(Image Credit: ‘Horsehead nebula’ by Pablo Carlos Budassi via Wikimedia Commons; the image is at this link. Used without modification under Creative Commons Licence)
Unaffordable housing, spiraling cost of living and poor job prospects will not reduce the number of people immigrating to Canada, as some fear. Rather, the TYPE of person who immigrates to Canada will change.
Out there in space, everything is on the move, always. We can think of the universe as a vast F1 racing arena with an immense number of cars going round and round endlessly. During its unending journey, when an astral object comes within the gravitational field of another, larger object, one of these three outcomes occurs: (a) the first object is pulled towards the larger object, causing it to fall completely and collide with it, or (b) the first object gets trapped in an orbit around the larger object, or (c) the first object, having sufficient mass and momentum, is able to leave the gravitational field of the larger object – but in the process, it loses speed; the outcome of the tug of war between the two objects is that the smaller object gets slowed down.
However, things go differently when the first object is light. As we know, the speed of light is constant, therefore the gravitational pull of the other object cannot slow it down. Instead, light loses energy in this situation. This energy loss manifests itself by what is called ‘red shift’, meaning that the light moves down the spectrum towards red. To clarify, it may not necessarily go all the way down to red; depending on the amount of energy lost, it moves down and settles somewhere on the spectrum.
A few days ago, I was following a Twitter conversation between some mortgage professionals, and their conversation touched upon immigration as one of the factors in the issue of housing. It occurred to me that what we know about the effect of a gravitational field on astral objects, including light, can be applied to the immigration issue as well.
Before we begin, however, it would be useful to clarify something. Regardless of how happy or unhappy we are about Canada from the inside, the fact remains that elsewhere, Canada is widely seen as a wonderful country to live in. It would be tempting to see this allure of Canada among would-be immigrants as the ‘gravitational field’ attracting people in. But that is not how I envision this situation.
Instead, what I see operating as the ‘gravitational field’ is a collection of factors such as housing affordability, cost of living, availability of healthcare, the state of infrastructure etc. These are the factors that, in theory, allow one to soar or crash to the ground once the person is in the country. If the gravitational pull of these factors is too strong, the person will crash – or least be unable to gain much altitude.
I hesitate to use the term ‘quality of life’ for these factors collectively, mainly because everyone has their own idea of what it consists of. Plus, in view of the ongoing deterioration on those fronts, using a word like ‘quality’ seems inappropriate – what we are getting increasingly is the opposite of quality. Therefore, I will be using the term ‘Unhappiness Factor’ (or UHF for short) in this article.
GIVE ME YOUR HUDDLED MASSES
Over the last little while, as things have gone rapidly downhill on multiple fronts including inflation and housing, I have observed a lot of people saying that the news about this spreading beyond Canada would have the effect of reducing would-be immigrants’ desire to choose Canada as their destination. However, I believe that the number of immigrants is unlikely to suffer on this account. Rather, what will change is the type of individual who decides to immigrate to Canada. If we imagine ourselves in their shoes, it really is about (a) the cost-benefit analysis, and (b) the payback period.
A would-be immigrant whose education and experience makes them more marketable globally would look at the results of the above two tests and likely decide that they would be better off elsewhere. However, remembering one of my Sanskrit lessons, ‘vipula cha prithvi’ (the earth is plentiful) – there will be other, less mobile individuals who can take the place of the more marketable ones as immigrants. Let me be politically incorrect here and say that by the ‘less mobile’, I mean the less educated and/or those lacking financial strength. This demographic already exists among the current population / intake of immigrants. What I envisage is that their proportion will rise.
How will we know that it has risen? Watch for two numbers: first, the percentage of international students who acquire Permanent Residence (currently, it is below 60%) would go up, possibly preceded by a lofty-sounding announcement as to how this is a great thing for them and Canada. A huge proportion of such students from India come from modest financial backgrounds, and since they are seeking post-secondary credentials in Canada, it is a given that they don’t already possess such credentials (and work experience). A very large number of them are already enduring unbelievably crowded living arrangements that remind one of Third World shanties (except ours are below ground – in the basements of nice-looking homes – so tourists can’t see them), below-minimum wage employment (if they get paid at all) and social disorientation owing to a host of factors. But they still persevere because they don’t have any other option. These are the astral objects that crashed into the larger object because the pull of the gravitational force of the latter was too strong relative to their meager strength.
The second number to watch for is the flip side of the first: the number of immigrants being approved under the ‘points system’. Points are primarily assigned for education and work experience. Both these, vital to securing the immigrant visa, are found to be completely worthless immediately on arrival in Canada. A smart government would empathise with this difficulty in framing its policy to ‘red shift’ away from the already educated and experienced to those who have yet to acquire either of these credentials.
The above does not mean that well-educated immigrants will not be coming to Canada altogether. But it will be increasingly the case that their choice of Canada is not as a destination, but rather as a means to get to their real destination. This is happening already, but in small numbers. In order to gauge a rising trend in this matter, one would need data on outward migration that is broken down by the number of years the emigrants spent as Canadians. This is akin to the passing astral object being pulled sufficiently by the gravity of the larger object such that when it manages to exit this gravity, its trajectory is different from the original one.
Usually, the intended destination of many immigrants to Canada is actually the US, and in some cases it is Europe. However, for various reasons, they are unable to make it there directly from their country of origin. Their solution to this impediment is to acquire a Canadian passport. As an added bonus, they can also network more effectively from Canada, if their intended destination is the US. In astral terms, this is like an object using the gravitation field to get from point A to point B, which would otherwise have been impossible.
So far, knowledge of this phenomenon has depended solely on anecdotes. I have mentioned in other places that Canada lacks in data-collection (of the pinpointed kind) in many areas, so I don’t expect the emigration data to zero in on this demographic. We will only ‘know’ its increased incidence by word of mouth (and its social media equivalent). The political class will deny that the phenomenon is occurring at an increased level, and the debate will get mired in the stalemate that I have described at length in my earlier article ‘Structural Dysfunction’.
ON GOSSAMER WINGS
Finally, there is the class of immigrants that is immune to the gravitational pull of rising UHF. Mainly, this is because they have a lot of financial resources at their disposal. It may seem like a paradox, but they tend to gravitate to countries with poor governance. The reason for this is that there is less accountability there, so they can do as they wish without facing any adverse consequences (as long as they don’t fall afoul of the political powers-that-be). Of course, they wouldn’t LIVE here; getting a Canadian citizenship would merely be a part of their ‘business model’ – and a minor one at that. If they are dual citizens, having a Canadian passport also gives them an escape hatch in case of trouble in their other country of citizenship. Other than that, they would have no ties with Canada. They can live where they want, and if they need medical treatment, they don’t have to depend on the crumbling ‘universal’ healthcare system of Canada; they have sufficient means to receive that treatment wherever they wish.
Compared to the other categories, their numbers are small (naturally), so the data to watch in this regard in order to see if this demographic is increasing would be hard to catch. As I explored in my previous article, the word ‘misinformation’ will likely fly back and forth, with neither side convincing the other with its argument.
The strongest gravitational force in the universe is that of black holes, so intense that even light, travelling at 300,000 kilometres per second, cannot escape it. Anything that comes within range of its gravitational field gets sucked in, quite literally never to be seen again because even light gets trapped in it. Many years ago, I used to think of black holes as ‘voracious villains of the universe’, but as I grew older, I realized that they were just a part of Creation; gobbling up stuff is what they were designed to do. Their behaviour does not stem from intent – they are just part of a cosmic food chain. The universe is a gigantic system, the structure and rules of which we have not yet fully understood.
When it comes to human-made systems however, intent (both of the people who design them as well as those who shape them) can be judged from the human perspective. Here, I am talking about the Canadian society itself as a system. Maybe I should call it a ‘meta-system’ because it is composed of many sub-systems, but let’s keep this simple by just calling it a system.
As I see it, we are now creating a system where UHF is extremely high and rising rapidly. Unaffordable housing, unavailable healthcare, unbearable cost of living and increasingly scarce economic opportunities for everyone except the lucky few are now set to combine with internet censorship (Bill C-11), inaccessibility of news (Bill C-18), policing of thoughts (the upcoming ‘Online harms’ Bill) etc. to create a dead society. If we understand ‘life’ to be a constant march to better places, then it would be fair to call that future Canada as ‘lifeless’. It would be the closest thing to a black hole possible on earth. To be clear, there are (sadly) a lot of places that are much worse now. Whether we join their ranks or surpass them all is something that only time can tell.
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