Last Updated on October 13, 2016
Canada’s immigration policy has become a beacon of multiculturalism – a shining example in a world threatening to succumb to protectionist politics – according to the author of a new book.
Jonathan Tepperman points to Canada’s growing immigration numbers and positive attitude towards newcomers in a recent article for the Wall Street Journal.
The editor of US magazine Foreign Affairs advises his country to look to Canada when it comes to reforming its immigration policy, instead of the focus placed on Mexicans crossing the border illegally created by presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
Tepperman writes: “Canada today has one of the highest immigration rates in the world … Yet most Canadians couldn’t be happier about it.” The statistics are there to back up Tepperman’s argument.
Canada’s immigration numbers for 2016 are expected to be around 300,000, the most for two decades. When a poll asked how Canadians felt about those numbers, more than half said they were either happy with the number or wanted it to increase.
Immigration Minister John McCallum has recently been on a tour of the country gauging public opinion, and he says the overwhelming appetite is for an increase in numbers. McCallum was speaking to the people directly affected by the issue – including businesses in dire need of workers and provincial officials looking for answers to Canada’s agingpopulation.
But, as Tepperman illustrates, it was not always like this.
Canada underwent something of an immigration revolution after the Second World War, although even then the focus was on accepting newcomers from northern Europe. Others were only welcome when there was a need for labour, Tepperman points out.
He writes: “So how did that Canada – timid, racist and parochial –become the multihued and fiercely open-minded Canada of today?
“The country didn’t change for some idealistic reason. Canada embraced immigration because it had to. Canadian virtue, such as it is, was born of necessity.”
Tepperman goes on to describe how multiculturalism became enshrined in Canadian policy under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau, who championed the idea that no single ethnic group should take priority.
Now Trudeau’s son, current Prime Minister Justin, is taking his father’s ideals forward, by welcoming more than 30,000 refugees and taking the view that immigrants are required to help the Canadian economy thrive.
When you consider recent world events – the UK’s vote to exit Europe, Germany’s rejection of Angela Merkel, France’s banning of the burkini, Trump’s rise in the US – the attitude of Canada is given sharp context.
Tepperman concludes, in what is a chapter adapted from his book The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline, as follows:
“Was Pierre Trudeau’s grand scheme just a cynical political move dressed up as high principle? Maybe, but the results are what count, and in Canada, they have been spectacular—a record for politicians everywhere to emulate.”
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