I liken Canada to one of the lifeboats that managed to launch itself from the sinking Titanic. It has a safe carrying-capacity of 30 people but there are in fact 40 on board. Among them are Jack Layton, Elizabeth May, David Suzuki and enumerable so-called “green” do-gooders who bleed for the plight of those floundering in the frigid waters. Jack and Elizabeth want to take on another 8 of these unfortunates immediately because they believe we have a “moral obligation” to do so. Then there is a United Church Minister who wants to rescue every single swimmer in sight. A guy called Steve Harper, sitting up front, is agreeable to Jack and Elizabeth’s plan but not for humanitarian reasons. He just thinks that more passengers make for a more “dynamic” and “vibrant” boat.
All of these fools forget their primary “moral obligation”: not to swamp the friggin’ boat and kill all the passengers. They also forget that the “passengers” in this particular boat—Canada—are not simply the human occupants but the wildlife population, the pristine lakes and streams and forests. They seem to think that this boat is an aircraft carrier and not a lifeboat, with lots of room for lots of people.
We can’t think of ecological impact in conventional terms of people per square mile. To say that Canada is a big country with lots of room for lots of people is as absurd as saying that Antarctica is a big continent with lots of room for lots of people. One need only glance at the vastness of the unlivable Canadian Shield and Arctic Tundra and the marginal portion of arable land available to realize the validity of the Science Council of Canada’s 1975 Report: Canada’s population must not exceed 30 million. And that report dealt only with the economic consequences of excessive population growth in Canada, with the diseconomies of scale that come with higher population levels. It did not in 1975 address or anticipate the environmental impacts, the unmistakable blow that 30 million or more Canadians, whatever their levels of consumption, whatever their “ecological footprint”,deal to biodiversity, to air quality, to farmland preservation and so on.
Above all, the lifeboat must stay afloat. If need be, jettison Mr. Layton, Ms. May, Dr. Suzuki and any United Church Minister you can find.