Earlier this month, famed environmentalist David Suzuki was interviewed by the French newspaper L’Express. When asked about Australian environmentalists’ concerns that continued population growth would be unsustainable for that country, Suzuki said:
Oh, I think Canada is full too! Although it’s the second largest country in the world, our useful area has been reduced. Our immigration policy is disgusting: We plunder southern countries by depriving them of future leaders, and we want to increase our population to support economic growth. It’s crazy! (July 1, 2013)
His comments did not go down well with our then Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, who tweeted the following, “Suzuki's views are toxic & irresponsible”. (July 10, 2013)
A flurry of media articles then followed. In an Ottawa Citizen article about Kenney’s tweet, the reporter commented, “Name-calling, someone once said, is the last refuge of the intellectually bankrupt”. (July 13, 2013) Sun News was even more blunt, calling Suzuki’s remarks “stupid”. (July 15, 2013) The public also commented. In a letter to the editor (Ottawa Citizen July 16, 2013), one person called Suzuki, “… not only wrong, but misguided”. Another letter said “Bless prominent environmentalist David Suzuki for daring to question Canada’s immigration emperor’s “wardrobe”… it is high time indeed to reframe the immigration debate away from predominately quantitative argument to its qualitative implications of economic, environmental, social, cultural and demographic concerns."
I followed the debate with much interest. Frankly, I don’t understand the arguments concerning the environmental impact of immigration. Moving people from one country to another just shifts the geographical location of the impact those people are having on the environment. They are simply burning fossil fuels in Canada instead of their country of birth. Immigration has no impact on the total world’s population and the effect of that population on the environment.
But Suzuki and his proponents have a point regarding the social impact of immigration. How are third world countries affected when we lure their best and brightest to Canada? What impact is immigrant settlement, which is primarily to Canada’s largest cities, having on those cities?
I’d love to hear your views on this debate. Send me an email!