It's quite simply amazing how many immigrants a country like Canada is capable of absorbing. The idea being that since the indigenous population is barely replacing itself - and the economy is in dire need of attracting a greater number of people to jobs that are going unfilled - what natural childbirth has been remiss in providing for, encouraging emigration from abroad will provide for. If only it were that simple.
Astonishingly, it appears to be that simple for a country like Australia, which exercises strict self-discipline in its selection process. Requiring would-be immigrants to have a working knowledge of the language, and to possess sufficient professional credentials to make them attractive to the country as future citizens. They lay it all out neatly, and don't appear to suffer too many surprises, as a result.
Needless to say, that kind of restrictive empowerment leads to homogeneity in the origins of successful immigrants to the country. They're far and and away mostly represented by - no big surprise there - immigrants from British-based education systems, with English-speaking backgrounds. In a sense, hearking back to their origins; only now instead of criminals building the country, professionals from abroad do.
Europe hasn't been quite as successful. It has accepted emigrants from countries with which it has had historical ties as one-time colonialists, and hasn't seemed to be able to absorb them very well. Neither first, second, nor third-generation immigrants appear to have been entitled to equal treatment in education, employment and social programs, though they're citizens. And the results are predictable; indigent ghettos, and violently resentful youth.
Compounded by the fact that many immigrants were initially brought over as temporary labourers, and somehow found ways to remain in the country. They were exploited as cheap labour, they had few civil rights, were denied security, yet opted to remain. Because as problematical as their existence was there, it was far worse in their home countries where poor economies and internal strife made life truly miserable.
Canada sees itself as a potential home for many of the world's migrant populations. Because it's the right thing to do. As a prosperous country we have an obligation toward those people whose lives are fraught with danger living in countries where civil wars have ravaged their countries, or where tyrannical rulers have made a misery of their lives, or where dire living conditions as a result of struggling economies have encouraged them to look elsewhere.
Canada encourages people with professional accreditation and experience in many fields to consider Canada as a destination for their children's futures. Not appearing to make it sufficiently clear to star-struck candidates with high expectations for emigration that their professional diplomas may not live up to Canadian standards and they most likely will be unable to work at their original professions.
And then there are the refugee claimants who are permitted to live in Canada while their claims are adjudicated, and when, in due time, their status is denied and they are informed they must leave the country, those whom the Immigration Refugee Board has turned down may turn to the courts to re-consider their cases.
Desperate people learn pretty fast; perhaps not the intricacies of the English language, but an understanding of their legal rights. And immigration lawyers do a booming business representing refugee claimants' interests. The result being that the Federal Court of Canada has been swamped with such hearings, which now represent fully 76% of the court's full caseload.
Immigrants have traditionally selected Canada's largest cities to settle in; Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As well as, increasingly, smaller cities, those the size of Ottawa, the nation's capital. Considering that the immigration-load represents almost a million aspirants for Canadian landed immigrant status every few years, that's a lot of people.
Social services become truly strained, since municipalities must deal with the charges upon their limited resources. Which includes assistance for housing, employment training, language lessons, and health needs. Area schools are burdened with the need to integrate children whose grasp of English may be non-existent.
But perhaps the worst element of this entire complex story is that increasingly, immigrants appear to feel less of an interest in, let alone respect for the country's prevailing culture, social mores, history and political institutions. Which is a far cry from the past when new immigrants saw it as an imperative to absorb as much as they could of all of these settlement needs, to enable them to integrate into their newly-chosen country.
Canadians consider themselves fair-minded and conscientious people, concerned with others, and more than willing to give other people a break. Groups of human-rights and church associations will often go out of their way to invoke the humanitarian needs of others, and to pledge themselves materially and effort-wise to settle hapless people living in squalid refugee camps in their countries of origin.
Yet, there's often a price to pay for this type of outgoing concern for others. Schools become crowded with children aspiring to learn a difficult language, while Canadian children, sharing the classrooms, are held back by the educational needs of immigrant children. And while elements of the home-country traditions and cultures and religions are officially welcomed, there are some portions that should be left behind in the forging of a new identity.
Not the least of which is the epidemic of gang violence that has sullied the back streets and downtown assisted housing projects of cities like Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. In Toronto in particular, gangland killings have become a dreadful problem, with gangs representing ethnic groups becoming violent predators on one another.
With the gangs erupts the perennial problems linked to crime. And with that bleak exposure children are also exposed to violence at a young age, to drug use, to rejection of the education system, to becoming not only the disadvantaged, but a growing threat against society at large. It's a dreadful conundrum and one that's complex, and won't wane on its own volition.
All societies are beset with problems of inequality, of social dissent, of the entitled and of the neglected. Canada has a leg up on solutions to these seemingly intractable social problems because of its legal system that advantages all its citizens, because of its inherent recognition of egalitarianism, because of its political and social dedication to justice.
It's time that the country's political, social and legal arbitrators take their responsibilities seriously and begin leading us toward a reasonable solution to a currently troubling situation.
Labels: Crisis Politics, Government of Canada, Security, Society