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Commentary: We’re drowning at so many levels

Immigration backlash has begun, says columnist

Congratulations – we’re witnessing history.

Never before, going back to Confederation in 1867, are so many newbies arriving on our soil. So many we now rival the United States for immigration – no, not in percentage of population terms, but in pure numbers alone. The US has a much bigger issue with refugees at its southern border.

The most recent numerical snapshot – for the three months ending on October 1 – showed Canada’s population grew by more than 430,000 people, with only four per cent of that increase attributable to births outpacing deaths. 

Is that unusual? After all, immigration has been Canada’s lifeblood since inception.

So for comparison, in 2014, the last full year before Justin Trudeau became prime minister, this country welcomed 260,000 newcomers, a rate that indeed brought plaudits for Stephen Harper’s government, he then being judged as one of the western world’s most immigration-friendly leaders.

That isn’t surprising. Canada has long bucked the populist trend of anti-immigration, with a large majority of our citizens quite happy to lay down the welcome mat for incomers. Heck, I’m glad they did, arriving here 42 years ago and, even today, still considering it the greatest gift ever bestowed.

But if immigration is our lifeblood then the current government’s slapdash, open door policy of allowing so many to enter will test that welcoming attitude. In fact, the backlash has begun.

A recent cross-country poll by Environics found 44 per cent of Canadians now agree with the statement ‘there’s too much immigration,’ compared with just 27 per cent a year previous, the largest annual change recorded since that question was first asked in 1977.

And though a tiny majority of Canucks still disagrees with the statement – 51 per cent to be exact – it’s the lowest support this millennium.

So what happened? Did we suddenly become hard-hearted and insular? Or did we realize that just as water is vital for life, too much will drowned you? Regardless, we’re drowning at so many levels today.

Housing, or its lack, is today’s current poster child for the problems caused by so much demand chasing so little supply. What did the Trudeau regime imagine would happen to both affordability and availability when a million more individuals were allowed into this country in a single year, as just happened?

Admittedly, these folk weren’t all landed immigrants looking to lay down roots and become citizens: many were temporary workers, while others were foreign students. But they all needed a place to stay and neither new homes nor available rental properties can be conjured out of thin air at the whim of the various towns and cities currently dealing with the influx the federal government dropped into their laps.

The upshot is that those already here are seeing their own hopes of finding or affording a home in this manic, free-for-all vanish. No wonder citizens are losing their appetite for welcoming newcomers.

And it’s not just housing. Look to health care, education and infrastructure to see yet more problems arising from this gung ho, ‘numbers don’t matter’ attitude.

But hey, this is a prime minister who thinks budgets balance themselves and isn’t interested in monetary policy – though the resultant high inflation eventually got his attention. 

It’s very sad. Us boomers are aging and the younger generations don’t go in for big families. So, we need young people with dreams and ability to make Canada their home for everyone’s sake.

The history we’re actually witnessing is a country famed for being a welcoming new homeland turning its back on those desperate to come. And that might prove Trudeau’s most damaging accomplishment.

Chris Nelson is a syndicated columnist.

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