Canada's Contribution to the "Management" of Ethno-Cultural Diversity

Frances Henry (York University, Canada)

Abstract: It is often believed that Canada is able to "manage" its diverse society to the extent that it is cited as a model for other countries to follow. The main reason for this perception is that Canada is one of the very few countries to have legislated multiculturalism. Diversity and multiculturalism have, however, become sharply contested issues in Canadian society today as many people perceive them to be a threat to their traditional way of life. Moreover, this paper suggests that multiculturalism has, in fact, failed to control racism against ethno-racial minorities and that a stronger "radical" or "critical" multiculturalism is required for Canada to become an exemplar for other nations.

Résumé: Plusieurs croient que le Canada est capable de « gérer » sa société diverse dans la mesure où le pays se voit souvent donner en exemple pour d'autres pays. La raison principale de cette perception est que le Canada est un des très rares pays à avoir passé des lois appuyant le multiculturalisme. La diversité et le multiculturalisme, cependant, sont devenus aujourd'hui des domaines fortement contestés dans la société canadienne, car plusieurs les perçoivent comme menaçant leur mode de vie traditionnel. En outre, cet article suggère que le multiculturalisme s'est avéré incapable de contrôler le racisme envers les minorités ethno-raciales et qu'il faut instaurer un multiculturalisme « radical » ou « critique » plus fort pour que le Canada puisse vraiment mériter d'être donné en exemple.

Introduction

The key question posed in this session, "Trouble and Conflict in Europe and Canada: Cultural Solutions?," is: "Where can inter-governmental bodies intervene and promote cultural diversity as a means of enrichment as opposed to a means of aggression, resentment, and jealousy?" The experiences of Europe and Canada are to be compared. There are many profound differences between the experiences of European countries with ethnic populations and those of Canada. I will not dwell on these differences in this paper as such comparisons are probably better dealt with in other arenas. What is abundantly clear, however, is that Canada has not had overt ethnic conflict despite its increasingly heterogeneous population. Implicit in the question posed above is the assumption that Canada has somehow been able to "manage its diversity" to the point of becoming a model for other countries characterized by ethnic heterogeneity.

According to philosophy professor Will Kymlica (1998), Canada is truly unique because it uses a federal approach to deal with both the nationalistic aspirations of its aboriginal people as well as its diversity. He notes, "It is not surprising then, that as more and more countries consider adopting federalism as a mechanism for accommodating ethno-cultural diversity - countries like Spain, Belgium, South Africa, and Russia - it is Canada they look to as a model" (pp. 2-3). It is also widely accepted that the Canadian model of federal multiculturalism influenced Australia, the only other country with a federal multicultural policy.

Kymlica suggests that very few countries in the world are diverse because of so many different factors - immigration, indigenous people, and the "accommodation of minority nationalisms" (p. 3). He concludes that "we have managed to cope with all these forms of diversity simultaneously while still managing to live together in peace and civility is, by any objective standard, a remarkable achievement" (p. 3). He also admits, however, that ethno-cultural relationships are accompanied by inevitable strains and tensions, and notes that Canada can only "manage," not solve, conflicts that come about as a result of diversity.

Consider, on the other hand, what distinguished sociologist John Rex says about Canada's approach to multiculturalism:

Canadians sometimes suggest that they have much to teach other countries who face severe problems of ethnic conflict. Perhaps, indeed, they do, but . . . they will have more to teach if they do not base their case on a somewhat simplistic model of the support of ethnic minorities on a purely cultural level. (1997, p. 31)

So, do we really have something of value to share with the rest of the world, or are we merely being arrogant and complacent in thinking so? Before continuing with this question, let us briefly review the historical reasons for the ethno-cultural diversity of contemporary Canadian society.

Ethno-cultural diversity in Canada

Indigenous communities

Canada has a significant indigenous population numbering approximately 800,000 people, and the population is expected to grow to well over one million in the next few years. They are divided into status Indians registered under the Indian Act, non-status Indians who have lost or never had status under the Act, Metis who are of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry, and the Inuit. Because of the continuing exploitative colonial relationship with the federal government as well as mainstream society, indigenous communities are beset by a host of social problems, including ill health, well above average rates of alcoholism and suicide, high rates of incarceration, and overall poverty. With increasing political mobilization, some groups have lobbied for greater political autonomy, which recently resulted in the formation of Nunavit out of part of the North West Territories. What is relevant to our panel question, however, is that the Aboriginal or indigenous people of Canada are under the administration and control of the federal government.

Two founding nations: Quebec and English-speaking Canada

Although Canada is a nation state, the fact that it was originally colonized by two groups, the English and the French, has led to continuing tensions. Quebec today remains divided between two contrasting political ideologies. On one hand, there is the drive to separatism and independence from Canada while, on the other hand, there is the equally valid desire for some sort of autonomy within an overall federalist structure. Thus far, and despite tense and often conflicted relations, Quebec's role within the confederation has been managed but not solved by the federal government.

Immigration

Canada has been an immigrant-receiving country since the early nineteenth century when Europeans, and especially the Irish, began arriving here. Immigration from Europe continued throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Since World War II, Canada's population has undergone dramatic changes, with about 125,000 people, primarily Europeans, arriving each year. Immigration generally remained at that level through the 1970s and most of the 1980s. Since 1990, however, the numbers have increased to more than 200,000 annually.

As a result of increased immigration - largely made necessary by either the needs of the labour market and/or the need to replenish the relatively small population of the country, more than 100 different ethnic groups live in Canada, and speak over 100 different languages. Today, the mother tongue of 60% of Canadians is English, 23% French, and 17% others. And although both English and French are official languages, others such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Punjabi, Spanish, and Portuguese are spoken by substantial numbers of people. The foreign born account for about 16% of the overall population of Canada of about 30 million.

There has been a significant shift away from immigrants of European (and American) origin, who accounted for 95% of all immigrants in the early 1950s, to immigrants from source countries in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Within the last decade, more than 60% of all immigrants have come from Asia, including Hong Kong, India, China, the Philippines, etc. Thus, while immigrant communities in the earlier period were generally European and white, in recent years, immigrants have been generally non-European and people of colour. People of colour, including primarily immigrants, now account for about 11% of the population of Canada. This change in immigration patterns has resulted in major demographic and sociocultural shifts.

The main result of this change is that race, which has always been an issue in the history of Canada, has now become a major factor dividing elements within Canadian society. Clearly, it is not the racial status of these immigrants of colour per se but the social racism that is directed against them in the many forms of discrimination, exclusion, and marginalization that has become a source of tension between many communities of colour and the mainstream.

As with the other factors responsible for Canada's diversity, immigration is the responsibility of the federal government. (The province of Quebec, through a series of negotiations is, however, entitled to control its own immigration process.)

Canada has dealt with its diverse populations by developing a multicultural policy in 1971, which was later enshrined in legislation in the Multiculturalism Act of 1998. The Act was supposed to: (a) support the cultural development of ethno-cultural groups; (b) help them overcome barriers to full participation in Canadian society; (c) promote creative interchanges among all ethno-cultural groups; and (d) help new Canadians in learning one of Canada's two official languages. It is this federal approach to diversity that is the supposed envy of other countries. It is not without its problems, however, and is one of the most strongly contested issues in Canadian society.

Multicultural policy and legislation: Contested issues

Over the last three decades, discourse about Canadian national identity has been framed within the debate about multiculturalism and its promise to recognize, respect, and value cultural and racial differences. While multiculturalism is not the cause of Canada's cultural and identity crises, it has exacerbated and heightened the anxieties of many mainstream Canadians when dealing with issues of culture and identity.

There are a multiplicity of responses to multiculturalism as ideology, policy, and praxis. For many Canadians, contemporary multiculturalism poses a threat to the way they have imagined and constructed a Canadian identity and Canadian society. They hold onto an image of Canada as distinguished from other countries, and particularly the United States, by its French-English duality.

Polls and surveys of attitudes towards multiculturalism over the last three decades reveal a deep ambivalence among Canadians (for a summary, see Fleras & Elliott, 1992). On one hand, these national surveys suggest that attitudes toward multiculturalism are moderately positive and "tolerance"1 is moderately high (see Henry, Tator, Mattis, & Rees, 2000). On the other hand, other surveys reveal a much more negative response to those policies and programs related to the presence of immigrants and particularly racial minorities in Canada. People of colour are perceived as a threat to a society that was formerly based on British values and beliefs. Many Anglo-Canadians and others fear that multiculturalism will never provide a solution to the issue of national identity. Their main concern is to resolve the French-English tensions without having to address the multicultural issues of identity reinforced by the presence of so many ethno-cultural communities.

In Canada, an oppositional discourse on multiculturalism has been articulated in many arenas. It is found in the rhetoric of politicians, mass media, and cultural critics. In his book, Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism (1994), writer Neil Bissoondath, himself a person of colour, posits that multiculturalism as policy is a fundamentally flawed approach to Canada's cultural and racial diversity. Bissoondath contends that multiculturalism leads to a heightened sense of ethnicity among groups and a diminished sense of Canadian identity. He argues that such a public policy creates the loss of a common Canadian culture. He believes that the recognition and support for the expression of ethnic and racial differences threaten Euro-Canadian values.2

This view of multiculturalism leads to the argument that Canada should return to the paradigm of Anglo-assimilation or biculturalism, a model in which all immigrants are expected to give up their cultural/ethnic identity (at least in the public domain) and conform to the values, beliefs, traditions, and norms of either the French or British dominant culture.

Research studies, polls, and surveys3, and the views expressed by cultural elites, including the media, demonstrate a strong ambivalence towards multiculturalism, especially as it relates to people of colour. There is still significant support for a more assimilationist approach to public policies and national ideologies. From this perspective, the ideal model of a liberal society is one in which notions of ethno-racial diversity are rendered invisible, and the identity of all Canadians is unhyphenated. While citizens may choose to maintain distinct cultural traditions, there should be only one common culture in which everyone shares the same history, traditions, values, and norms. Symbolic, folkloric expressions of cultural identity are viewed as acceptable as long as these activities are limited to the private domain or to specifically designated cultural events such as Caribana, Caravan, and other public ethnic celebrations.

Neo-conservative critics of multiculturalism believe that the multicultural approach to cultural and racial diversity leads to social divisiveness and "balkanization." They claim that multiculturalism as policy, ideology, and practice promotes the formation of ghettos, that is, hermetically sealed cultural and racial enclaves (Shohat & Stam, 1994). Within this ideological framework, racism is viewed as an aberration. According to this mindset, while there may exist individuals with racist attitudes and behaviours, the problem can be controlled without resorting to public policies or government interventions.

A second response to multiculturalism embraces, at least in theory, the notion of cultural and racial diversity. Ethno-racial minorities are declared symbolically as a part of the "imagined" community of Canada (Anderson, 1983). However, in reality, the policy and practice of multiculturalism continues to position certain ethno-racial groups at the margins rather than in the mainstream of public culture and national identity.

Mackay (1995) contends that multiculturalism constructs a concept of a common dominant (English-Canadian) culture that all cultures are "multicultural" in relation to. Other cultures are all right as long as they can be placed within a commonly understood and accepted framework. The political and public discourse affirms a faith in a pluralistic society but, at the same time, resists the demands that the articulation of cultural and racial differences makes upon a democratic liberal society, that is inclusion, equity, and empowerment. In this sense, multiculturalism is a strategy of containment rather than change and one that still maintains a deep-seated commitment to assimilation. For example, it has been suggested that the intent of symbolic multiculturalism is to counter or neutralize the growing cultural, political, economic, and social demands of minorities for access and equity within all sectors of Canadian society. While "tolerating," "accommodating," "appreciating," and "celebrating" differences, multiculturalism allows for the preservation of the cultural hegemony of the dominant cultural group (Wallace, 1994).

The language of the Multiculturalism Act is mainly passive, non-coercive, and non-threatening (see Appendix A for text of Section 3(1) and (2) of the Act). It relies on the concepts of tolerance, harmony, and unity within a paradigm of diversity. It is a discourse that presumes that justice and equity exist, although they are sometimes flawed by the biased attitudes and behaviours of aberrant individuals. The Multiculturalism Act focuses on limiting diversity to symbolic rather than political or transformative kinds of change. As Angel (1988) observes, the other ethnic groups will always remain as individual members of their groups, but will not "be incorporated into the political arena as groups. The government will not establish another power base that might upset the existing balance between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians" (p. 27).

Mackay (1996) provides support for this position with information contained in the Legislative Briefing Book (which she obtained through an Access to Information request). The Briefing Book describes the Act clause by clause and suggests answers to potential questions that might be raised by members of the opposition during debate over the proposed Multiculturalism Act. In these responses, prepared by the Corporate Policy Branch of Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada (1988), three important points are emphasized: (1) the policy is meant to be "highly symbolic"; (2) "the Bill's approach to equity is not adversarial"; and (3) the Act is a "non-coercive" approach that emphasizes "cooperation, encouragement, awareness and persuasion" (p. 21). The Act, despite its incorporation of "race relations" and reference to discrimination and barriers, is still primarily a symbolic state intervention into the politics of diversity.

The state's construction of symbolic multiculturalism as a mechanism for maintaining the status quo can be seen in many forms of public discourse around issues of race, culture, difference, politics, and identity. This discourse is not restricted to the public declarations of policymakers, legislators, and bureaucrats. It is also reflected in the language and practices employed by the state through its institutions and systems, including justice and law enforcement, print and electronic media, cultural and educational institutions, public sector corporations, and so forth (Tator, Henry, & Mattis, 1998; Henry, Tator, Mattis, & Rees, 2000). Minorities are seldom invited into the mainstream discourse of what defines Canadian public-core-common culture. The selected few are considered to be models that are constructed as being different than others of their kind. In contrast, the airing of diverse perspectives by people of colour on issues related to multiculturalism and racism are commonly dismissed, deflected, or ignored. In a liberal democracy, justice and equality are assumed to exist already. Therefore, ethno-racial minorities' demands for access and inclusion are seen as "radical," "unreasonable," "undemocratic," and a threat to cherished democratic, liberal values.

By the late 1980s, new perspectives on multiculturalism gained currency in the literature. Multiculturalism was seen as a manifestation of the postmodernist reaction to the delegitimization of the state and the erosion of the hegemony of the dominant culture in advanced capitalist countries (Turner, 1994). Understood in this way, multiculturalism is part of a decentring process grounded in the organization of capital on a global scale, and manifested in the development of transnational labour, commodity, and capital markets, and corporate structures. This has led to a reduction in the power of traditional political and social structures to control or protect social groups within the state. People all over the world have turned to ethnic and cultural identity as a means of mobilizing themselves for the defence of their social and political/economic interests.

In 1986, the federal government of Canada began using a new discourse, that is, "Multiculturalism means business" (Fleras & Elliott, 1992). Investors, especially those from Hong Kong willing to bring capital into the country and provide local employment, were fast-tracked by the Immigration department. In this context, multiculturalism is viewed as a means of providing opportunities for new areas of consumerism and market penetration. Cultural diversity is seen as a consumer resource in a global economy. This policy thus far appears to have had limited success as some investors have apparently not fulfilled the policy's demands.

The multiculturalism policy, in sum, still emphasizes culture at the expense of structure. It is still primarily focused on providing opportunities for ethno-cultural groups, community organizations, and even researchers to engage in activities that deal with ethnicity and culture rather than dismantling barriers to equal opportunity in employment, housing, and the institutional structures of Canadian society. Thus, we still find the media using stereotyped messages and images to convey the marginalization and exclusion of ethno-racial groups, especially Blacks (Henry, 1999; Henry & Tator, 2000). Similarly, the justice system is still replete with examples of unequal treatment of Blacks and other racial minorities (Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, 1995). In education, educators "challenged by diversity" consider addressing differences through a variety of pedagogical tricks that accommodate culturally different or gender-specific styles of learning, without taking into account that the subtle forms of racial prejudice experienced by many children in the school system may also account for the learning difficulties of some (Razak, 1998).

In sum, the multicultural policies at the federal level - which have, of course, strongly influenced their implementation at more local and institutional levels - fail to take into account the need for systemic and structural re-organization. In fact, even the federal agency responsible for the implementation of the Multiculturalism Act within the Department of Canadian Heritage has recently embarked on yet another "public education" campaign using film, video, and other media to disseminate the knowledge that racism is a societal evil that should be eliminated. This, despite the fact that such campaigns do little to change attitudes and, for the most part, reach only those already converted to the principles of equality and equity. The already limited budget of this department is again being squandered on techniques that are proven to fail but that are relatively harmless, do not really upset the structural status quo, and do little to impact the day-to-day lives of exclusion led by so many ethno-racial minorities in this country.

The failure of the Multiculturalism Act to live up to its promise of dealing with racial inequality has led to new suggestions for change. For example, a race-based analysis of multiculturalism is based on the premise that multiculturalism must become a movement for social change. Those who support this view situate multiculturalism as a means or method to challenge the cultural hegemony of a dominant ethnic group or social class. This race-based analysis documents the ways that multiculturalism as ideology has provided a veneer for liberal-pluralist discourse in which democratic values such as individualism, tolerance, and equality are espoused and supported without altering the core of the common culture or ensuring the rights of people of colour. This critique of multiculturalism points to its inadequacies, including its inability to dismantle systems of inequality and diminish White power and privilege.

Critical or radial multiculturalism

The race-based analysis of multiculturalism has led to a new form of discourse labelled radical or critical multiculturalism (Goldberg, 1993; Shohat & Stam, 1994; St. Lewis, 1996) or insurgent multiculturalism. Critical multiculturalism challenges the traditional political and cultural hegemony of the dominant class or group. It calls for a profound restructuring and reconceptualization of the power relations between different cultural and racial communities based on the premise that communities and societies do not exist autonomously but are deeply woven together in a web of interrelationships.

Critical multiculturalism is distinguished from liberal pluralist discourse in that it is not about "tolerance," "sensitivity," or "understanding" of the "others." Critical multiculturalism refuses to see culture or the state as non-conflictual, harmonious, and consensual. Multiculturalism discourse as articulated in the Multiculturalism Act and other policies is founded on the premise of social order rather than conflict and thus "it does not recognize, or provide any way of understanding, existing structural disadvantages and the clashes which will occur as such inequalities are addressed" (Harding, 1995, cited in Henry, Tator, Mattis, & Rees, 2000, p. 338).

Critical multiculturalism moves away from a paradigm of pluralism premised on a hierarchical order of cultures that, under certain conditions, "allows" or "tolerates" non-dominant cultures' participation in the dominant culture. The more pro-active, radical model of multiculturalism focuses on empowerment and resistance to forms of subjugation; the politicization and mobilization of marginalized groups; the transformation of social, cultural, and economic institutions; and the dismantling of dominant cultural hierarchies, structures, and systems of representation. Critical multiculturalism imagines minority communities not as "special interest groups" but as active and full participants in the state who are part of its shared history. This paradigm represents a different axis, moving away from tolerance and accommodation towards equity and justice. Critical multiculturalism rejects a unified and static concept of identities and communities as fixed sets of experiences, meanings, and practices. Instead, it focuses on identities as dynamic, fluid, multiple, and historically situated. Multiculturalism, in this context, moves beyond the narrow understanding of identity politics to make way for alliances and affiliations based on mutual needs and shared objectives.

Critical multiculturalism opens the door to the possibility of transformation: it does not posit bounded, separate ethno-cultural and ethno-racial communities but it envisions a reciprocal process between all groups that includes rather than excludes. This model of multiculturalism calls for the restructuring and reconceptualization of power relations between communities, challenging the hierarchy that currently divides people into us and - the rest - them. Critical multiculturalism provides a framework for understanding that diversity can be meaningful only within the construct of social justice.

This form of multiculturalism postulates that White mainstream culture controls the distribution of knowledge, systems of representation, cultural and institutional practices, and social relations. At the core of critical multiculturalism is the right of minorities to challenge the politics of diversity that ignore the system of power that operates without restraint in the dominant culture. Thus, there is an ideological conflict between critical multiculturalism and symbolic multiculturalism because the latter is largely centred on the maintenance of the status quo.

Conclusions

The federal model of multiculturalism that inspires many countries in the world to look to Canada as a model is, I believe, strongly flawed. What Canada and other countries need is an entirely new approach to diversity. This approach would incorporate some of the tenets of radical or critical multiculturalism and were Canada to take a lead in this ideological transformation, it would then properly take its place as a world leader by providing a model that might be followed by others. Until such a time, however, multiculturalism in Canada is based on allowing cultural diversity to be maintained while, at least for certain groups of people - primarily Blacks, and many indigenous communities - marginalization, exclusion, poverty, disease, and humiliation describe their experience of living in multicultural Canada.

Finally, reverting back to the comparative question that frames this panel, it is obvious from my remarks that I believe ethnically based aggression and conflict can, at least in part, be controlled, if not eliminated, by policies and legislation that provide for more power sharing between ethno-racial groups and the privileged, dominant, hegemonic groups that control Canadian and other societies.

Notes

1
The concept of tolerance implies positions of superiority and inferiority in that it implicitly assumes that there are some attributes/behaviours associated with minority groups that need to be accepted, condoned, or sanctioned. In other words, we tolerate only that of which we disapprove. Thus, acceptance by the dominant culture is dependent on the good will, forbearance, and benevolence of those who do the tolerating. Michael Walzer (1997) argues that modern philosophers writing on tolerance see it as a minimal form of recognition towards an individual or group. Mirchandani & Tastsoglou (in press) contend that the construction of tolerance entrenched in multicultural discourse poses little challenge to the (racist) status quo.
2
It is interesting to note the significant interest and support in the media for Bissoondath's book. The Globe and Mail extensively covered the publication of Selling Illusions with 102 articles over a three-year period, 1992-1995 (Corporate Review Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage, 1996).
3
In 1994, a poll was commissioned by the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews (CCCJ) in an attempt to get a measure of pubic perception of racism in Canada. Sixty-eight percent of the 1,217 people polled across the country said that one of the best things about Canada is its acceptance of people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Yet 72% agreed that "people should adapt to the value system and way of life of the majority in Canadian society"; another 55% believed that "some racial and ethnic groups don't make enough effort to fit into Canada"; and 41% were "tired of ethnic minorities being given special treatment." The president of the CCCJ observed that Canadians were frustrated with the ethno-cultural ideals of a multicultural mosaic, preferring instead the virtues of the American model of a melting pot as a basis for harmony, homogeneity, and unity (Fleras & Elliott, 1992).
4
Anderson (1983) uses the term imagined community to define the concept of nation. A nation is "imagined" because the members of even a very small state do not know each other, yet in "the minds of each lives the image of their communion" (p. 15). Moreover, a nation is imagined as a community because "regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail . . . the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship" (p. 16).

References

Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities. London: Verso.

Angel, S. (1988). The Multicultural Act of 1988. Multiculturalism, 11(3), 25-27.

Bissoondath, Neil. (1994). Selling illusions: The cult of multiculturalism. Toronto: Penguin.

Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System. (1995). Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System. Toronto: Queen's Printer.

Corporate Policy Branch of Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada. (1988). Canadian Multiculturalism Act briefing book, clause by clause analysis. Unpublished document released under the Access to Information Act. Ottawa.

Corporate Review Branch of the Department of Canadian Heritage. (1996). Strategic evaluation of multicultural programs: Final report. Ottawa: Department of Canadian Heritage.

Fleras, A., & Elliott, J. (1992). Multiculturalism in Canada: The challenge of diversity. Toronto: Nelson.

Goldberg, D. (1993). Racist culture: Philosophy and the politics of meaning. Oxford & Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Harding, S. (1995). Multiculturalism in Australia: Moving race/ethnic relations from extermination to celebration. Race, Gender and Class, 3(1).

Henry, F. (1999). The racialization of crime in Toronto's print media. Research report. Toronto: Faculty of Journalism, Ryerson Polytechnic University.

Henry, F. & Tator, C. (2000). Racist discourse in Canada's English print media. Report to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

Henry, F., Tator, C., Mattis, W., & Rees, T. (2000). The colour of democracy: Racism in Canadian society (2nd ed.). Toronto: Harcourt Brace Canada.

Kymlica, Will. (1998). Finding our way: Rethinking ethnocultural relations in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Mackay, E. (1995, Winter). Postmodernism and cultural politics in a multicultural nation. Public Culture, 7(2), 403-432.

Mackay, E. (1996). Managing and imagining diversity: Multiculturalism and the construction of national identity in Canada. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Sussex, UK.

Mirchandani, K., & Tastsoglou, E. (in press). Towards a diversity beyond tolerance. Journal of Status in Political Economy.

Razak, S. (1998). Looking white people in the eye: Gender, race and culture in courthouses and classrooms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Rex, John. (1997). Multiculturalism in Europe and North America. In W. W. Isajiw (Ed.), Multiculturalism in North America and Europe: Comparative perspectives on interethnic relations and social incorporation. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.

Shohat, E., & Stam, R. (1994). Unthinking Eurocentricism. London: Routledge.

St. Lewis, J. (1996). Identity and Black consciousness in North America. In J. Littleton (Ed.), Clash of identities: Media, manipulation, and the politics of self. Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall.

Tator, C., Henry, F., & Mattis, W. (1998). Racism in the arts: Case studies of controversy and conflict. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Turner, T. (1994). Anthropology and multiculturalism. In D. Goldberg (Ed.), Multiculturalism: A critical reader (pp. 406-425). Cambridge: Blackwell.

Wallace, M. (1994). The search for the good enough mammy: Multiculturalism, popular culture and psychoanalysis. In D. Goldberg (Ed.), Multiculturalism: A critical reader (pp. 259-268). Cambridge: Blackwell.

Walzer, Michael. (1997). On toleration. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Zong, L. (1997). New racism, cultural diversity and the search for national identity. In A. Cardozo & L. Musto (Eds.), The battle over multiculturalism (pp. 115-126). Ottawa: Pearson-Shoyama Institute.

Appendix A

An except from the Multicultural Policy of Canada (italics added by the author to point to the emphasis on passive rather than proactive verbs used in the Act):

(1) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Government of Canada to

  1. recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects 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;
  2. recognize and promote the understanding of multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity and that it provides an invaluable resource in the shaping of Canada's future;
  3. promote the full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in the continuing evolution and shaping of all aspects of Canadian society and assist them in the elimination of any barrier to such participation;
  4. recognize the existence of communities whose members share a common origin and their historic contribution to Canadian society, and enhance their development;
  5. ensure that all individuals receive equal treatment and equal protection under the law, while respecting and valuing their diversity;
  6. encourage and assist the social, cultural, economic and political institutions of Canada to be both respectful and inclusive of Canada's multicultural character;
  7. promote the understanding and creativity that arise from the interaction between individuals and communities of different origins;
  8. foster the recognition and appreciation of the diverse cultures of Canadian society and promote the reflection and evolving expressions of those cultures;
  9. preserve and enhance the use of languages other than English and French, while strengthening the status and use of the official languages of Canada; and
  10. advance multiculturalism throughout Canada in harmony with the national commitment to the official languages of Canada.

(2) It is further declared to be the policy of the Government of Canada that all federal institutions shall

  1. ensure that Canadians of all origins have an equal opportunity to obtain employment and advancement in those institutions;
  2. promote policies, programs and practices that enhance the ability of individuals and communities of all origins to contribute to the continuing evolution of Canada;
  3. promote policies, programs and practices that enhance the understanding of and respect for diversity of the members of Canadian society;
  4. collect statistical data in order to enable the development of policies, programs and practices that are sensitive and responsive to the multicultural reality of Canada;
  5. make use, as appropriate, of the language skills and cultural understanding of individuals of all origins; and
  6. generally, carry on their activities in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to the multicultural reality of Canada.


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