Saturday, July 21, 2018

Let Confirmation Bias Be Your Guide: Irregular Immigration Edition

Two dynamics are combining to make Canadian politics unpleasant:
  1. Trump's unleashing of ICE and other agencies against immigrants has created a trickle or a flood (more on that below) of people crossing into Canada from the United States.
  2. There are some on the right wing of Canadian politics that seek to emulate Trump, Fox/Breitbart, and various folks in Europe--focusing more on mostly imaginary threats and using various images to provoke racial animus and xenophobia.
So I tweeted thusly:

I got some pushback, which made me realize that the trickle is not a flood, but a smidge more than than a trickle.  The official statistics indicate that 47k folks have crossed the border to seek asylum in Canada.  Oh wait, that is from 2011-2018.  This year, the number is 9,500 and last year was 11,400.  Is that a trickle or a flood?

It obviously depends on one's priors--those who think that any irregular immigration (illegal is a term that opponents use to demonize these folks, irregular is the government term) is bad will see 9.5k and get most upset.  For those who think that Canada should be haven for those who are oppressed, then 9.5 is not that bad.  To be clear, this is for Canada--1.6k for Ontario where Doug Ford is making a stink.  Can Ontario absorb 1.6k (this year) or 6k (last year) refugees?  Yeah. If they all came to Ottawa or Oshawa, that would be quite significant.  If they all went to Toronto?  A blip. 

While Canada is not a big country population-wise, its current population is roughly the same as California.  California faced much bigger flows of immigrants, and it did spark some xenophobia.  The stances the Republican Party took back in the late 1980s and early 1990s still hurt the party in the state today. 

The question today is whether playing up a minor challenge into a provincial priority will pay off for Doug Ford and pay off for the Conservative Party [CPC] as they ramp up the efforts to defeat Trudeau in 2019.  I don't know enough about Canadian politics to hazard a bad prediction.  I would say that the last election in part turned on the CPC's desperate effort at the end to play up xenophobia.  It worked to hurt the NDP, but that gave Trudeau and the Liberals more room to run in Quebec.  The question this time is where will the xenophobes go?  By picking a Sikh to lead the NDP, the NDP may have given those fearful of any non-Catholic symbols cause to vote elsewhere.  But I am not sure they will go Liberal.  Trudeau has broken promises that mattered to some of those folks--electoral reform being one of them.  However, Andrew Scheer and the CPC right now are not that good at making appeals of their own.  Hmmm.

The larger question is this: will Doug Ford, Rebel media (think Breitbart married Fox and produced a less intelligent kid), and the CPC gain traction via white supremacy?  Given that Ontario is very multiethnic and multiculturalism is something that still has some weight across Canada AND being smugly different from the US is a key to Canadian identity, trying to be Trumpian may produce a backlash.  That is my guess and it might be wishful thinking. 

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