Pierre Trudeau’s vision of a bi-cultural, and later, a multi-cultural country has indeed become blurry. While bi-lingualism (English/French) has probably, on balance, been good for the country overall, the jury is still out on multi-culturalism. The country is not just “bifurcated”; it is in danger of becoming dissected.
We humans are a tribal bunch, and I understand the need for immigrants maintaining their connections and identities with the “old country”. I have relatives who as second or even third generation Canadians still cleave to some of the old traditions, even though they don’t even speak the language of their parents or grandparents. However, the danger is that if multi-culturalism is carried too far, there will be no room for a Canadian identity, and though nationalism might be passé in today’s world, we do need a national ideal and purpose on which we can all agree and focus.
There should be more emphasis on obtaining from prospective immigrants an understanding and an agreement on our liberal-democratic values before they are accepted into our country. Furthermore, a greater effort should be made to integrate new arrivals, and also to make it easier for them to obtain recognition for their professional education from their home countries, and help to upgrade their skills where needed. We need doctors and skilled people regardless of colour, race or creed.
I couldn’t care less what people use to cover their heads, as long as I can see their faces. We have passed that argument: we now have RCMP constables wearing turbans; and there are numerous Christian and Jewish sectarian groups wearing strange garbs without being molested. Where I –and many Canadians –draw the line is when people insist on covering their faces in public or repressing their women –whether their wives or daughters – in the name of culture or religion.