Despite what most Canadians have been taught that we think, multiculturalism is not our primary value. In a speech in Calgary on April 14, Mr. Kenney asserted that to be Canadian is to be something rather than nothing, something different from what one was before migrating to our shores. Canada isn't merely a mosaic of what its immigrants already were. "We want to make sure that when people become Canadians, they totally understand that Canadian history becomes their history, Canadian values become their values." But what, again, are these values? Mr. Kenney offered two examples. The first was the supremacy of the civil law (as opposed to, for example, sharia law) and the second was gender equality.It's great to see that there are more people who realize that our primary value is not the multi-cult, but democracy, the the supremacy of the civil law and fundamental rights and freedoms. Including the freedom of speech, by the way.
In a subsequent interview, Mr. Kenney elaborated this theme. "We can't afford to be complacent about the challenge of integration. We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries."
Canada is not Europe. In fact, in the robustness of its confidence in its way of life, it more nearly resembles the United States. At the same time, for it to understand itself as fundamentally multicultural, or fundamentally a single payer for health care, or fundamentally a society that recycles, is obfuscatory and unhelpful.
It seems paradoxical, but is not, that what is most fundamental for Canada is in no way distinctive to it. It is what it has in common with many other societies (but alas, still far too few of them), namely liberal democracy. Liberal democracy implies a way of life - not equal openness to all such - one founded on the individual conceived as the bearer of inalienable rights. "Multiculturalism" may be one feature of our liberal democracy, but only in strict subordination to this more basic one. Canada's slogan is not, "Let a thousand honour killings bloom." Mr. Kenney grasps this. He is right in insisting that we teach our immigrants to grasp it too.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Here's an interesting Globe and Mail Article: