Sunday November 05, 2017

Michael's essay — A recipe for Canada's future

To save our common future as a country, we need to empower women, value young people, and welcome millions more immigrants.

To save our common future as a country, we need to empower women, value young people, and welcome millions more immigrants. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Listen 3:18

I have this theory about our common future as a country, and it goes like this. 

Canada will survive and flourish if three things happen simultaneously or sequentially: women become radically and rapidly more empowered; our young people, including the rich resource of  the indigenous young, accept and broaden the value of our institutions and history; and that we throw open our doors to many more immigrants, millions more.

On the first point, where independent, energetic women, are drawn away from lives of poverty and dependence, not to mention sexism, society cannot help but benefit.

On the second point, I think we undervalue our young people. To my mind, they are bright, exploding with ideas, unconventional and eager to expand their minds and their experience.

And if we follow the advice and guidance of Indigenous leaders like child advocate Cindy Blackstock, we may have a shot at reclaiming a generation of forgotten young people, to their and our everlasting benefit.

Which gets us to the third point in my very unoriginal theory.

Chretien Ceremony 20170925

"If we want to confront and succeed in the onrushing new order of things, we have little choice; we need more people." (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Look around. We are a nation of 35-million human beings sitting on a land mass of 9,984,670 square kilometres — or fully two per cent of the earth's land mass.

The country is virtually empty. The state of California has a greater population.

Simply put, we need more people.

This is the central message of a fascinating new book by Doug Saunders, international affairs columnist for the Globe and Mail. It's called Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough.

Saunders drives home the point again and again, that under-population hurts Canada socially, economically, strategically, even environmentally.

One example. As the population ages, the number of taxpaying Canadians needed to support the elderly in terms of continuing healthcare is shrinking. By 2026, the situation will become critical.

Maximum Canada

Doug Sanders lays out his vision for Canada's future in his new book "Maximum Canada." (Penguin Random House)

He suggests that tripling our population to around 100 million is an achievable and appropriate target.

And as he points out, we have the room to do it.

Quote - "If the tiny strip of land upon which the great majority of Canadians live ... were to develop the population density of the Netherlands, then Canada would have 400 million people."

As Saunders notes, current Canada comes from a hidebound tradition of minimizing population growth by various ways of limiting immigration.

Maximum Canada won't come easily or inexpensively. 

Attawapiskat Town 20160428

"if we follow the advice and guidance of Indigenous leaders like child advocate Cindy Blackstock, we may have a shot at reclaiming a generation of forgotten young people to their and our everlasting benefit." (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

For example, to empower more women, we will have to increase spending on a national childcare system.

But as Saunders points out, if we want to confront and succeed in the onrushing new order of things, we have little choice; we simply need more people.

Maximum Canada is an important book.

Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's essay.