Saturday, 13 November 2010

Multicultural Canada

There was an Angus Reid poll released recently on multiculturalism in Canada. The report can be found here. It asked three questions: if multiculturalism has been good or bad for Canada, whether Canada should be a melting pot or a mosaic, and whether or not Canadian society is tolerant or intolerant to certain groups.

I have some trouble wrapping my head around the question of multiculturalism being good or bad. Multiculturalism just... is. Canada has always been multicultural, since before the arrival of any Europeans, and even more so after that. Like, the people who said it was bad, thinks the French should have done a better job of keeping the English out, and then killed off all the aboriginal peoples, and just held onto it as a French colony without ever allowing immigration here from other countries? I guess I just don't see how 30% of people can say multiculturalism has been bad for Canada, because we've never not been multicultural, so what are they even comparing it to?

I'm also really baffled by the results to the melting pot vs. mosaic question. I would get it if they had represented mosaic as being cultural segregation, but those aren't the words they use at all. A melting pot is described as "immigrants should assimilate and blend into Canadian society" and in a mosaic "cultural differences within society are valuable and should be preserved." I can't imagine ever being in a mindset where I would choose melting pot from those options. I realize I am of the dominant Canadian culture, but if I moved to somewhere where that wasn't the case, I'd rather have my culture preserved than be assimilated.

As for the tolerance question, well, those results are about what I'd expect. I don't necessarily agree with them, but they don't surprise me.

I do find the breakdowns of the results by age group interesting. I did expect that probably younger people were more favourable to multiculturalism, but the fact that there is such a clear movement from the older to younger groups on both the options of the first two questions is slightly surprising and kind of great.

One thing I would like to see is a racial breakdown of results, and I guess I understand why it's probably not politically correct to ask that question on polls, but I think in this case it might make a point. Even if they displayed a list of the minorities they have for the tolerance question and had it as a yes/no of being part of one of them. I just have this picture in my head of millionth-generation white upper-class straight Canadians sitting around going "yeah, this is what multiculturalism in Canada should be." Not that the dominant culture shouldn't have any say, but we shouldn't have the only say.

No comments: