Canada: the case for the 100 million population
The Globe and Mail’s month long series on immigration “our time to lead” featured a rather intriguing and provocative article that argues for an increase of the Canadian population from the current 34 to 100 million.
In his article, Doug Sanders advocated for an increase in the population noting that this number is not sufficient to create a base to support future industrial needs and maintain Canada’s high standard of living. He argues that if population is to be considered a currency then Canada lacks this currency and we need to invite more foreigners to consider Canada for their future home.
He noted that Canada while being the 2nd biggest country in the world, lacks the critical base of people that would make it self-sufficient in terms of the economy, culture, scientific output etc. He laments that since we are too small we do not have enough people to man the different institutions that make a country into a superpower. We are always reliant on American, consumer, cultural or intellectual inputs that forces us to be complacent rather than creating our own.
In the coming population crunch, he argues that Canada might experience some difficulty in attracting people because other countries will need all the people they can get and Canada because of its small population base may not have a large enough tax base to support its current population.
Critics on the other hand argue that this thinking is flawed considering that most of the so called area of Canada is inhospitable. They also claim that this study is meant to bolster the governments Canadian immigration policy that is skewed towards the recruitment of cheap temporary workers that distort and undermine the wage structure of Canadians who have already suffered massive employment and under employment because of the shift of industrial production from the Ontario region to low wage countries in Asia such as China.
Interestingly enough, the country that closely resembles Canada’s size and population also has this debate in their public discourse. Australia has always been the benchmark for Canada since it shares a lot of similarities. There are studies in Australia that advocate for the doubling of its population to almost 60 million noting that it can sustain this figure because of its huge size and potential.
This debate is probably similar to the ones they had during the early 19th century when some forward thinking ministers decided to embark on a massive immigration program that almost doubled the country’s population. The issues then remain the same. It is the attitude that we are already too many and that we cannot and should not allow too many foreigners to overwhelm the nice and efficient life that we already have. History has shown that the country benefitted from the massive immigration program and that the fears of the Canadian then were unfounded. Fast forward to 2012 and we are still hobbled with the notion that Canada cannot absorb this massive influx of foreigners because the system cannot handle it.
For Canada to reach this 100 million figure, it needs to increase its immigration intake to at least 450,000 a year from the current 250,000. This massive shift will require not only a massive restructuring of the current immigration system in Canada but a paradigm shift to how we view immigration and how we view the potential of Canada as a middle power in the future rather than the nice, polite junior partner of the United States always ready to help but not having a say in the conference table.