Note that Jason Kenney was Canada’s Immigration Minister for a record-long 5 years. In a Cabinet shuffle early this week, he became the Minister of Employment and Social Development—while still responsible for ethnic outreach. His replacement in Immigration is Chris Alexander. To prepare for his new duties, Mr. Alexander would do well to read this letter.
Letter to Kenney Challenges His Attack on Suzuki
Dear Mr. Kenney,
I note your tweets regarding Dr. David Suzuki’s interview in L’Express. While I agree the media are often biased against conservatives I can’t agree that Suzuki’s opinions on immigration are “toxic & irresponsible” nor that they show him to be “stridently anti-immigration.” Perhaps you have not yet had a chance to read the whole interview. If you do, you will see that he praised how Canada integrates immigrants and noted that, unlike his parents’ generation when ethnic Japanese such as himself married only within the Japanese community, over 90% now marry outside of the community. He also declared that we have a duty to those in genuine need and that he was particularly proud to be a Canadian when we helped 50,000 Vietnamese boat people. These are hardly “extreme anti-immigration views”!
I would suggest that your tweets illustrate just how strong the taboo on any sensible discussion of immigration is in Canada. Indeed, they seem to illustrate that it is politically expedient to attack anyone who challenges the status quo, regardless of the implications of that status quo for the well-being of Canadians. As you well know, the status quo on immigration has for decades been to bring upward of 250,000 people to Canada every year, regardless of economic conditions or environmental consequences. This policy has been slavishly followed by all parties in power and has not been challenged by any opposition party, not even the so-called Green party, ever since it was inaugurated in the early 1990s.
Yet economists (from the conservative Fraser Institute no less) have produced studies showing that recent immigrants earn considerably less than native-born Canadians and —unlike earlier generations of immigrants— do not catch up over time. In fact they receive about $20 billion more annually in government services than they pay in taxes. As stated in a Backgrounder on immigration released by your own office, immigration also has no impact on the age structure. Therefore, there is no obvious economic justification for pursuing an immigration policy which in recent decades has accepted a quarter million or more newcomers annually.
That said, as President of Population Institute Canada (PIC), a nationwide organization concerned about the implications of continuous growth in human numbers — nationally and globally, I would draw your attention to the impact of our immigration policy on the environment. We may have many “vast open spaces” but does anyone seriously believe that most of us — native-born and newcomers — would be crowded along the USA’s northern border if more of those spaces were suitable for human habitation?
Most of Canada remains uninhabited for the same reason that Antarctica does: the land cannot support a large population. Much of our northern land mass is environmentally sensitive. And relentless population growth, driven primarily by immigration, is already putting serious stress on our southern regions and has had a major impact on our water resources and biodiversity. Our large cities are bursting at the seams with increasing congestion and smog and overtaxed infrastructure, and have trouble dealing with their own wastes. Canada has lost over 15,000 square kilometres of farmland to urbanization. This loss is irreplaceable and farmland constitutes only about 5% of Canada’s surface area. I ask, how smart is it to demolish one’s own food security?
PIC is concerned about the impact of relentlessly increasing human numbers on long-term sustainability, quality of life, and the natural environment everywhere on the planet. We believe that all countries, including our own, should seek population stabilization and reduction such that the population does not exceed the capacity of the resource base to provide for it. PIC therefore promotes foreign aid that includes family planning consistent with the needs and wishes of recipients and which we regard as essential to poverty reduction, educational advancement – notably for women and girls – and gender equity.
While Canada may seem particularly blessed in terms of natural resources, much of its habitable land is, as stated above, already under severe stress. For example, the 1997 study led by Dr. Michael Healey on the lower Fraser River Basin concluded that the population in that area was already three times above the sustainable limit. However, since then the population has increased substantially, primarily due to immigration. To campaign, as we do, to halt the pursuit of rapid population growth by reducing the number of immigrants is not anti-immigrant, it is “pro-environment.” It is to safeguard a sustainable future for generations to come.
Canada was not considered “anti-immigrant” before the current policy of bringing in 250,000 or more people each year was initiated. Furthermore, it’s a fallacy to suggest, as some do, that Canada can alleviate global overpopulation with its immigration policy. The number of people who come to Canada annually as immigrants — about 250,000 — is approximately the same as the number by which the world population increases every day! Canada’s intake of immigrants therefore, while having a significant negative impact on its own environment, does nothing to alleviate global overpopulation. The billions of dollars we spend on a relatively small number of people that are not needed by the Canadian economy could be spent far more usefully from a developmental and humanitarian perspective by boosting Canada’s rather pathetic international family planning assistance.
Please visit our website (www.populationinstitutecanada.ca) to learn more about the population issue, the impact of rapid population growth both on the environment and human well-being, and the benefits that population stabilization would bring to a finite, already over-loaded planet. We would of course also be pleased to meet with you or your staff to discuss any population-related matter.
As Immigration Minister, you have implemented significant, much-needed reforms to our immigration and refugee policies. Despite the predictable outcry from the “open borders” crowd, these reforms have been supported by most Canadians. However, polls show that most Canadians also think current immigration levels are too high. Rather than attacking Dr. Suzuki for making statements justifiable from both an economic and environmental perspective, I urge you to revise our immigration policies to reflect actual environmental and economic realities. I believe you will find that Canadians are more than ready to consider a re-assessment of Canada’s immigration policies and a reduction in the number of new arrivals.
President, Population Institute Canada