There’s an increasingly popular argument being made among left-wing environmentalists and those on a crusade to reduce other people’s carbon footprint: have fewer children and help reduce the population. The latest to advocate this drastic step in human behaviour is none other than Canada’s state broadcaster, the CBC, who listed having fewer children as the number one thing Canadians can do to mitigate climate change. According to the brain trust over at Canada’s taxpayer-funded media giant, quoting researchers at the University of British Columbia, having one fewer child will reduce your annual C02 emissions by 58.6 tonnes. That’s a C02 reduction twenty-five times greater than living “car free,” thirty-six times more than avoiding air travel and thirty-seven times better than buying green energy.
When they’re being honest, many on the left will admit their belief that human beings are the problem, and that the most effective way to save the planet from the abstract problem of anthropological climate change is by reducing the number of human being in our midst. Who is to decide how to reduce the world’s population? Well activists on the left, of course. Hence why they’re advocating that Canadians have fewer kids.
Lower population but higher immigration?
This argument runs in the face of another favourite theory pushed by activists on the left, often advocated through the CBC: that due to Canada’s declining fertility rates, we need to take advantage of mass migration to boost our economy and grow the population. Without immigration-fuelled population growth, Canada’s lucrative social welfare programs would be unsustainable. There’s some truth to this last claim. According to the student advocacy group Generation Screwed, which I helped to create and wrote a book with the same title, Canadian governments have over $1 trillion in unfunded liabilities—that is, pension, healthcare, and welfare promises that have not been pre-funded and will drive the country further into debt as governments dole out their financial obligations to retired citizens.
Canada's fertility rates are among the lowest in the Western world
Meanwhile, Canada’s fertility rates are among the lowest in the Western world. Canadian women on average have 1.6 children (it’s only 1.54 in Quebec), compared to the 1.8 average in the like-countries of the U.K., Australia and the U.S. — all well below the 2.1 rate needed for population replacement in developed countries. Without an open immigration system, Canada’s population would be in decline.
Instead, we welcome more than 1 million new people into our country each year — including approximately 330,000 new permanent residents, 55,000 asylum seekers, 353,000 foreign students and another 360,000 temporary workers. As a result of the prolonged consensus over the need for more people, Canada’s population has grown by an astounding 10 million people over the past three decades.
Canadians want to have more children, but they can't afford it
If Canadian women were to take the CBC’s latest suggestion to heart, they would average less than one child per couple—a lonely existence that runs counter to both human nature and the stated desire of most Canadians. A 2016 Cardus report based on a Nanos Research survey found that 93% of Canadians said having a family was “very important” to them, and most Canadians aspire to have three children. The sad reality is that many feel they cannot afford the number of children they want—the most common challenge faced by Canadians surveyed was the cost of living and financial situation. Meanwhile, Canadians just learned that the federal government is spending $1.1 billion per year just to process asylum applications, including for the tens of thousands of people who enter Canada illegally each year. This number does not include healthcare, education, housing and other social welfare programs paid out by the provinces to asylum seekers, nor does it include other costs of our immigration apparatus. Perhaps instead of paying for foreign nations to resettle in our country, the various levels of government in Canada could do more to reduce the financial burden placed on young Canadians that prevent them from having the families they want. As far as the left’s contradictory thinking on growing or shrinking Canada’s population, if ideologues in the green movement believe that Canadians having fewer children will somehow mitigate global C02 emissions, they should have fewer children. It’s a free society, after all. Right-thinking Canadians, however, should be skeptical of taking advice from zealots who repeat debunked claims of unsustainable population growth (claims have repeatedly been discredited, from Thomas Malthus in 1798 to Paul Ehrlich in 1968 to Al Gore in 2006.) To paraphrase former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canadians should resist anyone who is trying to meddle in the bedrooms of the nation.