Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
It's a unique honour for me to have this opportunity to have an exchange with you. I've discovered, over a long period of time, that when I became an ambassador, I spent too much time in the offices of the administration and not enough time with the U.S. Congress. I was 40 years in the U.S. diplomatic service. When I became ambassador, I changed that, and I want to say that we need to spend much more time talking to parliamentarians around the world as well as to mayors. Mayors have a major role to play in migration, as do you.
I think the value of this exchange is an opportunity to hear from you, to have your questions, and to try to respond to these, so I will be relatively brief—not more than 10 or 12 minutes, I hope.
I want to make basically three points.
The first point is that we are living in a world on the move. Migration is already a megatrend of this century. There are more people on the move than at any other time in recorded history. This is not because the percentage is higher—for 20 or 30 years it's been about the same, with about 3.5% of the world's population crossing borders as international migrants—but because of a demographic phenomenon, which is that the world's population quadrupled in the 20th century. It had never happened before and is unlikely to happen again, and I certainly won't be around to see it.
We have 258 million international migrants, according to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. We have another 750 million domestic migrants moving, for example, from the western, more impoverished provinces of China to the affluent coastal cities of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong, etc. In fact, China alone has more domestic migrants than there are international migrants, but of course, everything is big in China, as we know. That means you have a total of 1 billion persons who can be called migrants. In other words, one in every seven persons is a migrant. My own family is scattered on four continents, and I think my family is becoming much more the rule than the exception.
We're in a world of what I like to call not migration but human mobility, but the rules have not kept up with the movements. Most migration, the vast majority, is occurring in a safe, regular, and orderly fashion. There is as much south-south migration as there is south-north migration. It seems that everyone in Europe thinks that everybody's heading north. It's not true. There are more Africans immigrating within Africa than there are going to Europe. These are some fundamental facts that I think are very important.
If you put all these international migrants together, they'd probably be the sixth-largest country in the world. They would have a GDP, if you judge it by remittances, of $600 billion a year, which is twice the total of foreign aid and roughly equivalent to all foreign direct investment. Of course, migrants are much more important than just their remittances, but remittances are a key element. A country like Moldova or El Salvador depends for at least 30% of its income, its GDP, on migration remittances.
The second point is that, unfortunately, many others are being forced to migrate. There are 66 million forced migrants—23 million refugees, and about 43 million others who are forced to move and who are very vulnerable. They are, unfortunately, caught up in my second point, in what I would call a perfect storm. There is unprecedented anti-migrant sentiment in the world, and it's growing.
I came here in large part to thank you, to thank your government, and to thank the for the very forward-looking, positive, constructive approach that Canada is taking toward migration. You are an example for the world.
When I was here on December 6, 2015, your government asked us if we could move 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the next three months. I think I said something on television like, “Well, if anybody can, we can. By the way, next year is a leap year, so maybe you have an extra day.” As a matter of fact, the last plane with Syrians arrived here on February 29, 2016. You've taken many more since then, and I think this year you could well be the number one refugee resettlement country in the world, overtaking the U.S., which has reduced its numbers. I'm grateful to you for that.
Apart from that, we have enormous, widespread, growing anti-migrant sentiment in the world, built on stereotypes and mythology that both endangers the migrants and denies us all the contribution that we know they would make.
I'll give you one statistic from a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute, which is a partner of ours. It has concluded that 3.4% of the world's population who call themselves international migrants are producing 9% of global GDP. That is 4% more than had they stayed at home.
I've never understood the debate about migration and development. Of course migrants are the quintessential agents of development. They're highly motivated and they bring talent. They don't take jobs; they create jobs. They're not criminals, because they have to be careful—a lot of them are irregular and they're afraid of seeing a policeman. They don't bring in terrorism; they're fleeing terrorism in many cases.
However, the other part of the perfect storm is that we have a gross lack of political courage and leadership on the migration issue in many countries. It doesn't win elections; it loses elections. As well, it very often complicates coalition-building, as you can see if you look at what's happening in Germany right now.
You also have at least 10 simultaneous, protracted, complex armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies from the western bulge of Africa to the Bay of Bengal in South Asia, with no hope of a short- to medium-term solution. You have a violation of international humanitarian law on all sides, and a serious erosion of international moral authority, including in the Security Council. We have a growing lack of confidence on the part of people in their governments' will, willingness, and ability to manage migration, we have very unclear power relationships, and we have the demographic disparity between global south and global north.
We're doing a lot of work in Niger right now. I was just there recently. The average woman is having six to seven children. The median age is 14. The median age in Germany is 47. It doesn't take a scientist to tell you what that means—more youth unemployment and more pressure.
Based on all the data we have, my belief is that these drivers are not going to go away anytime soon, and the question of irregular migration and how you manage it is going to be one of the major challenges of our century. The concern is that all of these factors together are endangering migrants and preventing them from making the contribution that we know they will make.
Your country was built on the backs and brains of migrants, and it continues to be so. South of the border it's the same thing. I can say that, as an American. We need to get back to a historically accurate reading of migration, an accurate migration narrative that says that historically migration has always been overwhelmingly positive.
This is what you're doing so well. Former minister John McCallum, who is now your ambassador in China—I hope to see him in May when I go to Beijing—was travelling throughout your country prior to the arrival of the 25,000 refugees. He was talking to all the provinces, provincial leaders, and mayors, and he was basically saying, “Here's what we need to do as a community. We need to have shelter, language training, jobs, education, and so on, for these migrants when they come.” That's the reason it's gone so well for you.
All of the bad things that have happened in terms of terrorism in Paris; Nice; Brussels; Barcelona; San Bernardino, California; and Orlando, Florida were all home-grown. It was failed integration. These weren't newly arrived migrants: these were citizens, but integration had failed.
This is a bit of the perfect storm in which we are right now.
Europe has three migration problems.
First of all, they don't have a policy. Viktor Orbán, in Hungary, is not going to agree to anything that Brussels preaches.
Secondly, they have what Javier Solana calls “refugee amnesia”. They've forgotten that 61 years ago, 200,000 Hungarians fled to open arms and open hearts in Austria and former Yugoslavia, but today it's a different story. This organization—IOM—and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees were formed in 1951 to take Europeans ravaged by the Second World War to safe shores and new lives in Canada, Australia, United States, and elsewhere, but that's been forgotten. That's refugee amnesia.
The third problem is there's a psychological problem. If you have been a continent that for 300 years has been a continent of origin, peopling the world, and now because of demographic deficit, you've become a continent of destination, that's a psychological adjustment. We're no longer sending our people out; people are coming to us. They look different. They speak differently. They practice a different religion and speak a different language. That is a psychological adjustment we all have to make. That's particularly the case, I think, right now in countries on the European continent.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ambassador Swing.
Before I get into the questions, I would like to put a notice of motion on the record, Mr. Chair. The motion reads as follows:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee undertake a study of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) complaint process; that this study examines the procedures in place to make a complaint, the complaint review process, transparency and accountability measures within the complaint process, and the impact of complaints against IRB members on the federal court system in terms of the filing of appeals to decisions made; that this study should also examine the training provided to Board members regarding cultural sensitivity, gender, LGBTQ2+, and other vulnerable population issues; that this study should be comprised of no fewer than four meetings; that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship and IRCC department officials be in attendance for at least one of the meetings; that the Chairperson of the IRB and IRB officials be in attendance for at least one of the meetings; that the Committee report its findings to the House; and that pursuant to Standing Order 109, the government table a comprehensive response thereto.
With that, I would like to get into the questions.
Thank you again, Ambassador, for your briefing and update on the work you have undertaken, as well as on the global environment. I particularly want to acknowledge and say thank you for your acknowledgement of Canada's role in what we are doing.
In 2016, it's true that Canadians—or Canada, if you will—played a significant role, I think, with respect to the refugee crisis. In actual numbers, we brought in 23,523 government-assisted refugees. When you add the privately sponsored and the blended sponsorship, we were at 46,000, not an insignificant number in the context of our country.
However, in 2017, in 2018, and in 2019 going forward, those numbers reduce significantly. The government-assisted refugee numbers diminished from 24,600 as a target to 7,500 as a target for 2017 and 2018, and for 2019 it's 8,500. When you add up all the categories, the total number is almost half of what we had committed to in 2016, so there's much more work to be done.
I thank you for your acknowledgement, but I think Canada needs to continue to step up in that regard. Do you have any comments about that?
I wish I had an answer for you. Clearly, until you can convince the military that these people are from Burma, from Myanmar, and that they've been there for generations....
The military is trying to sell a fiction that these people are really Bengali and came there from Bangladesh and have never been citizens of Myanmar, and everybody knows they are. What happened was when the British drew the line, if they had drawn it a little further to the east, they would have been in Bangladesh, but it happened that because of where the colonial line was, they were there.
There are more than 120 ethnic groups in Myanmar, and this is the only one that is singled out for persecution, to be driven out of the country. They are not from Bangladesh. Somewhere along the line, with elections coming up and so on, between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military there has to be some understanding that they belong there and they're coming back. That's going to take a lot of international presence, in addition to a lot of international money to rebuild those Myanmar villages that have been burned. More importantly, they have to be guaranteed that they won't be persecuted again.
I don't see that happening anytime in the near future. It's going to take a lot of pressure from the UN. I'm going back there in the next couple of weeks. I don't see right now anything happening of significance in the very near future. We would like to see them take an initial group back to see if it works, but they aren't going back if there are not conditions of safety and dignity, and if they can't go back voluntarily. I wish I had an answer; I don't.
For the time being, we are going to have to continue to take care of 850,00 to 860,00 Rohingya refugees who are not only refugees but stateless people. They have no citizenship. We have to take care of them until such time as they can return or be resettled elsewhere. The record is not good on Rohingya resettlement. There were 40,000 Rohingya refugees there who had been there for 20 years. They've only resettled 6,000. The record is not good.
I'm sorry I can't be encouraging.