Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Canada Strong and Free only in Song

Americans generally have no clue what is happening north of the Canada-US border, and have only the vaguest sense of who is up there. For their own part, Canadians are always in existential angst over their identity (unless they are in French Canada or the Maritimes). Thus for both Canadians and Americans, Mark Steyn's Free Market Forum lecture on September 29, 2007 at Hillsdale College is helpful. The title, "Is Canada's Economy a Model for America?," sounds dull but the lecture insightfully identifies who these adjacent yet very different peoples are, their relationship to one another and the separate directions they are headed.

Rhetorically, the lecture is a gem. Consider his inviting introduction:

I was a bit stunned to be asked to speak on the Canadian economy. “What happened?” I wondered. “Did the guy who was going to talk about the Belgian economy cancel?” It is a Saturday night, and the Oak Ridge Boys are playing the Hillsdale County Fair. Being from Canada myself, I am, as the President likes to say, one of those immigrants doing the jobs Americans won’t do. And if giving a talk on the Canadian economy on a Saturday night when the Oak Ridge Boys are in town isn’t one of the jobs Americans won’t do, I don’t know what is.
Through the Canadian example, Steyn reflects on the relationship between liberty, big government, and government control of the economy and of the health care system in particular. He tells stories of a government funded anti-government riot, unionized panhandlers, a special immigration category for "exotic dancers" (strippers), and a ten month waiting list for the government run maternity ward.

What I found most alarming, not only from an ex-pat perspective, but also from the perspective of American national security, is the Canadian demographics that Steyn reports. Like Europe but unlike the United States, Canadians are not replacing themselves.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada’s population increased by 1.6 million. 400,000 came from natural population growth kids, while 1.2 million came from immigration. Thus native Canadians—already only amounting to 25 percent of the country’s population growth—will become an ever smaller minority in the Canada of the future. It’s like a company in which you hold an ever diminishing percentage of the stock. It might still be a great, successful company in the years ahead, but if it is, it won’t have much—if anything—to do with you.

That is not a racist concern. I am not concerned with the color or cuisine of 21st century Canadians. It is their view of liberty and of liberty's enemies abroad that concerns me and should concern my family, friends and countrymen north of the border.

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