It is logically contradictory for pro-immigrationists to argue that immigrants should be afforded all the rights that people in their adopted country enjoy, then to argue that they do not have the same right to insist on a sustainable population. Do people in a theatre forfeit the right to complain that the theatre or restaurant manager has allowed it to become too crowded, that the number of patrons has obviously exceeded safety?
A great many immigrants have come to understand that mass immigration is bad for Canada, but feel constrained in making their feelings known in deference to a common refrain: “So now that you’re here, you want to pull up the ladder.” One long-time middle-aged friend, whose mild mid-Atlantic accent betrays the fact that he moved to Canada with his parents as a twelve year old, is particularly sensitive to that charge. I don’t think he should be. And I don’t think anyone is right to reproach him for having what they believe to be an “I’m-alright-Jack” attitude.
Club Canada - No second class members
I don’t think an immigrant with or without a foreign accent should be disqualified as a credible critic of immigration policy. Arguments of that nature are the inverse of Groucho Marx's famous remark that he would not belong to any club that would accept him as a member. They don’t make sense. If you were admitted to the club, you are a club member and should have all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of other club members. There should be no second-class club members. And all club members should have the right---and the responsibility---to shape and revise club policies including who should or should not be able to join in the future. Maybe club facilities are already over-used. Maybe the club can no longer pay for them. Maybe the club should raise its admission standards. Those are decisions which all club members should have the right to participate in.
Rights and Responsibilities
It is logically contradictory for pro-immigrationists to argue, on the one hand, that immigrants should be afforded all the rights that other Canadians enjoy, but on the other hand, to argue that they do not have the same right to criticize immigration policy as other Canadians have. Do people who enter a theatre or a restaurant forfeit the right to complain at some point later that the theatre or restaurant manager has allowed it to become too crowded, that is, that the number of patrons has obviously exceeded the number the fire marshal has determined as safe? And do not people who feel sorry for those left standing outside in the rain have the option of giving up their seat and leaving the premises so that one of those outsiders may come in and take their place? Who is being hypocritical here?
Beware of overloading
There have been times when I found myself in an elevator that was packed with so many people that my face was almost pressed against the wall. On some of those occassions, when I was within reach of the panel, I pressed the "close door" button in an attempt to prevent more people from trying to enter. Was I being a hypocrite? After all, I too was once standing in the lobby, wanting to get into the elevator, and aspiring to reach a higher floor. How could I have something against aspiring elevator passengers? As I said, I was one myself. Or my father or grandfather once aspired to be passengers of the elevator too, and the door was open for them. All of us, we are told, are from "the lobby" or are descended from people who came from the lobby. We---Canada---- are an elevator of former lobby occupants, as we are reminded over and over again. So we don’t have a moral right to close our doors to people who wish to follow us. Or so goes the reasoning.
Solidarity among passengers
But the point is that once on board, I have a right to safety, and if more people were allowed on the elevator, it would not serve their interests or mine to have the cable snap. And for the record, I am not against passengers who just got on board. I am against any policy that would keep the elevator door open to allow more passengers than the elevator can handle. How many people an elevator can carry is a question that should be informed by scientific analysis. In Canada, 25 of Canada's top scientists---the Science Council of Canada---determined in their Report No. 25 that future resource constraints would make it unwise to go much beyond 30 million people, that we should slow our population growth rate so that there were not diminishing economic returns with each increment of population growth. And in 1997, another group of scientists, led by UBC's Dr. Michael Healey, concluded that Canada needed a "Population Plan" so that our growing urban centres did not inflict the same kind of ecological damage that his team of researchers found in the Fraser Basin. But alas, those warnings have been ignored, and Canada, according to the last two Census reports, has for the last decade, been packing its elevator at a rate higher than any other country in the G8 group.
I am for closing the elevator door. But what if I closed the door because I noticed that most of the people in the lobby were non-white? What if I closed it because I am a bigot? That may be a bad reason, but it wouldn't discredit the most relevant one----that the elevator has a limited carrying capacity. Bad character does not preclude correct judgment. The right decision can be made for the wrong reasons by wrong-headed people.
Some bad reasons for overloading Canada
Imagine though, if someone had a vested interest in cramming as many passengers as they could into that elevator. Imagine if some were able to charge elevator entrants a fee. Imagine if some on board were salesmen who thought that they would have more opportunities to sell more of their products if more potential customers were allowed to come in. Imagine if some were temporally blind and thought that the elevator had more space than was safely available or that they couldn't understand that the law of gravity and other biophyical laws trumped all other considerations . Imagine if some believed that there might be a technological advance that may increase the capacity of the elevator. ("Some one will think of something, after all, they always have..). Imagine if some were Greens who told us that the elevator could take on more people if only we weren’t so greedy and went on a crash diet and lost weight. ("Move over, squeeze tighter, and keep on squeezing so that more and more people can share our bounty") And imagine further if these people with a vested interest in packing the elevator with more people noticed that most of the people in the lobby were non-white and that the best way to get them in was to accuse me and those like me who would close the door of being right wing looneys, racists , xenophobes or bigots.
Your right and duty to speak up
You really wouldn't have to imagine that scenario, would you, because as a resident of Canada with a ring-side seat to political correctness, censorship, blacklisting, character-assassination, guilt-by-association, and the social ostracism of those who challenge orthodoxy, you would realize that you are seeing it unfold before your eyes. Our political culture is inimical to reasonable discussion and education in the fundamentals of math and logic.
The truth is, in Canada it is socially outrageous to state that, like elevators, theatres or restaurants, Canada has a limited carrying capacity. There is a limit to growth. And somehow, when immigrants say that, it seem s even more outrageous. It shouldn’t be. Speaking the truth never should.
February 11, 2012