For nearly three decades I have pondered the origin, meaning and eventual outcome of Canada’s official multicultural policy. During this period, certain conclusions have crystallized in my mind, and yet at the same time, many unanswered questions remain.
It is well known that the founder of multiculturalism is former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. What is not so well known are the circumstances under which this maverick prime minister formulated multicultural ideology, and it’s eventual legislation.
Trudeau was the first western leader to meet with Mao Tse Tung, founder of the People’s Republic of China, in 1970. Several subsequent visits to China would follow, including a visit to the Great Wall, during which, to the dismay of China’s top political figures, the Prime Minister did a ballet pirouette, subsequently explained as a way to break the formality of the occasion.
It was following Trudeau’s initial visit to China that he introduced multicultural ideology to Canada. His intention, as he publicly stated, was for multiculturalism to “function within a bi-lingual framework”. It would take seventeen more years for multiculturalism to achieve “official” status. In 1988, the policy was entrenched in our constitution as the Multicultural Act of Canada.
This unprecedented policy, relatively benign when introduced in 1971, was in reality a major game-changer. To this day, it is arguable that the majority of Canadians are unaware of its full impact, and what it meaning may be for the future of our country.
When considering the statute’s implications, one significant factor resided in the area of funding. The Act states explicitly that ethnic cultural organizations are to receive government funding for the promotion of cultural events, language and holidays.
In practical terms, the scenario played out whereby the largest and best organized ethnic communities received the lion’s share of the funding. Basically, it was a “snooze and you loose” situation. The result was an inequitable distribution of funding, with a few select communities receiving tens of millions, and smaller communities receiving little, or nothing.
Times change. Demographics change, and no where in the world has this been more profound than in Canada, a nation with the highest per-capita immigration rate in the world. Interestingly, until Australia adopted constitutional multiculturalism, Canada was also the only nation in the world with official multiculturalism. Pretty special, yet in all the excitement and fanfare, few noticed or mentioned the fact that Canadians did not ask for, voted for, or endorse the policy in any capacity. Excepting of course for Trudeau, his cabinet, and a handful of left-leaning interest groups strategically selected to ensure its success. In short, the democratic process was never applied to this most transformative policy.
It was only with the dawning of the 21st century that the true impact of this policy began to reveal itself. With mass immigration transforming the ethnic make up of the nation, the demographic change became increasingly profound. In 2012, a Statistics Canada study pronounced that white Canadians would become a minority in Toronto and Vancouver by 2031.
As a result, in 2015, Canadians of European origin find themselves in a curious situation. Our government says white Canadians are headed for minority status, yet as an identifiable group, this diminishing segment of Canadian society lack a defined identity. This can be explained away to some extent, as in the past they never needed one. Historically, Euro-Canadians were a well entrenched majority, and there was no reason to believe this would change, at least not to the degree that a re-thinking of national identity would be necessary.
Multiculturalism mandates that minority groups have the right to promote their ethnicity, and to receive money to do so. At present, we see this manifest itself ,for example, in Vancouver’s two week celebration of Chinese New Year, complete with taxpayer-funded social events, dragon parades, and colourful community centre displays. The Viksaiki parade, largely government funded, is the largest festival of the year in Surrey, B.C.
To put it plainly, present-day multiculturalism has resulted in a number of oddities, inequities, and downright curiosities. We have arrived at a situation whereby the white Canadian population is in decline, headed for minority status, and yet we lack a communal voice or identity. When attempts have been made to create an identity on par with our larger ethnic communities, these actions are met with cries of xenophobia, racism and other nastiness.
Why the double standard? How did we arrive at a situation where the only identifiable group prevented from organizing, receiving funding and promoting traditions based on ethnicity are those whose ancestors were the founders of our country?
It is more than reasonable to say multicultural policy is largely responsible. Let’s now ask some pertinent questions- has this policy morphed into a tool to promote all ethnicities except that of Canadians of European heritage? What will happen come 2031… will caucasians be the only minority without the right to promote their ethnicity? Will their behaviour as an identifiable minority still be labelled as oppressive to other ethnic groups? Do special interest organizations exist that would prefer this be the case? After three decades of involvement, my answer to the final question is yes.
Time to face the facts: multiculturalism has been hi-jacked, right under the noses of an unsuspecting Canadian public. What was once a policy is today an INDUSTRY, comprised of multicultural organizations, civil libertarians, most of our lawyers, Charter of Rights advocates, immigration consultants- not to mention our top post-secondary institutions. As an example, University of Alberta last year received $38 million in government funding to open their pro-communist “China Institute”.
Those of us who have been around a while may recall a time in our history when things were very different. During the “cold war” of the 1950’s, Russian-style communism was presented by government and media as a dangerous ideology, capable of undermining the freedom and democracy so fundamental to our national well being. In the 1960’s, a wave of anti-Americanism swept through Canadian society, as events such as the Vietnam War stimulated a desire for a separate identity from our neighbours to the south. Our federal government, sensing growing public discontent, launched a project entitled the Royal Commission on Arts, Letters and Sciences to analyze “the degree of English-Canadian dependence on the United States”.
Fast forward to 2015. Today, we find our government bending over backwards to ingratiate the desires of communist governments and their economic interests. Trade deals, Chinese currency hubs, foreign student programs, foreign worker programs, funding for pro-communist university departments, foreign language advertising and signage. Indeed, it is so extreme it often appears our government has more concern for the well being of non-Canadians than for their own citizens.
Meanwhile, among the nations whose influence upon our country is the most pronounced, all is culturally “status quo”. No multiculturalism. No priority for foreigners. In fact, all the top source countries from which our immigrants derive continue to retain their unique cultures, as they have for centuries, or even millennia. Only Canada, as well as Australia, are constitutionally mandated to alter the very fabric of their own identity and culture. Just two nations out of slightly under two hundred countries in the world. In other words, only 1% of the world’s nations are truly multicultural.
Thus, we can logically conclude that on a world wide scale, multiculturalism is far from the norm. Despite what our leaders and media inform us, this policy is not “the way of the world”. It’s implementation is non-democratic. On this basis, and considering the societal prohibition of European-Canadian identity, how many generations will it take before the founding English and French Canadian populations are relegated to the periphery of our society? One. At present immigration rates, that’s all it will take for the decendants of our founding peoples to become marginalized within our country. One generation. Yes indeed, the times they are a ‘changin.
by b. salzberg, (c) 2015