FATAH: It is time to stamp out immigrant-bashing

The consumer argument for large-scale immigration (based on larger GDP than increasing per capita GDP):

The word “immigrant” is slowly emerging as a slur among the fringes of Canada’s right-wing. This creeping phenomenon reminds me of the term “Paki-bashing” that was still in vogue in 1976 when I first visited Canada as a young TV reporter covering the Montreal Olympics.

Those dark days are well-documented by Tanya Sabena Khan in her 2012 PhD thesis at McGill University. She documents an article in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 7, 1976, headlined: “Unprovoked Racial Attack.”

It was a story by Stan Oziewicz who reported: “Two youths shoved a Pakistani fellow over the lip of the Islington subway platform.”

The victim, Shamshudin Kanji, was actually a 49-year-old Tanzanian immigrant.

Kanji was beaten and kicked on the platform by Steven Ingram, 22, and Thomas Allan Grimsdale, 19, while a third young man shouted “push the Paki.” Ingram responded by pushing Kanji off the platform onto the wood cover on the electrified third rail.

The attack left Kanji hospitalized for months and according to doctors “crippled for life.”

Fortunately, Canada stamped out such racism, thanks to outrage by decent mainstream white Canadians — from left-wing New Democrats to right-wing Conservatives as well as the domineering Liberals.

Xenophobia (fear of foreigners) is alas common among people around the globe whether it is faced by Kurds in Turkey or Darfuris in Sudan and Poles in Britain. It’s a sign of our collective insecurity compounded by self-righteousness that gives us comfort in our inner suspicion of fellow humans.

But once political parties of the left descend into playing politics with ethno-religious communities, using them as vote banks, it is only natural that there will be an opposite reaction from those who feel, they are “real” Canadians and the “immigrants” are free-loaders.

To those who are convinced Canada should shut its doors to immigrants, imagine for a moment the scenario in just two sectors of the Canadian economy if immigrants went on a strike and refused to come to Canada in 2020.

  1. 200,000 fewer mattresses will be sold along with countless unsold pillows and bedsheets.
  2. The housing industry will slip into a freeze with a downward spiral in rents and a dip in tax revenues at every level of government.

Across our economy, revenues in business income taxes and the GST will plunge, not just in a quarterly recession, but a possible long-term economic slowdown that will do serious damage. A lack of consumers can stifle economic progress.

Henry Hazlitt, the best-selling author of Economics in One Lesson, wrote: “U.S. consumers account for approximately 70% of the national economy. Spending is an important role of consumers. Free market economies rely on consumer demand to gauge the allocation and distribution of economic resources.”

Canada imported US$458.9 billion worth of goods from foreign suppliers in 2018 to keep its economy running. This included steel products, automobiles and a host of other goods and services. Missing from this economics equation are the 300,000 immigrants that Canada got for free, without whom the economy would have stuttered.

According to the financial management magazine Money Sense, it costs over $250,000 to raise a single Canadian 18-year-old adult “consumer” who drives our economy. Shouldn’t Canada pay for this immigrant? Or at the least say thank you?

How many of you realize that under one category of “skilled immigrants,” a family of four needs to bring with them a bank draft of $23,542 on landing in Canada. Imagine if this family has to put up with slogans of “welfare cheats” (as was heard in one Mississauga political rally recently).

Someone better teach the new breed of anti-immigrant hatemongers this lesson. Or else another Shamshudin Kanji may have to pay the price.

Source: FATAH: It is time to stamp out immigrant-bashing

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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