Saturday, January 13, 2007

Multiculturalism under fire! Another Crisis for the Tories

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

Wouldn't you just know it. As soon as Stephen Harper makes an attempt to make inroads into "culture communities" - to use Ruby Dhalla's words, which, one assumes, suggests that only recent immigrants to the country can claim any sort of cultural heritage - everything comes crashing down around him. Well, not exactly, but soon after Harper appointed Jason Kenney as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, the findings of a recent report suggest that Canada's multiculturalism policy has been abundantly insufficient (it's like they planned it that way)...

The Globe and Mail:

"Visible-minority immigrants are slower to integrate into Canadian society than their white, European counterparts, and feel less Canadian, suggesting multiculturalism doesn't work as well for non-whites, according to a landmark report.

The study, based on an analysis of 2002 Statistics Canada data, found that the children of visible-minority immigrants exhibited a more profound sense of exclusion than their parents.

Visible-minority newcomers, and their offspring, identify themselves less as Canadians, trust their fellow citizens less and are less likely to vote than white immigrants from Europe.

The findings suggest that multiculturalism, Canada's official policy on interethnic relations since 1971, is not working as well for newer immigrants or for their children, who hail largely from China, South Asia and the Caribbean, conclude co-authors Jeffrey Reitz, a University of Toronto sociologist, and Rupa Banerjee, a doctoral candidate."

Well didn't that work out well for the Liberals, and their cronies in the "academic community"? (Kidding.) They sit on their laurels for 13 years, doing nothing about the environment, and the massively complicated issue explodes into Canadians number 1 priority. Then, they entirely ignore Canada's "cultural communities", comforted by their "historic affinity" and the mistaken impression that the "ethnic vote" is in their pockets; then all of a sudden following the election of a minority Conservative government, comes a report suggesting that the success of a passive policy of multiculturalism has been unsuccessful in efforts to integrate visible minority immigrants, and even "second generation" visible minorities.

Can't the boys (and, some girls) in blue catch a break??? As if they didn't have enough national identity crises on their plate. Next thing you know, the Premiers are going to all of a sudden gang together and come to the long belated conclusion that major reforms have to take place to improve a static and unsustainable health care system, on the same day a report co-penned by Darren Dutchychen and Bobby Orr is going to suggest that hockey is not, in fact, the greatest sport in the world.

Blasphemy aside, this type of groundbreaking report provides a convenient, if unwelcome, opportunity (and a substantial challenge) to test the Conservative governments more 'multicultural' focus. I haven't parsed through the whole report yet, but I have to admit, as far as the prospects for widespread minority integration into the Canadian dream, it doesn't look good.

So, whats my opinion, which you all have been patiently waiting for (cough)? Politically speaking, the Conservatives should own this issue. Set up a Senate Commission to study concrete steps a government can take to rectify the inequality, without jeopardizing the equality of treatment which citizens rely on. If the Conservatives don't take such, admittedly abstract but important, steps, you can bet that the Liberals will make it an election issue. Although, like with the environment, it was the Liberals who largely got us to the position that we're in, they're going to successfully (as they did with the environment), blame the Conservatives for not coming up with an immediate solution to a long term problem of ethnic integration.

Harper, ignore the sage words of Olaf at your own peril. Or, maybe not.

P.S. I fully recognize that the gravity of the situation was highly sensationalized in this post and the title. I was just trying to make it as dramatic as the front page story in the Globe. Sue me.

UPDATE: Here is Werner's always thought provoking take.

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