Thursday, July 11, 2013

Suzuki's 'Scandalous' Anti-Immigration Views

I had to look twice at the title of the article when I saw that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was taking David Suzuki to task about his anti-immigration comments. At first, I thought that it was impossible that the beloved environmentalist and The Nature of Things host that we remember from our childhood could be opposed to immigration, considering his own roots in Canada. But a closer look at the article from which the comments originate show that there is a nuanced, more complex version of Suzuki's comments, a context that is important, and was obviously missed by the Minister.

Here's the excerpt according to a translation by the National Post:

"Canada is full too!Although it’s the second largest country in the world, our useful area has been reduced.

Our immigration policy is disgusting: We plunder southern countries by depriving them of future leaders, and we want to increase our population to support economic growth. It’s crazy!"

On the one hand, this looks like a terrible thing to say. The interviewer for the French magazine l'Express, then proceeds to ask Suzuki if this is an unfair attitude to take, shutting the door on others when he himself is one of the fortunate few to make their lives in Canada. Suzuki then responds that Canada should always open its door for humanitarian reasons, and even refers to a time when Canada allowed the boat people into the country and refers to this moment as a moment he was the most proud to be Canadian.

It helps to read the entire article before taking to Twitter to make comments about how anti-immigration Suzuki is. First of all, he does not believe that immigration itself is wrong, but is probably an opponent of how immigration is currently being done by the conservative government, which has focused its agenda around attracting business class immigrants who will better the economy. Suzuki also points out in this article that the Metis and Aboriginal population are some of the worst treated in Canada, which is probably an extension of this thought that the government should focus on taking care of its own people, rather than recruiting more business people.

Suzuki's comments about the government's bad sense of priorities is probably the real issue. He is highly justified in his criticisms of the government's refusal to keep to its promises and help protect the environment. As such, it makes sense that the Minister would jump on any occasion to twist his views and make him seem like an anti-immigration monster. Kenney also wants to know why the media's not having a field day with this; maybe the media bothered to read the entire interview before making the decision that this was not newsworthy.

Kenney himself is making an error if he thinks that directing attention to this issue is going to help his cause. If anything, it will encourage people to read the interview in its entirety and realize what a failure this government is on the world stage in regards to its environmental track record. Suzuki does not mince words in his criticism and the shame really belongs to the government.

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