Canada—a world power?

Canada needs 100 million people before it can become a thriving global power.

Michael Stuparyk/TORONTO STAR

Canada needs to be a nation of 100 million people before it can become a thriving global power, writes Irvin Studin, an assistant professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto and editor-in-chief and publisher of Global Brief. “A well-distributed, larger population creates a national vitality,” he says. “It increases our prospects for being a meaningful player in the world.”

He also stresses that Canadians must be less inward-looking. “While Canada may on occasion serve to other countries as a gold standard of strong domestic governance,” he writes, “its patent weakness lies in its incapacity, and general national disinclination, to actually export (with intent, or purpose) this model or any associated Canadian instruments of influence.”

While he concedes that tripling the population will in all likelihood lead to integration challenges, as well as put a strain on the public purse, Studin warns that the 21st century will most likely “not be as kind, in strategic terms” to Canada as the 20th century was. More Canadians would fill out the country’s strategic arms—such as the military, diplomatic, civil service and political branches of government—and increase the number of artists, business leaders and international players. “You might get one Lester Pearson in 20 million, as was the case when he won the Nobel prize,” he says. “In a population of 100 million, you get many, many more.” In other words, a more competitive talent pool.

If that’s the case, should Canada aggressively ramp up immigration? Though he doesn’t lay out an exhaustive list of policy recommendations in his essay, Studin does suggest a 20 per cent increase on current rates. But even at that rate, Canada won’t be a world power for another 90 years.