August 22, 2003
[More by Michael Monastyrskyj]
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
Canada isn't what it used to be or perhaps more accurately, Canadians aren't who they used to be.
Earlier this year, Statistics Canada (Canada's Census Bureau) released new data from the 2001 census. The survey shows a country that is being rapidly transformed by immigration. This isn't a surprise to those of us who have been following immigration trends. Still, the new statistics are sobering.
Between 1991 and May 15, 2001 1.8 million people immigrated to Canada, more than in any decade since 1901. The number of foreign born residents is now the highest it has been since 1931. Some 5.4 million or 18.4 percent of Canada's 31 million people were born outside the country. Australia is the only country with a higher proportion, 22 percent, of immigrants in its population. By comparison, on 2000, 11 percent of American residents were born abroad. [Immigration shifts population kaleidoscope, by Erin Anderssen, Globe and Mail, January 22, 2003]
Historically, Canada's immigrants came from Europe. But that has not been true for a long time. Of the nearly 2 million people who arrived in the last decade, 58 percent came from Asia including the Middle East, 20 percent from Europe, 11 percent from the Caribbean, Central and South America, 8 percent from Africa and 3 percent from the US.
Mainland China was the leading country of birth among immigrants in the 1990s.
Not surprisingly, there are now more than one million Chinese in Canada, making them the country's largest "visible minority" (Ottawa-speak for non-white) group. [Chinese population balloons, by Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star, January 22, 2003] Immigrants from the Indian sub-continent are also approaching a million. In all, 13.4 per cent of Canada's population is non-white, not including aboriginals (North American Indians) who also number close to a million (976,300).
Immigration enthusiasts like to say Canada is an empty country that needs more people. This ignores the fact that a full 94 percent of the newcomers who arrived in the last decade settled in metropolitan areas. Nearly three quarters of all immigrants go to just three cities Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Some 43 percent,or 792, 000 immigrants, settled in Toronto alone.
Canada may seem empty when you are driving along a highway in the middle of the prairies. But it looks awfully crowded when you are stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic on one of Toronto's sluggish expressways. (Traffic bad and getting even worse, Toronto Star, January 20)
A more plausible reason for Canada's immigration disaster was suggested by Martin Collacott, the retired Canadian diplomat whose seminal critique [PDF] of current policy for the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute is one of a number of signs of gathering public unease:
"The government's principal reason for promoting high immigration levels is the belief that most newcomers will vote for the [governing] Liberal Party."
Michael Monastyrskyj (email him) lives in Toronto and knows about those rush hours.