canada. Recommendation 60 sensibly eliminates the vagaries and, in many cases, the frauds associated with the Immigrant Investor Programme. The solution — “a five-year interest-free loan to the federal government” — is simple, straightforward and fair We applaud proposals to tighten the much-abused “refugee” system in Canada, especially Recommendations 89,95,99,100,104 and 105.
- The Bad
Having begun positively in outlining the goals of a new immigration law, it’s sad to see the report offer up a real slap in the face to Canadians in Recomendation 4(d). One of the objectives is to “enrich the culture of Canadians.” This insulting porposal assumnes that Canadians are cultural anorexics, losers devoid of culture. If culture means literature, Canada can boast E.J. Pratt, Gabrielle Roy, W.P. Kinsella, Pierre Burton, Roch Carrier, Farley Mowat, Alice Munro, Robert Service, Hugh MacLennan and many, many others. If culture is art, who has not heard of the Group of Seven and the many regional artists in B.C., Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. If culture means music, Canada can point to Anne Murray, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Celine Dionne, Ian Tyson, Suzanne Gitzi, Terry Clark, Hank Snow, Paul Anka and legions of others. Frankly, we do not need to be enriched. We have a vibrant culture right here.
Utterly nonsensical is Recommendation 17: “The Minister should establish a working group with organizations representing the interests of clients to examine the rational for the right of landing fee …” Of course, the immigration industry will oppose such a fee. The result of any such consultation is a foregone conculsion. It would be far more sensible to consult with representatives of Canadian taxpayers who have to pay for the costs of processing newcomers. Equally silly is Recommendation 18, that the new legislation “should allow for loans to help with the payment of immigration-related fees for spouses and dependent children.” If an immigrant can’t pay these fees, we have the right to question how stable he is or his prospects of not being a burden on Canadian society once he and his family are here. If he’s a good risk, why not have one of theethnic community groups who are always so voluble in lobbying for ever looser regulations extend a loan to him? Recommendations 32 and 34 are obnoxious, extending the definition of spouse to homosexual parterns thus: “a partner in an intimate relationship, including cohabitation for at least one yea rin duration.”
Recommendation 34 foolishly notes: “The requirements of the new Family Class should reflect the principles that 1) the definition of family is evolving over time and differs among cultural and ethnic communities.” Surely, the definition we should use is the definition favoured by the majority of Canadians, not the definition of family in some foreign culture. Recommendation 70, which would “allow family members of foreign workers to work in Canada” is foolish and dangerous. The Foreign Worker class should strictly maintain the category of guest worker. The person — not his/her family — comes for a stated period of time to work and then return home. Similarly, Recommendation 73, allowing foreign workers to make application within Canada to change their status to landed immigrants, tends to blur the distinction between guest worker and immigrans and may encourage would-be immigrants to use this as a back door for entry into Canada. We strongly oppose Recommendation 81 which would allow foreign students “who have successfully completed a course of post-secondary studies in Canada” to apply for landed immigrant status, if they have a permanent job offer.
A “course”? Does this mean one course or a degree? Adopting this recommendation, ironically, would assist in the brain drain from the Third World, luring away the very people these lands most need to advance. Also, it would offer a back door form of immigration into Canada. We oppose allowing anyone to self-designate himself as a refugee at a Canadian airport or border crossing. All “refugee” applicants should be selected and screened abroad. We vehemently object to Recommendation 88: “There should be no requirement that applicants be likely to establish themselves successfully in Canada.” This willingness to accept lack of skills or language ability is outrageous. It means the likelihood of the person being a charge on the Canadian taxpayer in perpetuity. If we, as a nation, feel a responsibility to refugees elsewhere in the world, such people can be assisted for a fraction of the cost and maintained in refugee camps abroad, than they can be maintained on welfare, legal aid, medicare and subsidized housing in Canada.
Finally, we oppose the noxious Recommendation 137 which seems designed to perpetuate ethnic vengeance and the never-ending refighting of World War ii. It is an insult to and and an attack on the German-Canadian community and on persons of East European origin. This draconian measure would strip such people of their Canadian citizenship and status, “without appeal rights”, and would result in deportation. Such measures would occur, if there had been “a criminal conviction for war crimes or crimes against humanity committed before citizenship was granted.” We ask “a criminal conviction” where and by whom? Many a person who was merely a staunch anti-communist was accused and convicted of “war crimes” by trumped-up communist “people’s courts.” The ruthless measuresd envisioned by Recommendation 137 would also kick in if there were “a finding that the person was a war criminal.” Again, we ask: A finding by whom, on what evidence, subject to what procedure of appeal?
As most of the targets of such a recommendation are septuagenarian or octogenarian Germans or East Europeans, perhaps it would be more suitable to inquire into their behaviour in Canada. If one can judge from the dozen or so old persons already persecuted under this divisive form of ethnic vengeance — Canada has long since chosen to ignore the fight for justice of our own soldiers used as slave labour by the Japanese in World War ll — they have, without exception, been model citizens of Canada. Rather than dredging up long-past actions in other jurisdictions, by persons who were not then Canadians, allegedly perpetrated against person who were not Canadians, it might be better to concentrate on the here and now. It might be better to devote our resources to finding the 1,250 criminal desperadoes who had been ordered deported from Canada, but who, according to last year’s Auditor-General’s Report, had disappeared, gotten lost within the system in Canada and still menace decent people!