Long overdue

Without doubt, for many decades the Ministry of Immigration has been among the worst branches of the federal government. Its incompetence epitomizes the troubles of bureaucracy. Unfortunately, all that was compounded by the cynical direction of the government of the day. Clearly, reforms are long overdue.

In the l970s, the Liberal government loosened the reins on immigration, probably because it hoped that new immigrants and their families would show their gratitude by voting for them.

Those who claimed refugee status were told to reappear several months later for a review of their situation. Most of them disappeared and were never apprehended. Then, the government admitted immigrants’ families who otherwise at no time would have qualified for immigration status.

The final part of that unhappy story took place when boatloads of Tamils landed on our West Coast, trying to gain admittance without any proper papers. The federal government claimed it was helpless to take any preventative measures. (It is noteworthy that Australia simply refused to let boatloads of immigrants land on their shores. Similarly, during the Second World War Canada refused to admit genuine Jewish refugees.)

In the l950s, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, widely recognized as sympathetic to refugees as a group, drastically reduced the number of immigrants as the business recession restricted employment opportunities.

Canada has long been known as one of the world’s most easily accessible countries for immigrants. It was stated repeatedly that as the world’s second largest nation, we needed to fill our open spaces. Also, we required an infusion of wage earners to sustain our pension system in view of our aging population.

Hence, immigrants poured into Canada, many with few skills and from lands and cultures that made assimilation difficult. The profile of our population changed radically, particularly in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Multiculturalism became the “in” thing.

Nowadays, at last the Stephen Harper administration is changing that, giving priority to those with skills rather than the so-called needy. The refugee intake has been cut by over one-third, and visa requirements now are imposed on those from Mexico, for example. Our restraints pale in comparison with the retreat from multiculturalism underway in parts of Europe.

A report on national security published three months ago by the Macdonald Laurier Institute, a non-partisan group, cited “uncontrolled immigration” as one of three threats to Canada, alluding to trouble finding accommodation, among other obstacles.

There is a developing backlash against immigration in Canada, aggravated by the recession and large numbers of job seekers. Certainly, if Prime Minister Diefenbaker, a friend of minorities, could take the necessary restrictive steps to curtail immigration, we now can and must do the same. Otherwise, all kinds of trouble may ensue.


Bruce Whitestone