Two years ago, the New York Times food editor Sam Sifton spoke at the University of Toronto about the rise of Syrian cuisine in Canada. He apologized for his President’s nasty immigration policies and their inhumane consequences, and said he loved Toronto because “more immigrants mean more restaurants.”
We all cheered.
It seems that our acceptance of immigration, despite occasional racist and anti-immigrant outbreaks, is not only continuing, it’s growing more enthusiastic every year.
Last week, a poll by the Environics Institute, The Century Initiative and the University of Ottawa asked Canadians if they agreed with this sentiment: “Overall, there is too much immigration to Canada.”
66% of respondents said they disagree, 27% said they agree, and 7% didn’t have a clear opinion either way.
The “agrees” were up 3% from last year and the “disagrees” were down 7% from last October when COVID wasn’t even a word, let alone A Destroyer of Communities.
That two-thirds of Canadians varied a lot once the pollsters asked about the respondents’ political allegiance. 81% of NDP supporters favour our current immigration levels as do 75% of Liberal supporters. But the surprise is that 52% of federal Conservative supporters are in favour.
This is heartening news, and gives Canada yet another chance to practice its virtue signalling with the US.
We should be careful about that. According to a survey taken in August by Pew Research, 57% of Americans say “the growing number of newcomers from other countries strengthens American society.” Only 41% said rising immigration threatens traditional American values. But as in Canada, these umbrella figures are subject to stark partisan divides. 78% of Democrats and Democrat leaners say newcomers strengthen American society, while 31% of Republicans and Republican leaners think that.
But what about the persistent inflection point of immigrants ‘stealing jobs’?
It seems Canadians don’t have much time for that, either.
As The Globe and Mail said of the Environics Report: “Seventy-eight per cent of Canadians disagreed with the statement “Immigrants take jobs away from other Canadians,” reflecting a significant increase of 11 percentage points from 2015. This view is also reflected in every region and demographic.”
However, there is a new immigrant group to Canada that was also revealed for the first time last week.
They are the two to three million Canadian citizens living abroad.
Not only that, they seem to be taking on and leading vital parts of the world, from top universities and hospitals to The Royal Mail and The Bank of England.
Maybe they didn’t heed the siren call of coming home during the first COVID lockdown in March. But as we enter the cold dark days of the second, perhaps they’ll remember just how much space we have here and how, despite our earnest pretty-goodness, Canada is not just a good place to come from, but to come home to.
Let’s just pray when the fog lifts that we still have more restaurants for our more immigrants to open.