Is Harper Following The Howard Game Plan?

By Tim Murray

I seem to recall that Australia’s one-man wrecking crew, former PM John Howard, successfully exploited public anger over boat-loads of refugees to Australia by making a show of his hard line crackdown. He then used that stance as a screen to jack up immigration levels to stratospheric heights.

Well, it seems that the Stephen Harper government is taking the same tack : Use the refugee issue as a decoy and a lightening rod so that an even higher number of migrants can be waived through the airport. Legislation to stop human smuggling is not about curbing immigration to more sustainable levels, levels that would permit cultural integration and ecological recuperation from the two-decade demographic assault Canada has suffered since 1990. It is about quelling growing public anger so that it does not threaten the great unquestioned project of unsustainable economic growth, which all major parties wrongly believe is dependent on population growth.

It is not just Canada’s refugee system that is out of control. It is immigration that is out of control. Making scapegoats out of phoney refugees and the slime who smuggle them takes the heat off an immigration policy based on economic folly and cynical political empire-building. And the Prime Minister knows it. He wants more immigration, not less.

And if the opposition parties, who share his mad dream, were smart, they would accede to his inadequate bill, because it appeases misplaced public wrath. Canadians could then be given the false assurance that everything is now “under control”, when, in fact, immigrant-driven population growth will be more out-of-control than ever.

While I support the government’s half-measures—as far as they go—- I wonder if by applying a band-aid we might forget that we need major surgery. It is imperative to clean up the refugee mess, but that alone is not sufficient. Canada’s population should be stabilized and reduced, and to do that, immigration levels should be cut to 50,000 per year. Within that allotment, however, our intake of legitimate refugees could and should make up a larger proportion of newcomers than they presently do. We could assign an even higher priority to assisting real refugees without continuing to fuel our unsustainable population growth rate.

Harper’s comments, recorded in the news report titled “Human smuggling threatens Canada support for immigration: PM”, make his motives clear.

“A failure to act and act strongly (against human smugglers) will inevitably lead to a massive collapse in public support for our immigration system…. Not only do we have, relatively speaking, the largest immigration program in the world; not only do we have the most generous system of sanctuary for refugees in the world — we also have a level of public support for immigration that is unparalleled elsewhere in the world,” Harper said. “And that must continue, because our economy will need even more immigrants.”

There it is. Unless there is substantial guile in Harper’s speech, his words sound much like the Howard game-plan.


(To see the complete report on Harper’s speech, see