Why it's time for Canada to grow up - Macleans.ca

Why it’s time for Canada to grow up

The Canadian model works, so let’s boost immigration and triple our population

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

According to newly released data, Canada’s population growth is slow and getting slower. This is bad news. Great nations are not made from fewer workers, fewer youth and more retirees. If Canada wants to thrive, if we want to influence the world, we will have to change this. We need immigrants and we need lots of them.

Canada is doing well. As we approach our 150th birthday, we are rated among the world’s most peaceful, prosperous and admired nations. The Canadian experiment is, objectively, a success.

Parliamentary histrionics conceal this achievement. Each party warns that the other will reduce Canada to smoking rubble. Yet there is consensus on the economic system, the welfare state, the political framework, the legal system and the social norms. The great questions of nation-building are settled here. The lack of disagreement on fundamental issues feeds the “narcissism of small differences,” which reduces our political class to braying schoolchildren. Our politicians are reduced to stamping and frothing about housing allowances and marijuana laws.

The Canadian model works, but we are simply too small to ensure that this will continue to be the case 50 or 100 years from now. It is time we began to scale it up.

While Canada is ranked second in the world by reputation, we are 37th by population. Statistics Canada’s newly released report “Population Projections for Canada” shows our growth is now stunted. Our birth rate continues to fall and the 258,000 immigrants we accepted last year are not enough to meet our labour shortages or significantly expand our size. Unhappily, as our growth slows, our aging accelerates. The number of retired Canadians is now predicted to increase from 15 per cent to 25 per cent over the next 15 years. Simultaneously, our working-age population will shrink from 69 per cent to 60 per cent—fewer hands feeding more mouths.

Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail has, in the past, convincingly argued that Canada should embrace prime minister Wilfrid Laurier’s dream of a significantly larger and more muscular nation. Saunders proposes we set a target of 100 million by the end of the century. Put more simply, let’s triple the size of Canada.

It would not be hard. Now at 34 million people, we would only need an annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent to reach that target. Assuming our fertility rates remain low, this means an additional 186,000 migrants annually, bringing our total immigration numbers to 444,000 per year. This may sound like a lot, but we could absorb them easily. By comparison to most cities around the world, Canadian urban areas are sprawling and empty. Even if we doubled our immigration numbers, the lineup at Tim Hortons would stay the same. It would only increase our workforce by one per cent per year, a number that our economy could easily engage, especially if we continue to recruit and favour skilled and educated migrants.

More immigrants mean more minds, more hands and more tax dollars. There is a misconception that new arrivals are a net drain on our economy. In fact, they are more entrepreneurial and work longer hours than average Canadians. The added muscle would make us smarter, stronger and louder.

As of this month, Ontario university enrolment has begun to decline due to our changing demographics. An influx of immigrants would turn this around and help grow our campuses into academic centres that matter globally. Likewise, our arts and cultural institutions would thrive. Instead of acting as feeders for Hollywood, the Canadian film industry could stand on its own, with a large domestic market beneath its feet. Magazines and newspapers would have enough circulation to pay the bills, and theatre companies could survive in both Montreal and Moose Jaw.

Bigger tax rolls mean more money for the large-scale infrastructure investments that we currently cannot afford: Arctic harbours, high-speed rail and clean energy. It would also mean more money and more bodies for a larger military. We would no longer need to rely on lonely snowmobiles to protect our northern sovereignty. Our trade weight would increase, too. We would maintain our position as the United States’ most important trading partner.

A larger country would also mean a larger voice. At 100 million, we would have a critical mass of culture and people to project ourselves internationally. As Saunders puts it, Canada would be “capable of influencing and bettering the world, rather than simply being buffeted in the world’s tides.” With a larger military and larger federal budget, we could make greater contributions to peacekeeping and relief efforts. We would play a bigger role in the multinational bodies that matter to us, and we would matter more in the bilateral relations we need.

Unfortunately, for now, the immigration rate is a sensitive topic rarely discussed in polite society. This needs to change. The public is mature enough and smart enough to understand that opening our doors to the best and brightest will only be good for Canada. We recognize that 96 per cent of us are of migrant stock ourselves. Our political leaders would do us a service and themselves credit by asking a simple question: “Is it time to scale Canada?”



Why it’s time for Canada to grow up

  1. Some very good points here, and I agree that we need to increase our immigration rate. But there are some possible downsides that have the potential to generate a lot of backlash if not thoroughly discussed and adequately addressed:
    * The urban / rural split. Most immigrants settle in cities in several key areas of the country. It creates a number of division points (economies, opportunity, even differences in ethnic mix) that can leave some of the less-populated regions (within Ontario, northern vs southern, for example; also, Atlantic Canada vs central or west – not to mention the likely Quebec issues if their population, as a percentage of Canada’s, declines)
    * Cultural issues. We already see things like self-ghettoization, where certain groups gather in one region and can’t bother learning English (or French) and put their affiliation to their former nations above Canada. This has the potential to cause real strife down the road – and already fuels fears and behaviours among the xenophobic.

    …just to name a few.

    There is more involved than dollar signs and economic growth. If the goal is to retain Canada’s place as a peaceful nation with a high quality of life, then we need to discuss (and I mean talk and listen, not yell at those with differing views, as we are increasingly wont to do) where people will live; how to balance the various regions’ needs so no one gets left behind; and how best to accommodate those who join us without negatively impacting those who came before (just ask our First Nations people about that last).

  2. As an American who has lived in Canada for 3 years and am now a permanent resident, I observe that Canada is doing a much better job than the US at building a well-functioning nation to be proud of. The culture and behaviour of the US has, in my opinion, degraded significantly in my lifetime, and also the population has roughly doubled during that period. It is hard to tell if that is coincidental or causal.

    I look around the world and see that the other countries that are the most admired and seemingly well-functioning are not the most populous countries. The thought frequently crosses my mind that beyond a certain population size, a country cannot help but experience strife, international misadventures, social problems, lack of political consensus, and descent into authoritarianism. Below a certain minimum size, of course, there are also problems, not the least of which is insufficient influence in world affairs. Canada, at around 35 million, seems nicely in the sweet spot between these extremes. I fear that your goal of growing to 100 million will push Canada beyond this zone of comfort, and as well out of our current enviable ability to live well within the limits of our natural resources).

    In short, we agree that Canada is currently an especially well-functioning country. Before concluding that this means it should grow dramatically, you might consider that Canada’s current high level of functionality is actually a consequence of its current size, and would be at risk if there were dramatic growth.

  3. “so let’s boost immigration and triple our population”
    Utter and complete nonsense!
    Canada’s position in the world is the envy of the world in her beauty, good governence and vastness of unpolluted hinterland. Our economy is strong and our social programs in the top 1% of nations.
    Selective and highly scrutinized immigration will bring in good and needed immigrants–this is what we need and should be very selective.
    To say as the author states that we should just triple the population is irresponsible and not thoughtout in the least.
    This world has a major problem–over population that taxes our planet, pollutes it, rapes our seas and our forrests…we need less people in this world and certainly not millions more in Canada.
    To open up the flood gates for only possible economic reasons is short sighted and certainly not looking at the big picture for Canada’s present and future–this type of unbridled thinking is very dangerous to all Canadians. Mr. Gilmore should know better!!

    • As a generality, standard of living is inverse to population.
      Look at the shitholes of the world, and you’ll see not just hoarding of capital/resources/wealth, but also an issue with overpopulation.
      Lowering our own standard of living so that we can let people with no skills, don’t speak english, and don’t want to integrate is not only stupid, but reprehensible.
      I believe the gov’t recently passed a ‘bootstrap’ immigration policy where there is no guarantee to entry, and you have to bring something to the table, eg skills, industry, resources, something that will contribute to what makes Canada great.
      These lefties continually want to be a source of welfare for the entire world, and it’s beyond retarded. Go spend your own money on that garbage, leave those that disagree out of it.

  4. Pretty shallow argumentation, with no evidence apart from asserting it will be so.

    No mention of inequality issues and that some communities are struggling more than others that the NHS and various studies make clear.

    While overall Canada’s success at integration is almost unique in the world, simply assuming we could scale up immigration, integration, citizenship and multiculturalism by 50 percent a year is naive at best.

  5. A few years ago I was teaching a Grade 10 Social Studies class, and the topic of immigration came up. I read them an article proposing that we triple the size of Canada’s population through immigration. In order to make the figures more real, I had them imagine our small town of about 3000 tripled in size. They were horrified. “But we wouldn’t know everyone!” they said. And they were worried about stress on community resources and a loss of community and safety. They weren’t prejudiced. They had no objection to people from different cultures coming here…they just didn’t want a massive influx of people because they thought it would create stress in the community. And I agree with them. I do think Canada’s population could grow significantly and that the influx of new people/ideas would be ultimately beneficial. But I think that rapid expansion could bring considerable stress, and that we might lose so much of what makes this country wonderful without gaining much.

    Therefore, I”m in favour of increased immigration, but not at the rate proposed by the author.

  6. Perhaps the stupidest column I’ve read in a very long time. We already have 7 billion people on the planet with a projected population of 9 to 10 billion by 2050. In case Mr. Gillmore didn’t read the stories this week, 52% of the planet’s wildlife has disappeared since 1972. Potable water is rapidly becoming a scarce commodity. Ocean acidification, warming and rising sea levels will soon begin to affect food supplies around the world. Pollution, resource depletion and climate change are the consequences of an overburdened planet.

    What the world and Canada needs is a policy that lowers the birth rate and aims for a reduction in population. As a first-world nation that on a per person basis consumes 32 times the amount of resources that a person in a developing nation does, the least we could do is reduce or try to keep our population at its present level.

  7. One problem, this is Genocide. Its destroying a nation. Its evil.


    “Diversity” means being chased out of your neighborhood.
    “Diversity” means being chased out of your school.
    “Diversity” means being chased out of your job.
    “Diversity” Means Chasing Down the Last White Person.
    “Diversity” means White Genocide

    Anti-whites expect an entire race to disappear from the face of the earth without even mentioning, not even whispering about it.

    Nobody’s flooding Africa with Non-Africans and giving them free health care, affirmative action and special privileges.

    Only White Countries are doing it, only White children are affected, and only White politicians are allowing it.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

    • LOL “Diversity” means being chased out of your neighborhood.
      “Diversity” means being chased out of your school.
      “Diversity” means being chased out of your job.
      “Diversity” Means Chasing Down the Last White Person.
      “Diversity” means White Genocide

      Now you’re be beginning to understand how us Native Americans Feel And what we have been through. )

      How does it feel to be part of the Team!

  8. I hope you just wrote this to generate discussion. I would otherwise think you are an idiot if your purpose was other than to generate a discussion!

  9. Well, I’m a new Canadian Citizen who’s been living in Canada for 7 years now.
    Even though I was born abroad and what I’m about to write might be viewed as anti-immigrant by people who are mentally lazy, yet I think that mass immigration should not be viewed as simplistically as this article implies.
    Mass immigration would radically (and perhaps too quickly) change the social landscape in Canada and that would bring with it a lot of problems.
    First of all, with 100 million Canadians, most of them new Canadians, born Canadians would become a minority. I won’t discuss here if this would be a good thing or not, yet it would clearly not be an easy and smooth transition.
    Then we have the fact that most newcomers would be selected by the Government – only the best in their fields would be able to live here. Well, that would make born Canadians (and new Citizens like me) facing competition from the best and the brightest around the world. Can “old” Canadians compete with that new breed of imported Canadian residents? Would it be fair to the people already living here? If one think it would be fair, then one has to assume that Canadian Educational Institutions and the job market has the best professionals in the entire world so that that would be no friction taking place from the arrival from this new breed of super bright.
    Permanent Residents, after a certain time become eligible to become Canadian Citizens (hello! that’s me!). How different cultural sensibilities would change the political landscape in Canada?
    Just asking.

  10. Incredibly ridiculous article. Flooding Canada with as many immigrants as you discuss would change it drastically into an unrecognizable place far far different form what we have now. It would bring down the quality of EVERYTHING. Try sitting in an Emergency room in Toronto or Vancouver and see how quickly things get sorted out at the current rate of population. You neglected to mention that most of Canada is not hospitable to live in due to climate and weather conditions. So, your answer to this is to flood the already largely populated centers (most near the border) with 100 million people? Insanity. Canada would be better off embracing the Scandinavian model (which have traditionally maintained smaller populations) for remaining a successful and desirable country. Your agreement with Doug Saunders on this “100 million people by the end of the century” is foolish and short sighted. How about setting the trend for ALL nations to consider lessening the burden of overpopulation? Perhaps helping them by whatever means possible?

    • That’s what the Marxists want, to destroy Western Civilization so that it is unrecognizable.
      I would suggest that they emigrate to these countries they hold so dear, and see how (un)welcome they are there.

  11. The thinking underlying this article demonstrates to me much that is wrong with the world today. To believe that unlimited growth on a finite planet is folly, but sadly it is the bedrock upon which our modern economies are built upon. We have a current population of over 7 billion people (and growing), while, according to the 2014 Living Planet Report, populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%, just in the last 40 years! We are exploiting dwindling natural resources, turning more and more wilderness into farm land, and polluting like never before, causing not only global warming, but also creating the first mass extinction caused by homo sapiens. Instead of following what the rest of the world is doing, why not lead by example and show the world how to live rationally and sustainably, so that there might be a world worth living on for generations to come, rather than our current course of destruction fueled by greed. We need to ‘boost immigration and triple the size of our population’ like a hole in the head.

  12. There is severe scam going on with Canada’s immigration. The political parties are using immigration to bolster their vote banks. A simple example will make it clear. About 80% of Indian immigrants are of Indian state of Punjab (Punjabi) descent. Does it mean Punjab has highest proportion of skilled worker? Absolutely not. The fact is the whole immigration selection process is robbed by 2 or 3 bigger communities. They have made all stream of immigration like TFW program, Live in Caregiver program, seasonal agricultural worker program, Provincial Nominee Program as extended family reunification program. The con side is many people coming representing these communities are less skilled or skills that Canada doesnt need. Also in companies their large presence particularly in HR making them possible to recruit their own people only that is devoid of Canada’s core value of equal employment opportunity. If you want to bolster immigration thats fine but make it fair after-all its all taxpayers money.

    • Yep. Lefties continually overlook that some cultures simply are incompatible. Which makes it all the more ironic that they worship at the Islamic altar despite the fact that if typical leftists, eg feminists, SJWs, some members of the gay community, etc, they would be put to death or imprisoned.
      It will be a hard lesson for them to learn.
      In France you actually see some of their gay community siding with the nationalists because they’re no longer safe from the Islamization of France.
      I do believe in gay rights and equality, I’m not trying to stereotype but afaik, these generalizations hold true. I’m open to debate and changing my mind on the matter.

  13. Obviously the person who wrote this is a complete idiot.

    1. Look at the UAE. It is the most multicultural society on earth. It has accepted mass immigration. Obviously since it is muslim there is going to be no democracy. But could you imagine what a place like the UAE would be like if it had democracy? It would be chaos. There are so many ethnic lines in the country and there would be so many political parties the government couldn’t function. Do we want Canada to become like this? Infrastructure is already crumbling, we are encroaching on much needed farmland, we still add 125,000 people to the population every year naturally, do you want to turn Canada from a nice country into a dump? Also the economy isn’t everything. Ever thought about xenophobia and racism arising out of nowhere? Ever thought about the feelings of the white population? No, you don’t care, and the politicians don’t care. All they care about is money money money and more money. They will do anything just to get more money, and that includes inflaming NEW tensions and compromising the environment and social cohesion for money. MONEY. I can see the segrigation happening already. It’s not wise to bring in people of completely different cultures and expect them to get along. Europe was constantly fighting because of tensions, which culminated in Europe being reduced to ashes to achieve the nation state dream. The mass immigration is perpetuated by politicians (libtards) that amazingly think that multiculturalism will not cause tensions, and everyone will live happily ever after, everyone will get along, and even though history shows it doesn’t work, because we’re in the 21st century right? People have changed so much that they are completely different and they don’t act the same way as before because, you know, everyone’s brains have been rewired and humans act differently because it is a new century? No! Amazing stupidity out of a (at least what should be) a well qualified writer and thinker.

  14. Has anyone even asked a First Nations, If we could bring more people in there land.

  15. This just does not make sense. The economy created just 186,000 over the past year and there was an increase in population of a about 350,000. As a result there is an increase in employment potential of about the same as the number of new immigrants. That does not leave any jobs left over for Canadians. Also, where are a 150,000,000 people going to live? We only have the South which is truly habitable and it is getting over crowded. What we have to do is have better laws that will allow Canadians to make more money from our existing resources and to not give away the shop through free trade and like Alberta, get almost nothing for it’s oil.