Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Blame (and Envy) Canada

As a blue-state American, it’s hard sometimes not to envy Canada. They have a health care system that actually makes some degree of sense (more cars are made in Ontario than Michigan now, due entirely to health costs), a parental leave policy that recognizes that twelve unpaid weeks is a bad joke, a drug policy written by grownups, a Prime Minister who isn't a complete wingnut, and Holly Cole.

But this article in the Chronicle really took it up a notch. Apparently, the Canadian government is changing some rules to make it easier for ‘foreign’ students (including Americans!) to go to colleges and universities there.

As an American academic, I’m starting to worry. At the community college level, I’ve already seen steep drops in ESL enrollments, as the immigration restrictions have tightened. I’ve heard that graduate programs are having a harder time recruiting the best international students to come here, losing them to Australia, India, and (especially now) Canada.

Part of America’s great competitive advantage has been that we’ve been on the right side of the brain drain. Post-9/11, we’ve changed direction, and other countries are stepping in to (happily) take in the brilliant innovators we’re turning away. This is not good.

When the next Microsoft emerges in Toronto, we’ll be very, very sorry. Diana Krall and Holly Cole aren’t the half of it. We're in trouble, eh.