Arrival of the Fittest

Canada’s crime rate is dropping as immigration increases. Is there a connection?
The view from one of Thorncliffe Park's towersThe view from one of Thorncliffe Park’s towers

Late last summer, the MV Sun Sea, a small Thai cargo ship, entered Canadian waters off the British Columbia coast, where it was intercepted by the navy and the RCMP. Crowded on board were 492 Tamils, including women and children. The vessel’s arrival was not unexpected; in fact, the government had been monitoring its journey for months and had intelligence that it was smuggling refugees from Sri Lanka. Canada has been a popular destination for people fleeing the ravages of the twenty-six-year civil war and a 2004 tsunami: there are now 20,000 Sri Lankans here, and more coming all the time.

A few days before the Sun Sea reached the coast, public safety minister Vic Toews was in Toronto giving a luncheon speech on national security to the Economic Club of Canada and announced, “I can assure you that we are concerned about who is on that ship and why they might be coming to Canada.” He was referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, known as the Tamil Tigers, which has been banned in Canada as a terrorist organization. The previous year, when a rusty ship called the Ocean Lady carrying seventy-six Tamil men arrived off the coast of Vancouver Island, the government arrested the passengers and held them for months, alleging that a third of them were Tamil Tigers sent to infiltrate Canada and set up operations here. (No evidence was ever found to support that claim, and they’ve since been released. All are pursuing refugee claims.)

That the point person was Toews, and not Jason Kenney, the minister of citizenship, immigration, and multiculturalism, was telling. It framed the Sun Sea situation as a potential danger to the public, and prompted a swift response. The passengers were put into detention (nearly sixty of them remain there, and in March two were ordered to be deported because of ties to the Tigers). The government also introduced Bill C-49, which would allow officials to detain smuggled migrants for one year, and bar them from applying for permanent residence and sponsoring family members for five years.

The public was unsympathetic. In a column for the Sun chain of newspapers, conservative author Ezra Levant referred to the refugees as “gatecrashers” who were exploiting the country’s largesse. “Taxpaying, law-abiding Canadian citizens don’t even get free dental care, in case you’d forgotten,” he wrote. Meanwhile, an Angus Reid poll revealed that 46 percent of Canadians believed immigration was having a negative effect on the country. When asked specifically about the Tamil refugees, 50 percent wanted to deport them back to Sri Lanka.

This may seem like a surprising turn for a country that is particularly supportive of diversity. After all, we’re an officially bilingual nation of immigrants; 20 percent of us are foreign born, and only aboriginal people, who make up a small fraction of the population, can legitimately claim to be from here. Last year, Canada had its highest rate of immigration in over fifty years, with more than 280,000 people being granted permanent resident status. And according to a recent international survey, Canada is one of the best nations in the world at integrating immigrants, scoring high marks for educational and job opportunities, as well as for anti-discrimination and equality policies.

Yet the suspicions about the Tamils echo previous spasms of anti-immigrant animus, like the Chinese head tax and the internment of Germans, Austro-Hungarians, Turks, Bulgarians, and Japanese Canadians during the two world wars. And the Tamils’ arrival by boat recalls two other particularly ugly moments in this history: in 1914, a Japanese freighter carrying some 400 passengers, mainly Sikhs from India, landed in Vancouver but was denied permission to enter Canada. The ship returned to India, where twenty passengers were killed after they disembarked. Twenty-five years later, the MS St. Louis, carrying over 900 Jews fleeing the Nazis, was turned away by Canada, the US, and Cuba. Back in Europe, nearly a third of those passengers would die in the Holocaust.

In times of social upheaval and economic hardship, immigrants are a convenient scapegoat, accused of bringing with them an element of deviance and criminality: they upset the social order, the line goes, steal our jobs and our property, and ruin our neighbourhoods. This would seem to be one of those times. In the US, anti-immigrant rhetoric has spawned nutty excesses, like the Minutemen militia group that is building a fence along the Mexican border, and the recent, McCarthy-esque congressional hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims. In Canada, there has been a general, albeit less extreme, souring toward immigrants, as well. In 2007, a Léger poll determined that one-third of Quebecers believed that their society was threatened by non-Christian newcomers, and nearly 60 percent wanted immigrants to follow a “code of conduct” akin to the ham-fisted code de vie infamously mandated by the village of Hérouxville. A year after that, in Calgary, MP Lee Richardson told a reporter that people who have grown up in a different culture “don’t have the same respect for authority or people’s person or property… Talk to the police. Look at who is committing these crimes. They’re not the kid who grew up next door.” Richardson later retracted his comments, but they appear to reflect the popular view. An international survey of public attitudes about immigration published in 2009 found that while Canadians have positive feelings overall about immigrants, more than half blame illegal migrants for driving up crime.

What few have bothered to ask is whether there’s any merit to this belief. There have certainly been signs that they should. In Arizona, where a new law makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and gives the police broad powers to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally — an infraction sometimes called “walking while Hispanic” — crime levels have actually dropped with the concurrent influx of Mexicans. In fact, the violence of Mexico’s drug war doesn’t seem to have travelled north with immigrants: crime rates in US towns along the country’s 3,200-kilometre southern border are down. In Canada, an overall drop in crime has paralleled the upsurge in non-European immigration since Pierre Trudeau championed multiculturalism in the 1970s. Half of Toronto’s population now consists of those born outside Canada; notably, the city’s crime rate has dropped by 50 percent since 1991, and is significantly lower than that of the country as a whole. Could it be that immigrants are making us all safer?

When the violent crime rate in the US began to fall, sharply and consistently, in the 1990s, a handful of criminologists and sociologists there started investigating a possible connection to the rising tide of immigration. Two early studies that tracked crime in dozens of metropolitan areas discovered that cities with the highest increase in immigration also had the largest decrease in violent crime; there was possibly a causal relationship, but it wasn’t clear what it was. One of the first researchers to begin to connect the dots was Harvard sociologist Robert J. Sampson.

About a decade ago, he and his colleagues looked at violent acts committed over an eight-year period by some 3,000 men and women in 180 neighbourhoods in Chicago, a diverse city with a considerable population of Hispanic immigrants. What they found was that Mexican Americans were far less likely to be violent than African Americans or whites. When all variables were accounted for it became clear that this was in large part because a quarter of the subjects were born outside the US and more than half lived in communities where the majority of residents were also of Mexican heritage. Overall, first generation immigrants of any background were 45 percent less likely to commit violent acts than third generation Americans, and living in a neighbourhood with a large concentration of immigrants of any nationality was associated with lower levels of violence. In a nutshell, immigration protected these Chicago communities against violent behaviour.

While Canada has experienced both a similar drop in crime rates and an escalation in immigration, less research has been conducted here on the subject. In a serendipitous turn of events, however, a University of Toronto study initiated more than thirty years ago provides some of the most convincing evidence to support the theory that more immigration equals less crime. In 1976, John Hagan, now a professor of sociology and law at both U of T and Northwestern University in Chicago, surveyed a group of 835 teenagers at four high schools in a region west of Toronto, near Pearson International Airport. (The community has never been named, to protect residents’ anonymity.) He asked them about their families, their attitudes toward education, what they did when they hung out with their friends, and the kind of trouble they got into. Did they smoke pot? Get into fights? Ever steal a car and take it for a joyride?

At the time, Hagan, who has since become one of the most prominent experts on immigration and crime, wasn’t looking into the issue of immigration at all. His interest was in youth delinquency, and such school-based studies were dominant during this period. The site he chose for his research, however, was about to undergo a radical demographic transformation. When his U of T colleagues Ronit Dinovitzer, a professor of sociology and law, and Ron Levi, a professor of criminology, returned in 1999 to repeat the survey, the community had become what they call “a global edge city” — taking the name from Joel Garreau’s groundbreaking 1991 book, Edge City, about emerging suburban economic power centres — with a high proportion of visible minorities, mainly South Asian, black, Filipino, and Chinese. Of Dinovitzer and Levi’s 900 respondents, a full 66 percent were from immigrant, non-European backgrounds (up from 10 percent in the original group), and it was upon seeing this diversity that the researchers realized they had more than just a study on youth delinquency; they had ample evidence to examine the relationship between immigration and crime.

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43 comment(s)

AdamMay 10, 2011 08:51 EST

What a blatant propaganda piece. CSIS has admitted that, given Canada's massive annual immigration intake, the majority of permanent immigrants (not to speak of visitors' visa cases) are NOT screened for criminality. Mass immigration has given us such things as street gangs with politically-incorrect names like the Fresh Off the Boat and FOB-Killers, Chinese Triads, Vietnamese grow-ops (in many cases, destroying huge tracts of BC forest and diverting streams to grow product), and South Asian syndicates running trucking and warehous theft, and fake ID (Alberta's privatised Registries) rackets. There is Jane & Finch, which was home to associates of Jamaican drug kingpin Chris 'Dudus' Coke, as well as the killers of Jane Creba. What used to be boring old 'redneck' Calgary now enjoys the 'diversity' of gun-toting Lebanese, Punjabi, East African and East Asian gangbangers. Vancouver and much of the metro area has seen a tremendous increase in gunplay between East Asian, South Asian and now Central American and Iranian gangs. MS-13 has a presence in many Canadian cities, and other Latin American gangs, along with Haitian groups, are becoming a problem in Quebec. To top it off, other signs of diversity Canadians were long innocent of have reared their ugly heads in our cities: doda and khat trafficking drug wars, female genital mutillation and honour killings, Sikh, Tamil and Islamic terrorism.

This article's assertions based on dubious statistical data contradicts most Canadians' impressions of mass immigration—that it has been a disaster. Mass immigration has one function only: keeping the real estate-financial sectors in an endless supply of warm bodies, in order to boost housing starts. After the Trudeau regime's liberalisations of immigration policy, the Mulroney government caved in to the strenuous lobbying of banks, real estate investment trusts and developers, and gave us our current quarter million plus annual immigration 'target.' Along with being an environmental disaster (immigration-fuelled population growth is the main, PREVENTABLE driver of urban sprawl) and actuarial timebomb (our healthcare system can NOT cope with the huge influx of elderly, sickly family reunification cases), mass immigration is endangering public safety and Canada's sociopolitical stability. Regardless of fluffy, pro-multiculti propaganda like this article, Canadia's public mood is entering a dangerous phase with regards to immigration.

wendallMay 10, 2011 13:51 EST

@ Adam, May 10, 2011 11:51 EST

"Mass immigration has one function only: keeping the real estate-financial sectors in an endless supply of warm bodies, in order to boost housing starts."

Adam, get your head out of conspiracy books and go get a real education (university). Get out of your basement a bit more and explore the world. You will soon see the world is not built on conspiracies by real estate agents :)

A real estate boom is a result of more bodies. Not the other way round. Simple demand and supply, for you (if you had taken Economics 101 in school). More warm bodies (for whatever reason) result in a demand for more homes. It's not like a business man / woman would go and spend millions building homes and then hoping to bring in more people to fill them in. Simple Business Rule (in case you had taken Business 101 in school).

Second-Generation ImmigrantMay 10, 2011 13:52 EST

Wonderful article! I believe you really have to see both sides of the coin to understand the deep-rooted problems in the country.

Most people, like Adam, believe immigration is negatively impact our nation by bringing about future criminals. However, if you look at Ms. Giese’ comments and the research she has provided, most first-generation immigrants are law-abiding citizens who value the family, education and civic duty. It is the second-generation where crime rises and gang-membership increases….why is that?

Gangs are symbolic of a ‘mini-community’; boys have been marginalized are often susceptible to gang recruitment (which is why you see ethnics often heavily involved in gangs). The gangs often partake in illicit activity, and obviously, a culturally-analogous media is going to sensationalize this, masking a xenophobic discourse. What is the difference between these gangs and American fraternities that are often filled with white males partaking in sexual harassment, public drunkenness and petty theft?

I myself was born in Toronto but was the victim of harsh racism, both verbal and non-verbal. I often used violence as a means to protect myself, but only because an Anglo-saxon population was unable to understand and empathize the hurt I had faced. I am now attending an Ivy-League university on scholarship…. I guess not all immigrants are violent after all?

AdamMay 10, 2011 19:49 EST


In the late 1980s, the real estate bubble popped. The financial and real estate sectors lobbied the Mulroney government to increase immigration, in order to stimulate demand for housing and associated infrastructure (roads, schools). Without constant population growth, there will NOT be demand for new housing starts, on the scale we've seen them in the last three decades. "A real estate boom is a result of more bodies." Yes it is—and government policies (i.e., increases in the immigration intake) can be used to stimulate housing demand, in a rather Keynesian fashion. In the last decade, CIBC and BMO-Financial have been unsuccessfully lobbying the Chretien-Martin and Harper governments to increase the annual permanent intake to 400,000 per year, again, to stimulate housing demand. The flood of Immigrant Investors has also pushed the real estate market into a dangerously overheated state, particularilly in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

@Second-Generation Immigrant,

Through the neo-Marxist discourse, you seem to assert that ethnic gang activity in Canada is due to 'marginalised,' poor youth, who are rebelling against institutional racism. Mostly, this is bunk. The crime syndicates settling in Canada are hardly run by disaffected youth—these are serious, well-off and well-organised groups. Many arrive here under the aegis of Immigrant Investor and Entrepreneur visas, such as the Chinese Triads that now have a presence here:

There was also the case of Chris 'Dudus' Coke's associates, who had set up operations in Canada, despite being KNOWN CRIMINALS, with extensive records in Jamaica. There are South Asian syndicates involved in warehouse theft, drug trafficking and fraud via Alberta's privatised Registries:

Vietnamese organised crime has made its presence felt in BC's marijuana grow-op industry:

Even MS-13 has been setting up shop in Canada:

Again, these are not poor, angry teens, but wealthy professionals.

While most immigrants are law abiding, the annual intake is simply too large to screen out criminals, and our very liberal refugee policies make deporting the ones who slip through the system all but impossible. And, whatever one thinks of Canada's immigration policies, please don't delude yourselves by pretending that mass immigration has had a positive impact on public safety.

Paul KishimotoMay 11, 2011 09:35 EST

Among the reasons that the cancellation of the long-form census is a tragedy is that it will make it more difficult to dispel conventional wisdom in the way this article so carefully does.

@Adam: you say "This article's assertions based on dubious statistical data contradicts most Canadians' impressions of mass immigration." Apart from the word "dubious," and "most" for "many," this is correct. The thesis of the article is that such impressions are *wrong*. Incorrect impressions and false beliefs do not become true simply because they are widely held or strenuously argued.

One advantage of statistics is that they are scientific and thus falsifiable. You allege the data is "dubious," but unless there is statistical data supporting an alternate conclusion, or serious methodological error in the studies in question, the allegation itself is "fluffy," frivolous, and easily set aside. Neither appear in your litany of anecdotal complaints.

I also take issue with your allusion that population growth is problematic only when it occurs in Canada as a result of immigration. Many *real* disasters—let's not pretend that living in sprawl is as bad as starvation or thirst—are consequences of global population growth, full stop. To imply that we could shut our borders and say, "to Hell with the rest!" is both naïve and callous.

TimMay 11, 2011 09:35 EST


Your first post is pretty much an incoherent rant about non facts.

The second is one sided links.

Nation wide, crime rates are still going down. All the talk about increased danger is nonsense. Uneducated / ignorant opinions and outlooks like yours are the problem. Period. No matter what side of any argument they come from. Nothing is black and white.

TomMay 11, 2011 11:48 EST

Being a second generation immigrant, I would totally disagree with this article. In reading the daily newspaper, I can’t help but notice the names of those charged with violent crime. Many of the drug dealers charged are also recent immigrants. Since the Canadian policy of multiculturalism promotes not assimilating, the problems will only get worse. The government stopped publishing statistics on the real cost of immigration back in 1995. Just look as social housing and how full it is of recent immigrants and refugees. Many of the young men from these families have no interest in assimilating. Against advice, we are building schools to aggravate the problem of no assimilation instead of dealing with the real problem, the parents. These young men will realize that they can never get a job where they can buy what they see, so they deal drugs or take what they want.
It was around 500 BC when a Greek philosopher said that the father of crime is poverty; it is still the case. Since so many immigrants end up in social housing and poverty you can just imagine where the breeding ground for criminals is.

eozberkMay 11, 2011 13:33 EST

Most of all, this article and the subsequent posts above illustrate the reality of immigration in Canada; there are tensions between impressions/perceptions, media accounts, our foundation myth of multiculturalism and various statistics. And like all things in Canada, this is set in a vast social geography of unique and fragmented urban centres. Trying to simplify a host of social and economic issues never really works.

@ Adam:

While development in our urban areas has destroyed large tracts of beautiful and productive land, blaming immigrants or even population growth for that matter isn't the solution. Suburban development has more to do with a post-war consumer economy we adopted from the US and social practices based on wants and expectations. Winnipeg and and Sudbury are no-growth and shrinking, respectively, but subdivisions in both municipalities are still being approved...

Meanwhile, the Thorncliffe example, favoured by many journalists, is unique. It can be argued that many of the bottom-up and progressive community initiatives happening there have been facilitated (perhaps unintentionally) by the physical planning of the neighbourhood. I participated in a Jane's Walk there last weekend, I suggest you check out the organization. It's a great way to meet other warm bodies and learn first-hand the inner workings of your own neighbourhood or one on the other side of town.

Rajbinder Sandeep KutawallaMay 11, 2011 13:33 EST

It's because immigrants beat their kids. Just ask Russell Peters.

AdamMay 11, 2011 22:11 EST


The single driver of demand for new housing is population growth, 71% of which comes from immigration. As with most of Canada's population, immigrants tend to prefer detatched homes in new (greenfield) developments, as well as personal motor vehicles. Simply put, entire suburban developments (Springdale, Northeast Calgary) would not exist without the large influx of homebuyers from abroad, at least not on such a scale. An example is Taradale (Calgary), where over 50% of the population are 'new Canadians,' living on two and three-storey houses on what was productive agricultural land a couple decades ago. Some of these immigrants are so 'new' that the Calgary Fire Department has had to make several water rescues from a local slough in the last few weeks, because (according to a local immigrant help agency) the residents aren't aware that ice melts. And farmland (less than 5% of Canada is arable) isn't the only problem, as population growth is rapidly outstripping available local water resources, especially in Southern Alberta. And we have the right to force people in developed countries to accept responsibility for their unsustainable birthrates. Canadian families limit their childbirth for economic reasons—the third world should start doing this, as well.

Here are some more links of interest:

And again, most immigrants are law-abiding. However, the intake is just too high to screen out the bad apples, of which THOUSANDS get through. The immigration level is also unsustainable in terms of environmental and actuarial (family reunification) reasons.

@Paul Kishimoto,

One of the reason Britain dumped its census is that the data was out of date, thanks to a huge influx of Eastern European migrants. Britain—like Germany, the Scandinavian countries and Slovenia—now uses so-called 'data-mining' of existing records, which are more timely and efficient.

RickWMay 11, 2011 22:12 EST

Has Adam been taken in by Harper's anti-immigration innuendo? Also, it would make sense that Harper would would be anti-immigration if the inverse relationship between increased immigration and decreased crime rates were true - because it would put a dent in his policy of increasing jails.

Paul KishimotoMay 12, 2011 10:15 EST

@Adam: data mining is a straw man. The Conservatives did not direct StatsCan to obtain greater access to information gathered by other agencies in order to compensate for loss of the census; indeed, that would run counter to their "government intrusiveness" rationale for the change. The result is a net loss in quality. Nor is it an either/or proposition, as you imply; data mining could occur *alongside* the long form census, and the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts.

Your claim that the statistics in the article are "dubious" is still without evidence beyond selective anecdotes. You also repeat the "environmental reasons" line without addressing my objection.

As Tom and Eozberk pointed out, manic fixation on immigration as the sole cause of any social ill is nonsense in the guise of "concern," and harmful if it misleads those not equipped to discern the difference.

jayMay 12, 2011 13:47 EST

If it is dubious and xenophobic to claim immigrants are to blame for something, it is not equally foolhardy to suggest immigrants are responsible for improving crime rates? This is a group that consists of upwards of millions of people, attempting to make sweeping generalizations on anything is a mugs game.

To many, crime is always seemingly on the rise no matter what the stats confirm, it is this same resolute defiance in the face of evidence that fuels these ridiculous notions that a group as diverse as "immigrants" are a monolith, sweeping across the nation having untold effect on our crime rates, real estate prices and graduation rates.

Sage WheelerMay 12, 2011 17:49 EST

Fascinating discussion! As a Calgarian I'm really amazed by the level of conservatism (meaning traditionalism) in this city. Adam, I really necessarily agree with you, but I do question why you're being accused so heartily of being 'taken in' or 'uneducated' or 'ignorant'. You seem pretty well read, even if I don't agree with your conclusions.

(More reading: Calgary may have gang issues, but gang violence has been going down since 2008. Last year saw a mere 15 murders in Calgary, and police attribute this to decreased gang violence. Also, urban sprawl is far more of an issue in the South East and South West. )

On another topic, what I find more interesting about this article is that it does not name 'immigration' as a reason for safer communities. It names strong family values, social obligation, and focus on education as being the real cause for a decrease in crime. To me these values seem very in line with my Canadian identity.

StanthemanMay 12, 2011 20:51 EST

Hey! Immigration leads to less crime!!!

Immigrant’s WifeMay 15, 2011 22:13 EST

As the wife of a recent immigrant from a North African country, I can say that the immigration process is far from lax. My husband was required to provide documents with verified authenticity of not having a criminal record as well as of a complete physical exam proving he was in good health. The papers required from both myself and my husband were extensive and took four months to compile. The cost of just filing a request for permanent residence was more than $1000 and when added to travel costs and other costs such as couriers for paperwork which are required, the total process cost us $4000. If you think the doors are wide open and its easy for anyone to come here, that is not the case. If you have a lot of money on the other hand, the doors fly open. If there are gang lords and drug kingpins flowing into Canada, it is not the immigration policies for the ordinary person that are allowing it, but the other policies which say if you have $250 000 or more you can walk right in. Normal, law abiding citizens don't have that kind of money and they are the ones who make up the bulk of the numbers of immigrants coming to Canada. Hence, it makes sense that crime rates are lower.

TamaraMay 15, 2011 22:15 EST

Hey, Stantheman, If you read the article you cited, you will notice that 3 of the seven arrested were locals, i.e. regular Canadian folk (otherwise they would have said 'immigrants' since newspapers never miss a chance to malign and identify minorities) and the four Mexicans arrested had "NO STATUS IN CANADA". That means they are not immigrants and have never been. They traveled here for 'business'.

RickWMay 15, 2011 22:16 EST


I would guess you haven't actually read the article............

CCMay 15, 2011 22:16 EST


Good on you for sticking it out amongst all this conventional PC \"wisdom\".
One can only hope that one day soon we will have a political party that will challenge the status quo. I would be amazed if the current levels of immigration would survive a simple cost/benefit analysis ; assuming that the point of the entire exercise is to benefit Canada as a whole.
When big-business and big-politics starts to cheer on anything I think we must ALL take pause and think for a while. It would be fantastic if their self-interests coincided with the interests of Canadians but as we\'ve seen quite graphically in the last few years that is seldom the case.
When corporations get behind this relatively new mass immigration policy, don\'t all you PC folks wonder why? Maybe you should. It could be that they love the influx of cheap labour and people so desperate to succeed that they\'ll accept any crumbs they can get. I would think that most recent immigrants would want less immigration and the lower competition for jobs that would bring ( maybe Adam has an article on that topic?). If recent immigrants wanted to live in communities with people just like them and with fierce competition for scarce resources, why leave home?
It seems to me the conventional wisdom of constant population growth=success is what is the cause and not the solution for so many of the problems faced by the planet. If we\'re having problems with 7 billion on the plant...population growth in Canada is the key to success?
Hopefully the ultimate goal of this multicultural experiment is to strengthen Canada for the rocky and uncertain future to come. If we, as Canadians, keep this goal as sacrosanct we'll do just fine. If we diverge from the path into PC babble about diversity for diversity's sake ,the blind love for the multicultural rainbow and the addled PC idea that Canada somehow "owes" the world's 3rd world migrants something...then the experiment will certainly fail.
With respect to the crime/gang angle. EVERY immigrant group has participated in such activities from the Italians to the Irish...the Russians to the Roma....some cultures just seem to be better at not getting caught.

PJMay 18, 2011 09:56 EST

I wonder what is actually meant when people say that Thorncliffe has a low crime rate? Lower than what? Not lower than it used to be.

I moved to Thorncliffe 18 years ago, a couple of years before the mass immigration boom started there. I can tell you that it is a much, much scarier place than it was then. There is absolutely more crime than there used to be. No question.

Our building never needed security guards or cameras. You could have furniture in the lobby without it being stolen or destroyed. Vandalism was not rampant. Yesterday, our building was surrounded by 6 police cars and the exits blocked off. There are very often police there. Didn't use to be like that.

So while there still may be less crime in Thorncliffe than in other similar areas of Toronto (for various reasons), there still has been an increase in crime since more immigrants have moved in.

Whether this is because the people are immigrants, or just because they are in most cases very poor, I don't know.

AimeeMay 18, 2011 12:55 EST

I don't even know where to begin. What a great eye-opener of an article, and hey, we're all thinking about it and discussing so that's good.

Save the planet by stopping immigration? I'd like to see the plan on how that might work.

And we do owe the rest of the world something: our compassion. We have it so much better here than 99% of the people on this planet that we should feel a bit of shame. Not for ourselves, but shame for the greediness of our corporations.

What can you do to save the world, CC? Maybe that might be more helpful a thought than hating on immigrants who, in many cases, have probably lived much harder lives than us.

My parents are immigrants, I am first generation, and the one thing that will help save the world is COMPASSION.

Just sayin'.

ForKingAndCountryMay 19, 2011 08:51 EST

Interesting article— shows how people who know nothing about statistics like to use them to support whatever ideology they want.

First: We of European decent are not immigrants. I don\\\'t care how much the CBC tries to say otherwise, it is simply not true. My European forfathers invaded, conquered, and created what you see before you. End of story. FYI: I\\\'m part \\\'Native\\\' (fathers side), so don\\\'t get your panties all in a bunch.

Second: The multicultural mosaic is not a universally Canadian value. Not all of us want or support it. The CBC/[left wing media outlet of your choice] does not speak for everyone.

Third: Many Canadians, especially recent immigrants, are taught a post-1950 rewrite of historical events. Here is a really quick history lesson:
Euopeans/Britons generally kick the life out of anything and everything that gets in the way of their tea, currie, or pasta. This they have been doing for many centuries. Europeans/Britons usually act nice and polite while at home, but occasionally entertain genocidal killing sprees and domestic mayhem. End of lesson.

Fourth: An important part of western culture is self loathing. This likely stems from centuries of Roman Catholicism. As such westeners often delight in over-emphasisng their weaknesses. It is very important to take this self-loathing with a grain of salt. For example, many westerners believe that the USA lost the Vietnam war. Oddly enough, this is what they are referring to: 50,000 US soliders died over a 10 year period while killing over 3,000,000 of their enemy.

NeilMay 27, 2011 08:20 EST

I have been involved in education for a few years, including working as a summer tutor for junior high students. I can affirm that I have experienced that same drive for quality education from immigrant families, abeit on an empirical, not scientific, basis. And the two studies mentioned above are exactly that: empirical, and not good science.

Why are the studies questionable? 1. They are targeted studies. They chose the neighbourhoods from among several that are heavily populated by immigrant families, but are not among the high-risk neighbourhoods. 2. They are local, not global, studies. Both studies take place entirely in Toronto suburbs. The article notes that the crime rates in Toronto have gone down globally (everywhere in the city). That would seem to indicate that something specific to Toronto itself is decreasing the crime rates everywhere, where there are large groups of immigrants or where there are none. 3. The study is not randomized, and has no "control" group. The researchers appear to indicate (from the reportage in the article) that the crime statistics gathered by the government represent a good control group. This is fallacious, as the "control" group is not comparable to the study group. The "active" group, as well, seems in both cases to be homogenous, at least in terms of economic status. This would leave open the possibility that it is the economic status rather than the immigration status that is responsible for the lower crime rates. To draw valid conclusions, you need roughly equally-sized groups, both selected randomly to fit the specific demographics desired, and controlled for a variety spread of non-desired demographics, in order to prove the non-link with those non-desired demographics.

In short, the study asks a few good questions, but answers none. It says that there appears to be some link between immigrant status and generational residency in Canada and further study is needed to determine what these links are. No conclusions can be drawn from this study, as it stands right now.

(Just BTW, there is a logical inference from this article: the reason that the crime rate is highest in First Nations communities because they have been here longer than everyone else. Discuss.)

Herman May 27, 2011 08:20 EST

Adam, that's just plain ignorant. When people don't identify themselves as bigots, one simply has to study their posts on fora like this.

I've always wondered why small suburban and semi-rural areas - predominantly on the Prairies - LEAD Canada in crime stats. Having grown up in rural Saskatchewan, then living in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Surrey, and Vancouver, I can clearly say that anecdotally crime was more visible in rural areas, and in Regina. To prove my point, Regina almost always (switching off with places like Winnipeg) led national crime stats. Drug use (and dealing) and the surrounding culture is rampant in mainly "mainstream" rural Canada - particularly the Prairies. Spousal abuse, unreported and reported shootings, etc., are also higher per-capita. We used to joke (living in rural Sask, as we were) that so many people drank like fish, used drugs, and committed crimes (assaults, firearms offences, etc.) to "amuse" themselves - I mean, what ELSE is there to do in the Rural Prairies in Winter?

These recent studies confirm my thoughts precisely. Our large centers and cities provide more stimulating activity-rich, diverse, environments where youth can grow and experience cultural enrichment unlike anywhere else in the world. A BIG part of that is the thriving multicultural and general cultural/arts milieu here.

K.May 30, 2011 08:21 EST

This article is a blatant, misconstrued lie.

Europe right now is experiencing the aftershocks of uncontrolled immigration queues. Schools are being burnt in Sweden (which is also now the rape capital of Europe), and violent riots occur whenever the Islamo-facist religion of 'peace' is criticized. Many immigrants blatantly refuse to assimilate into the values of the society they have immigrated too, and stubbornly continue to practice polygamy, genital mutilation, sharia law, and continue to wear extremist religious dress despite the legitimate security threat it may cause, as well ostracizing themselves further from the culture they have moved into.

In my small city in Northern Alberta taxi drivers from Somalia refuse to pick up women they deem 'inappropriately dressed' and also have delivered several threats to the rival company.
These politically correct lies go against the observations of most of the Canadians I have talked to who look at immigration not as some rosy wonderful mosaic, but rather a frightening experiment that is failing drastically.
Instead of letting in moderate, educated immigrants, the government is letting in fundamentalist extremists that will tear the country up from the inside, and as well, turn moderate Canadians into racists by proxy of telling them they have to mix with these disrespectful and dangerous extremists.
Of course, not all immigrants are like this, however a growing number of them are. All I ask for is controlled immigration with screening for fundamentalists, and a requirement that immigrants respect the Canadian constitution and culture. Despite that Canadians seem to believe they have no right to insist on either due to typical 'white guilt'.
All I can say is I wish we had a politician like Geert Wilders so I could vote for him.

CoryMay 30, 2011 14:30 EST

One would think that people sincerely worried about immigrant crime would be relieved by the possibility that the situation is not as bad as they thought. I have never once understood the rationale behind criticizing good news because it doesn't fit with a negative worldview. My goodness, BE GLAD that immigration isn't causing as many problems as you thought it did.

I suspect that objection to immigration on the basis of crime are insincere... Perhaps the objection is really to something else, and crime statistics are just the excuses made up after the fact. Maybe these people who claim to be worried about immigrant crime actually WANT immigrants to have higher crime rates, because that fits in with their worldview, Perhaps they hate "political correctness" or multiculturalism or something more than they hate crime.

I guess the irony is that if you hate these other things more than you hate crime and you want immigrants to have high crime rates because it fits in with your worldview, then maybe YOU'RE actually the problem and don't have YOUR priorities in order. Just throwing that out there...

Andrei MincovMay 30, 2011 19:58 EST

Most people unwittingly consider laws against private discrimination one of the greatest social achievements of the modern times. In my new article in support of abolition of anti-discrimination laws, I explain how these laws are nothing more than a tool of everyone’s enslavement.
Read it at

ChrisJune 02, 2011 08:40 EST

Adam, comment 12 May 01:11

Britain has NOT ditched its census, in fact the census this year (a month ago) asked 50 questions, including whether you are gay and asks you exactly what you do in your job. Not like the Canadian one which is basically a head count.

MayJune 02, 2011 08:41 EST

I must ask: because someone says something is true, via statistics, it is an absolute?
i trust individual observations far more than any statistics i.e. personal experience versus percentages and pie charts

Doctors also once claimed smoking was good for you, studies can claim whatever someone wants them to claim.

you seriously dont think there's big money behind these sorts of 'studies'? In the way they are spun to the public?

in short, stop criticizing people for not instantly accepting a statistic that goes against their personal observations. Calmly accepting random statistics as truth leads to a moronic sense of unfounded safety/righteousness.

KevinJune 03, 2011 15:51 EST

What a completely bogus study!

Just go to the Toronto Police website and look at the "most wanted" list of murder suspects.

Of the 27 murder suspects only 2 are white and they are from cold cases dating back to the 80's.

It is an astounding FACT that there is NOT one White Canadian on Toronto Police most wanted for murders committed in OVER THE LAST TWENTY YEARS!

When you look at most wanted most appear to be recent arrivals mostly from Africa or Jamaica. Overwhelmingly they are Black. Some may have been born here but you can bet their parents weren't!

It is only by looking at a most wanted list like this that we can get any kind of idea how many violent crimes immigrants commit because police are not allowed to collect data on race and crime. If you study the other crime reports, e.g. rape and assault, again overwhelmingly the suspects are black. Again, some were born here but most likely their parents weren't. Immigration over the last 30 years has given us most of the serious crimes that we have today.

JedJune 05, 2011 19:28 EST

This is utter nonsense. The observation that foreign-born citizens have a lower incarceration rate was made a long time ago, see:

"Special Report on General Statistics of Immigration and the Foreign Born" The Industrial Commission of 1901

"Crime and the Foreign Born" National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. 1931.

These same studies (and subsequent studies) have also found that the children of foreign-born citizens (so-called second and third generation immigrants) have a significantly higher propensity to commit crimes, leading to a net increase in crime due to immigration.

There are many hypotheses for why there is such a stark difference between the generations, though imo most plausible is the self-selection effect of economic migrants (who are generally ambitous, hard-workers, and conformist) versus the second generation who struggle to fit in, are often raised in relatively poor families, and arguably have fewer legitimate economic opportunities available to them (all of which are predictors of propensity to criminal activity).

As for the 'connection' proposed by the article, this is just terrible statistics. I could show the same connection between falling crime rates and global warming. Should we conclude that global warming reduces crime? Anything with a similiar trend over time will appear to be correlated if you look at correlation on levels instead of first differences.

JohnJune 06, 2011 12:06 EST

Good job Adam for stating reality - which includes a few negatives. No one likes looking at the negatives, they prefer a fairy tale mono-focused lens on life, which is what this article is all about. The most serious reasons for a decrease in crime rate is the technological revolution and the social welfare state - immigration has nothing to do with it. People don't starve anymore; birth control allows a family to be created maturely, rather than unplanned - which can create chaos for individual; when people are in trouble, there is a huge social umbrella to fall down upon, instead of becoming insane and stealing and murdering to survive.

The Fraser Institute has pointed out that overall, there's an economic deficit to bringing in immigrants in the 21st century. We're not pioneering barren landscape with axes and oxen anymore, we have a technologically developed society. While the housing industry benefits from continued mass immigration, there's a net financial loss for Canada - the extra services these 21st century immigrants necessitate, outweigh the financial benefits. Certainly continuing to have some super-skilled immigration for high tech companies, is excellent. However, the general rule that LESS is MORE (in this 21st century) needs to be maturely recognized and applied without the "NAZI" slogan being thrown around. All of Canada and Canadian will benefit by maturely coming to grips with the mass immigration farce.

torkevJune 06, 2011 13:17 EST


What history books do you read? The British DID NOT invade or conquer the Aboriginals in Canada. They invaded New France, yes, but that was against the French and not the Natives (although French Native allies were involved, Britain generally accepted their prior treaties such as the Peace and Friendship Treaties and the Government of Canada accepts these pre-British treaties). IF Canada was invaded and conquered as you claim it was, then there would not be any need whatsoever for the governments of the past 300 years to sign treaties with the Aboriginals.

So yes, I would say we are all immigrants unless there is Aboriginal blood in you. Immigration literally built the non-Native population of this country, from its beginnings at Quebec to the present day where our stable (and low) population growth is dependent on 250,000 immigrants a year.

@John - if you're going to present something as fact, don't use a think tank. The Fraser Institute is a right-wing think tank. I would say the same thing for a left-wing think tank. Ideology is for people who can't think because it allows the person to think based on that and not on what is best for the situation.

I think a quote from Eisenhower is appropriate to think of during this thread since people seem to base all of their solutions and ideas off of left or right:
"People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters."

TrouterJune 09, 2011 10:27 EST

Very puzzled by the dimissive comment "One of the weirder suggestions (re dropping crime rates), popularized by Freakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, is that access to abortion has reduced the birth of unwanted children, who presumably would have had criminal tendencies. In support of this suggestion Freakonomics provides considerable detail on:
- the size and nature of the data sets used
- the multivariate methods applied
- the portion the effect correlated to the atrribute
This stands in stark contrast to this article which refers through out to very simplistic statistical measures with little or no information sources of data or the methodologies applied. This article reads like a media campaign from a political lobby. I actually find the perpective presented not entirely unreasonable, to bad there is a lack of depth on the information present here.

AlbinJune 11, 2011 08:45 EST

An analysis that "dares not speak its name" would probably show that immigration from some specific countries, at some specific times or otherwise, gives a reasonable person cold cause for concern about who exactly is leaving, and gives reasonable cause for more scrutiny.

The Tamils, in particular, were pretty well known in Toronto for harbouring an ugly and extortionist Tiger infrastructure that included some outright gangster activity, before the Tigers were beaten in Sri Lanka. (That is not to say Tamils had no just grievances, but to say the Tigers and their cultic leadership were a very bad vehicle for addressing those grievances.)

The same obviously applies to other groups and other foreign nationalist "causes" that seek to immigrate to Canada from time to time. The egalitarian Federal bureaucracy is unfortunately rough justice, because it has to apply a mandate of even-handedness and risk aversion in deciding how tough to be.

I don't like to see innocent, honest and valuable immigrants tarred with the brush of criminal terror perpetrators, but I don't like to see international terror perpetrators allowed in.

AnonymousJuly 03, 2011 18:18 EST

As an educator in a GTA neighborhood that has close to a 100% immigrant population, I\'d like to jump into this discussion. Largely, these are families from areas of the world that are experiencing unimaginable horrors of genocide, etc. that, luckily, we have never experienced here.

Clearly, a lot of you who have added your voices here are scared as hell about the changes to our country that are inevitable and happening at what seems to you to be a terrifying pace. I guess that we can all dredge up some absurd conspiracy theory to explain our country\'s immigration policies particularly after WW2. Let\'s get real folks: fewer immigrants = fewer tax dollars = less economic opportunity = a weaker country = more tax dollars out of YOUR pocket.

You\'ve gotta come to some peace about the reality of having 500,000 Southeast Asians in the GTA, etc. etc. It\'s a big country but ..... peace and love,,,,

bobbyboJuly 23, 2011 08:02 EST

canada has the luxury of watching europe fall apart cause of immigration and the troubles the usa is having yet people here are still living in their own little worlds, it amazes me how unconnected most candians are with the real issues facing the world but then again in this country criminals have more rights than the average person so what else is to expect

NoahJuly 27, 2011 12:01 EST

Re: Europe and immigration, most European countries have taken a very different approach to immigration (e.g., guest workers). It's becoming clear that their approach hasn't worked, but that has very little to do with what's happened here. The studies cited in the article seem to show pretty clearly that the Canadian approach to immigration works.

The dismissals of this story and the studies it cites all seem to amount to "this doesn't fit my ideology and here's an anecdote to the contrary, therefore clearly it's all wrong". You guys are lucky to have Stephen Harper to eliminate the census, suppress science, etc. so that you'll have fewer of these inconvenient statistics and facts getting in the way of your beliefs.

CHAmanAugust 05, 2011 11:36 EST

You know immigrant haters have their head in their a*ses when they continuously refuse to see whats right in front of them. The fact that while most European economies are faltering while Canada\'s is still strong.....and did that happen by accident. Canada would be up shit creek if it was for the immigrants that continued into the 90\'s and 2000\'s.

And while your\'re bitching...ask yourself how many kids do YOU have....zeroooooooooooo the most likely these days, 1 if we\'re lucky. And how is an economy suppose to continue with zeroooooooooooo population growth.

Canada would be like Japan in 20 years if it was not for immigrants, a flat lining economy, with old folks home filled to the brim, and all the cemeteries filled.

Think before you flap your lips spewing hateful nonsense!!!

Problems that have occurred and are about to occur, are not problems to do with the immigrants themselves but with poor federal government planning, who have the final say in immigration and funding programs.

Its time the rest of the Small White Cities and towns to experience multiculturalism, that places like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have experienced...then most of you would have the experience of knowing better. This has never happen because of poor government planning. And the ghettoization that we used to snidely remark about New York in the 1970\'s and 80\'s, is finally here...again due to poor govern input.

while your parents openly accepted immigrants (most of the time, with the usual name calling), thats why there was no problems with immigration, the government never did it\'s part.

40 years after the fact...its only now that there is real funding to help new immigrants....while they toil away to serve you your Timmies!!!. or in the past when they slaved in the factories to produce some of jokoan my family did.

Mark KasboSeptember 20, 2011 23:16 EST

Most immigrants are coming to Canada for a better life, many of them are harder worker people who want to build a better life, but also there are many like any other Canadian who want to take advantage of the system and in many cases commit crimes. If you want to have more information about middle eastern in Montreal please click on the link

R2012January 10, 2012 10:26 EST

As the 'control group' of non-immigrants are the descendants of immigrants- What evidence is there that this group is different than previous generations of first generation Canadians exhibiting 'immigrant vigor'?
There are short term winners and losers as a result of high levels of immigration. The overall policy question ought to be what will be the impact over the next 3-4 generations eg 100+ yrs of a certain level of immigration?
One thing I don't see discussed is how population can continue to increase with the constraints from an ecological footprint which already exceeds our country's capacity-
part of which is how we can support a growing population in a
carbon constrained economy, as estimates are we need to reduce carbon production by 50-80% by 2050 to avoid even greater environmental effects.

Won't increasing the population reduce the per capita carbon allowance and make managing this transition more difficult?

GGJanuary 23, 2012 11:25 EST

Why blame the immigrants for crime? My studies is in criminology which my research show otherwise. i am an international student studying in Canada. My tuition is three times that of a permanent resident or a citizen. I work very hard to pay my way through school and support my family. this is the story of most international students that i know. We came here for opportunity and to raise our family and help build this country's economy and in extension the economy of our home countries through remittances to our less fortunate friends and families back home.

I love this country and so does my family and we are not here to break it down, there are isolated cases of persons who are immigrants with that intention, but so are borned citizens. so blaming crime on immigration is a grave injustice. i sense that there are some rednecks writing their comments, its time for them to realize that their way of thinking is outdated, and it full time to move on.
The Broken Glass Thesis states that your environment has a lot to do with crime; fix the environment and you can help to control crime. Help to fix the social problems instead playing the blame games. Dont forget that your fore- parents were immigrants too.

Another ImmigrantApril 13, 2012 12:59 EST

I have to say another reason that recent immigrants may not commit violent crimes is that a lot of times they are told the system here is against them because of who they are or where they are from. I am very sure they are told the police treats "Canadians" usually meaning whites better than them.

This may explain why the subsequent generations are acting differently.

Just throwing this idea out there.

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