A reality check

With tens of thousands refugees-immigrants coming to Canada this year concerns have been expressed that all this will entail rising strains on our education and welfare systems, depressing our economy, and adversely affecting the general population in a number of ways. History shows that those worries are misplaced. All but forgotten in this issue is the truism that it is far more beneficial to give than to receive.  As we grow up most of us realize that fact.  However, too often we are adversely affected by a lack of knowledge.

Take, for instance, a belief that the immigrants provide a disproportionate share of criminal behaviour. In the U.S. election campaign Donald Trump has said that Mexico is sending northward rapists, drug dealers, and all manner of criminals. That is nonsense. Incarceration among foreign born in the U.S. is 1.3 percent of the population representing less than half of the 3.8 percent of native born U.S. population.  Clearly, immigrants are more law abiding.

A visit to the library of our universities graphically shows that the computer rooms are mostly comprised of Asian youngsters sitting at computers. Teachers also report that foreign born students are far more anxious to learn than the others.

Immigrants contribute much more to the economy than they receive from the government. Refugees often are compelled to take low paying menial jobs in absence of other opportunities, while in many instances native born Canadians shun that work in favour of taking unemployment insurance or welfare payments. This columnist’s son began his teaching career at a school filled with native-born Canadians and reported that the latter were rude, generally disinterested in learning and performed poorly. On the other hand, refugees contribute far more than they receive.  Many refugees come from closely knit families where the parents are eager to help their children cope with homework.

History again reveals that failure to accept and work with immigrants is counter-productive.

In Nazi Germany refugees were badly treated and ignored. Hence, the atomic bomb was discovered by many immigrants whom the Nazis refused to accept like Einstein and Fermi.

John Ralston Saul, a well-known writer, discussed the humble origins of his forbearers. However, they surmounted illiteracy, poverty, and a lack of opportunity by working very diligently. The result was an illustrious family, including Adrian Clarkson, a former Canadian governor general.

The Roman Emperors treated foreigners with disdain but eventually, of course, they succeeded while the rest of the population treated non Romans as “barbarians.”

Too many of us look down on foreigners.  John Diefenbaker was shunted aside by established Canadians who let him become leader as they assumed that he was sure to fail and the in-group would resume control of the party that had lost election after election. 

We must act aggressively to ensure that refugees-immigrants be given every opportunity to succeed, for their sake and ours too.



Bruce Whitestone