From the Catalyst, Summer 2018
Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough Hardcover
By Doug Saunders
Knopf Canada, 2017
Reviewed by Gloria Nafziger
I was fascinated by Doug Sunders’ recent book Maximum Canada. Like many Canadians, I support immigration to Canada, believe that multiculturalism is a good thing, and think we need new immigrants to help sustain our economy, particularly as our current birth rate will not support the needs of an aging population. Saunders argues that in order to sustain our economy we need to work towards a population goal of 100 million by 2100. He also argues that achieving this goal is impossible without a substantial investment in the social, environmental, and physical infrastructure that would benefit the whole of society.
I was surprised to learn of the extent to which Canada is country of emigrants, with significant population losses; mostly to the United States. I was not surprised to read that Canada’s immigration policies have been historically racist, with a focus on British immigration and a narrow pool of white Europeans, and that the treatment of Indigenous peoples in the work of colonization has been atrocious.
I would like to have seen more discussion of the merits of current immigration streams, from investors to family reunification, refugees and temporary foreign workers: but perhaps this is a topic for another book. No matter our population goals or nature of programs, we need to ensure we create a society where no one is marginalized and everyone will have a home. Saunders provides a hopeful vision of how this might be possible.