Why Canada is looking better to the English these days
Why Canada is looking better to the English these days
EMIGRATION FROM BRITAIN is again on the upswing. Almost three thousand sailed for Canada in the first three months of 1963, compared to 1,675 in the same period last year, and in May alone seven thousand people left Britain for Australia. Some observers regard the trend as a symptom of disenchantment among Britons with their own country. But Canadian officials, at least, find no evidence that this is so. They say the outward flow, far from being abnormal, is merely a return to something approaching the postwar average. The change is in the British attitude — not toward Britain, but toward Canada.
The commonest of all reasons given for wanting to emigrate to Canada is, “I have a friend who went out there two or three years ago and he seems to be doing well.” Naturally, when the reverse is true, as it has been from time to time — when the friends’ reports arc warnings instead of encouragements — the Canadian immigration office doesn’t hear about it because the prospective emigrant doesn't come. But officials do point out a cyclical swing in our immigration figures from Britain, directly related to the employment situation in both countries.
Of the six hundred and fifty thousand who have gone to Canada from Britain since World War 11 about ten percent arrived in the first eighteen months. These were the war brides plus some refugees from postwar austerity. But as living standards began to rise in Britain and full employment continued, the outflow dropped to a fairly steady average of around thirty thousand a year. As more and more people heard golden tales of the Canadian boom the figure rose again — in 1956 it hit fifty-one thousand, almost exactly the same as the peak
year 1946 — but there was nothing that could he called an explosion.
The explosion came in 1957, after the Suez debacle. In that year arrivals from Britain totaled 112,828 while the inflow from other countries also hit a postwar peak. The newcomers had no way of knowing, since even the Canadian government didn't yet believe it. that the great Canadian boom was over and that unemployment was going to be more serious than it had been since the Thirties. Looking back now, with the wisdom of hindsight, Canadian officials say tens of thousands of Britons who went to Canada in 1957 should not have been allowed, or anyway not encouraged, to go.
Meanwhile things were picking up in Britain. From 1958 until about a year ago a skilled Englishman had better prospects at home than in Canada for employment and advancement. In recent months this balance has shifted again. Now prospects look better in Canada and Australia and a lot of level-headed, sophisticated, well-informed people have made their decisions accordingly.
THEY’RE LEAVING GOOD JOBS FOR BETTER JOBS
What does and should worry British authorities about the rise in emigration is that the people who arc going arc not the unemployed. Generally speaking, the same skills are in demand on both sides of the Atlantic and the men who are taking their families out to Canada in almost all cases are simply leaving good jobs for better ones.
Ontario House, which unlike other provincial agencies in London has a separate immigration office of its own, functions mainly as an employment agent for Ontario companies. During the past winter, when unemployment was high, especially in the heavy industries of northern England and Scotland. Ontario’s advertisements for skilled Labor were placed mainly in these hard-hit regions, in the natural expectation that jobless Britons would bite. Not at all. British unemployment did have a stimulating effect on emigration, but the men w'ho were stimulated were those who still had work but were apprehensive about the future. Obviously what this means is that in both countries a steadily rising pool of more or less permanently unemployed men is unaffected by the return of prosperity. They tend to be lowin skill, low' in initiative and low' in mobility, in willingness to move in search of other work. Meanwhile the skilled, enterprising and mobile workers readily answer the lure of the highest wage and the best working conditions.
Prophets of doom may be exaggerating the effect of all this on the British economy, which has survived tough competition before and no doubt w'ill do so again. What can hardly be exaggerated is the political effect. There is no longer any doubt that the Macmillan government is in serious trouble.
PROFUMO: A SYMBOL OF INCOMPETENCE
AT THE MOMENT the government’s worst headache is the Profumo scandal, a most unhappy affair by any standard. British voters are not as strait-laced as they used to be and perhaps, if he were alive today, Charles .Stewart Parnell would no longer be ruined by exposure of his affair with Mrs. O'Shea. But in the Profumo case the affair itself is uniquely squalid, and there is the added disgrace that the minister made a false statement to the House of Commons. Also there is continuing uneasiness about the shadow'y figure of Eugene Ivanov, the Russian naval attache who was also a friend of the girl-friend of Profumo.
It is not yet clear whether the government will survive the political storm now' going on. Conservative morale has been shaken to its marrow and the shock waves echoing back from the constituencies are having unpredict-
able effects on individual Conservative members.
But if the government does weather the storm and the election is put off until next year, the probability is that the merely scandalous aspect of the affair will become less important. Misbehavior by one junior member need he no more remembered against the Macmillan government than, say, the financial affairs of ex-senator Henri Courtemanche were held against the Diefenbaker government in Canada. More likely to be indelible in the public mind is the impression of confusion and incompetence in the handling of the case. The really stinging question to the prime minister was. “Did you not know, or did you not care?” He personally is responsible for the security services, and to pretend no breach of security took place in the Profumo case is idle — when the secretary of war leaves himself open to blackmail by a Russian naval attache that itself is a breach of security, whether or not any actual information is transmitted.
Newspapers suspected and security authorities knew that there was more to Profumo’s night life than he said there was. If the prime minister did not know, had not received this information even from his own security officers, the inferences are as grave as if he did know and didn't act.
This failure of communication, this muddle at the top level, fits into an increasingly damning pattern of government behavior. It is the common factor that unites the Profumo case with the Vassall spy case, with the bungled deportation cases of Nigerian Chief Enahoro and West Indian shoplifter Carmen Bryan, with the abandoned Skybolt missile and the so-called independent deterrent, and finally with the real bread - and - butter issues like unemployment, schools and housing.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.