I wonder if the time has come for a re-think on immigration from those of us on the center, center-left. I read an interesting piece today that makes some strong points:
Canada's livable cities are an unsung national asset. One of the things that makes them special is the presence of immigrants from all over the world who have contributed new energy and cultural diversity. But, in immigration as in everything else, too much of a good thing isn't better. Ottawa's policy of mass immigration, for which no reasonable explanation has ever been offered, risks doing irreparable damage to our cities...
There is no reason why Canada should have far more immigration than any other country. Canada's existing population is younger than those of most other developed countries and its ratio of working age people to retired ones is higher. If Canada reverted to its traditional, more moderate, immigration program, it could continue to enjoy the benefits of immigration while sparing its cities the problems of unmanageable growth. Immigrants would benefit too. Their economic performance has been in free fall over the past 15 years...
Ontario's environment commissioner, Gord Miller, issued a warning last year about what the future holds for Toronto given current trends:
"The environmental impacts of this magnitude of growth ... will compromise the quality of our lifestyle to a stage where it will be unrecognizable," he said. "We already have trouble dealing with our waste right now ... What about another 4 million tonnes a year? What about another 4 million cars?"
There is an inherent contradiction in the NDP's excellent environmental package and its attitude towards immigration. It is simply counter-intuitive to think we can reduce emissions, while our population explodes. Many municipalities already have massive problems as it relates to water availability, garbage and affordable housing. Constant debates over new sources of electrical power to feed the growing demand. Insane gridlock on infastructures that can't accommodate increased volumes. Health care systems pushed to the max, with no relief in site. Pristine areas bulldozed to accommodate urban sprawl.
If quality of life is the central theme, as it should be, this formula demands a responsible immigration policy. Immigration must be tied to practicality, not some ideal notion of how we view our society. I don't think there is any question that we have now reached a stage where an inverse relationship exists between environmental health and immigration levels. With this reality in mind, liberals need to re-think our kneejerk stances on immigration, because the present policies have failed. There is a certain amount of political bravery needed to change course, as pandering is clearly part of the problem. However, I see it as a moral imperative to adopt the slowdown philosophy, while we catch our breath and quit exasperating the obvious environmental costs.