Xeno­pho­bia about process, not peo­ple

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - OPINION -

Cana­di­ans largely have been sup­port­ive of im­mi­gra­tion for many years. How can they not be? So many Cana­di­ans are ei­ther im­mi­grants them­selves or have par­ents or grand­par­ents who were born else­where.

So, it’s con­cern­ing that pub­lic sup­port for im­mi­gra­tion has started to slip.

A new Ip­sos Global Pub­lic Af­fairs poll shows while Cana­di­ans back im­mi­gra­tion more broadly, they have sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about how im­mi­gra­tion is be­ing man­aged.

The poll found 44 per cent of re­spon­dents said there are too many im­mi­grants com­ing to Canada. And a ma­jor­ity of re­spon­dents be­lieve Canada is too wel­com­ing to new ar­rivals.

Where is this com­ing from? What drives this per­spec­tive?

Colum­nist Brian Lil­ley wrote re­cently “a full 57 per cent of Cana­di­ans agree with the state­ment that ‘ im­mi­gra­tion has placed too much pres­sure on pub­lic ser­vices in Canada.’ ” That in­cludes 77 per cent of Con­ser­va­tive vot­ers but also 51 per cent of Lib­eral vot­ers and 48 per cent of NDP vot­ers.”

In other words, at a time when peo­ple are anx­ious about their eco­nomic fu­ture and the rising cost of liv­ing, they also worry about the eco­nomic cost and tax bur­den that comes with in­creased im­mi­gra­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has taken to hec­tor­ing those who ex­press such con­cerns, last month di­vi­sively re­ject­ing im­mi­gra­tion con­cerns as “fear- mon­ger­ing” and anti- im­mi­grant bias.

This is a naked, po­lit­i­cal smear tac­tic — aimed in an elec­tion year pri­mar­ily at fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives — be­cause the Trudeau Lib­er­als have so ut­terly botched the care and set­tle­ment of refugees who are ar­riv­ing daily at our bor­ders.

But whether it’s the var­i­ous mea­sures the Lib­er­als have taken to make it eas­ier to get ci­ti­zen­ship to Canada or their fail­ure to take fi­nan­cial responsibility for mi­grants, Cana­di­ans in­creas­ingly are los­ing con­fi­dence in our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem.

We highly doubt frus­tra­tions with im­mi­gra­tion are about the im­mi­grants them­selves. It’s about the way things are be­ing done. It’s not about peo­ple, but process.

One of the best ways we can en­hance the pop­u­lar­ity of im­mi­gra­tion in Canada is by en­hanc­ing the in­tegrity of the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem in Canada.

If the sys­tem has holes, if it looks like it’s easy to game, if the gov­ern­ment acts like bor­ders don’t mat­ter, con­fi­dence will erode.

Let’s have a wel­com­ing but well- man­aged im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that will make ev­ery­one proud.

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