During the fall election campaign of 2008, Green Party leader and mass immigration cheerleader Elizabeth May denied that Canada was suffering from too high a volume of immigration. On September 14th, on CBC’s Cross Country Check-Up, she suggested that the gateway cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and the like that were under pressure from immigration could be relieved of that pressure if New Canadians were simply re-directed to the less-populated regions of the country that were crying out for more citizens. As she exclaimed: “there are areas of Canada experiencing serious problems of depopulation where it would be fabulous to have the programs that ensured that more immigrants moved into places like rural Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia. There's places where we really would benefit enormously from more new Canadians.”
Suddenly a proponent of smart growth, of concentrating people behind tight urban boundaries as a way, in her mind, of protecting green belts and lowering ecological footprints, was calling for a population policy that would disperse them. Very curious indeed !
As was pointed out, however, we have this trifle called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows Canadians freedom of mobility within the country. Once settled in rural Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia, there is no coercive measure, other than this never before used “notwithstanding “ clause, to compel New Canadians to stay there.
Alas comes an observation about Italy to illustrate the point.
“Dennis” of Optimum Population UK wrote:
“…in the 1990s southern Italian villages welcomed with open arms any immigrants from anywhere which would repopulate their deserted villages particularly with couples having children. The govt. helped out with this providing housing, repairing abandoned properties and with jobs. After a time (months or a few years) all these immigrants moved out to the cities for more money and a more exciting life.”
So there is nothing at all to keep them down on the farm, boys. And that is symptomatic of Green Party thinking. It is intellectually dishonest. May advocates high immigration levels, 38% higher than the incumbent Conservative government’s, and claims that immigrants would not stress cities because they could be settled in rural Canada. Moreover, that “smart growth” strategies and strict land use policies would protect green belts farmland and wildlife from any demographic spill-over. Canada would welcome the world, develop its cake and eat it too.
But Ms. May knows very well that municipal and city councils are bought and paid for by real estate developers. And that there are no campaign donations that grass roots opponents can entice to compete with them. So while Ottawa may dictate immigration policy, in a sense, it can only be implemented at the local level. Only a provincial government of the nature of Dave Barrett’s 1972-5 NDP administration ever found the resolve to enact a provincial-wide freeze on farmland---NDP governments in three other provinces who witnessed his civil war did not even go there.
Three decades later the Gordon Campbell government unraveled it by the simple expedient of decentralizing authority from the Agricultural Land Commission to regional bodies susceptible to local political, read realtor, influence. Now prime farm land near coveted urban areas in southern BC are taken out of the land reserve in favour of poorer acreage to the north. This was North America’s last great hope in land use planning. Put planning authority anywhere near a city hall, and developers control it. And Elizabeth May knows it. Just as she knows that 330,000 immigrants a year will not be lured to the snows of northern Saskatchewan or rural Nova Scotia and be made to stay there.
Get real Elizabeth. And for once, come clean about the costs of immigration. And tell your rival party leaders in the House of Commons to do the same while you are at.