Canada is one of the countries that are generous towards immigrants. On average, 2,000,000 immigrants have moved to Canada over the last decade, earning a “global reputation for an ‘open arms’ attitude” (Green & Gree 1). Until recently, Canada has been hospitable towards immigrants creating the popular myth that, ‘Canada is a welcoming country.’
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Historically, Canada’s immigration policies were lax fuelled by the need to fill expansive empty tracts of land given the fact that, the indigenous population was very low. However, by the start of the 20th Century, the immigration policies were revised to bar non-Europeans from settling in Canada. Nevertheless, the new policies did not last and in 1976, the ethnic barrier clause was removed opening doors for people from all over the world to immigrate to Canada.
Consequently, people streamed in from different countries across the world and in 2006, the United Nations Report on International Migration and Development “ranked Canada seventh among twenty-eight countries that currently host 75 percent of all international migrants” (Smick Para. 2). These statistics validate the claim that Canada has been as welcoming as the myth suggests and this results mainly from its immigration position.
As aforementioned, until recently, Canada’s immigration policies have been lax and due to this, many people see it as a peacekeeping nation. Canada’s position on immigration is based on three factors, economic, family reunification and refuge. People entering Canada for economic purposes, form the largest portion of immigrants.
Concerning family reunification, children and/or spouses are allowed to join their parents and/or spouses who are already residing in Canada. It is important to note that, spouses here include same-sex spouses. Finally, refugees enter Canada on humanitarian basis and they form the smallest group of immigrants annually. As long as anyone qualifies as an immigrant based on the aforementioned factors, he/she receives government support including access to national health care and incorporation into social welfare unions.
Moreover, Canada is very liberal in dealing with asylum seekers. Smick notes, “Any person who arrives in Canada can apply for refugee status at any border, airport, or immigration office inside the country “(Para. 6). Again, Canada’s welcoming nature stands out conspicuously. Nevertheless, public and media opinion on Canada’s mission in peacekeeping depicts a different picture from what the welcoming myth paints.
The Canadian media and public are for the opinion that, Canada is no longer in peacekeeping but in war. According to Staples, “Canada is a nation at war; peacekeeping is over” (24). In the light of these revelations, the welcoming nature of Canada remains debatable. With the public and media questioning the authenticity of welcoming aliens in their land, it becomes very hard to say with confidence that Canada is still a welcoming nation.
Well, it might have been; however, things have changed especially after the 9/11 United States bombing. After the bombing, public and media lost trust in aliens. The public and media feel that “the defense of Canada requires co-operation with the U.S.-led war on terrorism…based on the idea that the best way to defend the American homeland is to invade someone else’s homeland” (Anker 13).
If Canada is of the idea of invading others in their homeland, then the myth of a welcoming Canada is obsolete. It becomes impossible to allow immigrants into Canada if, in the first place the same immigrants fall under the category of terrorists. Therefore, these recent developments from public and media opinion concerning Canada’s role as a peacekeeping nation annul the myth that Canada is a welcoming nation.
Anker, Lane. “Peace Keeping and Public Opinion.” The Canadian Military Journal 8.2 (2008): 9-15. Print.
Green, Alan, & Gree, David. “The Goals of Canada’s Immigration Policy: A Historical Perspective” Canadian Journal of Urban Research 13.6 (2004): 1-7.
Smick, Elisabeth. “Canada’s Immigration Policy.” Council on Foreign Relations, 2006. Web.
Staples, Steven. “Marching Orders: How Canada Abandoned Peacekeeping – and Why The UN Needs Us Now More Than Ever.” The Council of Canadians 21.6 (2006): 24-27