Author Archives: Em Dean

Why do right wing immigration reformists like Liberal Canada’s points system?

oris Johnson may have hoodwinked a number of European liberal activists by promising to instate a points-based, also known as “merit-based”, immigration system, something for which the Liberal Democrats advocated as recently as Brighton Conference last year.

In 2018, proponents of the immigration motion passed by Conference gave weight to their arguments by comparing the policy to Canada’s, a country generally seen as having a generous approach to migrants’ rights. This much is fair. But we should delve a bit deeper into that policy to understand why it’s suddenly popular with the anti-immigrant Conservative government.

Canada’s points system was established in 1967 by the Liberal government of Lester Pearson, an internationalist to his core. Canada’s previous system was based principally on a migrant’s country of origin and ties to Canada and the Commonwealth. At the time, immigration to Canada was 85% European, mostly from the UK and France. Canada was committed to opening its borders and its culture to place itself on the international stage.

But the nature of the Canadian economy restricted Canada’s otherwise bold immigration reform. Canada is, and was, an export economy, with much of the country’s GDP coming from its energy sector, and most of that coming from oil. With the massive consumer economy of the USA on its doorstep, retaining this status was and is crucial. 

So when I hear UK immigration pundits saying “be like Canada”, I often think of some weaselly post-EU theorists saying “be like Norway”. We’re not an export economy, and unless you’re a Brexiteer fantasist, it seems unlikely that we will be. The world doesn’t have an insatiable appetite for marmite, curiously shaped dogs, and novelty cheeses. Like it or not, we need low-skilled immigrants. We need relatively uneducated immigrants. Moreover, Canada did not (and does not) have a substantial demand for temporary workers. Britain, by contrast, needs large numbers of temporary workers to sustain its agricultural and construction sectors, among others.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 38 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 6th Jun - 5:55pm
    Brexit could be given as an example of the need for compromise. The Brexiteers claim that the reason Brexit did not happen straight after the...
  • User AvatarDavid Garlick 6th Jun - 5:52pm
    Thank you for this insight into the plight of those dementia sufferers. I hope that this information features in the inevitable reports that emerge post...
  • User AvatarGeoff Reid 6th Jun - 5:45pm
    Johnmc is spot on. It does not help seeing these guys as funny on both sides of the Atlantic. That is the way Rees Mogg...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 6th Jun - 4:50pm
    @ Peter Watson You ask "what evidence was there that the party was not 'keen supporters of everything the Coalition did'?" Plenty of evidence, for...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 6th Jun - 4:39pm
    David Raw, John Marriott: i didn't say anything about whether Ed supported coalition at the time (obviously he did), or whether as leader he would...
  • User AvatarJohnmc 6th Jun - 4:31pm
    Please don’t call the ludicrous Rees Mogg by initials that suggest familiarity or fondness for him. ‘JRM’ is a willful anachronism and vicious reactionary. He...