...despite criticism of the system from the right-wing (and some from those who consider themselves left-wing as well), Canada is going to need such a system for continued population growth in Canada.And why does Canada need continued population growth?
Before I go any further, I'll just state the obvious: I'm wildly pro-immigration. My mother moved to this country as a young girl, my paternal grandmother moved here after serving as a Red Cross nurse in WWII (where she met my grandfather.) My girlfriend's parents came here for school when they were young, something I'm immensely happy for every day. So I'm in no way opposed to immigration. My reasons are just different from Scott's.
But for some reason we all seem to assume that Canada needs to keep growing, an assumption I don't think we tend to think about critically, if at all. What are the arguments for continued growth?
The most common one -- the one Scott uses -- is economics. Population growth is one aspect of economic growth. It is not, however, the most important one. That would be productivity, right? The economy could keep growing with a shrinking population -- see Russia since 1998. "GDP" really is just a number, and even if the aggregate GDP were static, in a shrinking population we'd all be getting richer.
We need to recognize that as much as we want there to be more Canadians in the world, there's a flip side to having more people in Canada -- those people live like Canadians. Inefficient, intensely polluting Canadians. It's even more problematic if we keep doing immigration the way we have been, with immigration channeled in to a small number of large cities that are already choking on urban problems -- sprawl, waste disposal, mass transit.
Let's assume, however, that we solve the environmental issues and we decide we still want Canada to growing (in numbers of people) as rapidly as possible. There are other alternatives: the French have successfully reversed their slumping birthrates by pursuing policies that are extremely family-friendly: guaranteed paid maternal leave, cheap national day care, and others. In then next few years, France should see it's birthrate exceed the replacement rate for the first time in decades.
So immigration isn't the only means for reversing a population slump. You want people to have large families? Make it easier for them to have larger families. Baby bonuses, subsidies for larger homes, try and direct some jobs in to smaller towns so people can afford houses more easily... there's plenty of alternatives.
Despite the environmental issues (which, if anything, deserve more time than I'm giving them here) I'm still, as I say, wildly pro-immigration, and I do think Canada should try and keep it's population growing. If nothing else, because we've got the room and I genuinely think that Canada is one of the finest places to live anywhere, and I was raised to share.