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Monday, October 25, 2004

Public Tender: Paving, Road to Hell Mile 1

The Ottawa Citizen today offers the following, The making of Canada's 'immigrant underclass':

"For the average male immigrant who came to this country in the 1970s, life was good. Within five years, his chances of being unemployed were lower than those of Canadian-born men. Within 10 years, his yearly earnings caught up to those of the typical Canadian.

But the past two decades have seen a dramatic reversal of fortune."

Let's key in on the gerund in the headline "The making..." Who made this "immigrant underclass?" It's our country, so hey, we did! Two decades, that's (wait, let me get out my calculator, 2*10...) 20 years. But look, Canada officially adopted its multicultural policy in 1971; that's 33 years.

Multiculturalism is basically government support for the notion that immigrants keep their culture when they come to Canada while at the same time assimilating into the mainstream. Though this seems somewhat contradictory, I think the intentions here are basically good. Immigrants keep in contact with members of a community from their homeland so they don't feel isolated and homesick, with the government giving them money to support any activities they might dream up. "Mainstream"--as it is sometimes called--middle class Canada does like the spicy foods at Heritage festivals and loves those colourful parades. So it's good for us, and it's good for them, this multicultural thing. Mainstream Canadians also know that to criticize official multiculturalism--no matter how pure your motives, even if your intention is to truly help immigrants assimilate--gets you quickly branded as a "racist", so let's not go there.

Back to the Citizen story:

Paradoxically, the deterioration of their economic conditions has occurred during a time when immigrants are coming to Canada with more academic credentials than any of their predecessors. The percentage of newly arrived immigrants with a university degree rose to 34.1 per cent in 2000 from 7.6 per cent in 1980...

Yes, that is curious, and it is a paradox.
There's no doubt immigrants have suffered economically in Canada during the past decade, [University of Toronto sociologist Monica] Boyd says. But it could be that immigrants clustered in Toronto and Vancouver compete against each other, limiting job opportunities, driving down wages and inflating real estate, essentially creating an artificial barrier to their own success.

So, according to Ms. Boyd, they are competing within their own communities. Sounds like multiculturalism to me, at one half of the equation, the part about keeping their identity and culture by maintaining contact with members of their own community.

In all seriousness, I don't know whether official multiculturalism has had any impact on this situation, but the timeline presented in this story certainly suggests that for most of its existence and up until the present day it hasn't helped. Perhaps everything was going along more or less fine. It wasn't perfect, but it was okay and people worked things out for themselves. Then, in 1971 the government got involved. Thirteen years after the bureaucrats jumped on board things started going downhill and that's the direction they are rolling today.

I dunno, whaddya say? Thanks for the good intentions, I guess.

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 25, 2004 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Your post actually highlighted the problem. The average education of immigrants rose as the result of harsher immigration policies that had tougher eductional/financial requirements. At the same time, these foreign professionals (e.g., doctors, pharmacists, etc.) are prevented from working in their field.

So, we are left in the position of needing workers in virtually all trades, but not letting the immigrants with experience in these jobs into the country because of a lack of university education, and we let in university educated immigrants but don't let them work in their field.

It is immigration policy, not multiculturalism that is the problem.

Posted by: k | 2004-10-25 10:11:43 AM

K's comment sums it up. What is the point of Canada's cherry picking immigration policy if the doctors and engineers who are admitted are then prevented from practicing the very professions for which they were welcomed? This isn't just feel-good do-nothing hypocrisy. It is an all too typical incompetence.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea | 2004-10-25 10:15:56 AM

Multiculturalism has nothing to do with "good intentions". It has everything to do with maintaining immigrants in unassimilated ethnic groups for as long as possible, so that their votes can be bought by simply concentrating money on their ethnic leaders. Unassimilated people won't get any funny ideas about striking out on their own and actually making their country a better place. How many people living in Chinatown or Little Uzbekistan do you think have even heard of the Western Standard?

And why do we have the most highest immigration rate of any nation on earth, probably in all of history? Because massive government welfare requires massive taxation, and that makes raising kids too expensive and too time consuming, since Mom had to go out and work. Plus, the (false) promises of a social safety net for their old age removed the necessity that some people felt, to have a decent size family so that there will be someone to look after them in their dotage.

So we stopped having kids, but we owe a gigantic generational debt to our elders.

[snaps fingers] I know! We'll just bring in a bunch of people from somewhere else!

Unfortunately it isn't going to work ... all those people are clustered in ghettoes in the big cities not only because of multiculturism policies which keep them unassimilated and unqualified, but because the business climate outside of the cities is so pathetic (read: dominated by tax-happy leftist thugs in the government, unions and bureaucracy) that it's getting harder and harder to start a real business, and easier and easier to export jobs to cheaper and less restrictive countries. So unless we reverse the burdens of government and taxation NOW (better yet 20 years ago), there's no freaking way we will be able to maintain anything even close to our current standard of living.

And when I say "we" I mean, "those of us without sterling connections to the Liberal party".

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2004-10-25 9:45:58 PM

I think immigration rates must be a factor. A community can happily assimilate some number of people. If the number of immigrants is higher than this number, the community will start to be stressed.

For example, in the eighties, Canadian english teachers in Japan were welcomed and given lavish attention. By the early nineties, ESL teachers in the cities were no longer getting all that positive attention. Talking to a foreigner was no longer fun or novel and dealing with us was kind of annoying. ESL teachers in the smaller towns were still well recieved because they were still rare.

Posted by: Pete E | 2004-10-27 12:54:27 AM

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