Some Advice To The Big City Mayors' Caucus Committee: Don't Put Foxes In Charge Of The Hen House
Last week, the Mayor of Vancouver announced the formation of a working group on immigration. Similar working groups have been set up in Canada's other big cities. All are offshoots of the Big City Mayors' Caucus Committee on Immigration. As a City of Vancouver press release stated, this organization “was created earlier this year to strengthen the role municipalities play in both federal and provincial policy and program development”.
The press release also stated that the Vancouver group “will be co-chaired by Councillor Raymond Louie and local immigration lawyer, Zool Suleman. The Working Group is made up of representatives from the community, business, and academic sectors who have experience in developing and delivering immigration-related programs and services”.
Immigration Watch Canada expresses serious concern about the composition of the committee. On the immigration issue, City Councils have to deal with conflict. They have to get beyond the level of chanting: “Four legs good. Two legs bad.” , that is, they have to get beyond the level of conditioned response. They have to evaluate current imigration policy just as they should evaluate everything else that comes before them. They should not put themselves in the position of merely “adapting to” or “managing” problems imposed on them by Ottawa. Immigration Watch Canada calls for three changes:
(1) It calls for the immediate replacement of Zool Suleman, one of the co-chairs of the City of Vancouver committee. Mr. Suleman is an immigration lawyer and is in an obvious conflict of interest. He earns a living from Canada's current anomalous high immigration levels. He has an obvious interest in perpetuating those levels and is undoubtedly interested in developing city policies which will ultimately benefit himself and his like-minded.
He is in a clear “Fox Guarding The Hen-House” position. As other critics have repeatedly stated about similar appointments, calling on immigration lawyers or immigration advocates to sit in such positions is like asking a president of a Hell's Angels' chapter or a large marijuana Grow-Op owner to co-chair a committee on City Drug Policy. The result is predictable.
(2) Vancouver City Council also has to take a second look at other members on the committee. It has become common to refer to refugee/immigration advocacy groups as the “major stakeholders” in the refugee/immigration process. Immigration Watch Canada points out that the real “major stakeholders” in Canada's immigration and refugee policies are the people of Canada, not Canada's immigration industry. Most Canadians have been systematically and consistently excluded from discussion of this issue through intimidation and misinformation. For example, most Canadians have never been told the truth about such issues as an aging population, the needs of Canada's work force, etc. Its own federal government has never honestly answered one very basic question for its own citizens: “Why is Canada bringing in so many people every year?”
City Council has to ensure that the advisory committee consists of a group of open-minded people. This committee should not be a cheerleading section for Vancouver's immigration industry.
(3) Most important of all, Immigration Watch Canada calls upon the mayors of all of Canada's big cities to scrutinize the composition of their own current or future immigration committees. If they too have established such committees, the big question they have to ask is this: “Have we placed immigration lawyers or other members of Canada's immigration industry on these committees?” If they have done this, they have created clear conflicts of interest?
City Councils in these cities also have to ensure that their committees deal with three major questions:
(A) Are there cultural limits to any area's ability to absorb new people? The entire Greater Vancouver area has been flooded with historically unprecedented and unremitting numbers of immigrants/refugees in the past 15 years. Federal plans call for an increase in these levels from about 250,000 per year to 1% of Canada's population. This would mean 320,000 in 2005. The levels would ascend in perpetuity.
Canada can take a limited number of immigrants. But the residents of Canada's large cities (the principal destinations of the inflow) have never been asked whether they wished to establish a limit on this inflow to prevent them from being culturally overwhelmed. The Citizenship and Immigration Department and Canada's immigration industry have co-operated on a number of tactics to muffle any opposition.
(B) Are there economic limits to any area's ability to absorb new people? Canadian newspapers have frequently presented stories of newcomers unable to find either employment related to qualifications or even any unrelated employment. Furthermore, Citizenship and Immigration and various immigrant advocacy groups have attacked certification agencies as the cause of immigrant under-employment or immigrant unemployment. Neither C and I nor our country's immigration industry wants to admit that they have created this mess.
Neither is also willing to admit that federal equity employment policies have resulted in recent visible minority arrivals being given preference in employment over long-term Canadian citizens. In other words, for a number of years, Canada has had a policy of bringing in people it did not need and of subsequently granting them preference in the job queue. This is an absurd situation, to say the least, but it is something that all governments have participated in.
(C) Are there environmental limits to any area's ability to absorb new people?
Neither Citizenship and Immigration nor Canada's immigration industry wants to deal seriously with this question. Some time ago, Citizenship and Immigration announced a limp attempt to have new people move to small town Canada to relieve overcrowding of Canada's urban areas. But what small town with space also has large numbers of job openings even for its own people?
The question about whether there are environmental limits to any area's ability to absorb new people is a question about whether Vancouver or any other area has a carrying capacity. The answer is an obvious “Yes.”. The Greater Vancouver area has absorbed around 800,000 people in the past 15 years, the majority of whom are immigrants or refugees.
This has had a major impact on the environment of this relatively small area. In the recent past, provincial and municipal officials have proposed twinning a major bridge into the Vancouver area and proceeding with a number of other major highway or service-related developments—all related to the consequences of bringing in large numbers of people.
Only a few politicians (among them, noteably, some municipal ones from the Greater Vancouver area) have countered this trend by criticizing continued population growth and advocating population stabilization.
To put the environmental issue in perspective, Immigration Watch Canada once again refers our big city mayors to the following conclusion of the report of the U.S. Commission on Population and the American Future. The report was done in 1972 by the most distinguished U.S. economists:
We have looked for, and have not found, any convincing argument for continued national population growth. The health of our economy does not depend on it. The vitality of business does not depend on it. The welfare of the average person does not depend on it.
END OF PRESS RELEASE
For your information, Immigration Watch Canada provides the following relevant press release from the City of Vancouver.
CITY OF VANCOUVER
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2005
Mayor Campbell announces formation of Working Group on Immigration
Mayor Larry Campbell announced this week the formation of a Working Group on Immigration, which will be co-chaired by Councillor Raymond Louie and local immigration lawyer, Zool Suleman. The Working Group is made up of representatives from the community, business, and academic sectors who have experience in developing and delivering immigration-related programs and services.
The Working Group will develop recommendations to shape policies and future directions concerning immigrants and refugees in the City of Vancouver. The Working Group will also provide direct advice to the Mayor on issues coming out of the Big City Mayors' Caucus Committee on Immigration, which was created earlier this year to strengthen the role municipalities play in both federal and provincial policy and program development. Toronto Mayor David Miller chairs this committee, of which Mayor Campbell is a member.
The Working Group will report out to City Council in October.
For more information:
Geoff Meggs, Executive Assistant to the Mayor