This essay first appeared in The Civil Conversation, the January 2020 edition of the e-newsletter of Civitas Canada in response to Rahim Mohamed, a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wake Forest University.
A CIVITAS DIALECTIC: DEBATING CANADA’S IMMIGRATION POLICY
Be it resolved that: Canada is taking too many immigrants and is not taking the right ones. For the affirmative: Ezra Levant, Rebel Commander, Rebel Media:
“I like Rahim Mohamed” — Canada needs immigrants who share our values!
I like Rahim Mohamed and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to debate immigration with him at the Civitas conference. I like every Rahim I’ve ever met including Rahim Jaffer, the first Muslim MP in Canada, an election for which I will claim some credit. Rahim is a traditional Ismaili Muslim name, and it means “mercy”, which happens to be a Canadian value. Mercy was not a Ugandan value under Idi Amin, the racist dictator who expelled the Ismailis.
I’m glad Canada took in Ismailis, who are secular, educated, integrated in the wider community and grateful to have been rescued. I’m glad Canada did not take in Amin and his henchmen, who were Muslim too. The difference in my thinking is not based on skin colour or country of origin.
We need to be more discriminating about who we take as a country. We need to screen for compatibility — to preserve and continue the best things about Canada. That’s not about race. Like the Ismailis in the 1970s, I can imagine no finer immigrant to Canada in 2020 than the passionate democracy protesters in Hong Kong, who are well-educated, speak English, eschew the welfare state and love our democratic values. But Canada does not sort for compatibility on cultural issues. We are importing countless immigrants who don’t share our views on the equality of men and women, a belief in pluralism or the separation of mosque and state. Canadians are noticing.
Honour murders and shocking anti-Semitism are un-Canadian but they are the norm in countries like Somalia and Syria. If we don’t screen for those ideas — and how could we? Most immigrants don't have an in-person interview — why should it be a surprise when those values are transplanted here? There are so many rapes by Muslim cab drivers in Halifax, police have stopped describing the suspects. Back in low-trust societies, a drunk girl out at midnight without a male guardian is asking for it. That thinking is incompatible with us.
We need to be more discriminating to ensure the best success for the immigrants’ sake, too. Four years after Justin Trudeau’s disastrous scheme to fast-track 50,000 Syrian migrants — almost none of whom actually came from Syria — the number of government-sponsored Syrians who are still unemployed is near 90%. Other than lavish social services, how are they better off now than they were in Beirut or Amman, or even returning to a pacified Damascus?
That goes to the quality of immigration. But we need to talk about the quantity, too. Trudeau and his former immigration minister, Ahmed Hussen, have proposed more than a million migrants over the next three years, most of whom they say will not be economically productive. Some will be refugees, but more will be unemployable relatives brought to Canada through chain migration, including elderly parents ready for our pensions and hospitals.
Don’t call people racist for opposing indiscriminate, mass immigration. Don’t do that intellectually because it’s (usually) not true. And don’t do it politically because it’s a losing campaign strategy, especially for conservatives. It’s what woke leftists do. The Media Party loves it. But falsely calling people racist is a reason why Jeremy Corbyn lost working class seats that had been Labour for a century and why Hillary Clinton lost the “deplorables” of the rust belt for the first time in a generation. Insulting voters usually doesn’t work — especially on immigration.
The definition of discrimination means to choose. We need to be choosier. Let’s choose immigrants who are in Canada’s interests. And if we also choose to take some refugees from the world’s worst places, let us choose the lambs, not the wolves. As Daniel Pipes says, “radical Islam is the problem; moderate Islam is the solution.”
Let’s choose immigrants who are in Canada’s interests. And if we also choose to take some refugees from the world’s worst places, let us choose the lambs, not the wolves.
Right now we don’t discriminate at all. At Roxham Road in upstate New York, literally anyone who walks past the sign saying “Illegal Entry” gets right in to Quebec — and typically that’s single, military-aged men, who obviously just came through America, a safe country. Who on earth would choose them as “refugees,” over women and children in actual jeopardy?
But enough about what foreigners want. How about what Canadians want? Angus Reid says Canadian support for increased immigration is at an all-time low — 6%. The startling success of Francois Legault’s CAQ party in 2018 came by promising a significant reduction in immigration and a ban on religious symbols in the civil service. The 2019 revival of the Bloc Quebecois was, in part, Quebec’s federal restatement of those provincial plans.
Angus Reid has tested Quebec’s burka ban and other policy proposals nation-wide. They have the support of every province and every demographic group. It’s not racism; but it is a proxy for wider questions about immigration, because the ubiquity of burkas and hijabs is a reminder that a Canadian value — the equality of men and women — is being undone, and no-one ever asked us.
A few days before Rosemary Barton filed her lawsuit against the Conservatives, Andrew Scheer sat down for an interview with her, in which she pressed him on how many immigrants he’d accept if he were prime minister. Scheer dodged the question several times, but finally collapsed and agreed that Trudeau’s figure of 350,000 migrants a year was “reasonable”. Scheer had never expressed that publicly before; it wasn’t in his campaign platform. He just blurted it out in the moment, to avoid being called racist. Scheer said what the fancy people wanted him to say — not unemployed oil workers or auto workers wondering why a thousand more low-skilled workers a day are being brought to Canada to compete for jobs.
But Scheer was still called racist. The highest-migration ridings still voted Liberal. Hussen held campaign rallies in York South Weston in the Somali language; those migrants didn’t seem moved by Scheer’s capitulation. That is a strong reason why Liberals support mass migration. But it’s not in the country’s interest and certainly not in a Conservative’s interest.
Mass immigration drives down wages. It drives up the cost of housing. It adds pressure to social services like hospitals and schools. It makes traffic worse. It puts stress on social services like hospital waiting rooms and schools, and has overwhelmed Canada’s food banks and homeless shelters. It pushes out Canadian students from universities in favour of foreign students and drives up tuition for those who can get in.
High immigration is good for banks and cell phone companies and condo developers and corporations looking for cheap labour at Tim Hortons. But it’s not good for young Canadians trying to start a family and earn an honest living.
There are some issues where the entire political establishment is just wrong, and the people are right. Immigration is one of them. Francois Legault figured that out. Let’s hope the next Conservative Party leader can, too.