[Is it failing or succeeding?]
The uniquely Canadian word, “multicultural” is spoken of often but rarely defined. It’s much like the word “hot” as in hot or cold. We may state that, “it’s hot outside”. But no one is prepared to accurately state for us where hot begins and warm ends.
The concept of multiculturalism has moved from being a fact (as in it is a fact that Canada is a land with a high immigrant population); to an ideology (as in what type of social engineering would render an acceptable description of multiculturalism); to policy (as in vital portions relating to multiculturalism finding their way into government bills such as the “Charter”; to practice (as in redefining cultural norms towards inclusiveness) to where Canada is today (2015) almost 45 years since Pierre Trudeau (a former Canadian Prime Minister) broached the subject in Canada’s Parliament.
That there had always been a multicultural state north of the forty-ninth parallel is not open to debate. The fact that a nation evolved, railroads got built and Canada took a place on the political stage of planet earth amazes. Most of those things happened before Trudeau attempted to intervene speaks volumes about how good intent of ordinary people can become subverted by way of presumed well-intended social engineering.
I consulted parliamentary documents dating back to the “unfortunate” Trudeau years in power and turned up facts that shatter one’s faith in parliament. It turns out that a Royal Commission (he Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism).had performed a lengthy research into culturalism in Canada (note, I did not mention multiculturalism). To a person, the Commissioners involved in the white paper that eventually found its way into Parliament were speaking about a much different concept than what became law.
The Commission did make some obvious observations including acknowledgment of how all these different cultures had melded over decades and generations in Canada since Confederation. The central part of the definition of Canada had best defined years earlier by novelist Hugh McLennon in his, “Two Solitudes” (published in 1945). Like McLennon, the Royal Commission concluded that French and English in Canada existed in their own space and time divided by language, religion, and culture. Neither Hugh McLennon nor the Royal Commissioners considered assigning significance to a “third” component to the experience of Canada: the Aboriginal.
It is troubling that a nation such as Canada should be having discussions about the cultural fabric of Canada while precluding all Aboriginal Persons inside of Canada from even being able to vote (until finally a much fairer politician, John Diefenbaker deigned that Aboriginals could vote – in 1964).
The Royal Commissioners seem to have been advocating something much closer to “tolerance of various cultures than the forceful embrace created by laws such as Canada’s infamous Charter of Rights. The Commission based its conclusions and recommendations on this: “…intention was for incoming minorities to integrate into the bicultural texture of Canada. They referred to the enrichment thereby brought to one or both of the dominant cultures; and the way in which immigrant groups “continue to flourish and benefit through their integration with one of the two societies.” I urge folks to pay particular notice the terminology employed. The Commission was advocating a tolerant program aimed at assimilating the many immigrant cultures so that they could meld (or blend in) with one of Canada’s two cultures.
By 2011, (according to the Census) 21.1% of those in Canada are immigrants born in diverse other lands and the aim of blending in or melding has become lost in the rush for “rights” and “freedoms”. The late USA president, John Kennedy once mused about bias in his own country (the USA) clearly restated a central tenet of the USA Constitution. Kennedy wisely recognized the inherent foolishness of permitting religious culture from darkening law or government. Kennedy pointed out (during an election campaign speech in 1960) that, “while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew – or a Quaker – or a Unitarian – or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that led to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim – but tomorrow it may be you – until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.”
President Kennedy went on to say:
“Should Evangelicals receive special legal privileges over Catholics?
Should Catholics receive special legal privileges over Mormons?
Should Mormons receive special legal privileges over Muslims?
Should Jews receive special legal privileges over Hindus?
Should Hindus receive special legal privileges over Buddhists?
Should agnostics receive special legal privileges over atheists?”
Canada is at a perilous time in its history. Multiculturalism has taken such pervasive hold on the day to day life that there are those who are actively advocating the enactment of Sharia Law having full force alongside existing Canadian law.
To this humble writer, such a notion goes far beyond political correctness and undermines whatever inherent values shone so brightly as would attract generations of newcomers to abandon their own native lands and seek a fresh start (a new beginning) inside of Canada.
I accept that my thoughts are not “politically correct” but I do wonder and worry about the path that this land walks. By enacting such draconian law, (as Sharia) we repudiate our own standards and are, in fact telling newcomers that they erred in seeking a new life. In fact, all the troubles that had haunted their days in their own place of birth may follow them into Canada.
“….today, I may be the victim – but tomorrow it may be you”
Copyright Thunderbird Rising 2015
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