Immigration – not a panacea

I fully applaud John Thompson of Enterprise Greater Moncton efforts to attract more immigrants to our community. For too long there has been almost no action on this. In fact, I periodically have heard senior community leaders resist immigration as it is ‘disruptive’ and causes rifts. Indeed, some have speculated that immigration will set back the gains made by Acadians in the past few decades (I’m not making this up).

Let’s face it. Immigration will change things. Let’s not be naive about this. Immigration means change and change does mean ‘disruption’. Yes, the clashing of cultures may lead to some additional tension. Yes, many immigrants may leave for Toronto or Vancouver. Yes, some immigrants may even take jobs while a ‘Canadian’ goes unemployed. But we have to grow our population. It’s that simple. Without growth (as I detail in these blogs ad nauseum), our community and our province will shrivel up. We cannot continue for decades to take some much out of Confederation without giving anything back.

The naysayers state we should attract ‘ex-New Brunswickers’ and other Canadians to move here. They understand us. They are more like us, etc. etc. etc. Well, I take a different perspective. Yes, we need to attract back ex-New Brunswickers but we also need the new ideas and cultures that immigrants bring. Look at Japan. Homogeneity is slowing bringing that former powerhouse down.

As for the Acadian issue, it’s also valid. We should look to bring in Francophone immigrants and we should be diligent and encourage new immigrants to learn French and put their children in French Immersion. Which, by the way, they are already doing. A higher percentage of non-Francophone immigrants speak French than Anglophones in Greater Moncton. We certainly don’t want a Greater Moncton in 50 years where only 5% or 10% of the public speak French.

In conclusion, let’s support our community leaders that are pushing for this. But let’s not be naive and think it will all be roses. There will be tensions. There will be racism. But in the end, if we get it right, Greater Moncton will benefit big time and it will take one more bold step towards being a real city in the context of North America.