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Elizabeth May caught in a logical trap of her own making

The Green contradiction

For years Green Party leader Elizabeth May has been telling us that there are no ecological consequences from mass immigration. Canada should persist with its "great multicultural project" and aim for an immigration intake equivalent to 1% of its population level, a target that would surpass our current quota by some 70,000 migrants even though this country is already the fastest growing country in the G8 group. That we could suffer this growth without losses to biodiversity, farmland, and air quality is both counter-intuitive and empirically refutable.

May's great escape hatch, of course, is "land use planning", the same nostrum parroted by the Growth Management Industry, the NDP, the environmental NGOs, the "progressive" developers---everyone in denial who would have us believe that we can have our cake and eat it too. We can leave the tap of population growth turned on full blast while deflecting the flood away from sensitive areas.

The accent then, is not on "whether" we grow---because, after all, growth is "inevitable", especially if you keep holding the immigration floodgates open. No, the accent is on "how" we grow. And we should grow "inwards", by packing people like sheep behind tightly defined urban boundaries. Tall rabbit warrens (highrises). Infils. No more sprawl. Never mind that people who live in high density zones have high or even higher footprints too, or eventually burst the seams and colonize outlying greenbelts (hello Portland, Oregon). Or that impregnable nature reserves buckle under the population and economic pressure. And isn't it curious that the pricey urban planners, politicians and yuppie environmentalists who prescribe compact living for the working poor and middle class in Canadian cities, seem to have expensive lakeside or waterfront retreats to draw their mental sustenance from? Do as I say and not as I do?

Elizabeth May re-affirmed her commitment to "smart growth" in a CBC interview on September 14, 2008 when she stated that immigration was a problem only if land use planning was not employed, that is, by implication, if Canadians are concentrated and not dispersed, environmental damaged is minimized. An illusion of the highest magnitude.

Suddenly though, May made a startling logical about face. In responding to a caller's question she remarked that the volume of immigration is not an issue, immigrants simply need to be spread out more. She pointed out that rural areas are losing people and could benefit from immigration. "Just as there areas receiving an influx strains the fabric of an urban area, there are areas of Canada experiencing serious problems of depopulation where it would be fabulous to have the programs that ensured that more immigrants moved into places like rural Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia." But she didn't say what she would do with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which allows immigrants to settle anywhere they want in Canada, nor did she explain why immigrants would rather freeze in rural Saskatchewan than have a more comfortable life in the Fraser Valley or once induced to live in rural or northern Canada, would not eventually move south to the over-stressed cities. Dan Murray of Immigration Watch Canada commented,

"Ms. May says that the problem of environmental degradation in Canada's major immigrant-receiving areas (especially Southern Ontario and Metro Vancouver) can be solved by sending those immigrants to rural Canada. The big problem with this approach is that it is naive. Many people have left rural Canada because there are no economic opportunities there. So why send immigrants there if they too will soon have to leave? In fact, why bring most of them to Canada in the first place?"

So there you are. A Green Party leader who doesn't have her story straight. She wants both higher density and greater dispersal. She wants people packed closely together out of harm's way, away from our natural bounty, but she wants to relieve the pressure from our bulging urban centres choking from the growth forced on them by 18 years of runaway mass immigration. Smart growth and dumb growth at once. That's the Green Party of Canada. Under the thin green paint, it's a muddled mixture of trendy slogans that don't stand up to scrutiny.

Tim Murray,
Quadra Island, BC
September 16, 2008

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