Thursday, 30 June 2016
Canada Must Endure as a Country of Values or Cease to Exist
Tomorrow is Canada Day. Canada is a very dynamic country; a great country. But it's just a country, not a nation. The reason I say this is that the word "nation" for me means a group of people with a common language, ancestry and history. But the people of Canada don't have any of these. All Canadians, with the exception of the country's aboriginal population, are descended from people originating in different lands. In other words, Canada is a country of immigrants - immigrants from every corner of the world. Many would argue that it is Canada's multicultural make-up that is the country's ultimate strength. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau thought so. In fact, he practically made multiculturalism the country's state ideology. But history has shown that multicultural countries, which I sometimes refer to as multinational empires, are usually unstable and can often become failed states, which is why countries whose borders were drawn up by colonial powers, like those of the Middle East and Africa, are home to so much violent conflict and instability.
Canada is of course a country drawn up by colonial powers and built on the foundations of conquered aboriginal nations. But unlike other multinational empires, most of Canada's people live in this country because either they or their descendants chose to be here. In contrast, millions of people in today's multi-ethnic states didn't choose to become part of those states, but rather were forcibly included in the territories of such states. For example, the Kurds of the Middle East never consented to being part of artificial creations like Iraq and Syria. One could say the same thing about aboriginal populations in Canada, but aside from them, no one else in this country was forced to be part of it. This is one of the reasons why Canada has continued to exist and to prosper.
Another reason is that while Canadians come from many different backgrounds, the overwhelming majority of us share the same values - values like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, gender equality and so forth. In fact, I would say that if a country does not have a homogeneous population that shares a common language, a common culture, a common history, etc., it must be a country of shared values, otherwise it will likely cease to exist. Hence, if Canada wants to continue existing as a country, it must maintain a population whose overwhelming majority share what we would consider Canadian values. My fear, however, is that because of certain policies brought on by successive governments in this country over the last half century, Canada may soon no longer have a population with shared values.
One of these policies is the official multiculturalism that Pierre Trudeau introduced during his tenure as prime minister. As part of this new state ideology, Canada's immigration controls were relaxed to allow more people from places like Asia and Africa to come live in the country and become Canadian citizens. Up until the Trudeau era, most immigrants to Canada came from Europe as immigration from other parts of the world was severely restricted and those non-Europeans who managed to come and stay in Canada faced horrible discrimination. I certainly don't have a problem with the fact that a person can immigrate to Canada and in time can become a Canadian citizen regardless of where he or she comes from. If I did have a problem with this, I'd be a bigot, and the last time I checked, my name isn't Donald Trump. In fact, I mentioned in my Canada Day blog post last year, What Makes Canada Great?, that one of the great things about this country is that anyone has the potential to be a Canadian regardless of where they come from.
What I'm worried about is that since Pierre Trudeau introduced multiculturalism as Canada's new state ideology, adherents of it have used it as a pretext to look the other way whenever certain folks come to this country, become citizens and then try to impose customs and practices that are out of sync with Canada's values. In essence, multiculturalism has become the card that its proponents will always use to justify bringing people into this country who don't believe in things like democracy, freedom of religion or gender equality. My fear is that if this continues, Canada as we know it may cease to exist.