Canada gives more warmth to immigrants than at his own home country
Every five years more than a million people emigrate to Canada, a large number of them highly-skilled workers who are leaving the developing world. This makes for a remarkably cosmopolitan environment (one in five Toronto residents is foreign-born), but it has also begun to raise difficult social issues.
Last week, a Pakistani-born cab driver living in Mississauga allegedly killed his teenage daughter because she refused to wear traditional clothing. Comments in the national media have been extremely restrained by British and American standards, but they will not remain so indefinitely. Of course, immigration has never been simply a matter of importing foreigners; it cannot help but raise vexed political questions.
Ottawa's Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty won re-election largely through out-manoeuvering his Conservative rival on the issue of government funding for faith-based schools - McGuinty argued that Canadians ought to be exposed to all faiths as part of their education.) A wider political reckoning seems bound to happen in the not too distant future.
On the other side of the assimilation debate, there are stories like those of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen detained in 2002 by US officials who suspected that he was linked to al-Qaeda. After interrogating Arar, US agents arranged his 'extraordinary rendition', in shackles, back to Syria, where he was brutally mistreated and tortured into making a false confession. A subsequent commission of inquiry in Canada cleared Arar of all charges but it also went much further. After scathing observations about the way Canadian police had insinuated Arar's guilt, with no real evidence, the commission insisted on full public disclosure of its findings. This turned what was by any measure a fairly sordid affair into a minor victory for Canadian values. Arar was so moved by the public outcry that ensued that he has since spoken of "[rediscovering] Canada through its people, people who made me feel proud of being Canadian." It is hard to imagine a similar response in the US.
There is much more to Canada than Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto, but this is where three out of every four new immigrants end up. Because many are skilled 'economic migrants' they often face very stiff competition in the local job market. Ironically, however, Canada's recent economic success has created a serious shortfall in unskilled labor.