“Come to Canada”
by Michael Scott
The relationship between Canada and the United States has changed over time but some things have remained constant. We are a large country but a small economy compared to our neighbours to the south. I am reminded of an epic book from the early 1960s, Lament for a Canadian Nation by George Grant, which spoke of the American dominance of the Canadian economy. Canadian government officials have regularly cooperated with the American authorities and supported them politically and economically. The relationship has been tested to the extreme since 2017 with the presidency of Donald Trump. It is better to work with the Americans that go against them. The challenge for Prime Minister Trudeau, his Foreign Minister, and the Canadian Ambassador to the United States and others today is not to offend the fragile ego of President Trump. Canada can, however, maintain its independence and an independent path. This has been true with Canada’s handling of the pandemic, international trade and open immigration policies. Prime Minister Trudeau is painfully aware that that if you cannot say anything positive about the policies of Donald Trump, then it is sometimes better to say nothing.
Canada has been doing a reasonable job of dealing with foreign trade on their own. We do not need the blessings or approval of Trump. Our government’s handling of the pandemic to date compares favourably with that of the United States. At present Canada has recorded 102,200 cases along with 8.454 deaths. This compared to the American’s world record number of 2,302,288 cases reported and 120,333 deaths. In real numbers and proportional numbers (Canada’s population is 10 per cent the size of the of the United States) Canada has far surpassed the United States. Our national infection numbers and death are decreasing while the Americans have never gone down and are actually rising. We should applaud the efforts of Prime Minister Trudeau at the national level and Premier Pallister at the provincial level for a job well done. In terms of immigration and ease of entry into countries, Canada is well-advised to delay opening the United States border because of a real fear of spreading the infection to our country. One of the objectives of Canada’s Immigration, Refugee and Protection Act (IRPA) is to keep the country safe from infection. This does not mean closing our borders to all international travel but controlling admissions.
The attitude of our national government toward immigration is substantially different from that of the United States. Canada has remained a welcoming place for newcomers and still has policies and practices to admit foreign visitors, students, workers, sponsored family members and refugees. The Trump administration, in sharp contrast, has limited refugee entry, defamed family reunification as “chain migration,” and even moved to cut off the foreign source of highly trained skilled workers and deport or remove those in the country. President Trump was stopped by a Supreme Court decision from deporting “Dreamers,” who came to the United States as undocumented children and grew to maturity and service in the United States. The “Dreamers,” many of whom serve and die as first responders, have been a credit to their adopted country, but have been vilified by Trump.
The President of the United States is constantly casting about for an “other” – someone who can be blamed for his failings. His target of choice has been immigrants, whether they be refugee claimants, undocumented workers, family members and now even highly skilled workers. They are the ones “stealing our jobs, stealing our heritage, stealing our future etc.” You can only shake your head at the anti-immigration sentiment Trump and his supporters maintain and thank our lucky stars that we live north, not south of the 49th parallel.
Consider the situation of the most sought after foreign skilled workers, the American category H-1B visa holders. These are foreign workers who are sought after by US businesses with no quotes, no caps and no lottery. They are characterized by graduate level education and work in specialized occupational fields. Following his defeat on the “Dreamers” Trump has moved to stop high skilled immigration with an executive order to limit entry for the balance of 2020. The executive order took effect on June 23, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020. His stated purpose is to protect 525,000 jobs, which equals the number of applicants in the cue. Are there similar trained Americans to fill these jobs? I don’t think this question was even considered. The President needs a scapegoat and the H-1B visa holders fit the picture. His actions appear short sighted, ill advised and actually hurt the American recovery more than help it. American industries are concerned but, like foreign governments, are practiced at remaining quiet. The GOP is quiet and the Democrats are counting the days to the next election. Trump plays to his dedicated supporters who share his anti-immigration bias.
Canada is wise not to condemn publically Trump’s decision. Instead, Immigration Minister Mendocino was quick to remind disappointed foreign applicants to “come to Canada.” There is something positive to be said about Canada’s international reputation for fairness and welcoming attitude as well as our effective handing of the COVID pandemic. The Canadian government has made Canada a better option for immigration, including the most skilled. It should be noted that many former H-1B visa holders from India have been applying to come to Canada in record numbers. In fact, residents of the United States were the third leading source of successful Express Entry candidates in 2018. Our country has remained open to immigration and welcoming newcomers. We actually benefit as a country from the decline of the United States as a destination of choice for foreign students and workers under Donald Trump. We need to be mindful of the hateful rhetoric that comes from south of the border and continue to be supportive of immigration. Let us continue to live by the Golden Rule and the second Royal Commandment: “honour thy neighbour as thyself.”
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.