January 4, 2006: Open Doors, Closed Minds (By Martin Collacott in The Ottawa Citizen) (Canada's opposition parties are afraid to ask important questions about immigration. The Liberal Party manufactures rationalizations which cannot stand up to a reality check.)
Open doors, closed minds
Martin Collacott, Citizen Special
Published: Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Fearful of smear campaigns linking immigration curbs to racism, the opposition parties are not asking the right questions
The Liberals, meanwhile, have had no reservations about producing rationalizations for high levels of immigration. They argue that it is necessary to support our aging population, though it has been definitively shown that it has no practical value in this regard. They claim that a growing population fueled by immigration is critical to Canada's prosperity when, in fact, our economic well-being depends on sound economic policies and increases in productivity. Canadians in our larger cities are increasingly aware of the growing congestion and pollution as well as stress on health and education services brought about by their burgeoning populations fuelled by immigration.
What the opposition parties have failed to grasp is that there are legitimate questions about immigration that the public wants to have discussed. These question, if framed the right way, will increase rather than lose electoral support. A party with the courage to take on this challenge has to make abundantly clear that it is not anti-immigrant but only concerned that immigration policy serves the best interests of Canadians as well as newcomers. It must also leave no doubt that its approach to immigration policy will in no way compromise the policy of welcoming equally people of every colour and ethnic background from around the world.
Canadians will increasingly demand such debate. If the current opposition parties are not up to the task, others will no doubt emerge who are better prepared to do so.
Martin Collacott lives in Vancouver and is a former ambassador to countries in Asia and the Middle East.
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Many of the most important issues in federal politics are forgotten at election time. The Citizen has asked several prominent pundits to profile the issues they hope will get more attention during the remainder of the election campaign.
The Ottawa Citizen 2006