immigration in Canada

As a matter of national policy, Canada actively solicits immigrants and has done so for years. The public supports this and the default political assumption is in support of continued immigration. According to a recent poll, only a third of Canadians believe immigration is more of a problem than an opportunity, far fewer than any other country included in the survey. …. Being an immigrant is also no barrier to being a proper Canadian; in parliamentary elections earlier this month, 11% of the people elected were not native. This warm embrace isn’t just a liberal abstraction; 20% of Canadians are foreign-born.

…. Why is Canadian public opinion so different from views in United States?

At a conference yesterday, Jeffrey Reitz, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, cited two big explanations for the difference. The first was that Canadians are convinced of the positive economic benefits of immigration …. Even unemployed Canadians will stoutly insist that immigrants do not take work away from the native born. This makes sense, as most immigrants to Canada are authorised under a “points” system tied to their credentials and employment potential. About half of Canadian immigrants have bachelor’s degrees.

Mr Reitz’s second explanation was that Canadians see multiculturalism as an important component of national identity. In one public opinion poll, Mr Reitz said, multiculturalism was deemed less important than national health care but more important than the flag, the Mounties, and hockey.

E.G., “Immigration: The United States v Canada“, The Economist, Democracy in America blog, 20 May 2011.

The second explanation is important. Both Canada and the US are nations built primarily by immigrants, but they treat newcomers differently. Canadians expect immigrants to enrich its cultural “mosaic” whereas Americans want them to blend into its “melting pot”.

HT Mark Thoma.

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