Friday, June 02, 2006

Weekend Mailbag, Part 1: What to do about immigration?

More mail from the literatus. He is bitching about P&S's tendency to the abstract, its refusal to deal with the real issues about Canadian identity -- its failure to deal with people.

You know I'm a proud Canadian, [name redacted]. This free country *ought* to be a shelter to the oppressed. But when Sarajevan Moslems are living on one side of Commercial Drive and snarling at the Kosovar Serb arrivals on the other side, we aren't so much a haven as we are a jurisdiction of chumps, well-intentioned nerds whose scrupulous neutrality is even slimier than the Swiss version; and whose lack of self-confidence ensures that foreigners will use us a staging ground for their conflicts, over and over again.

I think Canadians ought to choose sides, in wars where one side is evidently fascist; but we should always be on our own side first; and that we ought to abandon the nonsensical "principles" of immigration and asylum which, for example, put FARC guerrillas *and* ex-paramilitaries into the same class, as being people who'll get killed upon returning to Colombia. Actually, [P.], I would end immigration from Colombia for now; how do we know who's the good guys? And of the many millions who *say* they've been oppressed, how much expensive work should we put into verification, when simple, decent, ambitious people are living in camps on borders everywhere...?

It looks like Pith & Subs. is slowly, handwringingly, coming round to my way of thinking, as regards immigration policy. What would you do, practically, lawfella? Me, I'd cut landings to perhaps 150,000 annually (but these people could *quickly* become citizens) -- as they would be in possession of *crucial* skills and a genuine ability to speak and read English or French. Family members could be sent for, if they were immediate family -- spouse and children, maximum six people, say. Any costs associated with family members' language disabilities, pre-existing medical conditions, inability to gain employment and/or desire to maintain their culture, will be borne entirely by said immigrants and their head of family, until such time (not long) as all family members can accede to full Dominion citizenship. Anyone who wishes to become a Canadian citizen must repudiate and renounce all other citizenships.

The American-dominated oil patch's sneaky attempt to create a Saudi/German-style "guest worker" class of semiskilled foreign workers -- been following this? Yankee Oil underpays a few thousand Mexicans and/or Filipinos to weld and pump, and then requires Edmonton/Ottawa to fork over the passports? -- is vigorously discouraged; unless you have paid for the apprenticeship and trade education of one (1) Canadian aboriginal, no resource company may hire any semi-skilled foreigner whatsoever. Canadian immigration policy is, statutorily, cyclical and choosy in nature; in any ten-year period, immigrants will only be accepted from a short list of regions/nations [...]

Meanwhile, we get radically natalist; it becomes very easy to have babies and family life in Canada -- not that the taxpayers generally directly subsidise anyone's child-raising, but one does get more and more of a tax break as each infant Canadian emerges. And if you're a solipsistic member of our idiot generation and you're looking for a fat pension in the 2030s, even though your failure to procreate shows you kept a disproportionate chunk of the nation's wealth for your own purposes -- well, your pension's a bit smaller. Also your non-existent kids aren't coming to seeya, are they...? Die in your own arms, nihilist! *Exceptions are made for the infertile.

There's also a bit about George Grant. I'll get to that on some other occasion.

So have I come around to the literatus' way of seeing? Not quite.

I do want to be able to think the way he does. We ought to love our own, and we ought to be realistic about the world and its dangers. No nation can afford to ignore its borders, base its diplomatic policy on sentiment or fail to claim the loyalty of its people. Not even this one: Grant imagined Canada as the stockbroker's son, willfully ignorant about the source of the money, about the facts of life. Sooner or later, though, the trust fund runs out, the stockbroker's son has his own kids, and its damn hard to find an apartment that is big enough. So, we have to figure out what neighbourhood we live in, and how we can safely earn a living in it.

So, yes, I agree that we need to see some of what the literatus wants us to see. We do need to insist on a single nationality for all Canadian citizens. We have to speed up refugee determinations, which may mean allowing the executive the unreviewable power to say that some countries are not to be sources of refugees, and some people are not to make claims. We have to keep immigration to an assimilable level, and we cannot allow corporations to take advantage of rightless "guest workers," especially when we have reserves with 90% unemployment. I haven't figured out what the magic assimilable number is, but I think the current target of 1% per year may be too high.

And I agree on the pro-natalist public policy, although I think the literatus needs to work on the specific pension policy. A better idea is subsidies to parents. Parents should control where the enormous amount of money spent on their children's education or childcare goes. If anything would persuade me to vote Conservative, that would be it.

But while we need to ensure that refugee applications are genuine, we do benefit from immigration, and so do those who come here. Canada has done well being a refuge for "market-dominant minorities" run out of their own countries by populist hostility. And we do have some moral obligations to the wretched of the Earth. If we aren't willing to have them all come here, we had better figure out a better road to development.

No comments: