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Canada: Multiculturalism is failing Canada, needs a review

Saturday 30 November 2013, by siawi3


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2010 A15

By: Asad Khan

Posted: 05/10/2010 1:00 AM

In a recent statement, Ujjal Dosanjh, MP and former premier of British Columbia, after receiving death threats stated: “I think what we are doing in this country [Canada] is that this idea of multiculturalism has been completely distorted, turned on its head to essentially claim that any thing anyone believes — no matter how ridiculous and outrageous it might be — is OK and acceptable in the name of diversity.”

In 1971, under then prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Canada’s became the first national government to declare the country would be multicultural.
Trudeau also incorporated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom that courts are to make decisions “in manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canada.” Thus, Canada became a constitutional multicultural state.
This constitutional change gave birth to hundreds of multicultural ethnic organizations in Canada.

Unfortunately, however, most of them now are under the influence of conservative religious groups, which have given them a narrow and parochial outlook.
These groups reject integration and seek separate identities in order to defy the assimilation process.
To achieve this objective, they teach and maintain their own cultural customs, values and festivals while refusing to acknowledge or celebrate the culture of their new homeland.

This unexpected development has resulted in departure of moderate, secular-minded new Canadians from the leadership of these organizations.
In a recent article in the Calgary Herald, Dr. M. Kanwar, a sociologist of University of Calgary, noted that “I once supported multiculturalism in Canada, because I believed it gave us a sense of pluralism and diversity.”
But multiculturalism has diluted the Canadian values, he continued.
In his book Journey to Success, Kanwar argues against the hyphenated identity in Canada, because it divides the loyalties of new Canadians.

Multiculturalism has unfortunately kept alive the political rivalries and divisions of old countries in ethnic communities.
The Canadian branches of old country’s political parties, like the Tamil Tigers, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, MQM, Peoples Party, Sikh Khalsa and numerous others are flourishing in Canada.
In a multicultural country where there is no concept of official culture, this presents a huge barrier in the development of common values, shared citizenship and national identity.

In 2006, an analysis of multiculturalism was undertaken by the academics of universities of Alberta, Calgary, Saskatchewan and Carlton in Ottawa.
They identified that multiculturalism’s emphasis on diversity is divisive, and subverts social cohesion in Canada, and in the development of Canadian identity.
Its emphasis on cultural relativism potentially leads to a clash of culture or, at a global level, a “clash of civilization.”
And, in long run, multiculturalism leads to ethnic marginalization and ethnic stratification particularly when there is unequal distribution of power in society.
After almost four decades of experience, it would be prudent to give Canadian multicultural policy a second sober look.

Asad U. Khan is president of the Islamic Education Foundation of Manitoba.