This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

So Who is a Canadian, eh?

Canada is one of the world's foremost acceptors of immigrants, at least on a per person basis. The US accepts more immigrants than any other country, but Canada's population of 35 million is a little less than California's 38 million. The 2011 census in Canada found that 21 percent of all Canadians are foreign-born. Now, to be fair, the 2010 census in the US found that 27 percent of all Californians are foreign-born. Setting that aside, Canadians have been unusually accepting of immigrants over the years, and yet there is controversy in the works, as noted in this week's Economist.
The Quebec government’s proposed ban [on the wearing of religious symbols by government workers] and the Ontario hospital’s welcome illustrate the poles in the Canadian debate on multiculturalism. Public hearings on the law began on January 14th. Supporters say that the ban is needed to enshrine state secularism; opponents that it is a cynical appeal to xenophobia by the minority provincial government of the Parti Québécois (PQ). Either way, the prediction of Jean-François Lisée, a PQ minister, that the Quebec battle could be the last stand in Canada’s multicultural experiment does not stand up to close scrutiny.
Unlike many Europeans, Canadians believe that immigrants create jobs rather than steal them, says Jeffrey Reitz, a sociologist who has surveyed attitudes in Europe and Canada. This view is partly based on history. Modern Canada was built by successive waves of immigrants, first from Europe and more recently from Asia.
The Quebec dispute is not over numbers of immigrants, but how to accommodate them. In the 1970s Canada officially adopted the creed of “multiculturalism”, a murky concept that celebrates cultural differences at the same time as pushing newcomers to integrate. English-speaking Canadians see multiculturalism as central to their national identity, ranking below universal health care and the Canadian flag in a recent survey by Environics, a research firm, but above ice hockey, the Mounties and the Queen.
You may recall that it was immigrants who "saved" Quebec back in the 1990s by voting against a measure aimed at Quebec's secession from Canada. Without immigrants, Quebec might not even be in Canada. There's a lot of irony there...or maybe pent up anger, eh?

1 comment:

  1. Demographics and education. FYI: