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Joe Varner: Prosecuting Israel for defending itself would mean the end of the liberal international world order

Commentary

This week’s absurd announcement that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has requested the issuing of arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is a powerful sign of what many of us have known for some time: the United Nations architecture is falling apart. 

The challenge now for U.S.-led Western democracies is to defend and revitalize the liberal and democratic rules-based order without being defensive about the inherent failings of today’s UN model. It’s no longer sustainable to ignore what’s happened to the 20th-century institution. 

The UN and its various agencies epitomized the liberal international order in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Cold War. At various points over the years, it has lived up to its lofty goals. The problem today is that the UN has been increasingly subverted by those who want to destroy the peace and security that it has provided in large measure over the last almost 80 years. 

Consider for instance that last year the Chinese Communist Party wrote in its defence white paper that the UN must be co-opted and used against the liberal order. Or consider Russia’s efforts to subvert the UN as part of its efforts to undo the U.S.-dominated world order. Or that Iran has previously chaired the UN Human Rights Council notwithstanding its appalling human rights record. Or that North Korea has been chair of the UN disarmament conference. 

Name an undemocratic country and the despot (or despots) in charge, and you will find it on a list of UN committee chairs. Maybe it is the cost of keeping the unruly dangerous mob in the tent. Just maybe, though, it is gradual the end of the rule of law and the final subversion of the liberal rules-based order in which an international mob of dictators, antisemites, and systemic human rights abusers set the rules for the democracies trying to live and trade in peace.

The ICC’s issuance of arrest warrants for Israeli leaders has brought this to the fore. U.S. President Joe Biden has rightly called the decision “outrageous” and insisted there’s no equivalence with the brutal crimes of Hamas. As of writing, the Trudeau government has been largely silent on the subject. Its members of parliament have been free to set out positions in favour or opposed to the ICC’s extraordinary announcement. The Prime Minister has called it “unhelpful.”

Biden is right of course. The ICC is under pressure from the forces of antisemitism as well as the undemocratic mob of non-law-abiding states. 

It must be understood though that while this is happening to Israel, it is not about Israel. At the end of the day, it is about all Western democracies.

The West led by the U.S. is now at a decision point with the manipulation and perversion of the ICC and the rule of international law. The Gaza War was of course thrust upon Israel by Hamas’ brutal attacks and even though Israel has a right to defend itself under the UN Charter, and in fact has gone further than any country in history to minimize civilian casualties, the ICC prosecutors if they have their way, will issue arrest warrants for Israel’s leaders for doing their job and defending the Jewish state. 

If the mob succeeds in dragging Israeli leaders before the world court for defending their country, it amounts to the use of liberal institutions by illiberal forces to undermine a fellow democracy. It would effectively signal that the liberal international world order is at an end.

It’s a warning therefore to all Western liberal democracies. We can either try to revive the decaying rules-based order or subject ourselves to the old balance of power struck by great powers that so-typified the bloody war-dominated history of the previous three centuries. 

We must understand this inherent choice. If the international order is permitted to unravel, states will be left to either join the balance of power game, sit out as neutral, or effectively surrender and become a vassal state. The problem with the neutral option is that such a country must arm to the hilt or risk being sucked into the fight either as an ally or a conquered vassal. That likely means the need for nuclear arms and delivery means. 

As readers will no doubt conclude, this isn’t really much of a choice at all. Especially for a country like Canada.

Let’s hope therefore that our our democratically elected leaders choose wisely and defend Israel and its leadership from the tyranny of the mob because we cannot allow the rule of the dictators to win. The liberal international order itself may be at stake. 

Adam Legge and Irfhan Rawji: Our immigration strategy is failing to deliver on its most important promise

Commentary

Canada is a nation that has benefited tremendously from immigration. At its core, the promise of immigration is this: that new Canadians can come here from around the world, contribute to our economy and society, and build a great life for themselves, and that when they do, we will all collectively be better off for it.

The problem is, we have not been delivering on that promise.

In recent years, Canada’s immigration system has strayed, and while there are still many positives, it hasn’t been delivering as well for established Canadians and newcomers alike. Perhaps most importantly—and most frankly—is that it’s not making everyone better off, and Canadians are getting poorer.

Right now, Canada’s economy has stagnated. In fact, Canadians are no better off today than they were in 2014. And, with future productivity expectations in the gutter, our economy will not grow at the pace required to deliver opportunities for a growing population. All this has created frustration among Canadians, both long-established and new ones. Less than one-third of Canadians believe that our current approach to immigration is effective, and one-third of immigrants are unsure of their decision to move to Canada.

That’s a bad sign for Canada’s future. Future prosperity requires that the Canadian economy generates more value, not just because there are more of us, but because each one of us is better off. To get there, we need an enhanced approach and a renewed focus on the actual purpose of economic immigration: to generate prosperity for all. 

There are two main ways we need to do this:

  • Attracting and selecting the best candidates for economic immigration
  • Improving outcomes for newcomers themselves

On the selection of the best economic candidates, the statistics around this may surprise many Canadians. Today, about half of the people admitted into Canada in the economic category were not, in fact, selected for their economic contributions. They are the spouses and dependents of a primary economic immigrant. For every 10 newcomers to Canada, about three are personally selected for their economic contribution. While many of these additional people have great contributions to make to our economy as well, when we’re counting five-year-olds as economic immigrants, it’s no wonder we’re not seeing the level of economic boost we might expect.

Also, there are big gaps in how Canada decides which economic immigrants to select. Take as an example a person with a master’s degree in—because we need to pick something—Latin, versus a person with a certification as a heavy-duty mechanic.

All else held equal, the person with the master’s would receive more points than the mechanic, due simply to years of education, despite the fact that the mechanic has vastly higher average earning potential in Canada today. And, with full respect to both professions, Canada also needs far more heavy mechanics right now than we do TAs in Latin.

A clear needle-moving fix is to reform the points system used to better select economic immigrants, prioritizing those with higher earning potential over other measures. We should also make this system dynamic and update it frequently to account for changes in what skills our economy needs in real time.

On the second front, improving newcomer experience and outcomes, the fixes are clear but that doesn’t make them easy. The process needs to be streamlined and simplified. We need to connect newcomers to supports so they can find a home and a job as quickly as possible. More than all else, we need to make it much easier for newcomers to use their skills in the Canadian labour market. We must view it as economically and morally unacceptable to have people delivering Skip the Dishes who are trained as—and would prefer to be working as—physicians and engineers.

Finally, as every business person knows, what gets measured gets done. For our immigration system, we need to enhance it to deliver on its stated goal of making everyone better off. That requires tying our strategy to clear indicators of prosperity such as GDP growth per capita and directing our resources to best increase those metrics.  

There is a mandate for change. In a poll from Abacus, nearly 70 percent of Canadians feel the current immigration targets are too high. We owe it to all Canadians, from those who have been here the longest to the newest, to deliver on the promise of immigration and make everyone better off from it.