I’m going to comment on a CBC opinion piece “Why the People’s Party of Canada election result shouldn’t be underestimated“, written by two academics, one the director of Landscapes of Injustice at the University of Victoria, the other the director of their Centre for Global Studies.
As Canada’s federal election fades from the headlines,… Maxime Bernier’s first campaign as head of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) might begin to fade from memory. After all, the PPC’s results were forgettable. Bernier lost in his own riding, and PPC candidates tallied only 1.6 per cent of the national vote.
Though if Justin Trudeau had followed through on his promise to reform our electoral system and implemented a single transferable vote, a lot of people who voted Conservative out of fear of splitting the vote might have voted PPC.
Yet progressive Canadians dismiss the PPC at our peril.
I agree. The ideas that the PPC advocates won’t die even if the party does. We’ve seen two incarnations of conservative reformers now, and the western provinces are more dissatisfied than ever with the globalist progressive government elected by central Canada.
The party received almost 300,000 votes in its inaugural run, a foundation on which it might well build. Its ideology of exclusionary, anti-immigrant nationalism is eerily similar to political movements across Europe. The PPC derides the United Nations as “ridiculous” and “dysfunctional,” worrying that participation may “dilute” our “national sovereignty.”
The party’s ideology (libertarianism) is non-exclusionary. The party is not anti-immigrant. Rather, it is against uncontrolled immigration of unskilled workers who will rely on taxpayer subsidies rather than becoming net tax payers. The UN is dysfunctional. You can disagree with these positions, but mischaracterizing them makes you a liar.
It sees no moral justification for international aid.
You cannot morally justify international aid. We are not responsible for other adults. It’s not even fair to call the PPC uncharitable. They simply prioritize Canadians, who the government is intended to represent, over foreigners. This is nationalism. Arguing against it makes you a globalist.
It contends that immigrants threaten “to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of our country” and that we should build physical barriers to stop refugees.
Uncontrolled immigration could indeed change the social fabric of the country. Immigrants from the third world are more likely to support socialism than Canadian citizens, on average. If we determine the level of immigration that can be sustainably integrated into our society, why shouldn’t we do whatever is necessary to make sure that it isn’t exceeded? Why should those who don’t follow our immigration policies be allowed access?
Bernier urges that the Multiculturalism Act be repealed to “ensure social cohesion.”
The act itself is fairly innocuous. Being an individualist, I wouldn’t oppose its repeal. I don’t think multiculturalism is something that I should be taxed to pay for.
This mashup of anti-globalism, hostility to immigrants, and cultural nationalism draws from an international populist right that, in most cases, was not taken seriously at first.
Again, the PPC is not hostile to immigrants. The party simply wants to control immigration so that it gives Canadians the most benefit. If you believe in freedom, cultural nationalism is essential. Canada is already less free in many ways than America.
Not long ago, in countries such as Hungary and Poland, anti-immigrant nationalist parties were considered alien to a liberal, post-Communist political culture. Now they have swept to power.
This is because once a people have experienced communism, they will do what’s needed to prevent its return.
In Europe, right-wing nationalists replace the painful lessons of the 20th century with glorified national histories, and assert the cultural superiority of their own national community. According to the Alternative for Germany Party, Hitler and the Nazi regime were just a “petty mistake.” In Poland, the governing Law and Justice Party has introduced a law banning anyone from blaming Poland for crimes committed during the Holocaust.
While I don’t agree with rewriting history, I do see why people, few of whom were alive during the second world war, want to put the past behind them. They aren’t responsible for the sins of their grandparents.
The PPC likewise hearkens to an imagined past in decrying the supposed decay of the present.
Well, they are a conservative party, after all. Conservatives seek to hold on to the stability of things that worked well in the past. You can’t look on the political gridlock and turmoil of the last half decade in America and the UK and say that things aren’t decaying in the present.
In a speech at a July rally in Mississauga, Bernier claimed that immigration to Canada was once uncontroversial: “immigrants who came to Canada gradually integrated into our society . . . They became Canadian, but with a distinct flavour.”
And he is correct.
It is only over the “past decades,” the Party’s platform explains, that immigration has become problematic — a period in which, not coincidentally, immigrants have been more globally diverse than ever before.
You are the one making that connection. The difference is not the sources of immigration–we have welcomed people from China and India, among others, since the 1960s. It is in the policy. In past decades, we prioritized bringing in skilled workers who would become productive citizens.
In reality, Canada has a difficult history of xenophobia. In the early 1900s, when the government recruited southern and eastern Europeans to farm the prairies, alarmists decried diversity. In the 1920s, Canada changed immigration policy to virtually ban arrivals from China. In the 1930s, Canadians prevented the arrival of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, and in the following decade officials interned 22,000 innocent Japanese Canadians.
I am not a young man, but all of these things happened decades before I was born, and before my parents emigrated to Canada.
After the Second World War, Canadians fretted over the suitability of newcomers from Communist countries and delayed signing the United Nations convention on refugees.
Making sure that people don’t bring the communist ideology here seems like a good idea. We don’t need gulags, thanks. We signed the refugee convention 40 years ago.
Our recent turn away from race as the basis of national identity and immigrant recruitment has been a step toward social cohesion and justice, not the opposite.
Our national identity was never a racial one. It was a national one, based on the fact that Canada was colonized by two countries, the United Kingdom and France. Creating a huge ideological imbalance between urban and rural, east and west, has been a step away from social cohesion.
Canada has struggled to become a more just, inclusive nation. What progress has been made on that front is by no means set in stone.
And by pushing uncontrolled immigration, the government risks sparking a backlash that will reverse real progress.
In the economic hubs where we need immigrants, we have allowed housing to become unaffordable.
Governments have caused housing to become unaffordable by regulating development. The only way to lower costs is by increasing supply. If developers can’t make a reasonable profit due to red tape and regulation, supply will remain limited, ensuring a seller’s market.
Annually, we accept thousands of workers on pathways to citizenship, but our laws prevent their families from joining them.
Naturally, people don’t want immigrants to bring their extended families, who have not paid into the Canada pension plan, to Canada simply to collect benefits that we pay taxes to fund.
Accessing the labour market is a major challenge for many newcomers.
If they don’t have the skills, including language skills, to join the labour market, why are we prioritizing them? On the other hand, if local protectionist regulations are preventing them from doing jobs that they are qualified for, this is an area where the government can help by deregulating. Forcing someone who has practiced medicine in another country for years to go through a long and costly training program could be replaced with a simple test.
Our education and health systems need help to support the social, linguistic, and cultural needs of global migrants.
Why? Supporting languages other than English and French comes at the expense of education in those languages. Migrants should take care of their own social and cultural needs, the same way we do. The government should not be expending resources on promoting other cultures.
The ideology of the PPC, and not recent immigration, constitutes a threat to the social cohesion and unity of Canada. Who we think we have been in the past will shape our answers to these challenges.
The ideology of the PPC is a threat to globalism, multiculturalism, and the socialist policies of the Liberal, NDP, and Green parties. There is at least a large silent minority who value none of these things, and who see those who do attacking our freedom of speech and piling ever more debt on our children.
Canada has always struggled to integrate immigrants with decency, pragmatism, and justice. To achieve a more just Canada and safeguard against the politics of hate, we must preserve an authentic and critical memory of our past and build boldly for our future.
By implying that the PPC’s libertarian policies are the politics of hate, you come across as lying smear merchants. If you want to preserve the progress we’ve made, stop attacking conservatives. If you attack them, why would you expect them to want to participate in your bold future?