Canada’s multiculturalism and immigration policies have increasingly shaped its demographic landscape, as a growing number of immigrants from India, China and the Philippines land in this country. Bob Mok’s columns shed lights on the evolution and the future of Canada’s multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism has been trumpeted by Canada as a selling point to recruit immigrants from other countries. Over the decades, potential immigrants to Canada have been attracted by its advertised cultural diversity, tolerance, and “multiculturalism”. As an immigrant from the 1960’s, I witnessed the evolution of multiculturalism in Canada and I am in a good position to provide an assessment.
Since there is a direct correlation between immigration and multiculturalism, we must first examine the history of Canada’s Immigration Policy. In 1910, Liberal MP Frank Oliver made an attempt in defining immigration laws. He increased government power in this area and barred a broad spectrum of people. A $500 head tax was also imposed on Asian immigrants.
On January 19, 1962, the Honourable Ellen Fairclough, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, introduced a new immigration act that virtually eliminated racial discrimination. This new act stated that suitable immigrants can enter Canada, irrespective of colour, race, or national origin.
In 1966, the Pearson government introduced the White Paper on immigration policies. This document outlined how Canadians should accept those who can adapt to Canadian society and barring those who cannot adapt. It also allowed admissions to certain immigrants for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.
In 1967, the Points System used today was established to judge immigrants on qualifications such as language and skill. This system attempted to remove all discrimination and prejudice. During this time, the pattern of immigration swerved from Europeans to Asian immigrants, concurrent with Canada's increased trade with third world countries (at that time, Japan became Canada's third largest source of trade after the U.S. and Britain).
The Immigration Act in 1976 formed the laws we follow today was intended to promote Canada's demographic, economic, cultural and social goals. This new act encouraged family reunification. Under this Act, there are four basic categories for landed immigrants in Canada The first classification is family; second, humanitarian, including refugees, persecuted or displaced persons; third, independents who followed their own initiative to immigrate to Canada; and finally, assisted relatives.
Through this series of immigration milestones, Canada’s immigration policy shifted from a European immigrant based component to a more global constituent. As well, the family reunion aspects of the policy increased the number of elderly immigrants steadily. All of these eventually created many profound impacts on Canada’s multiculturalism.
Over the last decade, Canada admitted an average of roughly two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) immigrants each year. Out of this statistic, almost sixty-five thousand (65,000) or (25%) are of the “Family Class”. During this time, the three top contributing countries to Canada’s Immigration populations are India, China, and the Philippines. Together, these countries provided over one hundred thousand (100,000) or 40% of immigrants coming to Canada each year while Iran and Pakistan took fourth and fifth spots. In the meantime, Immigration for Hong Kong and Taiwan residents (tabulated separately from China) went below (1,000) one thousand persons over the last three years.
It is evident that the composition of Canada’s population has been reshaped by its immigration policies over the decades. “Visible Minorities” will one day become the “majority” in Canada’s population and yet the direction and focus for multiculturalism has not been adjusted to keep pace.
Next time, we will look at the origin of Canada’s multiculturalism.
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