On January 18th, join Honourable Chris Alexander, former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and former member of the Canadian foreign service, as he explores this very important topic:
It is simply not tenable to advocate global trade and investment — where aid, capital, goods and services flow to where they are most needed, as justified by expected returns — without arguing for an improved global regime to manage growing volumes of travel by human beings as we all choose to study, vacation, explore, do business, volunteer or improve our lives by visiting different parts of the world. In fact, the failure of the UN to date to devise an effective set of standards for migration in all its forms must rank as one of that institution’s greatest failures of vision from 1945 until very recently. The Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which enshrines so many principles championed by Canada throughout its history, is an attempt to rectify this historic oversight, as was the Global Compact on Refugees put forward only a few years ago. Progress on these issues is one of humanity’s greatest modern tests: if we cannot agree on and implement basic rules that allow people to move voluntarily for economic, educational and humanitarian reasons — to escape persecution and to seek opportunity — we will be sowing the seeds of economic failure and undercutting the potential for global cooperation.
In fact, one can argue that our failure to address these issues properly since 1989 — when global trade and investment were literally exploding — set the stage for the current waves of populism, xenophobia and intolerance that are still washing over most parts of the world. Social media, the 2008-09 financial crisis, failed invasion of Iraq and weak, cowardly and ineffective political leadership have only exacerbated these challenges. Migration needs to be safe, orderly and regular, precisely because the opposite scenario leads to deep disenchantment and often to extremism. Refugees must be welcomed by those countries best equipped to offer them a better life precisely because our duty to help the most vulnerable on this planet of ours has never been more starkly stated — nor more often ignored by populists, isolationists and demagogues of all stripes.
Canada’s reforms to its asylum, citizenship, immigration, refugee, study and visitor visa programmes, have arguably sought to achieve all this and more, starting in the late 1950s. We have been trailblazers in opening our doors to global talent and to the most vulnerable, using objective measures of education, skill and humanitarian need at every turn. But today our own system stands at a crossroads. Will we sustain and perpetuate this proud record of accomplishment? Or will we lapse back into mismanagement or populist reaction in some particularly Canadian form?