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When it comes to discussing the issue of demographic importance, it often proves crucially important to be able to assess it from the multidisciplinary perspective. The reason for this is quite apparent – such an issue most commonly presupposes that there are a number of different qualitative dimensions to it and that the interrelationship between them has a strong effect of defining the discursive implications of what is being discussed. The issue of the Canadian population’s rapid aging will come as a perfect example, in this respect, “Canada’s population is getting older. Statistics Canada estimates that by 2031 there will be nine million persons over the age of 65, accounting for 25 percent of the population” (Ries, 2010, p. 577).
Even though it represents a commonplace practice among many social scientists to refer to the mentioned demographic trend in terms of a thing-in-itself (hence, the sheer ineffectiveness of the governmental ‘mechanistic’ approaches to tackling it), there are many reasons to believe that it is much more systemically complex than most people assume. That is, the issue of ‘Canada’s aging’ is closely interconnected with other qualitative aspects of contemporary Canadian living, concerned with the government’s continual endorsement of the policy of multiculturalism and affected by the overall socio-economic situation in the West, as well as by the essence of the current geopolitical dynamics on the planet. In my paper, I will aim to substantiate the validity of this suggestion at length while promoting the idea that for the issue to be effectively addressed, those in charge of designing social policies in this country must be capable of indulging in the dialectical (cause-effect) reasoning and have a basic understanding of how the Darwinian laws of evolution affect the functioning of human societies.
Analysis of the demographic issue
As it was implied in the Introduction, there is indeed much rationale for Canadians (regardless of their age) to worry about the mentioned demographic trend – especially given the fact that there is a clearly identifiable exponential momentum to it. As Guillemette and Robson (2009) noted, “The ratio of the population age 65 and over to the population of traditional working age (18-64) … will rise to 46 percent in 2050” (p. 1). After all, there can be only a few doubts that the process of Canadian population’s aging will ultimately result in undermining the quality of living standards in this country, “The increase in age-related expenditures will put significant pressures on public finances” (Guillemette & Robson, 2009, p. 2).
What is even more alarming, in this regard, is that the upswing of such expenditures will take place alongside the process of the country’s economy becoming increasingly stagnant, due to the ongoing worldwide recession (which has no end in sight) and the would-be triggered (by the population’s aging) shortage of skilled/employable workers. The Federal government does recognize that something needs to be done about the outlined aging issue. However, the methods it proposes should be deployed within the context of addressing the situation do not seem well thought out, to say the least, “The challenges of an aging Canadian society will require continued efforts to improve health, well-being, and independence in later life… (and) strengthen the supportive environments within communities” (Canada’s Aging Population, 2010, para. 8).
The suggested course of action, however, does not specify how the creation of these ‘supportive environments’ is going to be funded, especially given the fact that the very process of ‘Canada’s aging’ presupposes that as time goes on, there will be fewer and fewer fully employed taxpayers left in this country (in charge of taking care of the growing population of senior citizens). What is even worse – it never occurred to whoever came up with the plan that if anything, its implementation will only contribute towards the problem. This, of course, raises a certain concern about whether the government’s current strategy for managing demographic dynamics within the country has anything to do with the notion of sanity – just as it is being the case with the ‘strategy’ of pouring gas on the fire to extinguish it.
Obviously enough, the chosen demographic issue is not quite as straightforward as it may appear at an initial glance – something that explains why while admitting that there is indeed nothing positive about it, the governmental officials deliberately refrain from specifying how the issue came into being in the first place while going as far as trying to misrepresent the issue’s significance. The reason for this is that when subjected to the analytical inquiry, the phenomenon of population’s aging in Canada will be revealed standing in striking contrast to the provisions of the officially endorsed ideology of multiculturalism, which derives out of the assumption that the particulars of one’s ethnocultural affiliation do not have any effect on the concerned person’s existential mode, reflected by the specifics of his or her behavioral pattern.
This assumption, however, could not be more fallacious – something best illustrated regarding the fact that the percentile rate of old people within a particular population negatively relates to the rate of this population’s fertility. And, as many thematically relevant studies indicate, the ethnocultural factor of influence plays an important role in defining an individual’s taste for ‘baby-making’. Partially, this explains why the phenomenon of ‘Canada’s aging’ has a clearly defined ‘white coloring’ to it, as it is specifically the contemporary descendants of European immigrants to Canada (as well as the newly arrived ones) who appear to have lost much interest in the concerned biological activity. Therefore, it will be discursively appropriate to discuss the issue in racial terms while stressing out that it is specifically the population of Canada’s Whites, which contributes to the problem’s severity more than any other does. Canada is no unique, in this respect – the demographic trend in question can be well observed throughout North America, as well as in the rest of Anglo-Saxon (in the historical sense of this word) countries.
Because of the presumed politically incorrect sounding of such an observation, Statistics Canada makes a deliberate point in trying to withhold as much race-related information about the subject matter, as possible, “The Canadian statistical office does not publish fertility rates by ethnic origin” (Barbieri & Ouellette, 2012, p. 204). Essentially the same applies to most academic publications that tackle the issue of the Canadian population’s aging, like the 2015 textbook Canada’s population in a global context by Frank Trovato. Even though it does contain many valuable insights into what account for the demographic realities in today’s Canada, most of the provided explanations as to what are the actual driving forces behind the process of Canadian society becoming progressively ‘older’ intentionally omit focusing much attention on the relationship between the notions of ethnicity and fertility. According to the author, the phenomenon of ‘Canada’s aging’ is thoroughly natural because Canada happened to be an ‘advanced country’ (Trovato, 2009).
We need to admit that there is a certain logic to such a suggestion. After all, there is indeed a well-observed demographic trend, throughout the world – the poorer a particular group of people happens to be, the more enthusiastic are its members about the prospect of passing their genome to the next generation, especially if the population dwells in the rural area. The reason for this is simple – the more there are children in the rurally-based family, the more likely will it be for the parents to succeed in ensuring their own physical survival because even small kids can be turned into the rather effective agricultural helpers. There are, however, a few inconsistencies to such a point of view. First, the fertility-related behavior of Caucasians in Canada does not seem to be strongly reflected in the particulars of their residential or socioeconomic status. Second, the same applies to the specifics of reproductive behavior, on the part of the representatives of this country’s ethnic minorities – these people continue to exhibit a rather heightened birth rate, even if they belong to the third of the fourth generation of ethnic immigrants, born and raised in large cities. This, of course, calls for a much sounder explanation of the discussed phenomenon. It can be formulated as follows:
The initial waves of European immigrants to Canada (taking place through the 19th-20th centuries) used to consist of the predominantly industrious/non-conformist individuals, endowed with a strong sense of communal solidarity. The reason for them to decide to come to Canada had to do with the sheer ideological/religious oppressiveness of European society at the time, which used to result in the natural selection of the ‘biologically minded’ (preoccupied with food, sex, and domination) conformists for social lifting. The mechanics of such a selection are best explained regarding the decimation of Europe’s population by at least one fourth through the 16th-18th centuries when Inquisition was at its strongest. Back then, all it would take for a particular individual to get advanced in life was to denounce his or her neighbor as a heretic, visited by the Devil on a continual basis.
The reported person would be burned at stake, with his or her earthly possessions split between the ‘Holy Office’ and the one who did the report. As a result, the latter would be able to improve his/her financial situation – hence, becoming more attractive to the representatives of the opposite gender and consequently more likely to succeed in ensuring the spatial proliferation of its genome. Obviously enough, the subjects of victimization in this regard consisted of the predominantly intellectually advanced and conscientious individuals. Apparently, even if applied to humans, the Darwinian laws of natural selection are absolutely insensitive to the considerations of conventional morality.
The continuation of the social, cultural, and scientific progress, however, is made possible by specifically the nonconformist (even if preoccupied with enrichment) people – such as those who used to be burned at stake during the Dark Ages and who began immigrating to the New World en mass ever since such an option became available to them. This (along with the abundance of land and natural resources) was the main factor that contributed towards making Canada one of the most prosperous countries in the world, even as far back as at the beginning of the 20th century. Therefore, it is perfectly explainable why the very notion of ‘immigration’ continues to be highly revered by most Canadians on an unconscious level – immigration strengthened the structural integrity of Canadian society.
Ironically enough, the rapid accumulation of national wealth through the first half of the 20th century was also the reason why as time went on, there were emerging more and more reasons for the descendants of those who came to Canada with the initial waves of immigration to consider becoming conformists. Such a development was predetermined by the objective laws of history – the process of Canada’s industrialization has led to the establishment of many urban centers across the country. And, to be able to attain a social prominence while residing in a large city, one must be willing to adapt to the socially imposed laws and regulations. In its turn, this resulted in causing Canadian citizens (back than overwhelmingly White) to grow increasingly ‘specialized’, in the evolutionary sense of this word. The technology-driven division of labor provided additional momentum to the process.
However, as biologists are well aware of, the representatives of a specialized species can only proliferate for as long as the surrounding environment remains unchanged. With respect to Canada, in general, and its racially homogeneous (and highly ‘specialized’) population, in particular, the drastic environmental change took place through the 20th century’s early seventies – the historical period associated with the introduction of multiculturalism as the country’s official policy. As Winter (2015) noted, “In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to implement multiculturalism as a policy aiming at the integration of immigrants” (p. 637).
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Ever since then, the demographic fabric of Canadian society began to undergo a qualitative transformation, with the process’s actual effects having proven much different from what White policy-makers expected them to be. Instead of assimilating as the society’s integral part, ethnic immigrants embarked on the creation of their own horizontally structured societies within it. Such an eventual development was predetermined by the fact that, as opposed to what it was the case with European immigrants, the bulk of these people came from the rural areas of the Third World, where social institutions even today remain virtually non-existent – something that presupposed a strongly defined ‘biological mindedness’ of the newly arrived ethnic immigrants.
This provides them with a strong advantage, within the context of how they go about competing with Whites for the same limited resource in the same environmental niche – in full accordance with the Darwinian principle of the ‘survival of the fittest’. This simply could not be otherwise – being endowed with a practical mindset; these people proved very effective at turning what they refer to as the ‘White law’ against its creators. For example, it now became a commonplace practice among many ethnic immigrants in Canada to use the pretext of multiculturalism to continue adhering to the provisions of tribal nationalism of the worst kind, which is utterly inconsistent with the multicultural policy’s original aims. The case of Tamil immigrants (who hate their Sinhalese co-citizens with a passion) illustrates the validity of this statement, “Canadian multiculturalism functions as ‘banal nationalism’ in Canada, as daily practices of tacit nation-building are produced and repeated on a daily basis among Sri Lankan Tamil Canadians” (Amarasingam, Naganathan, & Hyndman, 2016, p. 119).
Formally speaking, the functioning of Canada’s governmental institutions continues to adhere to the principle of euro-centrism. However, the country’s Whites cannot help experiencing the elusive sensation that they are doomed to sustain a defeat while competing with the representatives of Canada’s racial minorities – despite the fact that the former and the latter are equally committed to praising multiculturalism/political correctness in public. As Na and Hample (2016) aptly observed, “Even though most Canadians claim they do not hold racist views, they tend to avoid interactions with members of other racial groups in certain social situations” (p. 196). Consequently, this instills Whites (particularly of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock) with a number of different unconscious anxieties, which have a strongly detrimental effect on these people’s reproductive capacities, as well as on their ability to indulge in the cause-effect reasoning.
In its turn, this causes more and more of them to choose in favor of social escapism as the way of addressing life-challenges – hence, the actual significance of the dramatic upsurge of the so-called ‘gated communities’ across the country. After all, it does not represent much of a secret that the overwhelming majority of residents in such communities consist of middle-aged/elderly Whites, “There is evidence that disproportionately fewer visible minorities, particularly Chinese and East Asians, and those who are Black or Caribbean, are residing in Canada’s gated communities” (Walks, 2014, p. 52). As a rule, these people explain their residential choice by the considerations of prestige. In reality, however, it is specifically their irrational fear of coming face to face with the multicultural street-realties that prompt these individuals to choose in favor of moving to live in the racially secluded ‘gated’ neighborhoods. The Darwinian implication of this trend is apparent because discursively speaking, there is no much difference between decadent Whites residing in Canada’s ‘gated communities’ and trilobites hiding at the ocean’s bottom – both highly specialized ‘life forms’ represent the dead ends of evolution, even though with regard to the former this suggestion is meant to sound rather allegorically.
I believe that what has been said earlier, regarding the actual significance of ‘Canada’s aging’ correlates perfectly well with the paper’s initial thesis – it is namely the objective laws of biological evolution (which apply to the representatives of the Homo Sapiens species as much as they apply to plants and animals) that define the essence of the current demographic dynamics in Canada. It is important to understand that the deployed line of argumentation, in defense of the paper’s thesis, is value-free. At some point back in the history, WASPs have proven themselves more evolutionary fit, as compared to Canada’s Native inhabitants – the development that almost resulted in the total annihilation of the latter, just as it happened to the Native people in Tasmania.
It is rather symptomatic that up until the 20th century’s sixties, the birth rate among the Canadian Natives used to be even lower than the one featured by today’s Whites. Nowadays, we are witnessing yet another evolutionary development in making, concerned with the process of Canada’s Whites growing increasingly incapable of controlling the environmental niche in which they used to enjoy the undisputed dominance until the introduction of the ‘celebration of diversity’ policy – the rapidly declining birth rate among them is merely one among the process’s numerous societal extrapolations. Because this process is thoroughly objective, value-based interpretations simply do not apply to it.
Amarasingam, A., Naganathan, G., & Hyndman, J. (2016). Canadian multiculturalism as banal nationalism: Understanding everyday meanings among Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 48(2), 119-141.
Barbieri, M., & Ouellette, N. (2012). The demography of Canada and the United States from the 1980s to the 2000s: A summary of changes and a statistical assessment. Population, 67(2), 177-280.
Canada’s Aging Population. (2010). Web.
Guillemette, Y., & Robson, W. (2009). No elixir of youth: Immigration cannot keep Canada young. Backgrounder – C.D.Howe Institute, (96), 1-11.
Na, L., & Hample, D. (2016). Psychological pathways from social integration to health: An examination of different demographic groups in Canada. Social Science & Medicine, 151(2), 196-205.
Ries, N. (2010). Ethics, health research, and Canada’s aging population. Canadian Journal on Aging, 29(4), 577-585.
Trovato, F. (2009). Canada’s population in a global context: An introduction to social demography. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.
Walks, A. (2014). Gated communities, neighborhood selection and segregation: The residential preferences and demographics of gated community residents in Canada. TPR: Town Planning Review, 85(1), 39-66.
Winter, E. (2015). Rethinking multiculturalism after its “retreat”: Lessons from Canada. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(6), 637-657.