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Opinion: The world doesn’t need any more Canadians

Our Canadian lifestyle is a huge burden on the planet. So why are we expanding it with record setting-levels of immigration?

If there’s one thing this simmering planet has enough of, it’s Canadians. 

While a few smaller oil-producing states have us beat, amongst the G7 nations, Canada is at the top of the list for carbon emissions per capita.

Our Canadian lifestyle is a huge burden on the planet. 

So why are we expanding it with record setting-levels of immigration?

It’s not just because of how everything is spread out, and we don’t have basic things like regional bus service, or rail service to Vancouver. Or that most of us heat our enormous houses - some of the largest on the planet - with natural gas.  It’s also because literally every consumer good we purchase is shipped here from halfway around the world.

It’s a fact of life in Canada, most of us are guilty, myself included. But does this mean, at the global scale, our lifestyle and useless carbon-spewing economy is something the world needs more of? 

Probably not, and not just because of the environmental consequences.

The fabric of our society is stretched pretty thin as it is.  Housing is an unquestionable crisis.  The health care system isn’t keeping up.  We have a tough time taking care of our existing infrastructure, let alone expanding it for more expensive urban sprawl.

And despite all this, our towns, cities and hospitals are supposed to provide for up to a million newcomers every year? 

You could make a case for these immigration levels if we had a transformational plan for our economy and our built environment, where we focused development on walkable downtowns, and willed into existence a localized economy of manufacturing and value-added production.

But that isn’t happening. 

You could make a case for immigration if we prioritized newcomers from poor areas of vulnerable countries including places like Bangladesh, much of which could soon be under water.

But we don’t.

If they’re lucky, we might allow lower-income, unskilled immigrants in as Temporary Foreign Workers to drive down wages for lower skilled jobs and keep those corporate profits rolling in.  Or we bring in international students to feed the universities and their bloated administrations and the growing number of parasitic strip-mall colleges.  

But a big reason for immigration and permanent residency is to bring in money, regardless of whether or not that money is the product of corruption, crime, and money laundering.  And there’s probably an economic rationale to that. The more cash, legitimate or not, the global elite spends on housing, the higher the real estate market can fly and the longer the housing bubble can be sustained.

It’s pretty much all there is in Canada if you want to become wealthy.   

I guess it’s great if you own property and are a landlord, like most of our politicians, not so great for the growing ranks of homeless and precariously housed.

I’m starting to think we pursue population growth not for quality of life, or a sound economy, and certainly not for the sake of the planet, but for corporate profits, real-estate investors and developers.

Is that a good enough reason?

James Steidle is a Prince George writer.