Canadian soccer proves the power of citizenship

Sharp contrast.

While I have little patience with the Ottawa protesters/occupiers, there is a range between the organizers, who are extremists, and others who are frustrated (as all of us are).

But given the nature of the organizers, the many symbols of hate and the aggressive and abusive behaviour of many of those protesting, those who tolerate r don’t call out that behaviour are complicit:

It was a tale of two screens last Sunday.

On my phone, I was watching a stream of mostly white protesters rampaging around Ottawa, brandishing swastikas and Confederate flags, desecrating monuments, harassing journalists, assaulting homeless people and hurling racial slurs at those who stood in their way — even attacking ambulances rushing to patients in distress.

On TV, I watched the Canadian men’s soccer team pull off a gutsy, determined 2-0 victory over the United States — epitomizing the very best of the Canadian spirit and inching ever closer to qualifying for Canada’s first World Cup since 1986.

Two screens. Two Canadas. One closed to the world, fearful, and drenched in hate. The other, open to the world, confidently competing with the best in the world, made up of people from around the world who are proud Canadians by choice.

Canada’s new-found soccer success would not be possible without our ambitious immigration policy, which both Conservative and Liberal governments have supported over decades.

Just look at the makeup of the team. Canada’s star player, Alphonso Davies, was born in a Ghanaian refugee camp after his parents fled civil war in Liberia. Sunday’s goals were scored by Cyle Larin (Jamaican parents) and Sam Adekugbe (U.K.-born to Nigerian parents), with assists by Jonathan Osorio (Columbian parents) and Jonathan David (U.S.-born to Haitian parents). The Americans had a golden chance to tie the game late in the first half, but were denied by a highlight-reel save from Canada’s Yugoslavian-born goalkeeper, Milan Borjan, who celebrated emphatically before the sold-out crowd in his family’s chosen hometown of Hamilton, Ont.

But Canada’s immigration story is not the immaculate success we might think. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Canada having its own citizenship independent of Great Britain, yet the proportion of immigrants who become citizens dropped by 20 per cent between 1996 and 2016, the latest year for which data is available. It doesn’t help that, right now, more than 400,000 citizenship applications are sitting in a warehouse somewhere, awaiting processing by an outmatched bureaucracy that is only just getting around to allowing online applications. Citizenship applications now take more than two years to process — which doesn’t seem like evidence of a country eager to welcome new citizens.

Canadians continue to strongly support immigration, but too often it’s framed in purely economic terms. For example, in her last fall economic statement, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland devoted $85 million to reduce processing times. This is because “immigration is critical for Canada’s economic growth, especially when it comes to attracting top global talent, meeting the needs of employers and addressing labour shortages,” as the government’s Economic and Fiscal Update 2021 put it.

Source: Canadian soccer proves the power of citizenship

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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