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An open society, Canada’s best response to immigration (vancouversun.com)
47 points by swsieber 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments





As an immigrant in Canada (normal process, not refugee) I can say the process is fair, especially compared to other countries (see neighbor). The requirement on language makes sense and also the minimum amount of savings and no dangerous disease. Basically you are set to successfully start out.

Just talking about my experience, but after living in other 3 countries, the openness of Canadians to immigrants and the culture that they bring in is astonishing. This is probably why everyone I know that immigrated to Canada had respect for the country from the start. Cannot say the same for most other countries.

I feel like the fast (at least in immigration terms) response that the Canadian government gives speeds up the integration and lowers worry about future uncertainty.


Sadly Canadian points-based system is a non starter with Democrats and some nativist Republicans in the US.

Worth clarifying in case you're unfamiliar with the Canadian system: There is a points-based program for economic migration, but there are also other immigration avenues (e.g. family reunification) and appeal processes (e.g. based on established connection to Canada) that are not points based.

(In 2018, just over half of immigration to Canada was via points system, with 28% and 14% family reunification and refugees respectively. [0])

The points based system isn't a panacea. As a Canadian, I see it as a tradeoff: I dislike the fact that it makes access to Canada easier for the wealthy and privileged, but it's transparent and predictable and (hopefully) aligned with the skills that help immigrants succeed.

I'm no expert, but there are other differences you could look at. For example, having family in your community is a strong predictor of economic success for immigrants, so if you really care about successful integration, you might want to prioritize family reunification. It feels like the Canadian and US discourse on this have started to diverge. ("chain migration"?)

In any case, a complicated topic. [1] I certainly don't know what system is best. But I feel it's a bit reductive to only focus on the point-based aspect.

[0] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/ca... [1] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/co...


You just have to hope that the new generation is better...

It's very possible that left wing social liberalism has jumped the shark and hard core right wing social conservatism is on the menu going forward. Evidence for this is Trump, states passing ridiculous abortion laws, nativism, etc. That we are switching from the Dionysian to the Apollonian.

Are you in one of the major cities?

He said Vancouver below, I guess what you're insinuating that there is less acceptance and occasional vitriol in less diverse regions of Canada? I think even then Canada is broadly more accepting. At least personally, there's many anecdotes of racist incidents among my POC / immigrant friends who studied or worked in major urban centres in other western countries.

It seems pretty rare in Canada and even then those incidents were within the last few years when the overton window moved all over the west. Multiple accounts of immigrants from Asian countries who lived in Toronto 30 years+ never experienced any outward racism get told to go back to their country recently. It's pretty surreal.


I'm not insinuating that, I'm flat out stating it. I've lived in Canada in several places and the amount of overt racism outside of the major cities is shocking.

Vancouver

I feel most American big cities are very welcoming to immigrants too, but much less so in rural areas... Do you still feel welcomed in rural areas in Canada?

Haven’t been much, met people from the boonies and they were all friendly. Although easy in my case, nowadays you say “Italian” and mostly everyone thinks pizza-pasta-fashion-boom-done.

Also theory of my Canadian friends is that all the anger Canadians might have is taken out at the hockey ice rink!

In the end hatred comes from ignorance, big cities are better because people interact and realize humans from somewhere else are in fact still humans.


As an American living in Canada, I'd say the rural-urban divide is more-or-less the same in Canada.

It can be pretty rough in places. People seem to forget that Trailer Park Boys and Letterkenny are set in Canada. The Wolverine's (X-Men) backstory involves cage fighting in Northern Alberta -- which is absolutely truth-in-television, cuz I live in AB and damn near every oil worker is waiting for their MMA career to take off.

This carries over to immigration -- there is a lot of eye rolling and subtle dislike of the temporary foreign workers ("TFWs"). My in-laws in rural AB have, uh, strong thoughts about foreigners. Quebec is a notable difference too, as they have a reputation for not being fond of non-European, non-Francophone folks in their borders.


On paper Canada is near perfect. But in practice it is a country that is suffering so much from having to maintain continent size infrastructure on the tax base that would match a very small European country that the only way they are going to solve this long term without reducing the size of their territory or falling apart is to import very large numbers of people and hope to integrate them.

So far they are quite successful in the first and not so successful in the second. But on paper they excel at both.

If you want to see this strategy fail try to move to some small town outside of the top 5 and see how well that integration works in practice.


That's a popular misconception, but flatly wrong. Canada has the 10th largest GDP in the world. It's larger than Russia's and just shy of Brazil, a country with 209M people vs. 37MM in Canada.

The vast majority of the country is within 100km of the US border, and frankly we've massively under-invested in critical infrastructure like high-speed rail. Our telecoms routinely claim that prices are the highest in the world because of the sparseness of the country, and yet our telecoms are the most profitable in the world. Same for our banks.

No, Canada's real problem is its lack of self-confidence... we still coddle our banks and telecoms, regulating to protect them against foreign competition while failing to enforce competition laws that would prevent anti-competitive behaviour within the country. We seem to be afraid of competing globally on a level playing field even though this would make us better.

It's a very frustrating place to be an entrepreneur, particularly if you have anything remotely resembling a libertarian bent.


I never understood the need to protect a certain class of non-innovative noncompetitive services like banks and telecoms. It just a way to make a few a*holes rich.

Because we don’t have any practical alternatives to banks; and when banks fail the people who end up losing the most are not their senior management, investors or even employees but the thousands or even millions of account holders.

With Telcos it’s not that different too; if the large one as in those who actually have infrastructure fail it can lead to a catastrophic cascade failure when you can’t call an ambulance not to mention can’t do business because your phones or internet are down you are screwed.

Telcos are like roads it might seem really easy to set new ones up but if you remove all the existing infrastructure that was setup over a century you end up with a lot of short routes that lead up to nowhere.


This is certainly what banks and telcos will tell you, but it’s simply not true.

For example, the idea that banks should maintain appropriate reserves and refrain from taking on certain kinds of risks doesn’t imply that banks should be the arbiters of who is allowed to send and receive digital payments. The movement away from cash to digital has handed them extraordinary power over all economic activity in the country.

Telcos have responded to attempts to shake up the industry by acting in non-competitive ways, the primary reason why NONE of the new entrants from the last wireless spectrum auction still exist as independent entities, and why no foreign telcos have any interest in investing in the space. We don’t enforce our own competition laws, leading to a small group of extraordinarily profitable companies at the expense of the rest of the economy.


It keeps industries (affecting the currency, in the case of banks) stable. There's only 1 asshole to talk to, when it stops being reliable or the populace gets uppity enough for the political animals to notice.

And there you said you didn't understand it

> That's a popular misconception, but flatly wrong. Canada has the 10th largest GDP in the world. It's larger than Russia's and just shy of Brazil, a country with 209M people vs. 37MM in Canada.

https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/gdp-by-country/

Brazil and Russia are not first world European countries. Germany, France and the UK are and have a very small fraction of Canada's landmass.

> The vast majority of the country is within 100km of the US border, and frankly we've massively under-invested in critical infrastructure like high-speed rail.

My point exactly.

> Our telecoms routinely claim that prices are the highest in the world because of the sparseness of the country, and yet our telecoms are the most profitable in the world. Same for our banks.

That is due to monopolistic tendencies and protectionism in Canada.

> No, Canada's real problem is its lack of self-confidence... we still coddle our banks and telecoms, regulating to protect them against foreign competition while failing to enforce competition laws that would prevent anti-competitive behaviour within the country. We seem to be afraid of competing globally on a level playing field even though this would make us better.

Precisely.

> It's a very frustrating place to be an entrepreneur, particularly if you have anything remotely resembling a libertarian bent.

I think it is frustrating for all Entrepreneurs, which is the major reason most of them move South of the border as soon as they reach a certain size (or are acquired).


> on the tax base that would match a very small European country

What are you counting as very small? They have 3-4 times the population of the like of Denmark, Belgium and Portugal. They're comparable with Spain and Poland, which few people would consider very small European countries.

> country that is suffering so much from having to maintain continent size infrastructure

This brings some challenges, but infrastructure doesn't scale 1:1 with the land area of a country, 99% of the infrastructure can be on 1% of the land area and serve most people. It's the urbanization level that matters, not the geography.


I live in Victoria BC. Tons of immigrants, most are ESL, no issues. Definitely not one of Toronto/Montreal/Vancouver/Calgary/Edmonton. Where are the issues exactly? Because I've lived in quite a few places here and don't know what you're talking about.

A city (town?) with many ferries a day going between it and Vancouver is not a typical rural Canadian location.

Even without the proximity to Vancouver, Victoria is hardly rural. It's a small to medium city of around 350k people, as well as being the capital city of BC. The west coast in general is also quite a small-L liberal place. So to answer the parent's question, you would expect to find more intolerance in smaller towns in the interior and the north.

This was all in response to being outside the big 5 being terrible for immigrants, which is clearly wrong.

People go to Vancouver relatively infrequently. It's a hour and 45 minute ferry ride, but then there's basically an hour on each side getting to the ferry plus waiting in line for the ferry(which can be a very long time if it's busy). It's not something people here do regularly. I fly elsewhere more often than I go to Vancouver.

Also lol to town.


Victoria is also surprisingly expensive relative to its size, and has comparatively few jobs.

Great place to be if you can swing it, though. Better weather than Seattle/Vancouver.


Well here’s a question. Why does Canada have to maintain continent scale infrastructure? It could just let the interior go wild.

Which is for the most part what is done. Throughout most of Canada's land mass habitation is very sparse, mostly indigenous or small towns based around a natural resource industry.

Lots of people who don't pay taxes is not good.

"nine of 10 recent Chinese immigrants arrive in Metro Vancouver with enough money to immediately buy homes. But only half hold down jobs during their first five years in Canada, while four of 10 report they’re surviving on low incomes."

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/douglas-todd-how...


I think history has shown many times that generally open societies are good for both the economy and for future strength of the country. It is nice to see a well reasoned analysis of specific applications in Canada.

I generally agree but I do think those benefits are also correlated to a societies ability to support influx of new immigrants. Wealthy, land rich places like Canada of all places should not have problems housing both immigrants and current citizens or rapidly build infrastructure to support increasing capacity needs. But we aren't/can't due to various interests that weren't nearly as entrenched in past histories of explosive immigration, and the friction that results will lead to blowback.

E: Canadian immigration also heavily preferences brain draining talent and wealth from other countries, it's obviously in our self-interest. But it also creates losers, both in the developing countries losing out on talent and wealth, but also existing citizens who has to compete with increasingly inflated human resource pool. Again on paper this should be addressable.


What are some examples you'd give? Not trying to refute you, I just can't think of any off the top of my head.

It's a tautology. Open societies that handle their openness well are successful. There are plenty of counterexamples; China is doing well despite not being open for immigration and repressing its minorities. Singapore is hardly open. Western countries did well in the 1950s to 1980s with minimal immigration.

I know the author. Good guy. Level headed and data driven. I found it to be an interesting read.

He says he's been getting lots of interesting emails since this piece.

Edit: A little more context: this was in response to some other right-leaning piece (if you read the comments on the article you can see references to that).


Specifically, in response to something like this from Alberto Alesina et al

https://scholar.harvard.edu/stantcheva/publications/immigrat...

Immigration is great on balance but it doesn't mean there's not legitimate concerns on number, diversity and education level.


Regarding Alesina, there is a "Pepes Seminar"

> Paris Empirical Political Economy Seminar, a monthly seminar series co-organized by the Department of Economics at Sciences Po and the Paris School of Economics.

which is funny or scary or silly depending your state of mind.


Canada, so very noble in accepting people of all kinds... when it's popular. [1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada%E2%80%93Czech_Republic_...


Certain people are always pushing fears about immigrants but the actual experience of big immigrant nations like Australia (30% foreign born) and Canada (25%) show that immigration, including large influxes of refugees, doesn't cause social or economic problems.

I don't think that the aboriginal peoples of those countries agree.

You can't buy a quarter acre block in a major city working a low skilled, low wage single income anymore. That's a social and economic problem.

Stagnant wage growth in part driven by our immigration system is an economic and social problem.

The underclass of workers on student visas being payed below minimum wage to work at 711 or deliver uber eats is a growing social and economic problem.

Australia should serve as a warning.


Not all immigrants are equal. Obviously when they're selected for employability as professionals, the results will be good.

New Zealand once took a lot of pacific island immigrants which were needed as labor for the protected auto industry and other labor intensive jobs at the time. What we're left with now is a large underclass of people over-represented in crime, unemployment, obesity, lack of education, etc. In the long term, that wave of immigration has surely hurt the country's economy and the existing people's wellbeing.


Similar to Turks in Germany under the Gastarbeiter program.

"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastarbeiter"


Would they accept an asylum seeker from the United States?

Yes, if you have enough points (young, educated, skilled, self-sufficient).

IIRC, there are three lanes: immigrant, family reunification and refugee. The OP was probably asking if an American could qualify in the refugee lane, and the answer is no. The first lane is the biggest one and the best one for most; an educated, English speaking American shouldn't have trouble qualifying in that lane.

Going rate, last I heard, for a sham marriage to get a visa is about $15k CAD.

There are also investor visas (if you have $400k to drop into the Canadian economy), startup visas (if you can secure funding from a specific set of orgs), and the NAFTA TN visa, which is a rubber stamp visa for US and Mexican workers.


> resettling more refugees than any other country in the world

> Since 2017, approximately 150,000 asylum seekers have claimed protection

This is pretty low number. Many countries took millions of refugees.


> Canada took in 28,100 of 92,400 refugees who were resettled in 25 countries last year

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-resettled-most-refug...

Do you have a source for many countries taking in millions?


I think this article is cherry picking here trying to make Canada look good compared to say the USA and other countries. ( im canadain btw ) I think it's easy to take in 28K refuges when the illegal load is very small in Canada, of something like 20K per year [1] Compare that to the USA that needs to deal with an illegal load of 20X that. [2] And for 2019 the USA load seems to be twice that of 2018. [3]

1. https://irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/statistics/Pages/Irregular-border-...

( and this is just the sw border, not accounting for flights ) 2. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration/fy-20...

3. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration


I am not the OP. When I read that sentence, I thought it meant total refugees settled, not just new 2018 refugee numbers. I would be very surprised if Canada is near the top in total resident refugees. A small country like Lebanon (population of less than 6 million, total area smaller than New York metropolitan area) has 1.5–2 million refugees residing in the country. By some estimates, more than a quarter of the population of Lebanon are refugees. No matter what indicator you choose (total, per capita, per square km, per $ GDP, ...), Lebanon would be far ahead in the number of refugees accepted.

Agreed; I'm sure there are many countries with far more total refugees. The annual trends do seem newsworthy to me though. If anything it illustrates how much the US annual number has dropped that it's now below Canada. Likewise European countries that were taking much larger numbers of refugees per year are no longer taking as many. Canada has increased its intake slightly under the Liberal government, as the article mentions, but the real change is the reduction by other countries.

"Taking" != "Resettling". European countries are still "taking" asylum seekers, but they don't "resettle" them: the asylum seekers show up in the country and request asylum. It's not a good idea to only look at resettlement and extrapolate from that to "total number of refugees admitted".

No sources, just anoctal evidence (I travel around middle east). Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi... 28k seems like very small number on global scale, tiny Lebanon has 1M.

I believe resettling is important here. Canada has little to none asylum seekers that cross the border and request asylum. Canada resettles asylum seekers that have been referred by organizations like the UN, were vetted and selected along a handful criteria (like wealth, education, language skills etc).

"Claimed protection" != "given permanent residency".

For example, although Sweden got praised for accepting lots of refugee applicants, more than half got repatriated in less than a year.


australia's yearly intake until recently for around a decade has been more than that.

The numbers from this website show much lower (not more than 20,000 in any given year since 1982). Where are you getting your data?

https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/australian-immigration-hum...

Note that there is a distinction between refugees (the third column) and total immigration (the second column). Even total immigration never tops 200,000 per year.


Too bad they ship refugees off to Nauru and Papua New Guinea where they live in "processing centres".

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/amp/world-asia...


Too bad the refugees didn't apply for asylum in any number of stable countries they passed through first.



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