Could populism take root in Canada? Too late – it already has

Two slightly different takes on populism in Canada, starting with Andrew Potter who notes that the Canadian variant as seen in the provinces is largely not anti-immigration (save for Quebec with its Bill 21):

Ever since Donald Trump won the American presidency in 2016 with a toxic combination of sexism, vulgarity and the brazen courting of white nationalists, Canadian academics, pundits and pollsters have been obsessed with the question: “Could it happen here?”

By “it,” they mean the rumblings of discontent that have propelled right-wing populists to power across the West. Mr. Trump and Brexit are the most widely cited examples of the phenomenon, but almost every country has been implicated to some extent. Except, apparently, Canada, where the answer to the question of whether it could happen here is typically “yes, but.…”

That is, what we get is some dire reading of the tea leaves (it could happen here!) countered by a renewed faith in Canada’s continuing exceptionalism, thanks in large part to our healthier institutions and superior values.

But the truth is, not only can populism happen here – it already has. The reason most observers miss this is that they are working with a conception of populism that doesn’t really apply to the Canadian context.

The standard academic take is that populism is an ideological empty vessel, capable of taking left-wing or right-wing forms depending on the particular national context. But regardless of its shape, at the core of the populist instinct is the idea of a pure or authentic people being exploited or humiliated by a corrupt elite. As a consequence, populists typically deny the legitimacy of mainstream political and legal institutions, reject the value of experts such as academics and scientists, and demonize immigrants and refugees.

This last characteristic is the one most people have in mind when they worry about populism. And there are good reasons to be worried, especially in an immigrant-heavy country such as Canada. But while it is worth keeping an eye on changes in our usual welcoming approach, when it comes to populism, it’s not clear how relevant it is to the Canadian context.

That’s because populism in Canada isn’t, and probably never will be, about an authentic original people being diluted by an immigrant tide or debased by a class of globalist elites. Yes, there’s some of that to be found here, but it will never go anywhere, precisely because there never has been a single overriding dominant settler culture. From Canada’s earliest days there were always two or three distinct cultures striving for control. There simply is no “authentic” Canadian identity to serve as the focus for resentful nostalgists.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no populism here. There’s plenty of it – in many ways, Canada is the most populist-ridden country going. It just takes a form where we don’t recognize it as populism. Instead, we call it regionalism.

We usually talk about Canada’s regional identities as a point of pride, the sort of thing that spurs singalong tunes by Stompin’ Tom Connors or the Tragically Hip. But there is a dark side to it, part of which was brought to light earlier this year in a major survey done by Angus Reid on Western alienation and the state of the federation.

The striking thing the survey revealed is how much Canadians don’t particularly like one another, with British Columbia and Quebec particularly isolated. To the extent that there is any interprovincial amity, it’s completely local. Saskatchewan and Alberta currently have a little bromance going, and the people in the Maritimes all seem to like one another well enough. But after that, it’s pretty much either resentment or indifference across the board, and a sharp reminder of how weak Canadian nationalism is. Forget the two solitudes – we’ve got like seven of them.

What motivates this regionalism is a complicated mix of history, demographic shifts and economic fortunes. What is remarkable, though, is how often it manifests as a hatred of elites, especially the “Laurentian elite” in the Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal triangle and the institutions they control. On this view, the “authentic” Canadians are the regional peoples – the Québécois or the Maritimers or the Albertans or the Cascadians, all of whom are lorded over in their own way by the cosmopolitan elites in Ottawa.

This is populism of a highly regionalist sort. But whereas the current Quebec version, as practised by François Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec, is strongly anti-immigrant, in general regionalist populism is highly congenial to being on good terms with newcomers. This is something that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have proven more than willing to exploit, with a considerable amount of success.

The upshot is that all the worrying over whether the right-wing populists will take power in Canada misses the fact that they already have. They’ve merely taken to the provincial level of politics to air their grievances and accomplish their goals.

Source: Could populism take root in Canada? Too late – it already has: Andrew Potter

Canada has so far managed to avoid the populist disruptions seen in other Western democracies, but the social fabric tying the country together may be starting to fray, a leading expert on the issue said.

In his book Whiteshift, political scientist Eric Kaufmann described Canada as a possible exception to the populist wave in the West, but in a recent interview with economist Tyler Cowen, Kaufmann said the precarious status quo is now under threat.

“The idea that English Canada is immune to this is actually wrong and I do think we’re going to see more of it going forward,” Kaufmann said. “The electorate is now more polarized on cultural issues than it’s ever been in Canada. We’ll have to see where that goes, but I don’t think Canada will be the great exception that it has been for much longer.”

As evidence of this, Kaufmann pointed to the newly founded People’s Party of Canada, which advocates for reduced immigration levels; and Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government in Ontario, which he said “has elements of this populism.” Ford’s government, though, has mainly steered clear of the immigration issue, except for a brief spat with the federal government over funding for resettling asylum seekers who had crossed the border illegally.

Neither the federal Conservatives or Ford’s PC government have called for a reduction in the amount of legal immigrants that Canada accepts each year. Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has called for a reduction in the number of immigrants allowed into Canada from 310,000 to 250,000. The current Liberal government hopes to boost the number to 350,000 by 2021.

On Cowen’s podcast, Kaufmann said he’d also noticed recent polling that shows support for immigration isn’t changing much in Canada, but that it is hardening along partisan lines.

“Immigration attitudes are now very different depending if you’re a Conservative or Liberal voter. That didn’t used to be the case even five years ago, so there’s more of a politicization of that issue now,” he said.

A recent poll by EKOS found that nearly 70 per cent of Conservatives surveyed believed that there are too many visible minorities among immigrants, while only 15 per cent of Liberals agreed with that sentiment. Just five years ago, the same poll showed 47 per cent of Conservatives in agreement, alongside 34 per cent of Liberals.

In his book, which grapples with the end of white majorities in Western societies, Kaufmann devotes a chapter to “Canadian exceptionalism,” trying to explain why the country has managed to avoid a populist backlash despite high levels of immigration.

Kaufmann argues that there is an elite consensus in Canada about multiculturalism and anti-racism that makes many populist ideas taboo. For example, when Kellie Leitch ran for leader of the Conservative Party on a plan to screen immigrants for “Canadian values,” she was overtly branded a racist by pundits and rivals.

People will start to resent this suppression “only when there is a breach of etiquette by a successful populist politician, which pulls the centre-right across a norm boundary,” wrote Kaufmann.

In English Canada, the poll by EKOS found about 40 per cent of people think there are too many visible minorities in their communities but “the difference is there are no political vehicles channeling this at the federal level,” Kaufmann wrote.

Taboos are particularly effective at enforcing moral norms because “people act not only on their own beliefs, but from perceptions of what others think is correct,” he wrote. That helps explain why anonymous polling on immigration tends to show more negative results and why norm-breaking politicians like Donald Trump can sometimes inspire what seems like a spontaneous wave of support.

Kaufmann takes care to differentiate between Quebec and English Canada and argues that François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec, which was elected on an immigration reduction platform, fits the profile of a populist-right party. The difference, Kaufmann argues, is that English Canada’s historical lack of identity has been replaced with multiculturalism, while Quebec has always maintained a distinct culture.

“Where Quebec identity is territorial, historical and cultural, the contemporary Anglo-defined Canadian identity is futuristic: a missionary nationalism centred on the left-modernist ideology of multiculturalism,” wrote Kaufmann.

Although English-speaking Canadians and Quebecers share similar sentiments on issues that have traditionally been embraced by populist parties — for example, on banning the burka — Kaufmann argued that “the distinct elite norms of English Canada” account for the difference in mainstream support.

“As long as there is no system breach, English Canada may be able to repress criticism of multiculturalism and mass immigration indefinitely,” Kaufmann wrote in his book, published in late 2018. Since then, he fears the system may already have been breached.

Source: ‘I don’t think Canada will be the great exception’ to populist disruption, expert says

A Political Scientist Defends White Identity Politics: Intv with Eric Kaufman

Good long interview with Kaufman who appears to be the most recent variation of multiculturalism critics. What is always interesting is that concern over immigration tends to be higher in areas where immigration is lowest, tending to undermine his main thesis. His denial of systemic barriers and patterns is also revealing.

But like others, I also agree with his call for lowering the tone and realizing that the issues are not black and white and the need to have a more open and respectful discussion of immigration and related issues, and reduced recourse to labels to shut down conversations (even if ironically, his work is being cited or used by some to that end):

In his new book, “Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities,” Eric Kaufmann—a professor of politics at Birkbeck College, University of London—examines the response of many white people in the West to the increasing racial diversity of their countries. “Today’s populist earthquake has little to do with economics,” Kaufmann writes, instead attributing that earthquake to cultural and racial factors. But, unlike many of the scholars who have attributed events such as Brexit and Donald Trump’s election to racial grievances, Kaufmann is opposed to what he calls the “anti-white ideology of the cultural left.” He believes that “ethnic majorities need a future, and civic nationalism can’t offer it.”

For all these reasons, Kaufmann—whose book has been hailed by intellectuals such as Andrew Sullivan and Tyler Cowen—believes that politicians must accept and even accommodate white grievances. “If politics in the West is ever to return to normal rather than becoming even more polarized, white interests will need to be discussed,” he writes. “In an era of unprecedented white demographic decline it is absolutely vital for it to have a democratic outlet.” Kaufmann says that “politicians should set [immigration] levels that respect the cultural comfort zone of the median voter,” and he is open to the possibility of long-term refugee camps and a border wall to placate native majorities. He also thinks that liberals should be more tolerant of those who openly express pride in their whiteness.

I recently spoke by phone with Kaufmann. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed whether structural racism still exists in the U.S., whether the left is too reliant on racial explanations for political trends, and whether there are double standards when it comes to evaluating the behavior of ethnic majorities.

You call whiteness “an ethnicity like any other.” What is whiteness, in your definition?

The term “white” can refer to an ethnic majority group like white American, or it can refer to a racial category, which is a piece of the color spectrum or the phenotype spectrum. Those two are pretty aligned right now. They’re not perfectly aligned, but they weren’t very aligned in the past. In the future, I don’t think they’ll be that aligned, either.


I think that the ethnic majority will ultimately become transracial or beige, to use Michael Lind’s terminology, simply because of the admixture of non-racially white groups into that group, who I’m suggesting will identify still with the ethnic majority.

This is the thesis of your book. Can you explain more what the title means?

“Whiteshift” has two meanings. One is a more immediate meaning relevant to our lifetime, which is the decline of white ethnic majorities before they blur and expand to absorb those of mixed race. They’re in decline, which creates the conditions, I would argue, for the rise of right-wing populism and polarization. Then the second meaning of whiteshift is this longer-term one. You’re going to get this very rapidly rising mixed-race population that will become the majority and will take over the consciousness, memories, and myths of that current ethnic majority.

Sometimes you talk about race or “racial self-interest” among whites. So you’re using it as both an ethnicity and a race in some sense, correct?

I guess what I’m getting at there is the ethnic self-interest of the majority. Now, on ethnicity, that’s to do with a community that believes itself to be of shared ancestry, but note that you just have to share one lineage. There can be other lineages in there that differ between the members, but they focus on the common one. Like the Jews, for example, have different DNA in them.

Most Italian people and most Irish people are considered white in America at this point. How would something like that operate?

These groups have intermarried a lot, so much so that almost everyone is mixed. There’s also this European supra-ethnic, if you like, level.

You write, “If politics in the West is ever to return to normal rather than becoming even more polarized, white interests will need to be discussed. I realize this is very controversial for left-modernists. Yet not only is white group self-interest legitimate, but I maintain that in an era of unprecedented white demographic decline it is absolutely vital for it to have a democratic outlet.” Can you say a little bit more about what specifically you’re arguing for?

Yes. Part of this comes from a view that what’s ultimately behind the rise of right-wing populism are these ethnic-majority grievances, particularly around their decline, and that ultimately this is about nostalgia and attachment to a way of life or to a particular traditional ethnic composition of a nation. Wanting for that not to erode too quickly is the motivation. I think the survey data show that it’s much more about that than about material things, for example, or even fears. It’s about attachment to one’s own group rather than hatred of other groups. This is an important distinction. The survey data from the American National Elections Study show that whites who feel very warmly toward whites are not any more cold toward, say, African-Americans, than whites who aren’t very warm toward whites.

When you say that “white interests” will need to be discussed in politics, I presume you acknowledge that the interests of white people are generally taken into account as much as any group, if not more than other groups. Do you mean explicitly discussed?

There should be an equal treatment of groups in the cultural sphere. There’s no question whites are advantaged economically, politically. I’m not going to dispute that. But in the cultural sphere, on immigration, the group whose numbers have declined, or who experienced a more rapid sense of change and loss due to migration, are the white majority. If, for example, they’re saying, “We would like to have a slower rate of change to enable assimilation to take place,” I think that’s actually a legitimate cultural interest. It doesn’t mean that it should drive policy. I think a moderate group self-interest is fine.

This is seen as toxic, as expressed by a majority group, but when minorities express these interests, that’s seen as quite normal. I think that when it comes to white liberals, there tends to be a double standard, as there is with white conservatives, by the way, when it comes to groups expressing their self-interest.

Are you saying that it is in the “self-interest” of white people to have lower immigration rates, or are you saying that if white people perceive that it’s in their interest, they should be able to express that without being shamed for being racist? Or both?

I’m saying that for the conservative members of the white majority who are attached to their group and its historic presence, I think that sense of loss and wanting to slow down that sense of loss is an understandable motivation. The problem is when you bar that from the discussion. It then gets sublimated and expressed in what I think actually are more negative ways, when it comes to racism. I think it’s not very different from African-Americans in Harlem not wanting Harlem to lose its African-American character. It’s a similar cultural loss-protection argument, which is actually not that different from wanting to preserve historic buildings or ways of life. The problem is that then they go toward fear of criminals and terrorism, and immigrants putting pressure on services, and all the things which there’s very little evidence for, and I think are more negative because they actually stigmatize an out-group, which is closer to the definition of racism than simply being attached to one’s own group. Not that that doesn’t carry some risks as well, but I think that it’s more problematic to suppress it for the majority and not for minorities. I think that’s creating a quite negative situation.

You write that “diversity falls flat for many because we’re not all wired the same way.” What do you mean by “wired”?

This gets at political-psychology literature on authoritarianism and conservatism, which shows that between a third and a half of people have a hereditary disposition toward preferring order and security to novelty and change. What that means is that you’ve got members of both the majority and minorities who have that more conservative, order-seeking disposition. The problem we’re in is that when multiculturalism enjoins the majority to be individualistic and post-ethnic, and not to be attached to its groups, and minorities conversely to be attached to their groups, this doesn’t really fit. If you are wired in the conservative, order-seeking member of a majority psychologically, that’s not going to work for you. This is really where I think populism is coming from.

It seems like you’re making two arguments. One is that people are different from one another. The other is that the group whom you call in your book “left modernists,” in the way they talk about race on college campuses, on social media, are driving white people mad, and making them feel more besieged, and making them even more nationalist than they otherwise would be, or pushing them into that corner. Would that be a fair way to say it?

Left modernism has two sides to it. One is a banal, quiet side, which is political correctness—there are things that you do which are polite and things you don’t say because they’re impolite. Then it has this louder campus-antics stuff. I actually think that louder stuff on campus is less important. I mean, it’s more important in the U.S. because of the right-wing media picking up on it and circulating it, but I would say it’s that quieter political correctness which ultimately is more important in society as a whole.

For example, if the definition of racism comes to include campaigning to reduce immigration, then mainstream politicians aren’t going to be able to touch that issue without being attacked in the media or by their own parties. I use the analogy of the black market, where, if the mainstream market won’t supply a political good, the black market will step in. On the immigration front, for example, Donald Trump was the black marketeer who, because of the strictures on what is deemed acceptable to campaign on, because anti-immigration was seen as kind of racist, had a marketplace that he could fill.

Trump arose after eight years of the Obama Administration, which deported more people than any previous Administration, and during a time when immigration rates had actually been falling from the Clinton and Bush Administrations. At the same time that Obama was pushing for a deal on comprehensive immigration reform, he was also beefing up border security. What makes you think that the conversation was such that people had no choice but to turn to Donald Trump?

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. By the way, Obama was much tougher on immigration than the numbers. If you look at what was going on from about the mid-two-thousands, in terms of grassroots congressional activism, and even the local and anti-immigration ordinances that were popping up from that period, this issue was gaining a higher profile then. Actually, if you looked at Republicans—if you were asking, “What’s the most important issue facing the country?”—immigration was never more than a few percentage points from the time our records start, in the nineteen-thirties to the nineteen-nineties. And then, in about 2014, with the Central American mothers and children, the issue spikes up to fifteen per cent of Republicans saying that’s the most important issue facing the country, and stays up. What’s really important, what’s really unprecedented, is this issue has a profile from 2014, with about ten to fifteen per cent of Republicans saying that’s their No. 1 issue.

If you look at Gallup polls of how people feel about immigration, on the whole, the country is actually more pro-immigration than it’s been in the past. But you would say that there’s this small chunk of the Republican Party that is more passionate about it than they’ve ever been, and so that would explain that discrepancy. Is that right?

Right. The key is really in the primaries. What explains voting for Trump in the primaries? If you look at the 2016 American National Election Studies pilot survey, from January, it’s very clear that views on immigration are the No. 1 discriminator between, say, Trump and a voter for [Ted] Cruz or [John] Kasich or anyone else.

I guess the question is why that’s happening. You could say, “Well, Republicans are getting more conservative for various reasons.” You could say, “The Republican Party as an institution is cracking, and so these more populist forces from below are rising up.” You could say, “Conservative media and its increasing anti-immigration stance has an increasing hold on voters.” It seems like your focus is more on the fact that there are people on the left who sometimes say that people are racist, and that’s what’s responsible for it.

No. Well, O.K. That is important only because it prevents a mainstream Republican candidate, I think, from campaigning on that issue and making it a centerpiece of their campaign, rather than a maverick who says all kinds of nasty things about Mexicans and Muslims. If you actually had a more measured individual who said, “We’re going to take this more seriously, even build a wall, perhaps,” that would have taken the real estate, I think, where Trump emerged.

We’ve had fascist and authoritarian leaders all throughout history. We have them now in Brazil and India, and Israel, Turkey, and China are trending that way. I’m trying to understand why, in the U.S. and Europe in 2019, we should believe that there’s some specific reason having to do with the cultural left’s hold on power or white decline.

It’s not the cultural left’s hold on power. Really, what it is is the correlation at the level of the individual in survey data between views on immigration and how high you prioritize immigration issues. It’s been by far the strongest thing predicting voting for the populist right. That’s the core, if you like, of why it’s centrally about immigration, and that class and economic stuff is much, much weaker in all these models.

Now, the question about the left: this is really about the supply issue and why mainstream parties weren’t supplying the rhetoric or policies on immigration that so fire up these voters. I think that, to get there, you do need to explain the normative strictures that were there.

You write in the book, “Arguments based on critical race theory, history or income differences do not constitute rigorous evidence of a structure of white privilege. Too often proponents make unfalsifiable claims which intimate that white privilege is engraved into the soul of society.” It seems like you think the left has collectively lost its mind a bit about identifying things as racist. Is that fair?

The left is a broad label. I don’t mean the center-left. I think the radical left is where critical race theory is. I don’t think someone like Barack Obama or someone in the center-left has lost their mind, but I think if you look at the academic-critical race theory, yeah. It’s not evidence-driven. It’s not falsifiable. Constructs like power are not measurable. Something like structural racism, I think that’s certainly a possibility, but I think structures are measurable.

You don’t think structural racism exists? You think it’s a possibility?

I would need to see evidence of these structures. For example, if you have separate bathrooms, if you have laws on the books, if you have minutes of meetings of people saying, “We should put the hospital in this area because it’s a white area,” something like that.

What about red-lining policies?

Yeah, these structures were certainly there. I don’t deny that they were there in the past, but I think, again, a lot of this was individual-level racism. When African-Americans tried to move into white neighborhoods in Philadelphia, they had their windows broken. They were intimidated out of the areas. This is very much at the level of individuals. Similarly, in racist police departments, the government was actually trying to integrate, to solve this issue. It was the individuals in these communities who were resisting that.

So with things like schools still being segregated, or racial and ethnic minorities receiving lower-quality health care, or minority job applicants being denied more often, you’re saying this is not coming from the government, it’s coming from individual people, and so the racism is not structural?

Yeah. For example, a lot of those individual measures, like I don’t want my kid marrying an African-American, or I’m against interracial marriage, or I don’t want a black boss, in the survey data, it’s very low now. It’s not perfect. It will take a little bit more time before we get rid of it entirely.

Just a bit, yeah.

“Structure” is a word that’s sometimes chucked out there. O.K., people are not individually racist anymore, but the structures are there. Well, which structures? I can be convinced. If you can’t get insurance if you live in an area even though other indicators are identical to another area, and the only difference is the ethnic composition, then that’s an argument. It could just be you’ve got a stingy government, and people don’t want to be taxed to pay for these services.

Also the fact that these structures existed for a very long time.

Right. That’s often the argument. People will go back to the history, and I say, “Yeah, and there were anti-Semitic structures in Europe, and in the U.S., there were anti-Catholic structures, and no one would talk about them today, because they’re not existing anymore.” If something existed in the past, there are at least a couple of possibilities: No. 1, it could still exist. No. 2, it could not exist, or, No. 3, even the reverse could exist. Those are three hypotheses that need to be tested to see which one holds up.

But you were aware of all these studies about trying to get jobs, quality of health care, how much schools are still segregated?

Right. The question with school segregation is, again, how much is that is down to an individual decision about where to live. It’s not people having their windows broken and kept out of white areas. I think that I would see this as individual choices about where to live, and, yes, there is, I’m sure, white avoidance of diverse areas and we know that exists, but this is a sort of ethnic preference. It’s not clear to me that that is the same as, you know, “separate but equal.”

You write, “The underlying premise is that whites are incurable oppressors.” This comes in a discussion about the opinions of the cultural left. But your book is arguing that if politicians don’t talk about this in just the right way, white people are going to start voting for fascists. So it seems like you’re also saying the racism is pretty damn close to the surface. Or am I missing something?

No, no, I’m not saying that they’re going to suddenly hate minorities, or going to be racist.

They will just vote for people who do?

Yeah, exactly, they may vote for people who are noxious or say nasty things about minorities, like Donald Trump. Yeah, that could be a negative effect. Whereas if a mainstream, civilized individual took on these concerns, and said, “You can’t have everything you want; no one can have everything they want; you will get part of what you want”—I think that would be a better way of going about it. People would feel, “O.K., I am not such a bad person; I have been listened to.”

But to essentially not have this group be allowed to express interests while other groups are, in a situation where this group is shrinking, I don’t think this is a sustainable situation. There are identity politics on all sides, but I would like to see it be a moderate form where each group goes for less than what it really wants and accepts a compromise. Whereas I sometimes find that on the radical left they are encouraging minority groups to go for a maximal group interest.

It seems like we have talked about the possible effects of hundreds of years of slavery and segregation continuing to manifest themselves today, and you seemed open to that possibility but also skeptical of it. And we have also talked about politicians in the West not being sympathetic enough to white interests in some of their rhetoric and how that could lead to people voting for authoritarians. It feels like you are thinking about cause and effect in a much more forgiving way in one case than the other one. Or do you think I am being unfair?

No, no, I would like all of these claims to be evidence-based, first of all. Are groups being treated equally? I think the reason it is coming across as favoring the majority is that the narrative has been framed in the high culture in so much the other way. It is not the minorities themselves, who are actually more centrist; it is more this white liberal group that has this world view.

You are also making somewhat of a cause-and-effect argument about people talking this way having an effect on the white majority, correct?

What I think has happened is that these norms which arise from the nineteen-sixties—these limits on the boundaries of discourse, the Overtonwindow, the definition of racism—they are linked to a set of ideas that have more recently gone into a quite extreme form of expression on university campuses. I don’t think that form of expression on university campuses is actually the driver, but it is more the strictures on what can be politically debated. It is that that has given space to the populists.

Now, it is also the case in the United States that hostility to political correctness is also a driver of voting for Trump in the polls, especially in the primaries. But I still don’t think it’s as important as these red lines and limits on what can be debated, which, by restricting what can be politically debated, open up space. However, I don’t say that in every case the mainstream parties should go there. Like George Wallace, for example, on segregation.

You do acknowledge “red-lining” about the cultural stuff.


There was a National Review piece on your book and it offered a bunch of possible restrictions for immigration skeptics to get behind, from awarding green cards based on points such as earnings potential and more border security. But the writer concluded, “I would do all of this long before embarking on a project to normalize openly racial arguments for limiting immigration.” What’s your response to that?

I’m not talking about racial arguments. What I was simply talking about was a desire to keep numbers low to limit the rate of change. So this idea of slowing down a rate of ethno-cultural change is, in my view, not a racist thing to do if it’s motivated by attachment to one’s own. If it’s motivated by hatred of other groups, then it is racist. I don’t deny that some of that exists.

You say in the book that a policy like building the wall is not inherently racist; it’s not like segregation or something. How do we deal with a substantive issue like that when the person pushing to get it on the agenda is clearly using it in a racist way?

Clearly, Trump is the worst person to put forward that argument, because of all the racist things he said. But people might be in favor of a particular Middle East policy because they are anti-Semitic, for example, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the policy itself is the wrong policy.

O.K., but we can all agree that when saying things like money from Jews has some effect on Middle East policy, even if that is objectively true, we need to find careful ways of saying it, because it plays into stereotypes or racial things, right?


And so it seems to me that with something like the wall, which we have knowledge certainly plays into racial stuff, it’s not so easy to say, “Oh, let’s just talk about that, because you can make an argument for a wall.”

Yeah. I think there’s a couple of problems. One is you’ve got Trump, who’s a problem, but you’ve also got the other side, which, even if it wasn’t Trump and even if they were trying to be measured, I think would probably jump on this and accuse the architect of this of being racist. I think there are risks that come from both of those—the overreach and overpolicing on the left, and also the kind of racism coming out of the right. So I think the object is to be able to talk about immigration policy or immigration rates as calmly as tax rates.

I agree. But I also think that we’re never going to be able to talk about this as calmly as tax rates because, when you’re talking about who gets to stay in the country or doesn’t, or who gets separated from their parents or doesn’t, the idea of talking about it calmly seems much more difficult. We can try it, but it’s very hard.

Right, but I think there is an issue when you have a black/white view of the world where there’s the good and the bad. I think that it should be a shades-of-gray thing about slower, faster, and not so moralized; granted that there are these difficult decisions around. I mean, I don’t think you should be separating kids, but that’s a small number that we’re talking about. The overwhelming debate is really going to be about a wall or E-Verify or other things. So it’s all about kind of lowering the tone and having a more civilized debate, really.

Douglas Todd: Why populism hasn’t come to (English) Canada. Yet

Eric Kaufmann’s work continues to strike a chord among those with concerns about immigration levels and populism (see for example Margaret Wente’s Can Canada avoid a populist revolt?).

Kaufmann’s explanation of “Canadian exceptionalism” – the English-French divide, a high-percentage of foreign-born, the lack of a Conservative tabloid press (Toronto Sun?), and labelling as racist those who question current immigration levels – tend to leave out some of the early fundamentals that shaped Canada:

  • a culture of accommodation, often imperfect, between English and French Canada, less so with Indigenous peoples, that required recognition and compromise as basic to Canada;
  • a multiculturalism that developed in response to earlier waves of mainly white and Christian immigration;
  • an approach based on integration, as distinct from assimilation, articulated by the 19 Bi & Bi Commission report on the “other groups.”

And if identity has become the “battle front of the 21st century,” does this not reflect in part the fact solutions to economic issues – precarity, inequality – remain elusive.

I also find tiresome the refrain against “cosmopolitan imperialists” and elites. Most of the people engaged in these debates, including Kaufmann, are by definition part of elites in terms of education, income levels, public profiles and the like:

Populism has arisen virtually everywhere in the West, but remains weak in English Canada.

The election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote, resistance to high immigration in Australia, mounting European nativism and last year’s Quebec election are strong signs that growing centre-right white populism will be tenacious.

It’s often said that people in the U.S. display “American exceptionalism,” the belief they’re uniquely committed to freedom. But there is also a “Canadian exceptionalism,” a deep belief among English Canadians they are uncommonly tolerant and will make a success of multiculturalism when others will not.

A ground-breaking new book by Vancouver-raised political scientist Eric Kaufmann peels back the layers of Canadian exceptionalism while detailing the increasingly tense decline of white populations in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. It places an extra focus on big cosmopolitan cities in which whites are no longer the majority, such as Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

Even though Whiteshift: Population, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities delves into race, culture and identity in ways some will find uncomfortable, the book has attracted supportive reviews across Britain’s vigorous press. It’s being called “insightful,” “valuable,” ”substantial,” “brilliant,” “extraordinarily deep and wide” and far ahead on the immigration discussion.

Whiteshift is bursting with ideas, which synthesize old theories into something altogether novel. They include Kaufmann’s positive argument that declining white populations in the West, to avoid extreme nationalism, will need to embrace what he calls “whiteshift.”

He defines the term as “the turbulent journey from a world of racially homogeneous white majorities to one of racially hybrid majorities.” In other words, Whiteshift envisions a Western world a century from now of predominantly intermarried people who are beige in colour.

But Kaufmann – who is of mixed Latino, Chinese and Jewish ancestry while regularly viewed as white – is not a one-world globalist dreamer, as many say is the case with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Identity has largely replaced economics as the battle front of the 21st century, Kaufmann says. And he understands how many conservative whites are losing confidence in their identity; leading to “a growing unwillingness to indulge the anti-white ideology of the cultural left.”

The Economist agrees, remarking in its review of Whiteshift that nativism is rising because free-market globalism and high immigration have disrupted Western economies and the “culture is dominated by preening elites who not only think they are cleverer than the average person but also that they are more virtuous.”

It is virtually only in the West, says the professor at the University of London, Birkbeck, that the educated feel it necessary to oppose their own culture and celebrate its decline. Although some consider it radical, Kaufmann makes the point that white majorities are an ethnic group whose conservative members have the same normal attachments to group as minority ethnic groups.

Many white people in Europe, of both the right and welfare-state-supporting left, have started resisting the “cosmopolitan imperialists,” he says. Virtually no European politician has dared use the word “multiculturalism” since the 1990s.

But the term still has traction in Canada, where Vancouver pollster Mario Canseco found this month that 62 per cent of Canadians think multiculturalism has been good for the country, while 33% believe it’s been bad.

Because of Canadian exceptionalism, Kaufmann says, English Canada is perhaps the only place left in the Western world where almost all right-wing politicians fear being accused of racism for suggesting immigration levels decline. That’s despite Canadian polls consistently showing roughly four in 10 Canadians think immigration has been a mostly negative force.

French-speaking Quebeckers don’t adhere to the same prohibitions. They recently elected Premier Francois Legault, who this year reduced his province’s immigration rates by 20 per cent in the name of improving integration. Legault even managed to get public support from Trudeau, who has to go along because he can’t afford to alienate francophone voters.

Four of five voters for Brexit ranked immigration as their top concern.

Why has white popularism not taken hold in English Canada, at least not yet?

There are at least three reasons, and one is the English-French language divide. Kaufmann takes seriously the notion that the Conservative party is hemmed in on immigration.

English Canadians who want to reduce immigration, and thus slow the expansion of Asian and other cultures, would normally hope to be supported by the Conservatives. But the party is incapable of allying with like-minded French populists in Quebec, who instead vote for the Bloc Quebecois and Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec.

A second reason Kaufmann believes most Canadians quietly accept rapid ethnic change, which comes from having a population that is 21 per cent foreign born, is that “Anglo-Canadians share the relatively pro-immigration outlook common to all Anglo settler societies.”

Given this outlook, he said, English Canada, unlike Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and Britain, “lacks a conservative tabloid press” ready to poke holes in immigration policy.

Kaufmann finds it significant that the highest-profile critics of immigration and multiculturalism in Canada have been people of colour: Writer Neil Bissoondath, academic Salim Mansur and environmentalist David Suzuki. Their minority status, he said, has made it possible for them to “withstand the charge of racism.”

In a revealing chapter, titled Canadian Exceptionalism: Right-wing Populism in the Anglosphere, Kaufmann zeroes in  the battle over foreign capital fueling the housing crisis in Metro Vancouver, where he grew up after being raised in Hong Kong and Japan.

Kaufmann cites how prominent visible minorities, such as Andy Yan, Albert Lo and Ujjal Dosanjh, were able to fight back against claims made by white real-estate developers and politicians that it is “racist” to say that foreign capital, especially from China, has been exacerbating high housing prices.

The Vancouver example leads Kaufmann to the novel idea that, since the Canadian elite generally supports pro-growth, high-immigration thinking, one of the few ways a populist party could emerge in Canada is “if there were a substantial non-white anti-immigration vote or a minority anti-immigration candidate.”

Since that may not happen, Kaufmann predicts the white population of Canada will be in the minority by 2050. Whereas whites in Montreal will account for about seven in 10 people by that date, the proportion will drop to about three in 10 in Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

It could work out, Kaufmann suggests, particularly if immigration policy is changed. But only if English Canadians avoid the kind of hostilities linked with extreme white nationalism. Peace and prosperity will also require people accept that the definition of white is blurring, to include people of mixed races.

Even though regions in which one ethnic group predominates generally experience more unity than those with highly multi-racial societies (such as in Guyana or Belize), Kaufmann foresees a decent chance much of English Canada could end up somewhat like Canada’s largest city.

He envisions a kind of “Toronto-writ-large” across all of English Canada: “A dynamic, low-cohesion, future-oriented society with an attenuated connection to its British and European past.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Why populism hasn’t come to (English) Canada. Yet

Douglas Todd: Aboriginals and whites leaving Metro Vancouver

Kind of interesting that some of the debate is now focussing on white enclaves as much as ethnic enclaves:

Aboriginals and whites are leaving Metro Vancouver for other regions of B.C., particularly to live in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan, according to Statistics Canada.

A net total of 9,345 whites and 460 Indigenous people left Metro for other parts of the province in the one-year period ending July, 2016, according to newly released Statistics Canada data.

Two other demographic groups that are tending to say goodbye to Metro Vancouver are those who are born in Canada and those between ages 55 and 65.

It’s been more than two decades since Metro Vancouver has experienced so many residents depart for other regions of the province, according to data provided by Patrick Charbonneau, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada.

Out-migration trends similar to Metro Vancouver have also occurred in Toronto and Montreal. In all three cities, said Charbonneau, “there were more non-visible minorities (i.e. whites) leaving those regions for elsewhere in the province than the opposite.”

While Metro Vancouver is generally losing people to the rest of B.C., Statistics Canada reports that Victoria and Kelowna have become the only cities in Canada that are growing because of inter-provincial migration.

Meanwhile, people of colour (which StatsCan refer to as “visible minorities”), are generally not moving out of Metro Vancouver to other parts of the province. They are, however, arriving in the city in large numbers through immigration.

Several reasons are being offered for the exodus of whites, aboriginals and older people from Metro Vancouver. Some mayors say Metro Vancouver residents are seeking lower-cost housing outside the city. Others point to how retirement-age homeowners are cashing out on Metro Vancouver dwellings that have skyrocketed in price. And scholars point to demographic trends in which people of the same ethnicity often choose to live among each other.

“Across the Western world, white majorities, especially those with children, have a tendency to gravitate to neighbourhoods that are both relatively white and have limited ethnic change,” said Eric Kaufmann, a University of London, Birkbeck, professor, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver by parents of mixed ethnicity.

“This is true in the U.S., Canada and Britain. In diverse London, England, for instance, around 600,000 white Britons left the city in the 2000s, while 1.6 million non-white British arrived. Ethnic own-group attraction, rather than white flight or economic forces, best explains the pattern,” said Kaufmann, an often-cited specialist on global migration patterns.

Through extensive research, Kaufmann and his colleagues have found that diverse cities, like Metro Vancouver, “tend to lose white populations at a faster rate, while less diverse cities gain them, or lose whites at a slower rate.” His findings could explain one of the reasons Victoria and Kelowna, which have far less ethnic diversity than Metro Vancouver, are growing as a result of inter-provincial migration.

Figures from the 2016 Canadian census show that whites recently became a minority in the metropolises of Toronto and Metro Vancouver. The relatively small Aboriginal population of Metro Vancouver is also declining proportionally.

In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, the ethnic Chinese population has expanded in a few decades by more than 80,000, while the white population has declined by more than 30,000.

A Postmedia series showed that Metro Vancouver is developing distinct ethnic enclaves. Ethnic Chinese now predominate in large sections of Richmond and South Asians make up three-quarters of many neighbourhoods in north Surrey. Meanwhile, whites tend to make up large majorities in suburbs such as White Rock, North Vancouver and Langley.

Despite significant inter-provincial migration trends, immigration from outside the country is changing the ethnic face of Metro Vancouver and Canada’s largest cities the most quickly.

The cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are projected to have fewer people of European origin, according to StatsCan. More than 60 per cent of all immigrants to Canada have moved to these three major cities, and more than four of five of all recent immigrants come from Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.

Metro Vancouver took in 142,000 new immigrants between 2011 and 2016 — and about 85 per cent of those immigrants were people of colour. Many choose to live in ethnic enclaves.

Working with political scientist Gareth Harris, Kaufmann has tracked “white withdrawal” in Britain and Canada, monitoring how whites tend to “unconsciously” move out of neighbourhoods when a large influx of non-white immigrants moves in.

In their book, Changing Places: Mapping the White British Response to Ethnic Change, Kaufmann and Harris don’t use the American term, “white flight,” to describe this pattern because they don’t think it is normally fuelled by racism or xenophobia.

“White conservatives and liberals, racists and cosmopolitans, all move to relatively white areas at similar rates,” Kaufmann and Harris say in Changing Places, published by Demos, which describes itself as “Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank.”

Comparing Metro Vancouver to Toronto and Montreal, Statistics Canada data reveals that in the one-year period ending July, 2016, Greater Toronto, had a net loss of 22,555 whites to other areas of Ontario, which was more than it lost of people of colour (5,265).

Montreal had a net gain of people of colour from other areas of the province of Quebec, while experiencing a net loss of 7,075 whites.


Source: Aboriginals and whites leaving Metro Vancouver

Almost 7 in 10 Metro residents will be non-white in two decades: Todd

From the Statistics Canada 2036 projections:

Canada is experiencing the fastest rate of ethnic change of any country in the Western world, say international demographers.

Almost seven of 10 Metro Vancouver residents will be visible minorities, or non-whites, in less than two decades, says Eric Kaufmann, a professor at University of London, Birkbeck, citing Statistics Canada projections.

In addition, Kaufmann said, University of Laval professor Patrice Dion has worked with Statistics Canada officials to develop projections that suggest Canada as a whole, at the current rate of immigration, will be almost 80 per cent non-white in less than a century.

While the rapid pace of change likely will not  hurt Canada’s economy, Kaufmann said, it will continue to have great effect on the ethnic make-up of cities such as Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

These two Canadian cities and others will, in just a few years, become “majority minority,” a term describing places in which one or more ethnic minority (relative to the country’s population) make up a majority of the local population.

 A 2017 Statistics Canada report, titled Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections, forecasts the number of Canadians with visible minority status will “increase more rapidly than the rest of the population” and “could more than double by 2036 to between 12.8 million and 16.3 million.”

The cities that will have the highest levels of visible minorities by 2036 will be Greater Toronto, Metro Vancouver, Calgary, Abbotsford-Mission, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Non-whites already make up almost half the residents of Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

…Meanwhile, Canada is undergoing “the fastest rate of ethnic change of any country in the Western world,” Kaufmann said, describing how 300,000 immigrants are arriving each year in a country of 35 million people, with four in five of those immigrants being visible minorities.

“The United States’ per capita immigration rate is only one-third to one-half as fast as Canada’s. … At the same time (U.S. President Donald) Trump has promised to reduce America’s inflows by half,” Kaufmann said.

“Europe is also generally tightening inflows and only 300,000 non-Europeans enter the European Union, population 510 million, each year. Most immigrant-receiving Western European states will be at least three-quarters European origin in 2050.”

In Canada, whites currently make up about 80 per cent of the population.

Kaufmann, however, drew attention to a study led by the University of Laval’s Patrice Dion and Statistics Canada official Eric Caron-Malenfant that projects that by 2106, the vast majority of Canada’s population will be descendants of immigrants who arrived after 2006.

Assuming that four in five immigrants during that time period will continue to be non-white, Kaufmann projected that by 2106 whites will account for between 12 to 38 per cent of the population.

“I think a reasonable middle conclusion is that Canada will be 20 per cent white, 65 per cent non-white and 15 per cent mixed race by 2106,” he said.

“Canada will probably become a ‘majority-minority’ country around 2060.”

Source: Almost 7 in 10 Metro residents will be non-white in two decades | Vancouver Sun

StatCan report: Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036 (91-551-X2017001)

Douglas Todd: Lessons from U.K. migration debate

One take on the UK’s immigration and related debates in a lengthy discussion between Douglas Todd and Eric Kaufmann, professor of politics at Birkbeck College, University of London:

Where is successful integration occurring in Britain?

The proportion of mixed-ethnicity households doubled between 2001 and 2011, Kaufmann says. “The fastest-growing group in England are those of mixed race who share English descent with the majority.”

Many second-generation immigrants are also integrating. “A significant share of the children of European immigrants and some of mixed-race background come to identify as white British, melting into the majority.”

Also, opposition to immigration is lower in neighbourhoods where a large share of minorities has been present for over a decade, giving people time to habituate to each other.

It is the rapid pace of change, rather than diversity itself, Kaufman says, that is causing most Britons to want to reduce immigration levels.

Douglas Todd: Lessons from U.K. migration debate.