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Borderline offensive


Canada's great Seaway

The Economist dated September 15th 2007 is offensive to the democratic principles that Canadians hold dear, and is borderline racist, as well as far to the right of most readers of their own magazine.

The unsigned article, on page 68 of The Americas section, is headlined "A haven for villains" and beneath that, "The political reasons behind Canada's controversial asylum policy."

Controversial to who(m), exactly?, as a linguistic analyst might ask of the above phrase. The CIA? For immediately, we are told that "America has been criticising Canada for lax border controls" - but not America, surely, but, really, the Bush government.

The main concern is that the Canadian border is "porous" and lets criminals and madmen drift across into America, to try and blow it up. However, this alarmist critique masks discomfort with Canada's tolerant, generous, and, indeed, open-minded, immigration policy. As The Economist states, "Attracted by an entitlement to the same legal rights and social benefits as for Canadian citizens, some 25,000 asylum-seekers make their way to Canada every year". Enlightened this may be, but hardly disastrous. British readers might panic at the thought of 25,000 such new citizens each year, but consider - Canada's economy is booming, relative to most other Western nations, driven by their oil supplies, and the amount of land available for habitation is vast, compared to far-smaller European nations. Further, Canada's entire settler-colony history is based on immigration, in succesive, and succesful waves.

Then comes the offending sentence: "All three national political parties pander to the ethnic vote."

Such language, and such terms, are unCanadian. The "ethnic vote" was a racist phrase coined by a disgraced Separatist Quebec leader, in 1995. It was widely condemned by all media at the time.

Canada is a multicultural and pluralist society - a model Britain might some day aspire to, if it ever gets round to forming any interest in its Northern daughter - and so, there is no such thing as an "ethnic Canadian" - all are equally so, and therefore, none is. Or does The Economist think some Canadians more ethnic than others?
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