Together with the rest of the world, on December 18 Canada marked the International Day of Migrants. For a nation whose story is inseparable from immigration and whose strength lies in its diversity, this is an occasion to celebrate. But it is also an opportunity to reflect on our “Canada brand” and on how best to build on its advantages.
In the face of growing international isolationism and short-termism, Canada is now looked upon more and more as a country of openness and global vision. We are considered “a citadel of decency, tolerance and good sense,” and our multiculturalism is cited as a beacon of hope in what The Economist magazine recently called “the depressing company of wall-builders, door-slammers and drawbridge raisers.”
This is a great brand to build on, and to use as a competitive advantage for our businesses and our economy, especially at a time when Canada is entering a major demographic transition and needs to replenish its ageing, boomer workforce. In order to boost our innovation and increase our productivity, we need an injection of global talent. But we also need to recognize that we are in competition with the rest of the world for the best and the brightest, and we need to market Canada accordingly.
With an aging population and labour shortages in many sectors, immigration is vital to Canada’s long-term success and prosperity. As demonstrated once again by their response to recent international crises, Canadians are welcoming and generous with immigrants and refugees. This is part of our Canada brand that sets us apart – as a nation and a country – and translates more and more into our competitive advantage.
NOTE: The full version of this article has been published in The Province newspaper under the title Canada Must Sell Its Brand to Attract Smartest Immigrants.