What lunacy is this?
Maxime Bernier’s twitter rant condemning Justin Trudeau’s “extreme multiculturalism” policies ended with Bernier exiting stage (far) right, Andrew Scheer promising to fight asylum seekers who jump the queue and Michelle Rempel announcing the “Pathway to Canada” tour to consult with Canadians about immigration issues.
Assuming Mr Bernier wanted Canadians to take his twitter rant seriously and not as an attempt to make Mr Scheer’s life miserable, it would have been helpful if he’d been more specific about his concerns and double checked his allegations against the facts.
Illegals jumping the queue?
Most of Canada’s refugee claimants enter the country through official entry points but since the start of the Trump presidency in 2017, 31,000 people came through unofficial entry points and were transported to official entry points to make an application for refugee status.
There are two things to note about this process.
First, immigration lawyers say this is not an illegal entry, nor is it a violation of the immigration laws if asylum seekers check in at an official entry point.
Second, asylum seekers are not “jumping the queue” because the immigration stream which includes refugees coming from abroad is a separate stream from the asylum stream. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada processes immigration claims, the Immigration and Refugee Board decides asylum claims.
IRCC is clear that asylum seekers who cross into Canada at unofficial points are not jumping the queue and taking the places of refugees because they are in a different stream.
Either Mr Bernier, Ms Rempel and Mr Scheer are unaware of this distinction or they simply don’t care that what they’re saying is not true.
Too much diversity?
It’s unclear what Mr Bernier means by “too much diversity” but surely he’s not referring to the refugees who make up less than one percent (0.13%) of Canada’s population.
Perhaps his fear that “too much diversity” will shred Canadian values is based on an increase in diversity from all sources.
In addition to refugees and asylum seekers, immigrants come to Canada as:
- Applicants for permanent resident status after obtaining a work or study permit
- Applicants under the Economic Immigration Program who have the required language skills, education, work experience, and financial means
- Family sponsorship applicants (spouses, children, parents or grandparents of Canadians or permanent residents)
- Applicants to a provincial Express Entry program which grants them 600 Comprehensive Ranking System points and virtually guarantees they’ll be granted permanent resident status
Mr Bernier has not said which class of immigrant creates “too much diversity”, all he said was “too much diversity” is bad because “Something infinitely diverse has no core identity and ceases to exist.”
He made it sound like an immutable law of physics but failed to support it with data.
The little tribes
Mr Bernier warned that too much diversity will divide Canada into “little tribes” who “want to live apart in their ghetto” and refuse to integrate into Canadian society. Presumably these “little tribes” would hive themselves off based on their ethnicity.
Let’s look at the data.
Visible minorities made up 22.3% of the total population in 2016. That’s a 1.7% increase over the 20.6% reported by Stats Canada in 2011 when Stephen Harper was prime minister. One wonders what it is about the 1.7% uptick that unhinged Mr Bernier.
Twenty-five percent of all visible minorities are South Asian, followed by Chinese (21%), Black (16%), Filipino (10%), and Latin American (6%). They are better educated than the general population—68.9% have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree, compared to 64.1% in the general population—and are expected to make up one-third of the population by 2036. (Is that it? Is 33% too much? If so, why?)
Perhaps Mr Bernier’s fear isn’t how many Canadians are visible minorities but how many Canadians have a different (non-Canadian?) religious affiliation.
Christians represent 67.3% of the population and 23.9% of Canadians are non-religious. Muslims represent 3.2% of the population, Hindus 1.5%, Sikhs 1.4%, Buddhists 1.1% and Jews 1.0%.
If Mr Bernier seriously believes that 91.2% of Canada’s Christian and non-religious population won’t be able to hold on to their identity when exposed to the 8.2% of non-Christian Canadians living next door, Canada’s identity is feeble indeed.
The Conservative Party has been around for 14 years. Andrew Scheer has been an MP since 2004. Maxime Bernier has been an MP since 2006. Michelle Rempel became an MP in 2011 and she’s already “bone weary” of people who don’t use facts to support their positions (aren’t we all). They served under Stephen Harper for years and only now discovered they have no inkling of how Canadians feel about diversity.
Ms Rempel’s says her “Pathway to Canada” tour will rectify that.
If the tour gives Canadians a chance to participate in a fact-based discussion, then it should reflect the findings of Ekos polls where Canadians reported a declining attachment to their ethnic groups while their “personal sense of belonging” to Canada remains strong.
If, on the other hand, the tour is a propaganda device to sow confusion and fear while slagging Liberal immigration policies in order to win the 2019 election, it will be a shameful betrayal of all Canadians.
We will know soon enough.