Racism and Borders: Representation, Repression, Resistance

By Jeff Shantz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3. RACE AND IMPERIALISM: MIGRATION AND BORDER
CONTROL IN THE CANADIAN STATE

Harsha Walia

The myth of Canadian benevolence, the ideology of Canadian peace-keeping, and the veneer of Canadian multiculturalism have served to cast Canada as a liberal counterpoint to aggressive US immigration enforcement tactics. In fact, the US has pointed to Canada’s skilled worker program and temporary guest worker programs as models to implement for US migration policy.

The number of migrant workers in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) has doubled over the past five years, spurred on by the province’s construction boom, the upcoming 2010 Olympics, and trans-provincial transport of the Alberta Tar Sands, as well as growth in BC’s resource extractive and mining industries. The exceptional freedom of capital stands in contrast with the restrictions against those migrant workers whose precarious labor secures corporate profits. The vulnerability of these workers is often framed as a problem of bad employers, yet labor coercion is a basic characteristic of capitalism, especially for indentured workers, slaves, prison labor, and migrant workers. For migrant workers, labor exploitation is an inherent part of the process of making a national identity that naturalizes the status of their unfree labor (Arat-Koc 1993, 229–242).

Ironically, border controls are deployed against those whose recourse to migration results from the free license afforded to capital to ravage entire economies and communities in the global South. McKenzie Wark reminds us about the in-

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