Canada has a birth rate well below the replacement level. This fundamental defect has implications for various areas of national life including our immigration policy.

Canadians have prided themselves for many years on being a land that welcomes immigrants. We have regarded our immigration policy as a humanitarian one and seen ourselves as being generous and open-minded.

Whether this sweet picture of ourselves was ever actually true can be debated. What is clear is that our low birth rate has a subtle but powerful effect on immigration policy. Immigrants are no longer invited to the country to build it into something greater than it is now. This indeed was the case when thousands came from overseas to settle the Canadian prairie. Now we need immigrants simply to maintain the status quo.

One consequence of this, and of the fact that we are a technological society is that we now seek highly educated and trained immigrants. The changes announced this fall by Immigration Minister Sergio Marchi mean that Canada will be seeking out immigrants who are educated and trained as professionals and technicians.

The Immigration Minister was widely applauded for declaring that Canada would be more aggressively marketing itself to ensure the most highly trained immigrants would be admitted. He announced at the same time that fewer immigrants would be admitted in the family class, that is, admitted because they already have relatives living here.

But from where will these better trained and educated immigrants be coming? That answer can only be from Third World countries. This is inevitable because professionals in developed countries have little reason to leave their comfortable surroundings to come to Canada.

This means that Canada, one of the wealthiest nations on earth, will be stealing some of the brightest and ablest persons from the world’s poorest countries. Educating professionals and skilled technicians is an expensive process for any country. For Third World nations, training their own technicians, engineers and professionals represents a very substantial burden. This burden is ultimately borne by the average citizens of those countries. Third World peoples who have sacrificed to train certain individuals in their midst have at least a moral claim on those skills and that knowledge. It is some form of immorality to have wealthy Canada using “marketing techniques” to attract these highly Canada using “marketing techniques” to attract these highly trained persons away from Third World countries.

Poor countries, disadvantaged groups, and exploited persons can only better their lot when they have power over their own destinies. They need to be free to make decisions for themselves and to live with the results of those decisions. Our immigration policy denies Third World countries the ability to do just that. It denies them their ability to decide what kinds of skilled professionals they will have in their societies, and in what numbers.

The same principles however apply to us. Stealing skilled persons from the poor countries of the world means that we are evading the natural consequences of some of our own decisions.

A society which does not replace itself has a fundamental problem. The problem is not just the wide practice of contraception and the legality of abortion. They are symptoms of our fundamental problems – problems that we share with every developed, consumerist society in the Western world.

Unfortunately, an immigration policy which successfully attracts large numbers of highly educated people enables us to avoid even asking what those problems are – much less begin dealing with them.

Other Western societies have developed immigration practices intended to deal with the same low birth rate problem. Those solutions are, I dare say, even more immoral than Canada’s. From France to California foreign workers are delegated the dirtiest jobs in the land. In return, they are paid starvation wages and denied the ordinary benefits of citizenship. The fact that other countries are doing an even worse job is no defence of our own record.

It is time to have a hard-nosed assessment of the Western world’s low birth rates. Those who are paying the price for our lack of children are not Westerners, but the economically disadvantaged people of the Third World.