Douglas Todd: Five big migration issues of the 2021 Canadian election
Canada’s long history of large-scale immigration is arguably the defining characteristic of the country, but only one of the minor political parties is putting the subject at the front of its election campaign.
The three largest parties are playing it low-key on immigration, refugees, guest workers and international students. That’s despite Ottawa normally (pre-COVID) welcoming more than one million migrants in all categories each year.
Canada takes in the most immigrants per capita of any country in the OECD , the club of rich nations. It has been in the top four Western countries both for the total number of migrants it accepts and for the proportion in its overall population .
But even though immigration policy powerfully affects Canada’s economy and culture, scholars say the Canadian media and politicians find the subject t oo sensitive, almost taboo, to debate . That’s unlike almost everywhere else.
Here’s a look at subjects the parties are taking on — and avoiding:
The Peoples Party of Canada, which is running at seven per cent in the polls, is the only party challenging the Liberals’ rising immigration targets.
Even Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have been muted during the campaign about how they want to bring in more than 410,000 new permanent residents a year, a hike from the 250,000 when first elected in 2015.
There is no Canadian consensus on immigration levels, which is probably why the Conservatives, NDP, Greens and Bloc have not set any targets. An Angus Reid poll found two of five Canadians say more than 400,000 a year is too many . And Nanos found only 17 per cent believe Canada should accept more immigrants in 2021 than last year.