Letter to the Canadian Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister:
If a people cannot physically occupy their land, then claims to sovereignty over it are compromised.
Perhaps being male invests me with an almost genetically programmed fetish for size - consequently as a symptom of which, I check the Canadian population almost daily on the Internet, to watch with satisfaction and even pride as our numbers grow by about one thousand persons each day, or about the population of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario each year. Before the end of the calendar year this year we will pass 33,900,000. And, considering uncounted people who inevitably escape or evade the official census, we may already be there. And, again, if we count the almost-two million Canadians, such as myself, estimated to be living abroad, we might already be well beyond it.
My concern with population size relates to the matter of Canadian territorial sovereignty, because the reality is that if a people cannot physically occupy their land, then claims to sovereignty over it are compromised. We have this difficulty with the Arctic archipelago - and more as well, as we will probably discover to our despair. Canada is an under-populated country. We do not have the numbers to physically occupy our space, which makes for a credibility problem. Our borders may look impressive on a map, but being unable to occupy them means we are also unable to defend ourselves and so our claims to sovereignty may be challenged.
Yes, many counsel against deliberate population increase, citing a serious over-population problem in the world to begin with - what is called “population pollution.” Yes, many warn of environmental complications of greater numbers, citing food resources, threatened agricultural capacity, unreliable distribution infrastructures and appropriate waste disposal. Yes, many praise our comparatively small numbers-to-area ratio, hailing our generous natural beauty while excusing the small population in climactic terms - a largely wilderness land incapable of sustaining a very large population like, for example, what resides to the south in the more temperate United States. Yes, many rightly question the level or degree of sustainable growth offered by a land such as ours, suggesting the impossibility of large numbers on climactic or geographical grounds. But for me, just on the face of things, I would say that we ought to have a hundred million people in order to properly occupy the country - and that such a number is sustainable - plus a military force not of a comparable magnitude, but certainly much larger than we currently boast. I think a hundred-million-Canadians concept is not unreasonable. And, it is not only sustainable, but desirable. Whether it is possible or not is another matter.
I have understood the sovereignty issue for a long time. But now it is beginning to dawn on others as the Arctic ice melts and the prospect of summer navigation through the Northwest Passage grows. Americais just one nation that does not recognize our sovereignty - not only over the ocean passage, but over the islands themselves - and our paucity of people on site, as well as people overall, exacerbates it. Problem areas include the matters of navigation, resource exploration and exploitation, environmental damage, species conservation, taxes and levies, and more.
The United States is a special case for Canada not only because it is the most dangerous and bellicose nation in the world, nor because it is a trade bully, nor because it ignores other nations’ sovereignty in selfish pursuit of its own interests while claiming altruistic and other magnanimous motives, nor because, like a dysfunctional adolescent it wields great power simultaneously with great stupidity and emotional immaturity, but especially because it is so near. The United States is a dangerous neighbor. Many Canadians and Americans might think that we are friends cut from the same or a similar cultural cloth. But as a matter of real politik we are friends only so far as our separate interests are served - and America has earned its reputation of pursuing its own interests unilaterally and with especial vigor, even in disregard of its own treaty obligations. Plus, on the matter of cultural similarity I enthusiastically disagree.
I believe war is coming in this century with our neighbour. As global warming and environmental crisis worsen it is plausible that thirst can lead to war as fresh water becomes a point of contention. As America, already possessing a fast-growing large population, feels the squeeze for water resources especially, it will turn to Canada as a tempting, convenient and nearby reservoir of about a quarter of the globe’s fresh water supply underutilized by a small population of little account to itself. It will turn to us and then turn on us, first with envy, then with greed. I mean, I fear an invasion from the United States as a grab for our water (and other) resources, predicated on a twisted Washington, D.C. argument featuring our lack of sovereignty over the land it will seek to snatch combined with an evangelical zeal for its own propriety andrighteousness in doing so. Naturally, if this scenario occurs to me it must have occurred to our own military forecasters before me. I hope so, anyway.