Friday, November 9, 2012

The end of Canada’s multiculturalism

Very recently, Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism announced that Canada will soon have an immigration system that works for Canada’s economy. Instead of a system plagued with backlogs, by the end of 2013, Canada’s new immigration system will become more flexible and responsive to the labour market, Mr. Kenney said.
The overriding objective of Mr. Kenney’s initiative in overhauling Canada’s immigration system is to install a fast, flexible just-in-time immigration system. To Mr. Kenney, the bottom line is to make the system work for Canada’s economy, anything short is unacceptable.
Mr. Kenney’s package of initiatives will be implemented on January 2013, a totally revamped immigration program that features a new point-grid which harkens back the old era when Canada’s immigrants and settlers were primarily people of European Christian heritage. This was prior to 1967 when Canada’s immigration policy, just like most other countries at that time, used race, ethnicity, religion and language in selecting new immigrants.
Canada Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Photo courtesy of Andrew Forget,
QMI Agency. Click link to
view "Minister Jason Kenney on the Irish Late Late Show."
Of course, the new immigration policy will not directly identify race, ethnicity or religion as criteria in choosing newcomers in this country, obviously an indication that Canada is also sensitive to issues of racism and discrimination. However, the emphasis placed on proficiency in either of the official Canadian languages of English or French as the most important decisive factor in the selection process unmistakably tilts it in favour of certain source countries. Already, critics of this potential shift from non-English speaking countries have pointed out the return to Canada's ethnocentric roots, which was the main reason for adopting the points system in the first place.
When Canada adopted the points system for selecting new immigrants, it was hailed as a Canadian innovation. The system removed any type of formal discrimination from immigration policy. Individuals would no longer be denied immigration to Canada, as it was in the past, based on their ethnicity, nationality or religion.
Mr. Kenney has emphasized many times that proficiency in English or French accelerates the integration of newcomers in the workforce and in the larger Canadian society. “Extensive research has consistently shown that the ability to communicate effectively in either French or English is a key factor in the success of new immigrants,” said Minister Kenney.
Language proficiency will not only be imposed as the most requirement for new immigrants but also to applicants for Canadian citizenship as well. With this stringent language requirement for citizenship, immigrants who have been successful as permanent residents and have lived, worked and contributed to Canada for years will find it more difficult to become citizens.
Effective November 1, 2012, applicants for citizenship will be required to submit acceptable evidence of their language proficiency, such as the results of a CIC-approved third-party test, or evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French, or evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain government-funded language training programs. This requirement will be in addition to passing a harder citizenship exam and a 75 percent minimum passing grade. There will also be no automatic citizenship for foreign-born children and for everyone born in Canada of immigrant parents.
Making proficiency in English or French as the most important requirement for social integration and job placement strikes at the heart of Canada’s policy of multiculturalism. In 1971, the federal government has recognized the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society, and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage. That Canada is not mainly English or French, but a composite of many and diverse ethno-cultural communities.
In 1988, Parliament passed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, and enshrined this policy of multiculturalism in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guaranteeing among others, equal protection and benefit of the law, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of gender, religion and racial or ethnic origin. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act also upholds Canada’s multicultural policies in its objectives by respecting the federal, bilingual, and multicultural character of the country.
Vancouver Multicultural Day Committee’s National Multicultural Day event.
Courtesy of BC Gov Photos. Click link to view "The State of Multiculturalism
in Canada,"
As immigration continues to change the country’s demographics, Canada’s multiculturalism program has focused on making its institutions more responsive to the needs of Canada’s diverse population. Therefore, this new language proficiency requirement for new immigrants and citizens is unquestionably a step backward, a decision that ignores the ethnic and cultural make-up of Canada’s present-day immigrants.
Since 1991, China, India and the Philippines have been the top source of immigrants to Canada – countries where neither English nor French is the first language. Other immigrants and refugees come from countries in the Third World where they don’t speak English or French as their mother tongue. In due time, these immigrants have mastered their ability to speak English or French. Although not without the hardship that usually comes with every immigrant’s struggle to survive, they have contributed to the country’s economy and have become established and law-abiding citizens.
While mastery of the language might produce better economic outcomes for immigrants in the short term, it could also make it more difficult to find enough people with sufficient levels of fluency to maintain Canada’s immigration levels. And language is not the only focus of the present overhaul of Canada’s immigration system.
A study conducted by Prof. Naomi Albiom of Queen’s University has found that the present government’s immigration policies are making Canada less welcoming as it was. The new emphasis on reducing backlogs and short-term labour market needs is reshaping Canada’s future as a country for immigrants. Prof. Albiom has also criticized the pace these changes are being made through undemocratic methods like embedding them in omnibus and budget bills, and giving the immigration minister with almost unlimited authority to set policies with little public or parliamentary oversight.
All this makes us wonder if Immigration Minister Kenney’s reform initiatives are simply a reaction to the failure of multiculturalism in Europe where the leaders of Germany, France and Britain, have each declared that multiculturalism has been a failure in their countries, serving to separate and segregate, rather than integrate. Is Mr. Kenney trying to avoid a similar backlash against multiculturalism in Canada by revamping the immigration system now, rather than wait for the kind of European upheaval against accommodation of diversity issues?
The 2004 United Nations Mission on contemporary racism, for instance, concluded “that racial discrimination in Canada was tangible as reflected in the high incidence of poverty, overrepresentation in the prison population, racial profiling and under representation of ethnic and racial minorities in the upper and middle layers of political, administrative, economic, cultural and media institutions and mechanisms.” An effective way, it seems for the present government to prevent this situation from blowing up is to control the influx of new immigrants, and to ensure that these immigrants will conform to Canada’s original ethnocentric values and culture.
So, the Conservative government’s immigration momentum appears to run counter to the basic idea of multiculturalism that successful integration occurs when newcomers retain a sense of their heritage and culture while also becoming engaged in the larger society. While Europe has struggled with this concept, the defining feature of Canadian culture seems to be under siege not much from the immigrants this country fears may strike like their counterparts in Europe, but more from a government that seems tied to old-fashioned assimilation.
Like Europe where mandatory civic integration policies are now being implemented, Canada is similarly paving the way to a more comfortable road to assimilation of its new immigrants by ensuring that they conform to its ethnocentric culture right at the gates. Against a backdrop of increasing social isolation of immigrants and their rising political radicalization, it is only a matter of time when Canada eventually sheds off the reputation of being the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism.
When Mr. Kenney insists on language proficiency and emphasis on hiring of temporary foreign workers without a path to permanent residence and citizenship, the undercurrent in this policy is clear: Canada can no longer tolerate a live-and-let-live attitude towards immigrants. New immigrants to Canada, to the Conservative government’s approval, must be “Canadian first,” at least in relation to public life. If their ethnic identities are to be preserved, these must be expressed only in private and not be the basis for political claims to multiculturalism.
The death knell to multiculturalism has already been sounded. Allan Gregg wrote in The Walrus that the elite consensus on a feel-good multiculturalism is blinding us to the reality of growing ethnic divides and animosities. Canada is not immune to the European conundrum and failure to contain multiculturalism.

To avoid the ethnic and religious divisions that are so visible in Europe, Jason Kenney is learning his lessons fast. He may not admit that he intends to abolish multiculturalism as an objective of immigration reform, but his immigration policies appear to be directed towards post-multiculturalism, a new order that avoids the excesses of multiculturalism without imposing the harsh policies of assimilation that are happening in Europe where he has been borrowing most of his ideas of reform.


  1. I read this article with interest, ready to argue several fundamental assumptions, but I enjoyed the last sentence about Kenney's likely objectives to avoid Multiculturalism's excesses and the harshness of assimilation through preparing a post-multicultural approach.

    This is exactly what Canaada needs. Balance.

    Mr. River, the critical principle you need to integrate into your views on immigration is that of Boundaries. We all know individuals have social boundaries. International laws recognize the boundaries of states. Why do we forget that states have bounderies vis-a-vis immigration?

    The original Canadians set policies that allowed people in like themselves. This was not "ethnocentricism" but common sense. The founding fathers and their approach to immigration built the great country that we all benefit from, including the insitutions, the liberal democracy, the Canadian culture, and indeed the homogeneity outside of Vancouver and Toronto that is comfortable and familiar to the vast majority of Canadians. No, Toronto is not culturally superior to Quebec City because it is more "multicultural."

    Since 1967 and especially 1987 Canada has truly become a multicultural nation, particularly within Toronto and Vancouver and increasingly other cities.

    But the question obvious to anyone with a long connection to this country is: where does immigration fed diversity end?

    Does it continue until those from outside the country reshape the entire nation into their own image? Is that "justice". Is that a "human right"? Ironically, none of the leading source countries practice radical multiculturalism themselves and indeed most Canadians could not emigrate to these countries.

    Those of Canadian ethnicity, the Canadian-born, have the moral and ethical right to set boundaries and protect their culture and land from being transformed beyond recognition to meet the needs of people from other countries. If people like Mr. Rivera continue to ignore and violate this right, Canada will become an increasingly divided, insular, and unhappy place.

    Consider the sense of community in places such as Brampton and Mississauga in comparison to Quebec City, Kingston, and Victoria. Don't take my word for. Do the research.

    But we will be looking at far more serious divisions in future. Just look at the other regions where national and ethnic boundaries have beem deeply violated.

    Mr. Rivera, there are limits to your Multiculturalsm. And we are soon approaching them.

  2. What is becoming obvious is that Canadians are finally waking up to the need for real immigration reform, and the failure of multiculturalism. It has not worked in other countries, and it is being dismantled there because it invariably leads to dissension, strife and the destruction of the host culture.

    Anyone can see this. Actually, it is only a matter of time until it is either completely abandoned or leads to internal violence, or, in the worst case scenario, civil war. Already the French youth are waking up, as is evidenced by the rising popularity of Generation Identitaire. All of these ultra liberal philosophies, the E.U., multiculturalism, interdependent globalism, and world Federalism are outdated, unrealistic and unnatural "pie in the sky" illusions of 1960s pop culture. The second half of the 20th century was dominated by these radical left wing ideals which became part of the popular narrative of mainstream culture.

    But they are all unworkable in the 21st century. Human beings long for cultural identity and meaning. Canadians are no different. We know who we really are, and where our culture came from. Sincere and decent immigrants want to belong to that culture: Democratic, based on European institutions, socially conservative, free and founded on the two fundamental cultures of England and France. What they are getting instead is ethnic balkanization, tribalism, incipient terrorism and a fractuous philosophy aimed at destroying the real Canada.

    No real Canadian wants that, and Canada cannot survive it. Jason is right. There are limits to your multiculturalism. But I would go one step further and say that it is a failure as a social and political philosophy. It is time to end it and re-establish the Canada immigrants originally longed to come to.

    1. Well stated.
      To me, the question is whether we see Canada as a land or as a land and a distinct culture. I believe that multiculturalism reflects only the former.

      I believe Mr. Kenney is on the right track with this reform and I would say even more must soon be done.

  3. Hi; I agree with the premise of this article. I am writing a book about the lack of promotion of Canadian identity and culture. it's there...just buried under P.C and C.R

    I did a few debates as well.

    Canada's Broken Mosaic Canada's Broken Mosaic PT 2
    Canada's Broken Mosaic PT 3 Canada's Broken Mosaic PT 4

    The end of the midnight sun: Sweden's Cultural Destruction

    ==> youtube . com