There has been several "great migrations" in history: 1,500ish
years ago Europe was totally transformed as tribes like the Goths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Lombards, Suebi, Frisii, Jutes and Franks were pushed westwards by e.g. the Huns, Avars, Slavs, Bulgars and Alans. In all a very few million people were involved but they changed the world. In the 19th century (from say 1815 to 1865) Canada experienced its own "great migration" as over 750,000 Europeans came here ~ changing our world. In the 20th century the USA experienced two "great migrations:" in the period from about 1910 to about 1940 over 5 million black Americans migrated from the deep South to the industrial North and then, in the late 20th century and stretching to today, over 10, maybe even 15 million Latin Americans have "migrated," mostly illegally to the USA. Those two migration had and are still having profound effects on the USA.
Now, writing in the Globe and Mail
, Jeffrey Simpson posits that we, Canada, must consider how we might respond to another, imminent, "great migration" in this artiucle which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from that newspaper:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/globe-politics-insider/jeffrey-simpson-the-refugee-discussion-is-just-beginning/article27325258/
The refugee discussion is just beginning
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015
The commitment to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before Dec. 31, made by the Liberals in the heat of an election campaign, should be seen not as the end but as the beginning of a multiyear commitment to bring tens and tens of thousands more refugees to Canada over many years.
Quite apart from whether the government can meet its artificial and politically driven timetable for the 25,000, the larger question is whether the government and the Canadian people are willing, ready and able to handle much bigger numbers in the years ahead. No one has thought about this, let alone prepared for it. Circumstances, however, will force reflection.
This 25,000 contingent, and the many who will follow if the government sticks to its policies, is not like, say, previous groups of refugees from Vietnam, Uganda or Kosovo. These groups were much smaller in number, displaced by one event at a given place. By contrast, there were three-day periods throughout the summer and fall when more refugees/migrants were landing on the Greek island of Lesbos than Canada proposes to admit in two months.
Today’s refugees/migrants are part of a mass movement of millions of people fleeing military conflict, entrenched poverty and government breakdowns across an arc of states in the Middle East and Africa. Climate change is already widening desertification, which causes people to leave drought in search of food.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are now about 60 million refugees around the world, and that number is almost certainly going to rise. Since large countries such as China, Russia and Japan (and many others) either don’t want refugees/migrants, or refugees/migrants don’t wish to go there, the mass movement will head to countries with advanced economies and liberal democratic traditions.
The migration that landed almost a million people in Europe this year did not come from war-torn Syria alone, where an estimated six to eight million people are displaced internally and millions more live in camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. The migration comes from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and other African countries.
There are those who are leaving their native lands and those who wish to join them. A Gallup poll, for example, reported that a quarter of Afghanistan’s population said it wanted to leave, following on the heels of an estimated 100,000 who have left this year.
Another Gallup poll, taken from 2009 to 2011, and reported in The New York Times, said 40 per cent of Nigeria’s residents would leave if they could. That poll was taken before the insurgent/terrorist group Boko Haram began wreaking havoc on villages and cities in the north of Africa’s most populous country.
There are no signs yet of any movement toward peace and stability in countries wracked by insurrections, clan fighting and terrorism. The Taliban remain active in many of Afghanistan’s provinces. Iraq, a thoroughly failed state, cannot oust the Islamic State from its midst. Nor can Syria, which is also divided among a welter of militias and other forces hostile to each other and the government in Damascus.
Fighting roars on in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia now intervening and the United States using drone strikes. Libya, where Western countries including Canada ousted former president/dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has dissolved into warring clans. Egypt is plagued by IS, or groups claiming to be associated with IS, in the Sinai. Civil war rocks Congo.
Palestinians live in the hellhole that is Gaza and watch land they believe to be theirs devoured by Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The incentives for some of them to depart are obvious.
Mass movements debilitate countries that lose people because among them are some of the best-educated and most skilled. They have the money and wherewithal to depart. The countries they leave behind are, therefore, deprived of some of their best and brightest, which in turn makes it harder for these countries to succeed and easier for them to spiral downward.
The government is preoccupied with figuring out how to bring 25,000 to Canada by Dec. 31.
Thereafter, the government and Canadians should decide if they want to bring in perhaps 10 times that number or more in the years ahead – a number that would still be only a drop in the ocean of refugees and migrants.
First, in my opinion: this is not about refugees ~ not only about refugees, anyway.
Even if we could and did solve many of the political problems (tyrants and tin-pot dictators) that create refugees, there would still be probably hundreds of millions of people want to migrate
for perfectly good, sound socio-economic reasons. Most of those people are in Africa and the Middle East and South-West Asia so their nearest "safe haven" is Europe.
Europe is already experiencing terrible tensions that threaten to rip apart the fabric of traditional
European society. We can see, in America, some of the social and political impacts ~ some bad, some good ~ of millions of migrants from Latin America.
The issues of culture and, especially in Quebec, la laïcité
vs reasonable accommodation
of religious beliefs, are already under stress in Canada.
I agre with Jeffrey Simpson: "Canadians should decide if they want to bring in perhaps 10 times that number* or more in the years ahead – a number that would still be only a drop in the ocean of refugees and migrants"
and we must understand that these "mass movements debilitate countries that lose people because among them are some of the best-educated and most skilled. They have the money and wherewithal to depart. The countries they leave behind are, therefore, deprived of some of their best and brightest, which in turn makes it harder for these countries to succeed and easier for them to spiral downward."
Only a handful of countries, most notably China and India have an actual surplus of well educated, sophisticated, entrepreneurial people ~ the sorts of people we want to come to Canada; if we take the "best and brightest" from Africa and the Middle East and West Asia we are just going to make things worse in the countries they are trying to leave behind. If we don't take the "worst" then we are doing the same: exacerbating the problems.
This is a political problem for Canada. It is a political problem for Australia and America, too, and also for Europe and probably even South America.
If Mr Simpson is right, and I fear
he is, then we have more, much more than just a smallish
(25,000) refugee crisis, we have an enormous migration which will change the whole world.
* The 25,000 Syrian refugees we currently plan to accept.