PRESS RELEASE from Immigration Watch Canada, May 17,2006
Making the connection between too much immigration and environmental degradation continues to be the litmus test for environmental groups. As many critics have observed, if a group says there is no connection, it is confessing that it is really not an environmental group.
The most notorious case of an environmental group which has failed to assert the connection is the U.S. Sierra Club. For years, many people were suspicious of why the club did not speak out against record increases in U.S. population (largely due to legal and illegal immigration). In 2004, the truth surfaced in a report in the Los Angeles Times. In an interview, a major benefactor, David Gelbaum, said that he had contributed over $100 million to the club. He also confessed that he had made it clear that his generosity would end if the club took a stand against immigration.
Gelbaum told the reporter: "I did tell (Sierra Club Executive Director) Carl Pope) in 1994 or 1995 that if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me."
In the interview, Gelbaum, who... is married to a Mexican American, said his views on immigration were shaped long ago by his grandfather, Abraham, a watchmaker who had come to America to escape persecution of Jews in the Ukraine before World War I. "I asked, 'Abe, what do you think about all of these Mexicans coming here?' Abe didn't speak English that well. He said, 'I came here. How can I tell them not to come?' "
Gelbaum told the reporter: "I cannot support an organization that is anti-immigration. It would dishonor the memory of my grandparents."
Since the U.S. has always restricted how many people arrive on its soil, it seems illogical, especially for a mathematician like Gelbaum, to argue that limits on total immigration (and, in this case, support for U.S. population stabilization) can be interpreted as "anti-immigration" or a stand against "all" immigration.
Moreover, it is both illogical and scandalous that the U.S. Sierra Club has ignored the impact of an increasing U.S. population on the U.S. environment as well as on that of the rest of the world. The club has never revealed any attempts it has made to persuade Gelbaum to accept some logic. Instead, it has tried to focus attention on American consumption levels, and minimize the importance of immigration. At the same time, it has concealed its motive in doing so. The U.S. Sierra Club is aware that U.S. population growth in the past 15 years is the highest in its history. The major factor in that growth is legal and illegal immigration. For an environmental organization to agree to say nothing about immigration (in effect, abandoning sustainability in order to continue receiving millions of dollars) is a complete betrayal of its supporters.
Does a similar situation exist in Canada? Although characters like David Gelbaum have not surfaced, Canadian environmental groups remain largely silent about immigration. When the immigration issue arises, these people either intimidate the persons who bring up the topic, try to minimize the impact of immigration, or run to the nearest hiding place.
The recent behaviour of a large Canadian environmental group which warned about the loss of farmland in British Columbia is a case in point. This group should know that almost all of the pressure to take farmland out of the province's Agricultural Land Reserve has originated directly or indirectly from Canada's immigration policy. Like many Canadians, members of this group should know that Canada has the highest immigrant intake per capita in the world. These very high inflows of people have created significant pressure to convert farmland to housing or industrial use ---especially in areas such as Greater Toronto/Southern Ontario, Greater Vancouver/Fraser Valley, and Greater Montreal.
Ontario's Environmental Commissioner spoke eloquently about the inability of Southern Ontario to absorb the population inflows (largely due to immigration) that it has taken. British Columbia's environmental groups have said almost nothing about immigration. The environmental group, which issued an otherwise very good report on the threat to farmland, did not even mention the word "immigration" in its report. Such an action amounts to ignoring basic cause and effect.
It is illogical for this Canadian environmental organization to behave in this way---just as it is illogical for the U.S. Sierra Club to ignore the effect of the inflow of 2 to 3 million people per year, on the U.S. environment. It is even worse for both groups to ignore the cumulative, long-term effect
of high inflows.
Like the Sierra Club, the Canadian organization has to answer one important question: Is it interested in the critical issue of environmental sustainability or is it interested primarily in sustaining itself and the comfortable incomes of its staff? In other words, is an interest in the environment really just a pretence?
Those who contribute to this organization as well as to all other environmental organizations have to ask the same question. Contributors have to look carefully at what these organizations say they are interested in and in what these organizations are actually doing. And if contributors are not satisfied, their contributions should go elsewhere.
END OF PRESS RELEASE
(1) The complete Los Angeles Times article on the connection between the U.S. Sierra Club and David Gelbaum is available on the Immigration Watch Canada web site in the "News Articles---American" section. The date is October 27, 2004. The title is "The Man Behind The Land".
(2) A previous weekly bulletin (April 27, 2006) focused on the publication "Forever Farmland" which was published by the David Suzuki Foundation.