Multiculturalism and Rights in Canada
Publication Year: 2007
After decades of extraordinary successes as a multicultural society, new debates are bubbling to the surface in Canada. The contributors to this volume examine the conflict between equality rights, as embedded in the Charter, and multiculturalism as policy and practice, and ask which charter value should trump which and under what circumstances? The opening essay deliberately sharpens the conflict among religion, culture, and equality rights and proposes to shift some of the existing boundaries. Other contributors disagree strongly, arguing that this position might seek to limit freedoms in the name of justice, that the problem is badly framed, or that silence is a virtue in rebalancing norms. The contributors not only debate the analytic arguments but infuse their discussion with their personal experiences, which have shaped their perspectives on multiculturalism in Canada. This volume is a highly personal as well as strongly analytic discussion of multiculturalism in Canada today.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Canadian Commentaries
Bronwyn Drainie, the indefatigable editor of the Literary Review of Canada, called last spring to ask me to review a book. I declined politely, but I told her that I wanted to write about the controversy over the Danish cartoons, as an exemplar of the growing tension between religion and rights. Bronwyn declined politely...
While growing up in Vancouver in the late 1940s, I remember vividly taking my homemade panini sandwiches out of my lunch bag and being embarrassed. My sandwiches were brimming with a combination of egg, tomatoes, cheese, peppers and prosciutto, whereas most of my Anglo-Saxon classmates had neat and tidy store...
Searching for Equality
Canadians today are proudly multicultural. Along with publicly funded health care, multiculturalism has become part of the sticky stuff of Canadian identity. It is relatively new, the latest stage in our evolution from a binational, bilingual society. An official policy of multiculturalism was first enacted in 1971, followed by the Multiculturalism...
Don't Blame Multiculturalism
"Canada is a nation of immigrants that hates immigrants." So wrote Irving Abella, eminent historian and former president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. "Canadians want immigration but not immigrants." So said Ratna Omidvar, executive director of The Maytree Foundation, one of Canada's leading think tanks on immigrant integration. Both Abella and Omidvar are being mischievous, of course. But it...
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Over the past few months, a new debate has emerged---a rather febrile debate, mostly confined to universities and the media---over whether there is a problem with Canadian multiculturalism.The problem is defined in different ways, but has a common element. Some Canadians, goes the argument, don't fully embrace Canadian values, as embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights...
An Evolutionary Story
Canadians are often charged with being nice. And accused of being smug. Frankly, I don't mind the first label, but I don't want to be told I am smug. Let me take that risk, however, by saying that there is a widely held view---and not just within Canada---that this country has done a pretty good job of managing diversity. Not perfect by any means, but, in comparison to most other countries, creditable. I believe this...
Canada: J’accuse/J’adore: Extracts from a Memoir
At a conference at the Munk Centre for International Studies in Toronto not long ago, I bumped into my friend Janice Gross Stein, its chatelaine. As always, I was delighted to see her, but there was a particular frisson this time because it gave me the opportunity to tell her how greatly I enjoyed and admired an article she had recently published in the Literary Review of Canada on some of her...
Seismic Tremors: Religion and the Law
Late in 2006, I took part in a conference in Ireland on the role that the media plays in the evolution of new national identities.1 One of the speakers, a leading Irish journalist, declared at the outset of his presentation that "we don't want the horror story of Canada," referring to our 250-year-old wobbly, stressful dialectic between francophones and anglophones plus our more recent testy...
Disentangling the Debate
At the heart of Janice Gross Stein's chapter in this book is a concern about potential conflicts between religious freedom and equality rights, particularly the equality rights of women and homosexuals. She worries that Canada has not achieved a proper balance between these values and, moreover, that we are too afraid to discuss the issue properly.While this is her basic concern, she connects...