MULTICULTURALISM AND DEMOCRATIC VALUES
The essence of Canada at this time in our history is the need to maintain and celebrate the racial, religious and cultural background of our diverse population, as well as to live under the democratic principles of our country. This is a sociological fact and an imbedded political ideology that can be described as multiculturalism and democracy. At one time the relationship between the British and French had been given the primary role in Canadian thought, but by the late 20th century and the early 21st century the majority of the Canadian population was other than of British and French stock and an increasing number identified as visible minority. Today Canada is characterized as being very progressive, democratic and diverse, but this was not always so. Canadians speaking other languages, especially German, were suspect as possible enemies to the Canadian state during both world wars. Asians encountered legal obstacles to immigration and did not participate fully in political and social matters. Canadian Japanese were imprisoned, moved and their property confiscated. Canadian Jews faced discrimination to a large extent, especially in Quebec. Irving Abella and Harold Troper in their book “None is Too Many” traced the extent to which the immigration policy of Prime Minister Mackenzie King placated the racist attitudes of Canada`s immigration minister, and the extent of the pro-German attitude of Canada`s high commissioner to England. As well, until the middle of the twentieth century, there were only a limited number of openings for Jews in the university professional courses such as medicine and dentistry. Jews found it difficult to get executive jobs in the banks and insurance companies.
Prior to the advent of the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960 and its successor the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, the laws did not provide much in the way of rights for minorities. By 2006 Canada had grown to have 34 ethnic groups of at least 100,000 people of which 11 had over one million each. The tolerance for the multiculturalism and democracy of Canada was reflected in provincial law to reinforce federal statutes. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act was introduced in 1988 and funds were distributed to different ethnic groups to help them preserve their culture, leading to such projects as ethnic run community centres. On November 12 2002, the government of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien designated June 27 of each year “Canadian Multiculturalism Day”. But this emphasis on many cultures has led to two unforeseen elements, and I intend to discuss each individually
Language and culture are very important to people in a designated area, if they represent numbers sufficient to make a difference. When the British conquered the French settlers in Eastern Canada, they were in sufficient numbers so that they could not be ignored. The French lost to the English on the plains of Abraham, but the French settlers never gave up their dream of a Catholic French State. Louis-Joseph Papineau instigated a rebellion in 1837, but he lost and was forced to leave the British colony for the U.S. The French in what was to become Quebec had a problem. To the south was a continent of English-speaking people and to the Canadian west in what was to become Ontario, the majority were also English-speaking. The two groups had no love for one another but they hated the ineptitude, domination and corruption of the British government from London even more. In 1838 Lord Durham was appointed Governor General and his report contains the famous description of “Two nations warring in the bosom of a single state”. Durham wanted to unite the two groups so that those speaking English could dominate, but this was not to be. In 1840 the parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Act of Union which proclaimed Upper and Lower Canada both with 42 seats in the Legislative Assembly of the province of Canada, even though the French in Lower Canada had more people. The official language was English. Sir Charles Metcalfe, the Governor General, fought to preserve the prerogatives of the Crown (the British) but he had to make concessions, one of which was equality between the French and English languages. In 1848 Lord Elgin, a new Governor General, instituted responsible government several months after Nova Scotia, an eastern province, had been granted that status. The English were afraid Canada would go the way of the U.S. and had to comply with the demands of the settlers. In 1867 The Dominion of Canada was proclaimed by the British with French and English of equal status in the parliament of Canada.
Immigration had been a factor, especially after the Second World War and new-comers voted. The U.S. had the melting pot philosophy, in Canada it was multiculturalism. The province of Ontario and Western Canada filled up with English-speaking immigrants and even Quebec had their share. The immigrants chose English over French, logically, because of the U.S. and because in the real world English was more important as a language of business and culture. While not all French-Canadians wanted to separate they all want to keep their language and culture. There is a separatist party in Quebec that held two referendums and lost both. In the second vote it was very close but the separatists did not gain a majority. In the last vote in Quebec in 2014, the separatist party that had formed a minority government lost the election. Immigration will continue but the strength of the French Canadian Catholic culture will diminish in a united Canada. However for many years French will remain the predominate language in Quebec. French Canadians in order to protect their language and culture may eventually go the route of separation, but it will not be easy
Canada is a democratic country governed by the rule of law. No one is exempt including new citizens and immigrants wishing to obtain citizenship. Different cultures abound in Canada with all the immigration, and as long as these cultures do not break any Canadian laws they are acceptable. Homosexuality is a life style accepted in Canada and these people have the same rights as all citizens. Women are equal to men and are treated the same under our laws. It is illegal to beat your wife or children. People who come as immigrants cannot break our laws just because it is a part of their culture in their country of origin. All religions are equal and a person cannot be punished for leaving one for another. Immigrants must not bring the problems of their home country to Canada. Be as you want, do as you will, but do not break our laws. These laws represent the culture of Canada.
I would like to recommend to my readers if they find this entry in my blog of interest to read a book that I have just finished called “Delectable Lie” a liberal repudiation of multiculturalism. It is by a Muslim Salim Mansur. All peoples are welcome in Canada but they must recognize that they cannot propose to live their lives in opposition to our values of the rights of the individual citizen. No concession can be allowed to the Islamic practice based on discrimination of women according to “shari`ah law.