Saturday, March 06, 2010

On becoming a target for anti-immigrant politics

Fun to read one of those articles and then realize -- 'Hey! They're talking about me!"

Here's my letter to the editor of our local newspaper, the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle, as well as a scan of the original article that prompted it.

Dear Editor,

As a Canadian immigrant to London, when people make disparaging remarks about immigrants to me, I usually point out that I am one. This often gets some kind of response like – “Oh not you, you're the kind we like.” I'm never quite sure how to take that.

Your 5 March 2010 article "Immigrant increases could lead to tax hike" states "more than 27% of the borough's white population was born overseas, almost double the amount of London as a whole." Further on, Councillor Harry Phibbs is quoted as saying "If we have more people here we have got a greater strain on local services and if people do not speak English as their first language that is an added problem".

My wife, also foreign born, does not speak English as her first language. So it would appear the Honourable Councillor's blame for the council's financial woes is aimed squarely at our home.

If it is the duty of immigrants to contribute their own experiences and wisdom to their newly adopted home, allow me to point out that 45.7% of Toronto's population is foreign born. Canada's two official languages of English and French are the mother tongues for only 55.3% of the city's inhabitants. Yet despite the usual big city struggles with budgets, crime and funding of social services, life doesn't grind to a halt. I believe it helps that city councillors work on the real issues, rather than needlessly immigrant-bashing.

Is the Honourable Councillor somehow saying my wife and I are responsible for the borough's tax hike? If so, how exactly? Does he not realize immigrants are the hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding, voters next door -- or are we just "the kind he likes"?

Michael Maguire

No comments: