The Harper government is presently "consulting" Canadians on what kind of immigration policy Canada should promote. Debbie Douglas and Avvy Yao-Yao Go write that the government looks at immigration -- as it looks at all things -- through an economic lens. However, there is more to immigration than economics:
For a national consultation on immigration planning to be meaningful, Canadians need to know all the relevant facts and consider the multi-purpose roles of immigration policy — a notion captured by the concept of nation-building. Immigration planning must not simply be understood as an economic imperative.
Unfortunately, the Harper government suffers from economic tunnel vision:
The government’s priority is to use immigration to support Canada’s economy. While there is nothing wrong with this objective, it is the short-sightedness and bias with which the government is approaching this goal that needs to be challenged.
Equally alarming have been many changes to a number of specific economic pathways that have given unprecedented influence to employers to determine which newcomers will ultimately be granted permanent residency status. For example, the Canadian Experience Class, the Live-in-Caregiver Program and the Foreign Skilled Worker Program all grant employers a significant role in what really is the job of the nation — determining who can acquire citizenship.
For Canada as a country to succeed, we need immigrants of all backgrounds and skills to come here to build a permanent home. For immigrants to succeed, they need to have a sense of belonging that only comes about when their entire families are integrated into Canadian society.
It's fascinating to watch the family values folks give short shrift to those values. Their motto is "Show me the money!" That's all it's ever been. And, as Douglas and Go correctly observe:
Any discussion around our future immigration plan is incomplete if it does not also include a soul-searching exercise of who we are as a people, and the values we choose to embrace. If all that Canada is about is protecting our current economic interests, and the only use of immigrants is to further that goal, then we should just make that clear — both to ourselves and to the people we are inviting to join us. But surely, there is more to Canada than our GDP index or the size of our treasury.
The Harper government perseverates about the economy. When I taught school, we paid attention to students who were stuck on one idea. It was a symptom of potential brain injury.