adoption of multiculturalism
Federal bilingualism was
introduced in 1969 and this led minority groups who were not of
English or French origin to lobby for multiculturalism. In 1971 the Trudeau government appointed a
secretary of state for multiculturalism. The policy of multiculturalism was
in part a federal strategy to weaken Quebec’s position: Canada
is a bilingual, but not bicultural, country, which means that
the special contribution of the French group in the creation of
Canada is recognized but only to a certain extent. Bilingualism
along with multiculturalism acknowledge the special place of the
English and the French groups in the Canadian past, while
keeping them equal with the other population groups.
importantly, the policy of multiculturalism recognized the
ethnic pluralism of Canada as a positive feature worthy of
preservation and development. The central idea of
multiculturalism is that all groups have their special
traditions and values, but that no group needs to abandon them
in order to integrate the Canadian society.
Multiculturalism recognizes that immigrant values and ways of life are compatible with the Canadian citizenship.
In l988, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act
was adopted. It became the first
formal legislative vehicle for Canada's multicultural policy.
Its aim was to increase minority participation in society. Many provinces followed the
federal lead by introducing multiculturalism policies in their
areas of authority.
Originally, the focus of multiculturalism programs was
“folkloric” cultural events (ethnic festivals around food and
dances) and heritage-language instruction in schools. However,
since the 1990s, multiculturalism programs have provided financial
support to ethnic/cultural associations that work to change
mainstream institutions. They also encourage intercultural
exchanges and the development of a strong common civic identity.
Multiculturalism: an efficient tool of integration?
the whole, multiculturalism has worked well in Canada by
encouraging institutional recognition of diversity and the
participation of immigrants in the Canadian society. It has also
encouraged the recognition by Canadian-born citizens that the presence
of immigrants is legitimate and that they can contribute
usefully to Canadian society.
results in an overall positive assessment of immigration by
Canadians, as shown in this recent poll:
Focus Canada Fall 2018 - Canadian public opinion on immigration,
refugees and the USA. The Environics Institute, 18 November
Canadians continue to be
more positive than negative about immigration to Canada,
in terms of the level of immigration and its impact on
the economy. But opinions have hardened a bit since
February 2018, especially among residents in the Prairie
Canadians’ level of comfort
with immigration is grounded in part on the belief that
it is good for the country’s economy
The most sensitive issue
for many Canadians is how immigrants integrate or fit
into the country once they arrive
Across political party
lines, mention of immigration/refugee issues is low
across the established parties, but significantly higher
among those who say they will vote for the new People's
Party of Canada (created by former Conservative Maxime
Bernier in August 2018): 19% of this group identify
immigration/refugees as Canada’s top problem, closely
behind the economy and interest rates (21%)