Canada’s diversity model should be defended, not denounced: Hébert

Hébert on Canada’s model of multiculturalism and integration.

Not sure which proponents she is referring to that are not arguing in the model’s favour – there appears to be a fair amount of commentary from both perspectives among the commentariat, and as she notes, the vast majority of Canadian political leaders do argue in its favour:

And yes, it includes most of what one could describe as the country’s political elite. Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal leaders do sit at the top of the pyramid. But it is voters that put them there.

All this is to say that Canada should embrace rather than brace for a challenge to its immigration and integration model.

It is not as if the discussion is going to go away just because it has the potential to be divisive.

This is a debate that already invited itself in the last Quebec and federal elections.

If anything, the refusal of many proponents of Canada’s approach to cultural diversity to argue for it on its merits only weakens their case.

One cannot simultaneously set Canada up as a model to the world and refuse to defend the country’s approach to cultural diversity at home for fear of shattering the societal consensus that sustains it.

In the late ’80s, the Reform party threw down the gauntlet at the supporters of official bilingualism. Preston Manning believed he could tap in to the frustrations of a silent (unilingual) majority.

The Reformers’ opponents castigated them for calling for a debate on Canada’s language policy. This is a boat — they said — that no responsible politician should want to rock.

And yet the discussion the Reform party forced on its rivals ended up strengthening Canada’s linguistic duality.

In time, Manning lost his leadership in no small part because he was unable to become bilingual enough to campaign efficiently in French — and unable to convince enough Canadians that it should not matter.

Source: Canada’s diversity model should be defended, not denounced: Hébert | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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