Image: Greta Hoffman via Pexels.
For the last three years or so, immigration has been a significant focus for Inroads. Anne Michèle Meggs, a retired senior official in Quebec’s immigration ministry, has written authoritatively about the improvisation and lack of planning that characterize Ottawa’s immigration policy, which has become dominated by the international student and temporary worker programs. It was largely because of temporary immigration that, for the first time, Canada’s population increased by more than a million in 2022.
Our Summer/Fall 2023 issue featured a conversation between Anne and economist Pierre Fortin on immigration policy in the context of the Century Initiative’s proposal that Canada should boost immigration so that its population reaches 100 million by 2100. The CEO of the Century Initiative, Lisa Lalande, found fault with their analysis and wrote to us to say so; Anne and Pierre responded. This exchange went out to subscribers as an Inroads special in September and is available on our website.
In this issue, we shift the focus from immigration to the related matter of Canada’s housing crisis – the widening gap between demand for housing and what is being built. While acknowledging that “growing demand, with immigration largely to blame, is exacerbating the shortfall,” Mario Polèse places the onus primarily on supply issues, in Who is to Blame for Canada’s Housing Crisis? Look in the Mirror. Economic theory suggests that supply should rise to meet increased demand, but in Canada supply is held back by “a combination of public underfunding; ill-conceived, though well-intentioned, urban planning policies; land restrictions; and, of course, NIMBYs” – local residents’ “Not In My Back Yard” opposition to new housing developments.
John Richards is more inclined to cast the spotlight on the demand side and advocates limiting demand by reducing immigration levels, in Immigration and the Spike in House Prices. He notes that, prior to the election of the Trudeau Liberals in 2015, the ratio each year of Canada’s population growth to housing units completed was fairly stable. That ratio nearly doubled in the first four years of Liberal rule. A housing price spike followed in 2021–22. “The provinces and Ottawa,” John writes, “have now implicitly acknowledged that recent immigration numbers are a major cause of the spike in house prices and rents.”
Mark Crawford provides another perspective with his account of Japan’s success in ensuring that housing remains available and affordable, in How Japan Keeps Housing Available and Affordable. “The first two decades of this century,” he writes, “were characterized by remarkably stable prices, the lowest rate of homelessness of any large country, and a very high level of satisfaction with housing.”
Events such as the Israel-Hamas war that dominate the world’s media present Inroads with a dilemma. On one hand, since Inroads is a public policy journal and current events are the object of its analysis and commentary, we could hardly ignore an event of the magnitude of the Israel-Hamas war. On the other hand, the saturation media coverage left us wondering what was left for Inroads to say.
Poet Philip Resnick was the first to come to our rescue with a series of poems with a historical and philosophical perspective that would be hard to find in the news coverage, in A Middle East in Flames. The Inroads listserv weighed in with a thoughtful discussion of the right to self-defence and proportionality in the context of Israel’s retaliation for the October 7 pogrom in Self-Defence, Proportionality and the Israel-Hamas War. We had already decided to feature work by the independent-minded Algerian writer Kamel Daoud, and we were drawn to his October 27 critique of Arab countries’ use of the Palestinian cause as an excuse for inadequate education, poor urban planning, religious extremes and authoritarian governments led by corrupt generals. Finally, I read Martin Carnoy’s novel The Many Lives of Michał K., whose protagonist is a young Jewish resistance fighter in the forests of Poland during World War II, in the early days of the Israel-Hamas war, and the themes of vengeance and Jewish experience that are central to the novel also underlay many of the news reports I was hearing. I hope this confluence comes through in The Thirst for Revenge, Then and Now.
Also in this issue:
- John Richards examines the prospects for Africa in light of the continent’s failures in education and governance, in Mme Ousmane’s School System and the Prospects for Africa.
- Two experienced and knowledgeable journalists, Mark Starowicz and Harvey Schachter, lament the decline of local news and suggest ways of reversing it in Journalism’s Tragedy of the Commons: The Near-Death of Local News.
- Frances Boylston finds some cause for hope – but more cause for scepticism – that a Kenyan-led multilateral security mission will help stabilize Haiti, in Can a Kenyan-Led Security Mission Curb Haiti’s Gangs?
- Zack Taylor looks at how Olivia Chow fashioned a citywide base of support that won her the Toronto mayor’s chair and assesses what’s ahead for Canada’s metropolis, in Olivia Chow’s Mayoral Victory Means Big Changes for Toronto.
- Henry Milner sees Finland’s election of a conservative government as an immediate response to events rather than a turn away from the Nordic model, in Has Finland Turned Away from the Nordic Model? Henry also reviews a book that lays out a challenging right-wing critique of the American liberal establishment and its embrace of “woke” ideology in Right-Wing Counteroffensive in the War of Ideas.
- In their columns, Reg Whitaker sees the fusion of the functions of head of government and head of state in the American presidency as a serious flaw in the U.S. constitution in The Overinflated American Presidency, while Arthur Milner, citing recent controversies over searching a Winnipeg landfill for the bodies of missing Indigenous women and parents’ rights in schools, concludes that many Canadians’ views are not represented in mainstream media, in Search the Landfill (Or Not).
- Geoff White reviews novels by two prominent Cuban writers that stretch the limits of Cuba’s political tolerance in Stretching the Limits of Cuba’s Political Tolerance.
- Marvin Shaffer, John Richards and Curtis Eaton make a case for a substantial increase in the carbon tax to pay the cost of recent climate change events such as wildfire management, in Who Pays for Climate Change Events?
Finally, congratulations are in order for longtime Inroads writer and editorial board member Gareth Morley, who was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia on August 28. Unfortunately for Inroads, Gareth’s new position means that he can no longer be an active participant in the journal. We will miss his wide knowledge, original insights and lively writing.
At the same time, we are pleased to welcome the newest member of the editorial board, Mark Crawford.