With news breaking that unemployed Canadians with relevant experience and skills were by-passed in favour of temporary foreign worker programs, my mind is drawn to the long term implications of such a program.
I'll leave the day-to day analysis of the program to others, in favour of a little examination of the possible long term effects of this program on the society as a whole.
First, let me say this. I am a Canadian citizen, and a tax-paying resident of Thailand. I plan to return to Canada some day, and I will always be, first and foremost a Canadian from Miramichi in New Brunswick. My father is English and has only recently taken up Canadian citizenship in addition to his U.K citizenship.
But, let's look at my father as a picture of what real immigration does for a country before moving on.
My father has lived in Canada (which I often, warmly refer to as Soviet Canuckistan) since the mid 1970's. Since that time, he has started several businesses, employed a number of natural born Canadians (some of them for many years), pays his taxes, is a well respected member of his church, built several houses, served as an able employee, bore three children who live on the right side of the law and contribute to their respective communities, and has been a positive influence in many many lives.
His roots in the Miramichi run deep. His economic contribution has been notable. Though I am biased, I think he is a true role model. My mother has often said to me, in times when I'm confused, to "do what your father would do". He's that kind of dad.
My point is that Canada wins by having such people whether they be from China, France, Britain, the Ukraine, Somalia or any point in between. These people set their roots in the country; they build the land, and they make us prosper.
There have been darkspots. I won't get into them here, but the abuse of immigrants from some countries, the quotas and the genocide upon the First Nations are all issues I'm cognizant of and I will start to address them at a later time.
But, it is immigration that built this country.
On the other hand, there are people like me. My roots are not deep in this land. I'm working. I'm not saving any money. I haven't any children, or a spouse and I won't stay. I'm still fulfilling a public need. I'm educating people and helping them to succeed. I'm doing what the King called for when he stated in 1997 that if foreigners want to come and dig the riches of this land, let them dig for us (the Thais).
That's what I see myself as. I dig. I don't dig to plunder, but I dig to build the place where I live. That fills the gap that Thailand currently has, but it isn't going to go much further. What I do here doesn't lay down the deep routes that add strength to the soil itself.
Should Canada allow temporary foreign workers? Absolutely. But, the answer to a better country is to do what we've done in the past: Encourage real immigration with the full opportunities for citizenship. The NDP's Once in a Life Time bill to allow anyone to sponsor, a family member, once in a life-time to come to Canada would help accomplish that. Focusing more resources on family class immigration would help to accomplish that.
Let's get back to nation building rather than short-term stop-gap measures.