Spring 2011
100 Million Canadians

Could Canada’s path to superpower status be a number’s game?


Irvin Studin is convinced that he’s come up with a viable plan to make Canada a real and permanent world power. A professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance, Studin caused a stir last year when he suggested that Canada needs more people if it wants to play a bigger role in world affairs. With a population of 100 million or more, Studin ventured, Canada would become “a serious force to be reckoned with.”

Studin reasons that Canada could achieve true superpower status within a few generations if it tapped into a much larger talent pool of skilled immigrants that would strengthen and transform this nation’s traditionally weak strategic institutions, such as the military and the diplomatic and civil services. Eventually, the new arrivals would form a bulwark of change to help shape a new and ambitious foreign policy that matches our size and wealth of natural resources. Studin argues that this powerful combination of people, resources and territory would translate into greater prestige and influence overseas. “We need to imagine ourselves as a society that is growing in demographic weight and that begins to, over time, perceive our potential influence in international affairs.”

Studin acknowledges that there needs to be the political leadership and will to take his novel vision from paper into practice. He also concedes that a prolonged spike in immigration would create tension in Canada, particularly in parts of the country that lack a history of welcoming newcomers. As well, Studin says that the influx of so many new immigrants would be a burden on the public purse in the early days. But he is confident that these hurdles could be overcome and once that happens Canada will emerge as a consequential country of which the “world will take good note.”

Read Irvin Studin’s full proposal


Reader Comments

# 1
Posted by Brian Henry on July 3rd, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

I’ve thought for a very long time that Canada should pursue a more aggressive growth policy. But Canadians are never going to be motivated by a desire to play a larger role in the world.

However, in an increasingly globalized world, we need to be a bigger country to survive culturally. If we’re not bigger, we’re going to be swallowed up by the nations that are.

# 2
Posted by Anees Ebrahem on April 15th, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

Good luck convincing white Canadians, who comprise 80% of the population, to support a plan that would involve tens of millions of mostly non-white and non-western immigrants from developing nations moving here.

# 3
Posted by konrad on September 30th, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

Why do we, as Canadians, need to become a major world power? I see no need. Our nation includes a large forested area that is crucial for the world to survive, especially North America. If we expand our cities, we will have to cut down significant portions of this ecosystem, which will result in fewer trees and lower air quality. If 100 million people were to live here, each person would have to lower their environmental impact, which I doubt will happen. Canada is a wilderness paradise. We should let it be and enjoy it.

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