Sunday, June 23, 2002

Great White North Alert! The (Canadian) National Post reports that
Denis Coderre, the Immigration Minister, is proposing a strict immigration policy with the intent of putting a million newcomers in the country's less populated regions by 2011.

It would be the most dramatic effort to channel immigrants since the settlement of Western Canada at the dawn of the 20th century.

Mr. Coderre said he wants prospective immigrants to sign a social contract under which they would promise to reside in the Atlantic provinces, the Prairie provinces or rural areas of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia for three to five years before moving.
Apparently 50% of all Canadian immigrants settle in Toronto, 15% in Vancouver, and 11% in Montreal. Minister Coderre would like to use immigration as a development tool for the more sparsely populated areas.
The federal government had a similar program after the Second World War, but Mr. Coderre's policy is more far-reaching in seeking to repopulate regions that urbanization has left behind.

The plan is similar in scope to the settlement program for Western Canada that began in 1896 under Clifford Sifton, minister of the interior in the Liberal government of Wilfrid Laurier. The Sifton plan offered newcomers 65 hectares of virtually free land for a $10 registration fee. It was judged a huge success, with the population jumping from 5.3 million in 1901 to 8.8 million by 1920.

The Prairie provinces received 49% of the new immigrants, lured by the promise of cheap land.
Needless to say, the proposal was greeted by whines from the usual sources.