Talking Immigration Blues II

Commenting on Ottawa's plan to bring 300,000 immigrants into Canada next year, Conference Board analyst Kareem El-Assal has remarked that there is a "huge danger" in ignoring the views of Canadians who are anxious about the country's capacity to integrate large numbers of newcomers. "I don't think it's useful to ostracize these people or to call them racist or xenophobic," says El-Assal. "We need to have open and honest conversations with them and we need to listen to their concerns." He's right about this. Canadians need only look to Europe and the United States, where serious discussion of immigration policy has been precluded in recent years by the idea that the topic is itself toxic. You may believe that the Liberal slogan "Diversity is Our Strength" is an unimpeachable statement of moral virtue. But shaming those who disagree is both illiberal and dangerous. How dangerous? In Germany, the minority AfD party is today not only challenging Chancellor Angela Merkel's immigration measures but shaping the vocabulary of the national debate. Three years ago, the suggestion that the word heimat (loosely translated as fatherland) would creep back into German discourse would have been unimaginable. Yet here we are. Canadians take note. In liberal democracies, all policies must be explained, debated, and defended.