Editorial: Welcome to North Norway, Sylvi Listhaug!
Norwegian Minister of Immigration and Integration Sylvi Listhaug traveled to Sweden to “learn” about integration politics. If she had gone to North Norway instead, her learning would have been quite different.
Just like US President Donald Trump, Norwegian Minister Sylvi Listhaug has selected a Stockholm district to illustrate her own scaring propaganda. From the town square in Rinkeby she paints a notorious vision of what Norway would look like if she were to lose the election.
Most things would come to a halt
The fact that the Swedes do not recognize the image she paints is subordinate to the effect she wants to achieve. With ballpark facts from a Swedish district, she construes a potential Norwegian future society, created in Listhaug’s own head.
It would be a far different image, and one recognizable for many more, if she had instead chosen to travel to North Norway. Here she would find a job work market that would barely function if it were not for immigration.
The fish industry is just one out of several industries that are completely dependent on international labor force in order to make the wheels go round. It has been like that for decades, and that is how it will remain in the future. Especially if Minister Listhaug’s government should succeed in its vision of increasing profitability and developing and industry based on the ocean resources.
If it were not for immigrant work force, the queues of people waiting to get in to our North Norwegian nursing homes would stretch all the way to the government offices in Oslo, for all that I know. The hospitals would face a similar situation. You do not have to spend much time in the waiting room of your average North Norwegian hospital before you discover that there are not enough North Norwegians around to fill all the functions needed in the complex organization of the Norwegian health industry.
Nor is the building and construction industry an exception – on the contrary.
Met with warm hands
The list could be endless. It could be so endless that we were left with a North Norway that had population figures going down the drain instead of increasing slowly.
Because the truth is that the population in the High North, in the region Immigration and Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug’s colleagues argue should provide the majority of our future national growth, increases due to immigration.
This immigration makes sure our ever-aging population is greeted with warm hands when they can no longer manage on their own and have to move in to a nursing home.
This immigration secures sustainable communities along the northern coast.
This immigration keeps the number of children up in schools and kindergartens that would otherwise risk being shut down.
This immigration allows for an increasing number of tourists to find a place to eat and sleep when they exchange their Euros for Norwegian kroner.
Sylvi Listhaug knows this very well, of course. It just does not fit in with her storytelling.
What she may not know, is that even most of her North Norwegian voters recognize this situation. I meet politicians and voters from the Progress Party literally every day, but I never run into anyone who share Listhaug’s miserable description.
Would be scared
Integration in North Norway works too well for that.
Even when grim images were drawn of a “flow” of refugees pouring into the Finnmark region from Russia, any political attempt of painting ‘Swedish conditions’ in a North Norwegian context failed.
And for the record, for those who think I paint a too rosy image of North Norway and integration: Of course, problems occur in our neighborhood too when millions of people are forced to flee. In the same way, it is a problem that our population figures are decreasing, that there are ever fewer hands at work to secure a good life for those of us who are not working.
We do not lack challenges, however, the biggest challenge right now is an Integration Minister who turns her back on what works and prefers to scare people with might not work.
Sylvi Listhaug is Immigration and Integration Minister for all of Norway, though she has barely set her foot in Northern Norway.
I can understand her.
The minister would be scared by how well integration works here.
She is more comfortable scaring the rest of us.
However, you are welcome to come here Sylvi Listhaug. We have room for more.
This Editorial was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.
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