In his column, Bob Mok continues to shed light on Canada’s multiculturalism, comparing the difference between immigration policies in Canada and US.
This is part of a series of articles on Canada’s multiculturalism. For the earlier article, please go to the following link:
There is a direct correlation between immigration and multiculturalism. Immigration policies reshape the constituent of Canada’s population thus affecting the administration and directions of multiculturalism to deal with the changes. Both of these elements are engaged in an endless loop.
加国的现代多元政治理念来源于1960年代组建的双语双文化皇家调查委员会。1971年，加国时任总理皮埃尔•特鲁多（现任总理贾斯汀•特鲁多的父亲）宣布加拿大将会采纳认同和尊重其社会包容语言、习俗和宗教多样性的多元文化政策。1982年，《加拿大人权与自由宪章》第27条正式认可多元文化。此后时任总理布莱恩•穆罗尼(Brian Mulroney )又颁布了《加拿大多元文化法》。
The origin of modern political awareness of multiculturalism started with the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in the 1960’s. Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Father of Justin Trudeau – the current Prime Minister) declared in 1971 that Canada would adopt multicultural policy that would recognize and respect its society that included diversity in languages, customs, and religions. In 1982, multiculturalism was recognized by section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act was subsequently enacted by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at that time.
Under the current Federal Liberal government, the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Melanie Joly) is responsible for multiculturalism. In the past, this post was frequently combined with that of the responsibility for citizenship. In 2013, the multiculturalism portfolio, nominally under the Minister of Canadian Heritage, was assigned to the Honourable Jason Kenney who was appointed Minister for Multiculturalism in addition to his other portfolios.
Canada’s multiculturalism policy allows citizens to practice their religions and keep their identities without the fear of persecution. The policy believes that without this fear, Canadians would be more willing to accept different cultures. The policy, therefore, emphasizes a mutual respect between ethnicities and also acceptance of one’s personal beliefs. It is however, silent on the remedy for the practice of such beliefs when they are infringing on existing cultural traditions, daily lives, and/or the beliefs of other ethnic groups.
The Canadian Multiculturalism Act has two fundamental principles. First, all citizens are equal and have the freedom to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage. Second, it promotes the full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in all aspects of Canadian society.
When one is evaluating Canada’s multiculturalism, it is always compared to the situation in the United States. There is only one simplistic goal for immigrants coming into the United States – integrate into mainstream society and become part of the “Melting Pot”. When one becomes a United States citizen, they swear allegiance to the country and give up on all other previously held nationalities and allegiance. Canada, on the other hand, allows dual and even multiple nationalities and this encourages citizens to keep their ties with their countries of origin. It is true that many citizens even leave Canada permanently once they obtained citizenship.
Which is a better system for Canada? The “Melting pot” approach of the United States or Canada’s multiculturalism? The two systems are sitting on opposite ends of a wide spectrum. My personal preferences will be one constructed out of compromises of the two. There is definitely room for improvement on Canada’s multiculturalism. The first obstacle to be removed is the practice of “political correctness” in Canada. If people cannot speak out to identify their contesting points, remedial actions cannot be formulated to strengthen our current multicultural system.
Next time, we will continue to look at Canada’s multiculturalism and how most Canadians feel about it.
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