Corrupt Backroom Immigration Deals At Both The Municipal and Federal Level Undermine All Environmental Measures And Have To Stop

September 21, 2005: Corrupt Backroom Immigration Deals At Both The Municipal and Federal Level Undermine All Environmental Measures And Have To Stop


A conservation announcement this week by the City of Vancouver's Sustainability Manager is a laudable, environmental goal and should be supported. But, backroom deals involving immigration at Vancouver City Hall will negate any of the benefits that might be achieved by these conservation efforts and like-minded efforts in other Canadian cities, says Immigration Watch Canada. Similar immigration deals at the federal level have seriously undermined Canada's ability to meet its Kyoto committments.

Tom Osdioba, Vancouver's Sustainability Manager, has called the Vancouver programme, “One Day”. He says the term means that everyone has to take concrete action at least one day a week to “help the city's sustainability”. He intends to have the first “One Day” coincide with “Car Free Day” which will be celebrated by 100 million people in 1500 cities around the world tomorrow, September 22. Mr. Osdioba says that residents should find an alternative way of getting to work on that day and should try to see some tangible benefit to themselves from this change.

In addition, residents should denote “One Day” every week for continued, similar action, says Mr. Osdioba. Among “One Day's” larger goals is compliance with Vancouver's share in the Kyoto Protocol which obligates Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a level 6% lower than they were in 1990.

Ironically, both before and around the same time as Mr. Osdioba made his announcement, some major backroom deals surfaced which will negate any positive benefits from the “One Day” programme. Larry Campbell, Vancouver's current mayor, said he would not re-run for Mayor. Later, he announced he had accepted an appointment to the country's senate. A federal Liberal supporter, Mr. Campbell had publicly expressed dissatisfaction with his job. The Liberal Party wanted to retain a Liberal-friendly Mayor in Vancouver to replace Campbell.

Their choice for the job is Christy Clark, former B.C. Liberal Cabinet Minister. Co-incidentally, Ms. Clark's husband is a Liberal Party strategist. Also, he is someone who has seen that his wife can get the mayor's nomination for her party by seeking the Liberal-supporting South Asian vote in the city to back her nomination.

The question that has to be asked is this: “What do the South Asians want from the Liberal Party in return?” It is no secret that the South Asians are interested in continued support for current high immigration policies which have seen hundreds of thousands of South Asians arrive in Canada.

As critics have frequently said, most immigrants go to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. There have been serious environmental consequences to bringing such large numbers of people to Canada's three largest urban areas. In one of the three, Greater Vancouver, Census Canada says immigration was responsible for 75% of the population growth between 1991-2001. Statistics from ICBC, the province's publicly owned automobile insurance company, show that, as a rule, for every 2 people who are added to the area's population, 1+ cars are added.

According to Greater Vancouver Regional District figures, the population of the City of Vancouver alone increased from 512, 601 in 1994 to 583,296 in 2004, an increase of roughly 70,000. The number of registered vehicles in the same time period rose from 254, 895 to 304,891, an increase of roughly 50,000. In this period, for every 2 people added to the city's population, 1.7 cars were added.

(The City of Vancouver is one of many communities that compose the Greater Vancouver Regional District. The latter had a human population of over 2.13 million in 2004 and a vehicle population of around 1.4 million. Both figures are higher now.)

Mr. Osdioba and others in his Sustainability Department should take careful note: Since immigration is responsible for 75% of the population growth and, subsequently, for increases in the number of cars in the Greater Vancouver area, he and his department have to consider immigration when creating sustainability initiatives.. It makes no sense for his department to promote such initiatives while Vancouver City Council supports current federal immigration policies which will bring more people and more cars to the city..

One of the more blatant examples which Mr. Osdioba must consider is City Council's appointment of an immigration lawyer to sit as co-chair of the city's Immigration Committee. The appointment is seen as a proverbial placing of the fox in charge of the hen house.The immigration committee and similar groups in Canada's other large cities are supposed to provide immigration advice to their respective Mayors. An immigration lawyer on such a committee is in a clear conflict of interest position.

It would be environmentally wise for Mr. Osdioba's department to lobby City Council to rescind the immigration lawyer's appointment. and to request that City Council pressure the federal government to reduce their unjustifiably-high immigration levels.

Mr. Osdioba's current municipal initiative is environmentally responsible. But lobbying Vancouver City Council would be even more so..

Ironically, Canada's federal government began its mass immigration programme in 1990, the same year that the Kyoto Protocol uses as a reduction target for its goal on CO2 emissions. Canada has said it will reduce its emisions to 6% below its 1990 levels. However, in 1990, Canada's population was 26.6 million. It now stands around 32 million, largely as a result of immigration or of children born to immigrants. These extra 5.5 million people, as well as the people our federal government has said it will continue to bring in during coming years, will make achievement of the Kyoto goal extremely difficult to reach.

As Mr. Osdioba has suggested, it is possible for all Canadians to do their part in the battle against climate change. However, he has to understand the contradictions at his own level of government. Others at the provincial and federal jurisdictions also have to see the contradictions at their levels. Even recent immigrants have to recognize that they have a part to play and that current immigration levels are having negative environmental effects. Recent immigrants also have to admit that a number of Liberal MP's and influential backroom Liberal officials have been engaged in special interest politics at the expense of the broader public interest. Both recent immigrants and Liberals with integrity also have to concede that these policies have to end.

If these things do not happen, all Canadians (including Mr. Osdioba at the lowest of the three governmental levels and Prime Minister Martin at the highest) have to realize that Canada is deceiving itself and all other Kyoto signatories about Canada's environmental committments.