Sana Saeed, what took you so long to say it? Multiculturalism – understood as a means to preserve and protect cultural diversity through state intervention – has always been a sham. Even the patron saint of multiculturalism, Pierre Trudeau, did not actually argue for a culturally relativistic policy. Rather, he saw multiculturalism as a means to integrate Canada’s cultural groups. While introducing the policy to the House of Commons on October 8, 1971, he said: “It is vital, therefore, that every Canadian, whatever his ethnic origin, be given a chance to learn at least one of the two languages in which his country conducts its official business and its politics.” Although he remarked that “there is no official culture,” by insisting on English (and French for Quebec) as an official language, he made it clear that he too believed in the liberal, Anglo-Saxon cultural project. Cultural freedom could exist but it was to be strictly delineated within an English, liberal context. Identity, in Trudeau’s eyes, was marked by the “collective will to exist,” and not one’s origin – and that collective was surely the anglo collective.
I don’t believe that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with a host society requiring a degree of cultural conformity. All societies do it. There is, however, something disingenuous about worshiping at the altar of diversity and at the same time refusing communion. We should continue to value the various minorities in our midst but must remember that we, as Canadians, have a common cultural project and our own set of values that are worth preserving.
U3 History and Economics