Dismantling Multiculturalism

Jason Kenney, Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, is getting a lot of praise in certain quarters.

On the site called small dead animals, bloggers are rejoicing at Kenney’s decision to keep British MP George Galloway out of Canada. “Way to go Jason.” “Hey Lefties! See that? That’s what a SPINE looks like!” “Jason Kenney for Prime Minister.” Galloway’s been denied entry to Canada on security grounds. The fear is that he’ll blatantly recruit for outlawed organizations like Hamas.

In the National Post, Jonathan Kay is applauding Kenney’s proposal to cut federal funding to the Canadian Arab Federation’s settlement and language programs. “The CAF is a radicalized embarrassment to Canadian Arabs, and should have been cut off a long time ago.” It’s CAF’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah that’s at issue.

But it’s not only CAF that’s feeling the chill. Kenney is planning to cut funds to language programs sponsored by ethnic groups across the board. The argument in this case is that the state shouldn’t be in the business of instructing individuals in the language and culture of their country of origin. That’s a job for family and community. In a word, Kenny’s Department of Multiculturalism is beginning to dismantle Trudeau’s multiculturalism, that peculiar way of seeing unity in diversity, which for so long was described as one of Canada’s proudest achievements.

The Post’s letter writers approve. “I was born in India and am now a proud Canadian. Many so-called ‘ethnic’ Canadians resent the toxic self-serving Liberal version of multiculturalism, which is no more than a vote-buying scheme. We want a multiculturalism of inclusion, not ghettoization” (Roy Eappen, Montreal). “I believe in a Canada for Canadians. Immigrants should leave the things which ruined their own countries at the door and champion the pioneering spirit which took what was best from each incoming nationality and blended it so beautifully into what we have achieved in this country” (Sue Reid, Lanark, Ont.).

So, what are the Fathers of Confederation thinking? Sir John A. and George Brown of The Globe? Those two old nineteenth-century gentlemen, those two old political enemies!  I think they’re happy. They knew the importance of particular identities, yes. And they knew the importance of party loyalty and ideology. They were making a political constitution that would enshrine freedom of speech, honour political dissent, and promote the competition of political parties for public office. But they also knew that if the country they were making was to be a success, laws and programs at the federal level of government should not single out particular factions, “races,” and loyalties for political favour, or monetary support.

Macdonald and Brown would have been appalled by the idea that the Parliament of Canada would one day fund the efforts of particular groups to develop and maintain particular loyalties. They would have been appalled by the notion of a federal Department of Multiculturalism.


5 Responses to “Dismantling Multiculturalism”

  1. 1 ransacktheelder April 2, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Hmm, yes, George Brown. Member of the Orange Order, an organisation dedicated to the eradication of Catholicism within the British Empire. To suggest that Brown was knowledgeable about the importance of particular identities is a bit of a stretch, I’m afraid. George Brown believed in particular identities so long as they agreed with his idea of Upper Canadian Protestantism. John A. Macdonald, whatever else his faults, was compatible with this for Brown. The likes of George Étienne Cartier, or Thomas D’Arcy McGee, not so much.

  2. 2 janetajzenstat April 3, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Think you’re wrong, Ransack. Brown didn’t want to sit in a legislature where the interests of French Canadians were debated. He’d had too much of that in the legislature of the Province of Canada. Cartier for his part didn’t want to have French Canada’s interests pawed over by men like Brown.

    Snap! They had a match. In the constitutional division of legislative powers required for federation particular matters were assigned to the provinces. Brown says it in the debates on the Quebec Resolutions in the Canadian Legislative Assembly. Particular interests were to “be thrown over onto the provinces.” (February 8, 1865. See Canada’s Founding Debates U of T, 2003, page 285.) The National Parliament was to consider only matters “common to the whole people” (Brown again, same speech, Canada’s Founding Debates, 289). The “members of the federal legislature will meet at last as citizens of a common country”.

    I’m inclined to think that Cartier devised the division of powers. I have evidence, but could be wrong. I’m working on it. But sure, the arrangement suited both men. In the Confederation debates they’re speaking as members of the same party, the Great Coalition. Brown always speaks right after Cartier; the rhetoric is different, but they are both making the same pitch.

    I agree that Brown probably disliked Catholics. But so what? He’s working to get particular interests out of the national Parliament; Cartier’s making sure that the federation’s English-speaking majority won’t encroach on matters vital to the French.

  3. 3 Alastair Sweeny April 7, 2009 at 2:19 pm


    All governments since the sixties have played the multicultural card as a way to cement party loyalties through doling out programs. The current government is no exception, but I don’t think calling the Minister a “political whore” in public, as the head of the CAF did, is a way to keep funding flowing in his direction.

    We had a form of multiculturalism back at the time of Confederation, as new immigrant groups set up their own societies, honoring St. Andrew or St. Patrick, or William of Orange. They backed their own politicians, and reaped rewards commensurate with their ability to deliver victories.

    Regarding Cartier and Brown, I agree with your contention that Cartier devised the division of powers. He had the ruling hand, and wanted French Canada to control its own survival and prosperity, with control of the Civil Code, education and crown land. He and LaFontaine before him had used French block voting to control the Union for a quarter century. Brown wisely realized he could never break Cartier’s hold, and essentially gave in and agreed to work with him to split the Union and create new provinces and a new nationality.

    Cartier’s grandfather had been a member of the Assembly of the old province of Québec, and one of George-Étienne’s goals was to restore it to its former glory.

    It has been suggested that Macdonald would have preferred creating a unitary state like Britain, with no provincial governments. But I think this was just a political stance. He clearly knew it was not possible. The new nationality would have to do.

  4. 4 Christopher Moore April 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Brown a member of the Orangemen? Brown made war on the Orange Order all his political life, and it on him. They were redneck, ultra-loyal conservatives, as indeed were their Catholic clerical foes. Brown was liberal and progressive, and hence opposed to both. Ransack should reread “Brown of the Globe” by Maurice Careless (who has just died, age 90). Actually we all should.

  5. 5 Werner Patels April 22, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Multiculturalism, like Big Government, is the source of all evil. It divides, rather than unites, a nation.


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