The Immigration Paradigm Randall Hansen University of Toronto
Immigration is the issue of our time • Each year we accept close to 1% of our population • Some 40% of them arrive in Toronto
Questions • 1. Whether an overarching Canadian identity can (or should) be maintained. • 2. About what can be demanded of new immigrants (and what they can expect from us). • 3. About dual and multiple citizenship.
Three slippages • 1. An overly lax conception of citizenship • 2. A confusion surrounding ‘multiculturalism’ and what it requires in terms of religious and other forms of accommodation • 3. A sort of democratic deficit, a diconnect between the way identity is being constructed & the way in which Canadians which to understand it.
How we are doing • Canadians hold positive attitudes towards immigration while demonstrating integrationist attitudes • Measures of discrimination, vulnerability, income inequality, and social cohesion indicate that all is not well, particularly among visible minorities of the second generation
Understanding Ethnic Diversity and Social Cohesion in Canada • Data show: • 1. Patterns of race-based economic inequality • 2. High and growing perception of discrimination
Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Canada • Much of the current discussion is about Islam • Misguided, both on the left and the right: • 1. Little evidence of any difficult with ‘Muslim’ economic incorporation. • 2. No evidence of unusual levels of anti-Muslim prejudice, ‘Islamophobia’
Slippage I: Citizenship • Summer 2006: Lebanon evacuations • Framed in terms of dual citizenship: this is an error • Disconnect between naturalization and belonging • Declining levels of belonging overall
Slippage II: Multiculturalism & Accommodation: the reasonable accommodation road show • Two basic confusions • 1. Multiculturalism and group rights • 2. Common laws, differential effect, and discrimination
Slippage III: The Democratic deficit • Canadians are profoundly integrationist • Opposition to rhetoric is driven by an intellectual intellectual elite.
Softer measures • Recent controversies and elite representation • Sharia Law • Public Funding of Religious Education in Ontario
Conclusion • Changes require a retooling, not a radical recasting of policy • They are fully consistent with high levels of integration • If we attend to these, we can confidently look forward to the next century of immigration
Policy suggestions • 1. Raise the citizenship requirement from 3 to 5 years with a tighter link with citizenship • 2. Reweight language requirements more heavily + consider language training and tests at the early post-arrival stage • 3. Change little in multicultural policy, but place the accent more on a common framework uniting new and old Canadians, view immigrants not as culture-retainers but as new participants in a common political project embbeded in a secular public culture.