Blame Trudeau for backlash to immigration
Even now, after 36 quite wonderful years, I still sometimes pinch myself. Maybe someone will finally figure me out and that dreaded knock on the door will echo before I’m dragged away and shipped back to where I came from.
The late-night knock silliness is, of course, total hyperbole. Yet my wife — who once bravely walked into the KGB’s Moscow headquarters as a young woman and told them that, nope, she just wasn’t working for them anymore — worries me with her knowing smirk.
Ah, but she’s Russian, born and bred, which not only means she possesses the planet’s most beautiful female genes but also its most entrenched skepticism. Still, I reckon it’s safe now: that after this long nobody’s going to bother sending me back to England.
I’ve long since considered myself Canadian, even if able to hit a cover drive (psst, it’s cricket) far better than any slap shot. You see, life sometimes hands out lucky straws and I got an extra long one, stepping off that Wardair plane in lovely Leduc, back in the spring of 1982.
I’m hardly alone. One in five people living here were born elsewhere. If you include their born-in-Canada kids — like my two — then almost a third of this country’s population has strong, direct ties to elsewhere. Go back two generations and we’re closing in on a majority.
This is not new. Such a constant stream of immigration, decade after decade, is what built this country into the remarkable place it is.
It was the most amazing piece of political, cultural and societal stupidity imaginable.
Which is why it was the most amazing piece of political, cultural and societal stupidity imaginable watching how our prime minister managed to weaken, if not jettison, this traditional economic umbilical cord in the minds of many Canadians who work, play and pay taxes across this vast land.
It is more remarkable yet because the Liberal party has done very well for itself for more than a century by being seen as the party of immigration (hey, politicians love new voters — becoming a citizen instead of a landed immigrant back in 1985, letters of congratulations from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Premier Don Getty and Edmonton Mayor Laurence Decore arrived in a flurry).
What upset this apple cart was Justin Trudeau’s now infamous tweet about how Canada welcomes you, aimed to cement his then-burgeoning reputation as North America’s open-minded answer to Donald Trump, who then seemed intent on kicking everyone out of the U.S. while not letting anyone else in.
Caught in these tacky politics were those people whose position south of our border was in jeopardy. So, not surprisingly, many headed north and suddenly Canadians got a small taste of what we’d previously only seen on TV: desperate people carrying what little they possessed wandering across the border to claim refugee status.
Thanks to Trudeau’s immature grandstanding, a carefully construed and hard-headed “pick-the-ones-we-want” immigration policy was caught in this backlash of soured citizen sentiment.
After 18 months of head-in-the-sand stubbornness, the Grits are now reluctantly admitting the surge in refugee claimants is overwhelming the system.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen admitted the number of asylum seekers is rising “far beyond” what the system can handle, adding “without changes to improve efficiency and productivity of the asylum process, wait times and backlogs will only continue to grow.”
The effect is to dramatically harden attitudes to immigration, with a recent survey finding half of Canadians want to see the number of immigrants lowered. Four years ago only a third of folk sought such a reduction.
That dramatically lowering the number of young, productive immigrants will have negative effects on future GDP growth and the working population required to pay for those social benefits a rapidly retiring baby-boomer generation rightly expects is lost in the emotive backlash Trudeau’s asinine tweet set in motion.
It’s really quite amazing what 140 characters, typed in self-aggrandizement, can accomplish.