Sunday, October 16, 2016

When a rich country acts like an international social service agency

 Figure 1 Foreign-born population, as a proportion of the total population, G8 countries and Australia
In a recent newspaper opinion piece "How much diversity do Canadian's want?" Margaret Wente, a prominent national columnist, discusses the dilemma faced by those who still believe that immigration is not a social service for distressed offshore societies.  She points out that here in Canada during the past year, our federal government brought in 320,932 immigrants and refugees – one-third more than the year before. This is into a population of under 35 million. Our new Prime Minister , Justine Trudeau, is fond of explaining away our extraordinarily high intake of Syrian refugees as, "We're Canadian and we're here to help".

Those who seek to justify this largess like to claim we're helping add folk to our depopulating small rural towns. There what actually happens is that, after the local churches and social services have made a refugee family comfortable, it does what all other refugee and immigrant groups have done before as they look to better themselves - it up-and-leaves to be with others of their ilk in the large cities, where a dozen or more Syrian kids are enrolling in each inner city school every week! These children are not like the Iraqi Baathist kids we took in after Saddam's fall - they at least had been to a school before. These kids, from overcrowded camps where might has been right, bring that viewpoint into any interaction with their new minders. Thus we are bringing in today large numbers of refugee families who have little or no concept of a civil society and a highly tribal view of who is acceptable. Indeed we now have some of the largest Somali, Ethiopian, Tamil and Haitian populations outside their home countries.

As Wente points out, publicly expressing perspectives like the above is likely to get one shunned as a racist. Just as the English are branded racists for voting that they need national control over who is sent their way via the Continent, and the Hungarians are now beyond the pale for buying into a referendum that denied the EU's right to send them whomever they will.

".. in liberal discourse, any resistance to immigration on any grounds makes you a racist, and any questions about immigration policy are perceived as illegitimate. People get frustrated by that. They’re also frustrated by a narrative that, in their view, only goes one way. They feel they’re constantly being harangued by their betters that it is they who must accommodate the newcomers.

No one ever talks about what the newcomers should do to accommodate them. And so they’re not thrilled when Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Premier, dons a head scarf to meet with the woman who insisted on her right to wear the niqab during the citizenship ceremony – and then tweets that it’s 'an honour.' They are not thrilled when their Prime Minister promotes inclusivity by visiting a mosque where the women have to sit upstairs. They don’t like it when a Muslim boys’ soccer team refuses to play against girls.

In defence of our now out-of-control multiculturalism where every tribe is welcome, it is often said that Canada should be proud that its motto is not 'E pluribus unum'/'Out of many one people'. However a society that is told by its political elites that maintaining a common national ethos and code of behaviour are not a priority is not one that appeals to those of us who believe that social order derives from common perspectives. 

It is doubtful that the recent two hundredth anniversary of the brutal War of 1812-14 that foiled American annexation would have had the celebrations it did under the new 'happy for today, tomorrow will be even better under us' Liberal regime in Ottawa. Next year is the 150th anniversary of the Act of Confederation of some British North American colonies and territories that began Canada. Government plans so far announced make it clear that today's multiculturalism and tomorrow's shining future will be the main focus, and that honouring the past will get short shrift. Historical heritage considerations get little space in both Federal and Ontario published plans for government action.

Yet as a former Governor-General of Canada presciently said back in 1887, "A community is wanting in self-respect which does not take an interest in its own history and seek to preserve those records by which that history can be traced and authenticated.” Declaring every other culture is as good as ours belittles the achievements of pioneers who created the world's seventh largest economy in the world's second largest landmass over that 150 years. "Many progressives (including, I suspect, Mr. Trudeau) hold a romantic view of immigration as a sort of global social-justice project, which obliges us to share our good fortune with as much of the rest of the world as possible". Same may be true of some EU leaders.