Canada Needs More Immigrants

Canada needs to triple it’s population to 100 million, according to Irvin Studin in Global Brief,

At 34 million people, Canada today finds itself living the latter two realities. Canadians largely fancy themselves citizens either of a ‘small’ or, at most, a ‘middle’ or ‘principled’ power. There is little state or collective ambition to use strategic levers to be a player of any consequence in international affairs, and even less national cognizance that, with the requisite political acumen and chutzpah, the levers of strategic power available to Canada to be a driving force in the grand anarchy of international affairs are very considerable. A justified national self-confidence does reign, however, in the capacity of Canada to lead the world – or to be among the world’s leaders – in largely internal matters of federalism, human rights and the integration of the outsider – immigrants, of which Canada, on a per-capita basis, takes in the most in the world – into the national fold. And while Canada may on occasion serve to other countries as a gold standard of strong domestic governance, 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…

It stands to reason that Canadians and the Canadian state have seldom seen population or demographics in strategic terms; that is, they are wholly insensitive to the idea of growing the national population in order to directly increase Canadian impact in international affairs. Many have forgotten that much of the original populating motive of the federal government in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had a clear sovereignty motive (yes, a strategic motive) vis-à-vis potential American encroachment into Canadian territory (particularly in the West). That strategic logic was almost inexorably, and with great rapidity, subordinated to a modern economic rationality – ever dominant today – that holds that Canadian population growth should be a function principally – if not exclusively – of the national need for new labour; specifically, in this early 21st century, new labour to replenish an ageing work force. Domestic considerations, and only domestic considerations, win the day.

That a far larger national population could give Canada greater weight in international affairs is – to the bemusement of many cold-blooded external analysts of the country – nary a line of reasoning that enters the national imagination. Regarded as radically absurd on the economic logic (for where are the jobs?), it may be regarded as wholly irresponsible and reckless on the social logic (for how is a country to absorb or integrate immigration waves that, over time, outstrip even the total current incumbent population)?

A national population of 100 million – three times the current Canadian population – is a symbolic quantum. It could very well be 85 million or 130 million and yield the same desired effects. And these effects would be pincer-like: first, a far larger demographic base to build strong national institutions and structures (east-west-north-south) across the vast territory of Canada – institutions that, while today often absent or weak, would eventually serve as a bulwark for international strategic influence; and second, a far larger talent pool to populate the strategic arms of the Canadian state – the military, diplomatic, general civil service and political branches of government – as well as connected sectors and organizations (business, cultural, educational, scientific) in Canadian society at large. In the process, the Canada of 100 million, through the force of new domestic structures, coupled with growing international impact (and prestige), undergoes an evolution of the national geist – one arguably appropriate for this new, more complicated, more international century. In short, Canada becomes a serious force to be reckoned with.

1 Comment on "Canada Needs More Immigrants"

  1. Not that I’m opposed to more immigrants, but I read this report last night and found the authors premises to be fataly flawed. It implicitly asserts that national prestige and international clout are (or should) be paramount objectives of the Canadian state–and downplays the daunting (if not insurmountable) fiscal, social and environmental challenges associated with integrating 66 million new immigrants (double the current population) in to Canada.

    The author also relies on an “economies of scale” argument that falsely assumes that Canada is some sort of closed economy.

    Yes there are challenges and limitations associated with being the second largest country by land mass with a relatively small population, but I think the treatment is worse than the ailment.

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