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Senator Downe addresses Citizenship Ceremony: Welcomes “Our newest fellow Islanders”

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Posted on 02 November 2010

As guest speaker at a Citizenship Ceremony held Thursday, October 28th, 2010, at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, Senator Percy Downe welcomed “Canada’s newest citizens and our newest fellow Islanders”.

“Immigration can be described as a trade between newcomer and host, each with differing perspectives but both seeking the same thing: a better future. The prospective citizen, whether fleeing hardship or seeking opportunity, hopes to find something that could not be found in his or her old home. For its part, the host welcomes new citizens while looking forward to the contribution they can make to society. And nowhere is this the case more than in Canada; a country quite literally built by immigrants, who joined our Aboriginal population.”

“As surely as we needed immigration to settle Canada in the 19th century, so we must continue to attract newcomers if we are to prosper in the 21st”, the Senator said, commenting on Canada’s increasing reliance upon immigration to help grow our economy.

This reliance is particularly profound here in Prince Edward Island, as an aging population and declining birthrates combine to reduce the supply of the new citizens, customers and taxpayers who drive the prosperity Islanders have enjoyed in recent generations.

“If we as a province are to grow, we need immigrants. And if we are to thrive, we need to attract immigrants who will the help us build the sort of society we all want. Students, skilled workers and professionals, entrepreneurs; we need them – we need you – to join us in this endeavour,” said Downe.

This is not to say that the purpose of immigration is simply the fulfilment of Canada’s economic needs. As a people blessed with freedom, safety and prosperity, we have a moral duty to offer refuge to those who are not so fortunate. Since the Second World War Canada has welcomed over eight hundred thousand refugees and displaced persons, fleeing war and persecution. Like other immigrants, they’ve become part of the fabric of this country, to the point where some, in turn helped sponsor others seeking the same new beginning they had.

“Today, you are truly one of us. You’re citizens. You’re taxpayers. You’re voters. You’re Canadians. And what happens next in this country is as much up to you as it is to me. And so, as we look forward to another Canadian winter, “May kindest fortune smile” upon you and your families as you embark on this new chapter of your lives. “

Twenty seven new Canadians took the Oath of Citizenship at the ceremony.

-30-

For further information:

Senator Percy Downe: 613-943-8107

www.sen.parl.gc.ca/pdowne


Citizenship Ceremony, Charlottetown

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lieutenant Governor, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, let me congratulate you, Canada’s newest citizens and our newest fellow Islanders. You’ve come from around the world to Canada, and to Prince Edward Island, to build new lives for yourselves and your families, and we who had the good fortune to be born here commend you for your good judgement. This island cradled on the waves offers a quality of life unmatched in Canada. This is mainly due to our people, and our people are mainly here due to immigration, as waves of newcomers joined the Aboriginal community, who were here first -  the original Islanders - to shape this province we call home.

Immigration can be described as a trade between newcomer and host, each with differing perspectives but both seeking the same thing: a better future. The prospective citizen, whether leaving hardship or seeking opportunity, hopes to find something that could not be found in his or her old home. For its part, the host welcomes new citizens while looking forward to the contribution they can make to society. Together, both new citizen and old, immigrant and host, work to build a nation that benefits us all. And nowhere is this the case more than in Canada; a country quite literally built by immigrants.

And so it is reflected in the policies of our governments. Put simply, Canada must promote immigration, because Canada needs immigration. It is a question of how all of us together can help Canada grow and thrive.

Now, given the testing and preparation you had to undergo to make this day possible, you've probably had your fill of facts and figures, but it is still worth pointing out that Canada is one of the most sparsely populated countries on Earth, with fewer than four Canadians for every square km of territory. To put that in perspective, if we had the same population density as Russia, there would be some 80million of us. A century and a half after Confederation, Canada still has room to grow.

But more than that, Canada has a need to grow. As we needed immigration to settle Canada in the 19th century, so we must continue to attract newcomers if we are to prosper in the 21st. Since coming to this country you’ve no doubt heard of our aging population and what that means for our society and economy. Our private companies and our public social programs rely upon a steady supply of new citizens, customers, investors and taxpayers. And that supply is starting to dry up.

For example, for over half a century after the Second World War, the so-called Baby Boom generation filled our schools and then our workplaces with millions of productive citizens. But this generation didn’t have as many children as their parents’, and now they are starting to leave the workforce and collect their pensions. As a result, the number of recipients of old age pensions is going up at the same time the number of contributors is going down. Clearly, just as Employment Insurance requires the contributions of employed Canadians to help support the unemployed, so it is that the programs Canadians count on to help them in their old age require a steady source of contributions from younger Canadians. This is not restricted to the issue of old age pensions; if Canada as a whole is to continue to thrive we need new Canadians. And, of course, there are only two ways to make new Canadians; birth and immigration.

To meet this challenge, governments, both provincial and federal, have embarked on a program to attract the people we need  - both in terms of quantity and quality – to help us grow . You are no doubt familiar with many of them, and there’s no need to list them here. But underlying all of them is one objective: if we as a province are to grow, we need immigrants. And if we are to thrive, we need to attract immigrants who will help us build the sort of society we all want. Students, skilled workers and professionals, entrepreneurs; we need them – we need you – to join us in this endeavour.

This is not to say that the purpose of immigration is simply the fulfilment of Canada’s economic needs. As a people blessed with freedom, safety and prosperity, we have a moral duty to offer support to those who are not so fortunate. Since the Second World War, Canada has welcomed over eight hundred thousand refugees and displaced persons, leaving war and persecution. Like other immigrants they’ve become part of the fabric of this country, to the point where some, in turn helped sponsor others seeking the same new beginning they had.

Today, you are truly one of us. You’re citizens. You’re taxpayers. You’re voters. You’re Canadians. And what happens next in this country is as much up to you as it is to me.

And so, as we look forward to another Canadian winter, “May kindest fortune smile” upon you and your families as you embark on this new chapter of your lives.


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