Saturday, April 14, 2018


"To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith."
"Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada".
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Twitter

"Public support often aided by a diversity of prominent stakeholders] is indispensable."
"But there could be a tipping point that, once reached, undermines the history of relative Canadian consensus."
"Engagement with the Canadian public is necessary, however, any high-profile debate will have to be carefully managed."
Immigration Department internal data briefing

"About 30 percent of Canadians think immigration levels are too high ... There's a cluster of people who are simply opposed."
"At the other extreme, there's another group who are super-keen."
"In the middle are what we call the conditional multiculturalists. They are, in principle, comfortable with [immigration], but subject to a whole set of qualifications which really turn on whether it is working."
Keith Banting, research chair, public policy, Queen's University

The briefing notes were prepared to enable a committee of deputy ministers in the federal government to fully comprehend that among usually compliant and amenable Canadians there are limits to the numbers of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers they feel can be absorbed and assimilated into the Canadian population, taking into account all manner of important details; whether the culture might be compatible with Canada's, the economic cost of absorbing them, and the potential of destabilization in the process, among them.

These are all issues that politicians are normally very sensitive to, for longevity purposes of their own governance, in reflecting the public pulse on any given issue, much less one as vital to Canada's future in its population make-up and the numbers that can be safely integrated. A majority of Canadians, the briefing clearly pointed out, do support immigration levels -- but at a level they are comfortable with. When those supporters are informed of increasing numbers their comfort level drops in lock-step with the rise of the incoming.

Polling data reveals that slightly over 50 percent of Canadians feel that the number of immigrants permitted to arrive in Canada annually is "about right", a number that has bee consistent since 2012. On the  other hand, most of that slight majority believe the immigrant number arriving yearly  to be under 150,000. Once informed that the true number had been 260,000 for the past number of years, those who claimed it to be "too many" increased to 32 percent from 23 percent.

Hardening attitudes caused by events taking place in other countries where immigration and refugee numbers have swamped Europe, for example, causing unrest and fears for the future, alongside attitudes of empathy for the plight of refugees fleeing violence and conflict arise and clash with one another in public opinion. Economic downturns and feelings of disenfranchisement auger ill, however, for support of greater numbers.

The current Liberal government released its three-year immigration strategy late in 2017, planning for incremental increases to levels of immigration over the next three years. Advocates for increasing immigration  levels urge that greater numbers be allowed to enter Canada for more significant increases. The government's more 'measured' approach, pointed out Dr. Banting, reflects fears of a public "backlash".

One horrific event that took place in Quebec a year and a half ago was a violent assault on a mosque in which six worshippers were shot to death and others severely injured, when a perturbed and unstable young man in the throes of a mental crisis interpreted rising immigration levels as an existential threat to himself and his family personally, and sought to minimize it by terrorizing and killing Muslims as he had noted Muslims to have done  to those like himself, in Europe.
"When I saw that [an announcement that Canada was preparing to accept refugees the U.S. was turning away] I lost it. I was like, sure that they were going to come and kill my parents also, and my family. I was sure about that ... that's why, that's why I had to do something."
Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, mass killer, Quebec
The shadow of Norway's Anders Behring Breivik

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