Bennie Fowler: Doug Ford Needs to Take Some Advice, and Stop Blathering and Start Acting like a Premier

All I’ve been hearing ever since Doug Ford was elected premier of Ontario is that his rhetoric is racist. He’s being accused of inciting xenophobia, disrespecting immigrants and their contributions to Canada and attacking Toronto’s Bangladeshi population. For the sake of clarity, what sort of lives have Canadian immigrants brought to Ontario since its founding? Have they enriched our country, providing essential skills that are in high demand in Canada and elsewhere? No they haven’t, but are they to blame for the lack of skilled immigrants to Canada?

That question alone is worth digging into. This morning, I read an op-ed in the Guardian that described the immigrant experience from eight different countries: Mexico, Jamaica, France, China, Italy, Colombia, Italy and the U.S. While in Canada, my American father immigrated, and I was born here. So, even though I was lucky enough to have my parents speak English and come here as legal immigrants, my family and I couldn’t afford the high costs of living in Calgary or Vancouver. When my mother moved back to Toronto, we saved money every month to save for the costs associated with moving to Toronto. At the time, there were only seven other families in our new neighbourhood who had all heard of a similar struggle and shared the same sentiment. We were able to afford Toronto house and rent because of immigrants.

You can see it everywhere: computer and other technology, innovation and technology that keeps society and economies working. We’re building space exploration to explore the deepest reaches of the universe, and more Canadians are working on adventures that awe us than ever before.

For a great deal of time, whenever immigrants were brought up as beneficiaries of immigration, their contributions to the economy were cast aside and they were not adequately acknowledged and respected for all of the work they do to keep our country’s economy moving. Their skills are needed and their contributions should be recognized. Our immigration system has needed modernization and reform for years, and immigrants need to know there is no shame in working hard and being educated.

Since the Trudeau government spent billions of dollars, up to $20,000 per refugee, in the 2014 resettlement of refugees, you’d think they would spend millions of dollars more on bringing skilled immigrants to Canada. In fact, they have made it easier for prospective newcomers to enter Canada: since Trudeau’s Liberals became Prime Minister, it’s become far easier for applicants to enter through our economic class, as opposed to the skilled worker or family class, meaning if you’re an employer or an employer company that hires “non-skilled” immigrants, that could mean a lot of extra employees just like my dad!

Doug Ford is right: let’s recognize the many contributions Canadians have made to our country and not be ashamed of the skill of our immigrant population. Those who’ve landed on our shores are here to learn and to contribute. The citizens of Ontario have given meaning to the promise of our country: those who work hard can make a real and meaningful contribution to our society. And everyone, immigrants or citizens, has the right to contribute to their home countries and communities.

Doug Ford needs to recognize this, and apologize and rethink his tone. While I don’t blame him for wanting to keep the cities safe, he needs to act sensitively on all discussions and learn from the mistakes of his past, and let those without a degree know they do not need a masters degree from Harvard or Oxford in order to contribute to society.

Doug Ford needs to stop the political bluster and start acting like a premier. It’s time he apologized and started thinking before he speaks. He’s got some issues to fix.

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