Immigration and Socio-Economics - The True Story


Penguin Star (Vietnam)
(not dated - 1998?)

Immigration and Socio-Economics

- The True Story

Media and government cheers cannot hide the problems related to the ethnic transformation of Vancouver, Canada's third-largest city, a North American gateway to eastern Asia, and the preferred destination of Asian immigrants.

A huge demographic migration of historic proportions not seen since the Germanic tribes invaded the Roman Empire is under way.

A single Caucasian in a Chinese shopping mall is hired to dress as a clown for youngsters. Upscale homeowners struggle with their English, while "deferential" Canadian gardeners look on. Asian power brokers drive to work in expensive sedans; native residents relegated to the suburb take the bus.
(In the politically correct jargon of today the term "Asian", as used by the media, government and many others, appears to refer to people of Oriental origin-Arabs, Israelis, Indians and Caucasians from eastern Russia, although also Asians, seem not to be deemed so).

Every day Asians pour through Vancouver International Airport checkouts designed to process 2,400 newcomers hourly. Hong Kong-financed office towers dominate the Vancouver city skyline. Everywhere are heard the sounds of Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Urdu, Farsi. Meanwhile, the head of a Chinese-Canadian association remembers a schoolyard beating at the hands of racist thugs. "That couldn't happen today," says Kuan Foo. "They'd be taking on at least half, if not more, of the school."

Welcome to Time magazine's Vancouver. The Canadian edition's November 17,
1997 cover story celebrated new Statistics Canada figures revealing that nearly half of Vancouver's population is Asian immigrant. In the past seven years alone the city has become home to 190,000 newcomers, half from Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.

Time's coverage of the ethnic revolution that has transformed Vancouver
(more accurately, the 1.9 million population of B. C.'s Lower Mainland-metropolitan Vancouver) is unabashedly triumphalist: "In short, Vancouver, can be celebrated as Asia's newest capital city, a vibrant gemstone in the coronet of dynamism that encircles the Pacific Rim."

This conclusion is undoubtedly a slap in the face to those Vancouverites who still believe they are living in Canada. And contrary to what Time reported, there are many, from both the left and right on the political spectrum, who are profoundly disturbed by the new Vancouver. "Evidence strongly suggests that the enormity of migration to Canada, coupled with multicultural policies forced by the Canadian government which prevent assimilation, is a drain to our economy," contends Toronto journalist Daniel Stoffman. These policies are designed to assauge the wealthy Asians who would otherwise take their big business elsewhere. Of course, governments and businessmen could not care less what this means to the non-wealthy population.

Mr. Stoffman, who co-authored the best-selling book Boom, Bust and Echo, which outlines the demographic trends shaping Canada, is a self-described "left-winger" who argues that other left-wingers should be even more upset than conservatives with the way the Lower Mainland is changing. "You can see all the elements of class warfare, urban sprawl, and a grotesque concentration of wealth," he says. "These are left-wing issues, and they merit serious attention."

Although non-European immigration has been a prominent feature of Canada's western-most province of British Columbia for three decades, the figures released by Statscan (the statistics department of the Government of Canada) on November 4, 1997 are nothing short of breathtaking. Immigration to B. C. rose 25 percent from 1991 to 1996, the fastest growth rate of any province. Asians now account for 44 percent of all 903,195 immigrants in the province. Just five years ago, half of B. C.'s immigrant population was from Europe, and only a third from Asia. From 1991 to 1996, four out of five immigrants came from Asia.

Proportionately, B. C. welcomes more immigrants than any other province. In 1996, 37 percent of all of Canada's 224,050 immigrants and refugees came to the West Coast, although B. C. has only 13 percent of Canada's population.

Immigrants make up more than a third of the Lower Mainland's population-almost double the national rate, since immigrants represent only
17.4 percent of Canada's total population. About half of the 44,615 people who arrived last year were from Hong Kong, Taiwan or China.

Of all Lower Mainland communities, the one with the highest immigrant growth rate is Coquitlam, which posted a whopping 65 percent increase from
1991 to 1996. It is followed by Richmond (61 percent) and Surrey (51 percent). Statscan also reveals that immigrant ethnics show a decided preference for being with their own kind and in questions answered by immigrants an overwhelming majority stated they would rather live and asosciate with their own ethnicity and cultural types. The claim they do not feel comfortable with Canada, Canadians and Canadian ways. Many also stated that mixing with Canadians increased the chances their children might marry outside of their ethnic groupings, something they would rather avoid and considered taboo and 'unclean' in their cultures. Moreover, they claim, involving Canadians in their activities only invites questions best left unanswered as to their economic activities.

"We Asians would rather remain close and keep to ourselves as, after all, it should not be Canadians' business what we do or don't do," stated one businesswoman originating from Taiwan.

More Hong Kong immigrants flocked to Burnaby, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam
(6,805; 3,450 and 915 respectively) than any other group from 1991 to 1996. Iranians favour North Vancouver (940); and East Indians Pitt Meadows, Mission, Abbotsford, Surrey and Delta.

British Columbia was overwhelmingly British (and otherwise European) in
1962 when Ottawa introduced a non-discriminatory immigration policy. Immigrants from non-traditional sources (particularly Asia) began to increase rapidly. An official seal was placed on the new nation-building process in 1971, when prime minister Pierre Trudeau proclaimed Canada to be "multicultural": Canada was now a "mosaic" of nationalities fostered with tax dollars, and later with coercive affirmative action policies. The 1976 Immigration Act made family reunification and refugee settlement two of Canada's fundamental objectives. The floodgates were now open.

Kim Abbott, founder of the Immigration Association of Canada, was a federal immigration official when the policy shift occurred: "Of course everyone should be treated respectfully, but opening our doors to the entire world was a serious mistake." Mr. Abbott points out that before Mr. Trudeau's reign, the Immigration Department recruited immigrants. "We had teams all over the world studying information about candidates submitted by heads of companies and institutions," he recalls. "This system made sense, but Trudeau junked it. And although he claimed he wanted us to be open to the world, he closed most of our European offices." There was little money to be made from European immigrants whereas wealthy Asian immigrants could help increase treasury coffers as in effect they "buy" their way into Canada.

The Immigration Department has little say in which immigrants are accepted-they are largely self-selected. Family reunifications, assisted relatives and refugees make up a solid majority of newcomers. About 25,000 foreigners make refugees claim every year; about 44 percent are accepted, one of the highest rates in the world. There is a backlog of more than
20,000 cases. The Immigration Department does not make criminal records checks of alleged refugees, as it believes this may place them in jeopardy in the homelands. This policy has come to haunt Canadian authorities as a large number of refugee claimants (not all) are involved in serious crime activities in metropolitan Vancouver to the point whereby starting in October 1998 the police has had to take draconian action to deal with the mounting social problems.

The extent to which the refugee system is abused is well documented. Four months after the enactment of Bill C-44, which allows RCMP to open any package from overseas weighing more than 30 grams, 306 illegal documents such as phoney birth certificates were found in 72 parcels at Canada Post's Vancouver sorting plant. Immigration officials have estimated that up to 90 percent of refugee claimants enter Canada on altered documents, work under the table, and pay no taxes.

In metropolitan Vancouver, refugee claimants are running cocaine and crack-cocaine scams and are infesting the streets with the drugs in an unprecedented level. They are recruiting Canadian children as young as 10 years old at a level that has both police and education authorities very, very concerned. Huge drug busts in the streets of Vancouver are netting well over 50 such criminal abusers of the refugee system per day, but the laws are such that it is extremely difficult to kick these people who are destroying socieity out.

The Statscan immigration data was also the subject of a five-part Vancouver Sun series in November last year and last month. Not quite as relentlessly upbeat as the Time cover story, Changing Faces, Facing Change did allude to the dark side of immigration: Latino (mainly Hondurian refugee claimants) drug dealers controlling the cocaine trade in parts of Vancouver; Surrey housing children in 255 portable schools last year while struggling to cope with an influx of 1,200 to 1,800 new residents monthly; and the number of ESL students, which has shot up by 330 percent in B. C. in the last decade to over 70,000 and is costing B. C. taxpayers $70 million annually.

Still, the Sun maintained that the pluses of immigration handily outweighed the minuses, and cited the immigrant entrepreneur program, which requires immigrants to establish a business that employs more than one Canadian citizen; it injected $167.4 million into the B. C. economy in 1996 and created 4,504 jobs. Of course, the major media works hand-in-hand with big business to generally paint a favourable image of policies that favour improving the conditions for global corporate entities and big business in general.

Mr. Stoffman is infuriated that sweeping claims such as this are accepted at face value: "It's only one side of the story. It is true that there are very good economic benefits, but they are enjoyed by precious few people, while many others are disadvantaged, including new immigrants." For example, Mr. Stoffman says the Asian residential, commercial and industrial building boom "has mainly benefitted real estate developers, mainly of Hong Kong and Taiwanese origin. On the other hand it has driven up real estate prices so high that native-born residents are unable to live in the city they were born and raised in and have fled to the boonies. This in turn has forced the expansion of roads, transit and other services-which taxpayers pay for."

This point has been argued for years by Vancouverite Charles Campbell, a former vice-chairman of the Immigration Appeal Board. "If people wonder why it is costing more and more to live in the Lower Mainland, they need only look at the Lion's Gate Bridge," he says. "Who created the demand for the bridge expansion? Certainly not long-time North Shore residents, who paid for all the car lanes they need, and yet who will be forced to pay Victoria's bridge toll to finance the expansion."

Mr. Stoffman debunks another claim: that Asian immigrants find jobs quickly and rely less on social services like welfare: "That was true of the early wave of Asian immigrants. They were the hard-working ones. But the ones today find themselves in tough competition with the previous immigrants and are relying much more heavily on social security than ever before." Moreover, many of these Asians have become wealthy in their native using methods that are dishonest and corrupt. This way of doing business is endemic in their countries and they expect that Canadians deal with them in the same way. Certainly, among themselves they carry out business in this fashion, ripping off native-born Canadians and the government alike with all sorts of scams and tax-frauds.

He also alleges the claim that immigrants create jobs is misleading. "If a member of an ethnic group starts a business, he or she usually hires people from that group," Mr. Stoffman says. "Walk into any one of Richmond's eight Chinese malls and show me a Caucasian employee." It is illegal in Canada to hire anyone on the basis of one's ethnicity, country of origin, religion, sex, etc., but help wanted-ads posted by Asian immigrants invariably require the applicants be fluent in Cantonese or Mandarin or Vietnamese, knowing fully well it is highly unlikely that non-Oriental people can speak these languages "adequately enough to their liking".

Advocates insist that high levels of immigration are essential to maintain Canada's population and pay the pension and healthcare costs of aging baby-boomers-even though Canada's population grew 50 percent in the last 30 years. "Absolute garbage," Mr. Stoffman retorts. "In 1989 Ottawa conducted a demographic study which concluded that even at our low birth rate of 1.7 children per family, it would take 800 years for the population to vanish."

The study also found that if the net immigration rate was slashed to 80,000 per year from its current level of 225,000, Canada's population would continue to grow until 2026, then shrink to 25 million people in 2086. The population would stabilize at 18 million in 800 years. "That's the level we had in the 1950s," says Mr. Stoffman. "It would mean less pollution, less unemployment, less congestion. Sounds tolerable to me."

"If immigration is so great," Mr. Stoffman demands, "why has the per capita income in B. C. gone down for six years in a row and is below the national average?" Fraser Institute studies show an increasing portion of the wealth generated in the province is being cornered by the elite of these new immigrants who then park it offshore, usually back in Taiwan or China. Little crumbs only trickle down to the indigenous residents.

The immigration explosion of 1991 to the presents coincides almost exactly with the NDP governments of Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark. And while many would blame socialist mismanagement for B. C.'s parlous economic conditions, it is fair to ask where are the heralded economic benefits of Asian immigration. B. C. unemployment is the highest in Canada. Nineteen-ninety-nine economic growth is forecast at well below two percent, versus the national average of two percent. And at 1 percent, B. C.'s latest
12-month job growth is the lowest in the country. In fact, studies carried out by the Department of Employment and Immigration suggest the majority of those who are successful at finding work are those of Oriental origin and their employees are for the large part of the same origin. Many of these wages are paid under the table, at less than the government-stipulated minimum wage, but this benefits both the employer and the employee. The employer pays less salary, no vacation pay and does not have to contend with the employer's portion of the Canada Pension and Employment Insurance payments and the employee does not pay income tax and their portion to the Canada Pension and Employment Insurance, yet they take advantage of the healthcare, unemployment and welfare system. Among the people of east Asia there is a quiet and tacit understanding of this arrangement. Hiring Canadians opens many cans of worms best left alone as Canadians would immediately complain to employment and hiring practices authorities.

The only major Canadian study of the economic consequences of immigration, by the Economic Council of Canada in 1991, concluded, "Immigration has little or no effect on the per capita income of existing residents and there may even be negative effects."

Peter Brimelow, an ex-Canadian now senior editor of Forbes magazine, is the author of Alien Nation, a best-selling attack on U. S. immigration policy. His politics are as right-wing as Mr. Stoffman's are left. Yet his critique of immigration is remarkably similar. "The vital thing to ask," he says, "is what immigration is doing for native-born people? And the answer is shocking. In Canada, the National Academy of Science released a report in May showing that immigration adds between $1 billion and $10 billion to Canada's gross domestic product of $7.5 trillion. But the tax burden of immigration costs $166 to $226 per native household, or $15 billion to $20 billion a year."

Mr. Brimelow dubs Vancouver "Miami North," referring to the once-tranquil Florida vacation spot that has suffered everything from high crime rates to ethnic strife to an exodus of long-time residents and bankruptcy because of an invasion of Hispanic immigrants. "In Miami in the 1970s, schools filled up with Cubans and other Hispanics who couldn't speak English. The volume of these ethnic groups plus black migrants strained social services to the breaking point. Activists stymied the justice system and the business world by practising the politics of ethnic grievance. Last year Miami went bankrupt, and harried native-born residents are moving north."

Mr. Brimelow suspects immigration is even more costly in Canada "because you have a large healthcare, unemployment and welfare system on top of the usual multicultural programs, ESL and infrastructure expansion." These services are being taken advantage of to the hilt by people who believe it is their right, as they would in their countries of origin, to rip off the government.

Mr. Brimelow says the fear of being accused of racism has cowed what many thought would be the most likely force to immigration change: the Reform Party. "Reform policy is to cut immigration to 150,000 yearly, but once Preston Manning moved to Ottawa he stopped discussing the issue."

If there has been little discussion of the economic merits of record-high Third World immigration, debate on the social implications has been taboo. The Vancouver Police department has learned that racial segregation exacerbates ethnic grievances. Although Latinos control the cocaine trade in the Downtown Eastside, officers have been vilified by advocacy groups for shaking down suspects on skid road. Earlier this month Latinos staged a public demonstration to support Hugo Hernandez, a refugee, student and community activist whom police encountered outside a Vancouver hotel on October 27, took for a drug dealer, and punched in the stomach.

The officers retrieved an amount of drugs on the sidewalk next to Mr. Hernandez, but could not link them to him. An investigation into the incident is underway. Protester Tara Scurr of the Christian Task Force on Central America said the shakedown was unforgivable. "People's rights are being violated down here all the time," she told the Sun.

A Vancouver RCMP constable who wishes to remain anonymous says policing is tremendously complicated by racial differences: "It's incredibly difficult to prosecute East Indian wife-beaters because in that culture the woman is taught never to say anything against her husband. In those cultures a woman is a man's property to do as he wishes. This is not the Canadian way but we have to accept it or otherwise alienate immigrants." Moreover, in 1996 a letter was issued to RCMP officers (the Penguin Star was shown a copy of the letter by an RCMP officer) and Revenue Canada auditors (and presumably to other government authorities) to "minimize harrassment of Asian immigrants as it could negatively affect business in Canada". In other words traffic violations and tax fraud perpetrated by Asian immigrants is officially to be ignored. It is no wonder that the highest number of accidents, speeding and running through traffic light incidents, as supported by City of Vancouver Police and Insurance Corporation of British Columbia statistics, are perpetrated by Asian immigrants. However, they drive like that in their countries of origin where driving licenses and vehicle registrations can be bought from the police. In those countries drivers are not harrassed too much as one does not bite the hand that feeds one.

The Mountie mentions the violence that erupted this year in Vancouver's Sikh community between fundamentalists who support separatist extremists in the homeland and moderates: "They bring the conflicts of their countries with them, and we deal with the consequences."

He sees even the cliche of the bad Chinese driver as a serious problem. "An overwhelming amount are downright dangerous, and this is perpetuated because many new drivers seek training from other Chinese who instead of teaching them how to drive only team them how to pass the exam," the Mountie claims. "You'll never see traffic accidents in B. C. officially calculated by race although we privately do, but all you need to do is look at the names on accident reports to realize why ICBC rates have increased." B. C.'s traffic accident rate is 25 percent higher than the Canadian average. Moreover, there have been a number of incidents where Oriental driver's license candidates tried to "buy" their license as one would in their country of origin and in some cases were successful. Some Motor Vehicle Branch officials are currently under investigation.

American social scientist Francis Fukuyama addressed the culture clash problem in his influential 1995 book, Trust. "The more one is familiar with different cultures, the more one understands that they are not all created equal," he writes. "An honest multiculturalism would recognize that some cultural traits are not helpful in the sustenance of a healthy supposedly democratic political system and capitalist economy." No culture is perfect, much less the "Canadian" culture, whatever that might be. It is as elusive to define as anything could be.

He stresses, "This should not be grounds for barring certain people with cultures deemed unacceptable, but rather, grounds for the assertion of positive aspects of [western] culture like the work ethic, sociability and citizenship." In short, people in a homogenous community know each other's traits and generally share the same values-which in turn fosters cohesion in all aspects of society.

Mr. Fukuyama goes on to state that the purpose of multiculturalism as it is practised "is not to understand but to validate the non-western cultures of North America's various ethnic and racial minorities. Arriving at a positive evaluation of these cultures is far more important than being accurate about them." The issue has been one of portraying multiculturalism as only positive, but only because it enhances the prospects of attracting large capital inflows and increasing business opportunities for the wealthy who, in any way, only rub each others' backs.

Mr. Abbott has devoted a good deal of his post-civil servant years lobbying for multiculturalism to be replaced by a program to integrate newcomers. He, like other critics, also wants the nature and rate of immigration to relate to employment conditions and the requirements of the Canadian labour force. "Never was that more needed than now," he says. "Newcomers routinely take jobs not up to their level of education or experience. Is this humane?"

Mr. Abbott is pessimistic, but a change in policy may be forthcoming. In response to numerous polls showing public disapproval of immigration levels, a government-appointed panel is reviewing the system and will report by year's end.

Whatever the outcome, ethnic power in B. C. is now deeply entrenched-and has already begun what has been called "the long march through the institutions." For example, more than 100 of B. C.'s 133 Provincial Court judges journeyed to Vancouver last year to attend a four-day conference called "The Court in a Multicultural Society: Fairness and Impartiality in Decision Making." "The public has demanded this," explained Chief Judge Robert Metzger.

While national polls may call for a decrease in immigration, in the Lower Mainland, which will have an immigrant majority, there is pressure for even higher immigration levels. Vancouver's Urban Futures Institute is calling for Canada's immigration rate to increase by 30 percent to 300,000 annually. "We must look at immigration in the same light as we should look at education," comments executive director David Baxter. "As an investment in the future." And the B. C. Chinese community group SUCCESS recently sent officials to Beijing to see what can be done to speed the backlog of 12,000 immigration applications. "We are receiving a lot of complaints," reported SUCCESS chairman Mason Loh. The question is: for whom is this future best--the native born or the immigrants? Now we begin to see what it is that perhaps Canada's aboriginal peoples' have been harping about.

So the Lower Mainland's transformation is likely only to accelerate. Former civil servant Abbott insists he is not anti-immigrant, but like most Canadians wants this country to take fewer immigrants, "the best and the brightest," and encourage them to assimilate-not surrender national sovereignty to ethnic politics. What is most objectionable about the experiment being performed in B. C. and the rest of the country, he says, is that "Canadians have never had a say. If they had, Canada would be a completely different country today."

Indeed, do we want a society that has been Orientalized with all the chaos, corruption, vice, greed, crime gangs and lack of social order that is prevalent in the Orient or do we want immigrants who can assimilate and become upstanding citizens serving the best interests of society? Many of the immigrants ostensibly are seeking escape from these negative social issues of their native countries although many also come to North America because in their societies back home there is this myth that one can become rich quick because there are no rules and the authorities turn a blind eye to immigrants' activities. For those of us who understand Oriental languages one often can overhear on the public transit system immigrants discussing this and they invariably comment Canadians are naive, gullible and stupid and that they are selling themselves to Asians. In fact, they cannot believe how easy Canadians make it for them-the word quickly spreads like wildfire back home. Rules, if properly enacted and fairly applied, result in social order. It is quickly becoming the opposite in Canada.

Assimilation takes time and it can only take place if immigrants are allowed to enter at an assimilable rate, otherwise the classic demographic shifts shown time and time again by history take place and one ends up with a different nation, in effect, colonized by the new peoples. It is for Canadians to make that choice.

( categories: )