Political and Social Affairs Division
Revised 15 February 1999
as a Sociological Fact of Canada Life
as a Public Policy at the Federal Level
Incipient Stage: Pre-1971
The Formative Period (1971-1981)
(1982 - present)
C-93 (Canadian Multiculturalism Act)
C-37 (Canadian Heritage Languages Institute Act)
C-63 (Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act)
of the Standing Committee on Multiculturalism and Citizenship, June 1993
The concept of Canada as
a "multicultural society" can be interpreted in different ways:
descriptively (as a sociological fact), prescriptively (as ideology),
from a political perspective (as policy), or as a set of intergroup dynamics
As fact, "multiculturalism"
in Canada refers to the presence and persistence of diverse racial and
ethnic minorities who define themselves as different and who wish to remain
so. Ideologically, multiculturalism consists of a relatively coherent
set of ideas and ideals pertaining to the celebration of Canadas
cultural mosaic. Multiculturalism at the policy level is structured around
the management of diversity through formal initiatives in the federal,
provincial and municipal domains. Finally, multiculturalism is the process
by which racial and ethnic minorities compete with central authorities
for achievement of certain goals and aspirations.
The focus of this study
will be an analysis of Canadian multiculturalism both as a demographic
reality and as a public policy.
Multiculturalism as a Sociological Fact of Canada Life
Canada can be described
as a multicultural society whose racial and ethnic diversity is expressed
in different ways. In recent years, a vigorous immigration policy has
attracted a growing number of applicants from non-traditional sources
such as Asia, Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean. Current levels
in immigration totals suggest that our multicultural diversity will continue
to flourish in some form into the twenty-first century. It is noteworthy
that much of this diversity is concentrated in Ontario, particularly in
the metropolitan region of Toronto, as well as in the metropolitan areas
of Vancouver and Montreal.
Demographically, some analysts
suggest that Canadian society can be divided into three major "forces."
The first force consists of aboriginal peoples and includes status Indians,
non-status Indians, Métis and Inuit. The Constitution Act of 1982
defined all natives as aboriginal peoples. In 1991, a total of 1,002,675
persons reported their origin as aboriginal or part aboriginal, representing
about 3.7% of the total population. The second force consists of the colonizing
groups; who eventually defined themselves as the founding members of Canadian
society. Known as the Charter groups, both the French- and English-speaking
communities constitute this force. The third force in Canadian society
comprises those racial and ethnic minorities who fall outside the Charter
groups; that is, native and foreign-born Canadians with some non-French
and non-British ancestry.
Members of Canadas
three major forces entered this country in trickles and droves over the
years, beginning with the arrival of the ancestors of native Indians from
Asia, followed thousands of years later by the French and the British
colonizers, who appointed themselves the official founders of Canada.
At the turn of this century, the gates opened to allow other Europeans
and Asians into Canada, although not without hostility from a substantial
portion of the public. In recent years, the number of immigrants into
Canada, although significant, has not matched that of the peak periods
before the First World War and after the Second World War. Patterns of
immigration have also shifted toward non-traditional sources such as Asia,
the Caribbean, and South and Central America. Equally significant has
been the unprecedented influx of landed refugees--many of them from Third
World countries-- who have requested entry into Canada.
Canadas cultural diversity
is manifest at the level of ethnic and immigrant composition. At the time
of Confederation, Canadas population was chiefly British, (60%)
and French (30%). By 1981, the combination of declining birthrate and
infusion of non-European immigrants saw the British and French total decline
to 40% and 27%, respectively. The 1991 figures are even more revealing,
although the decline in British-only and French-only categories may partly
reflect the inclusion of questions on multiple origins in the census forms.
Of Canadas total population of 26,994,045, more than 11 million
(11,252,335) or 41.7% reported having some non-British or non-French ethnic
origins. By way of contrast, the proportion of those with British-only
ancestry declined (to 28.6%, down from 33.6% in 1986), as did the French-only
category (22.9%, down from 24.4% in 1986). Those reporting both British
and French backgrounds totalled 4%.
In the 1996 census, at least
one ethnic origin other than British, French or Canadian was reported
by 44% of the Canadian population. Canadians of German, Italian, Aboriginal,
Chinese, South Asian and Filipino origins were among the top 15 largest
ethnic groups. Moreover, 3.2 million persons, representing 11.2% of the
total population of Canada, identified themselves as members of a visible
minority. Chinese, South Asians and Blacks represented two-thirds of this
visible minority population.
Language diversity is also
at the core of Canadian pluralism. According to the 1991 census, English
dominates as the first language (mother tongue) in 60.6% of the population,
French comes next at 23.8%, while the other category has
13%. When people with more than one mother tongue are included, these
proportions stood respectively at 62.9%, 24.9% and 14.9% respectively.
The degree of diversity is somewhat diminished with regard to the language
that is used at home. Census figures point out to the predominance of
English in the homes of 68.5%, compared with French at 23.5%, and "other"
at 8%. With respect to the other "heritage" languages, census
statistics reveal that Italian and German are the most frequently
reported known non-official languages, with approximately 700,000 speakers
each. Next come the more than 550,000 Chinese speakers, more than
400,000 Spanish speakers, and more than 250,000 Portuguese
speakers. When home languages are taken into account, the order is Chinese,
Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and German. The facts speak for themselves:
Canada is a multilingual society at the level of empirical reality.
Multiculturalism as a Public Policy at the Federal Level
Analysts generally agree
that the nature and characteristics of federal multiculturalism have evolved
through three developmental phases: incipient (pre-1971), formative (1971-1981),
and institutionalization (1982 to the present).
Incipient Stage: Pre-1971
The era preceding 1971 can
best be interpreted as a time of gradual movement toward acceptance of
ethnic diversity as legitimate and integral to Canadian society. Nation-building
in the symbolic and cultural sense was oriented toward the replication
of a British type of society in Canada. Culturally, this was reflected
Canadas political, economic and social institutions. All Canadians
were defined as British subjects until the passage of the Canadian
Citizenship Act in 1947 and a variety of cultural symbols legitimized
the British underpinnings of English-speaking Canada. For the most part,
central authorities dismissed the value of cultural heterogeneity, considering
racial and ethnic differences as inimical to national interests and detrimental
to our character and integrity. Only the massive influx of post-Second
World War immigrants from Europe prompted central authorities to rethink
the role and status of "other ethnics" within the evolving dynamic
of Canadian society.
Events and developments
during the 1960s paved the way for the eventual demise of assimilation
as government policy and the subsequent appearance of multiculturalism.
Pressures for change stemmed from the growing assertiveness of Canadas
aboriginal peoples, the force of Québécois nationalism, and the increased
resentment of ethnic minorities towards their place in society.
Formative Period (1971-1981)
Book Four of the report
of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (B&B) dealt
with the contribution of other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment
of Canada and recommended the "integration" (not assimilation)
into Canadian society of non-Charter ethnic groups with full citizenship
rights and equal participation in Canadas institutional structure.
The recommendations of the Commission hastened the introduction of an
innovative ethnocultural policy. The key objectives of the policy announced
in October 1971 and elaborated upon over the years, were:
cultural groups to overcome barriers to their full participation in
Canadian society; (Thus, the multiculturalism policy advocated the
full involvement and equal participation of ethnic minorities in mainstream
institutions, without denying them the right to identify with select
elements of their cultural past if they so chose.)
Implementation of these
policy objectives depended on government funding. Nearly $200 million
was set aside in the first decade of the policy for special initiatives
in language and cultural maintenance. A multicultural Directorate within
the Department of Secretary of State was approved in 1972 to assist in
the implementation of multicultural policies and programs. The Directorate-sponsored
activities aimed at assisting ethnic minorities in the areas of human
rights, freedom from racial discrimination, citizenship, immigration and
cultural diversity. A Ministry of Multiculturalism was created in 1973
to monitor the implementation of multicultural initiatives within government
departments. In addition, formal linkages between the government and ethnic
organizations were established to provide permanent input into the decision-making
process. An example was the Canadian Consultative Council on Multiculturalism,
established in 1973 and later renamed the Canadian Ethnocultural Council.
The architects of the 1971
policy had perceived barriers to social adaptation and economic success
largely in linguistic or cultural terms. The marked increase in the flow
of visible minority immigrants whose main concerns were employment, housing,
education and fighting discrimination required a shift in policy thinking.
Equality through the removal of racially discriminatory barriers became
the main focus of multicultural programs and race relations policies and
programs were put in place to discover, isolate and combat racial discrimination
at personal and institutional levels. A strong emphasis was put on encouraging
and facilitating the ways in which cultural minority groups can fully
participate in Canadian society.
Institutionalization (1982 - present)
The 1980s witnessed a growing
institutionalization of multicultural policy. Shifts in this policy coincided
with a period of difficulties for race relations in Canada. In large cities,
immigration had, over a short period of time, noticeably changed the composition
of the population. Canada also began witnessing the emergence of a few
individuals and groups promoting racist ideas. The government first concentrated
on promoting institutional change in order to help Canadian institutions
adapt to the presence of the new immigrant groups. Another shift was the
introduction of anti-discrimination programs designed to help remove social
and cultural barriers separating minority and majority groups in Canada.
In 1982 multiculturalism
was referred to in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Section 27 of the Charter
This Charter shall be
interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement
of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.
This clause is critical
in locating multiculturalism within the wider framework of Canadian society.
The clause empowers the courts to take Canadas multicultural reality
into account at the highest levels of decision-making. In the words of
a former Human Rights Commissioner it provides a useful "interpretative
prism" to assist the courts when balancing individual and multicultural
(and often collective) rights. A relevant example is the issue of freedom
of individual expression, which conflicts with the prohibition against
racial slurs or circulation of racially based hate propaganda. Hence,
the principle underlying the freedom of individual expression does not
extend to absolute free speech.
Moreover, the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms addresses the elimination of expressions of
discrimination by guaranteeing both equality and fairness to all under
the law, regardless of race or ethnicity. Section 15 (1) states:
Every individual is equal
before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal
benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without
discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion,
sex, age, or mental or physical disability.
In addition, sub-section
15(2) establishes entitlement to non-discriminatory benefits without denying
the need for additional measures to assist disadvantaged sectors.
In 1984, the Special Parliamentary
Committee on Visible Minorities produced its well-known report Equality
Now!, and in 1985 a House of Commons Standing Committee on Multiculturalism
was created. The Committee, in an extensive report in 1987, called for
the enactment of a new policy on multiculturalism and the creation of
the Department of Multiculturalism.
A new multiculturalism policy
with a clearer sense of purpose and direction came into effect in July
1988 when the Multiculturalism Act was adopted by Parliament. Canada
was the first country in the world to pass a national multiculturalism
law. The Act acknowledged multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic
of Canadian society with an integral role in the decision-making process
of the federal government. Directed toward the preservation and enhancement
of multiculturalism in Canada, the Multiculturalism Act sought
to assist in the preservation of culture and language, to reduce discrimination,
to enhance cultural awareness and understanding, and to promote culturally
sensitive institutional change at the federal level.
In seeking a balance between
cultural distinctiveness and equality, the Act specified the right of
all to identify with the cultural heritage of their choice, yet retain
"full and equitable participation...in all aspects of Canadian society."
In effect, the Act sought to preserve, enhance and incorporate cultural
difference into the functioning of Canadian society, while ensuring equal
access and full participation for all Canadians in the social, political,
and economic spheres. It also focused on the eradication of racism and
removal of discriminatory barriers as being incompatible with Canadas
commitment to human rights.
serves as a positive instrument of change aimed at the removal of barriers
that preclude the involvement, equity, access, and representation of all
citizens in Canadas institutions. The Act recognizes the need to
increase minority participation in Canadas major institutions by
bringing diversity into these institutions as a natural, normal, and positive
component of decision-making, resource allocation, and the setting of
priorities. All government agencies, departments and Crown corporations--not
just the ministry responsible for multiculturalism-- are currently expected
to provide leadership in advancing Canadas multicultural mix and
to take part in the design and implementation of plans, programs, procedures
and decision-making strategies that enhance the full and equal participation
of minorities within institutional structures.
Legislation creating a full-fledged
Department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship was introduced in Parliament
in the fall of 1989 and adopted in its final form in early 1991. The institutionalized
programs established under the newly created Department were:
Where early multicultural
policies concentrated on cultural preservation and intercultural sharing
through promotion of ethnic presses and festivals, the rejuvenated multiculturalism
program emphasized cross-cultural understanding and the attainment of
social and economic integration through removal of discriminating barriers,
institutional change, and affirmative action to equalize opportunity.
The new Department was short-lived,
however. In the fall of 1993 it was dismantled and the multiculturalism
programs were integrated into the new and larger Canadian Heritage Department,
which also combined responsibility for official languages, arts and culture,
broadcasting, national parks and historic sites, voluntary action, human
rights, amateur sports, State Ceremonial and the National Capital Commission.
Moreover, a Secretary of State of Multiculturalism was appointed within
the portfolio of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. The citizenship activity
(citizenship registration and promotion) was amalgamated in the newly
established Department of Citizenship and Immigration.
Following increased criticisms
of the multiculturalism program voiced by various groups and individuals
from different parts of Canadian society, the Department launched a comprehensive
review of its multiculturalism programming activities in 1995. At the
end of October 1996, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Hedy Fry
announced a renewed program which focused on three objectives: building
a fair and equitable society, civic participation (ensuring that Canadians
of all origins participate in the shaping of our communities and country),
and identity (fostering a society that recognizes, respects and reflects
a diversity of cultures so that people of all backgrounds feel a sense
of belonging to Canada.
The renewed program priorizes
proposals that: assist in the development of strategies to facilitate
the full and active participation of ethnic, racial, religious and cultural
communities in Canada; support collective community initiatives and responses
to ethnic, racial, religious and cultural conflict and hate-motivated
activities; improve the ability of public institutions to respond to ethnic,
racial, religious and cultural diversity; encourage and assist in the
development of inclusive policies, programs and practices within federal
departments and agencies; and increase public awareness, understanding
and public dialogue with respect to multiculturalism, racism and cultural
diversity in Canada.
At the same time, the Secretary
of State announced the official establishment of the Canadian Race Relations
Foundation, whose mandate includes undertaking research, collecting data,
and developing a national information base to further understanding of
racism and racial discrimination; providing information to support effective
race relations training and the development of professional standards;
and disseminating information to increase public awareness of the importance
of eliminating racism. The Foundation, whose headquarters are in Toronto,
is governed by a board consisting of a Chairperson, 15 directors appointed
for a term of up to three years, and a full-time executive director. It
was initially funded by a one-time endowment of $24 million from
the federal government and operated thereafter on income derived from
investments, donations and fundraising. Mr. Lincoln M. Alexander,
former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, was appointed the first Chair of
Attitudes to Multiculturalism
Various publications and
polls suggest that Canadians are generally supportive of a multicultural
society, at least in principle if not always in practice. Yet many Canadians
are unsure of what multiculturalism is, what it is trying to do and why,
and what it can realistically accomplish in a liberal-democratic society
such as ours. Multiculturalism can encompass folk songs, dance, food festivals,
arts and crafts, museums, heritage languages, ethnic studies, ethnic presses,
race relations, culture sharing and human rights. Much of the confusion
results from the indiscriminate application of the term to a wide range
of situations, practices, expectations, and goals.
Quebeckers have expressed
uneasiness about, or even resistance to, federal multiculturalism policy
since its inception. This uneasiness is largely explained in terms of
their perception of it as another intrusion by federal authorities into
their provinces internal affairs. Many are inclined to view multiculturalism
as a ploy to downgrade the distinct society status of Quebeckers to the
level of an ethnic minority culture under the domination of English-speaking
Canada. Multiculturalism is thus seen as an attempt to dilute the French
fact in Canada, weakening francophone status and threatening the dual
partnership of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. For many
Quebeckers, the idea of reducing the rights of French-speaking Canadians
to the same level as those of other ethno-racial minorities in the name
of multicultural equality is inconsistent with the special compact between
the two founding peoples of Canada.
However, the Citizens
Forum on Canadas Future established in 1991 also reported an
uneasiness about the Canadian publics attitude to multiculturalism
policy. It uncovered a wide gap between a largely positive reaction
to the growing ethnic diversity of Canada on the one hand and opposition
to what was considered to be official multiculturalism on the other. The
strong attachment to cultural diversity was balanced by an ever stronger
belief that if the country was to remain united, citizens must learn to
be Canadians first.
told us that reminding us of our different origins is less useful in
building a unified country than emphasizing the things we have in common.
...While Canadians accept and value Canadas cultural diversity,
they do not value many of the activities of the multicultural program
of the federal government. These are seen as expensive and divisive
in that they remind Canadians of their different origins rather than
their shared symbols, society, society and future.
The fear that the multiculturalism
policy is promoting too much diversity at the expense of unity has been
voiced increasingly in recent years. Critics say the policy is divisive
because it emphasizes what is different, rather than the values that are
Canadian. Canadian culture and symbols, it is felt, are being discarded
in the effort to accommodate other cultures.
In his book Selling Illusions:
the Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada, published in 1994, Trinidad-born
novelist Neil Bissoondath leads the charge against the governments
multiculturalism policy. His book reiterates his concern over the potential
divisiveness inherent in government promotion of cultural diversity. In
Bissoondaths opinion, the governments encouragement of ethnic
differences leads immigrants to adopt a "psychology of separation"
from the mainstream culture. Multiculturalism is blamed for isolating
ethno-racial groups in distinct enclaves by fostering an inward-focused
mentality that drives a wedge between Canadians of different ethnic backgrounds.
The author argues that unity and cohesion are being sacrificed for a philosophy
that separates, intensifies misunderstanding and hostility, and pits one
group against another in the competition for power and resources. Bissoondath
argues that instead of "Canadianizing" newcomers into a binding
social fabric, official multiculturalism encourages them to cling to their
traditional culture and the ancestral homeland and to believe that there
is more important than here. By encouraging ethnic and cultural
groups to perpetuate their distinctiveness, the multiculturalism policy
prevents them from being integrated into the mainstream society. Bissoondath
recommends removing personal culture and ethnicity from the realm of public
policy and returning it to individuals and families. In his view, multiculturalism
programs and activities should concentrate on battling racism, establishing
inclusion and funding community programs that sensitize children to each
other and stress not the differences that divide them but the similarities
that unite them. While he favours maintaining government funding for such
programs, Bissoondath advocates the establishment of an autonomous agency
responsible for their implementation, on the lines of the Canada Council
in the arts sector.
Other prominent authors,
such as Richard Gwyn, in his book Nationalism without Walls, and
Jack Granatstein, in his essay Who Killed Canadian History, have
criticized what they see as the negative impacts of the multiculturalism
policy. Gwyn argues that the political elite was mistaken in rationalizing
that the backlash against multiculturalism was caused by temporary "employment
anxiety" in the early 1990s, rather than a widespread fear that Canadians
were becoming "strangers in their own land." In his essay, Granatstein
implicates official multiculturalism and political correctness in the
death of Canadian history in the schools and among Canadian youth in general.
He claims that a number of studies in schools and at post-secondary levels
of education show that Canadians are learning less and less about their
history and cannot pass relatively basic tests about historical events
or personalities. In a chapter entitled "Multicultural Mania,"
Granatstein recounts how the holder of a chair in ethnic studies at a
major university was forced to resign because one of his books was unacceptable
to the local ethnic community, which, together with the federal government
program of multiculturalism, had funded the chair. Granatstein also argues
that multiculturalism policies have helped spread the idea among immigrants
and even native-born Canadians that Canada, particularly English-speaking
Canada, has no culture and identity of its own. The multicultural and
anti-racist emphasis on grievances, he argues, has led to the disappearance
of history, and political history in particular, as a course; instead,
we have accounts of discrete and isolated heritages. Where history is
still taught, it has to be inoffensive and be linked to current concerns.
Provincial Multiculturalism Policies
All provinces and several
municipal governments have adopted some form of multiculturalism policy.
At present, six of the ten provinces-- Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba,
Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia -- have enacted multiculturalism legislation.
In four provinces -- Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec-- multiculturalism
is implemented by an advisory council that reports to the Minister responsible
for the Act. In Nova Scotia, the Act is implemented by both a Cabinet
Committee on multiculturalism and advisory councils.
Saskatchewan was the first
province to adopt legislation on multiculturalism. The Saskatchewan
Multiculturalism Act was first passed in 1974 and amended in 1983.
The Act defines multiculturalism as the right of different communities
to preserve their distinct cultures and to share them with others. The
Act established a Multicultural Council whose duties are to advise the
Minister on multicultural issues; to evaluate government programs on multiculturalism;
to liaise with government departments with multicultural responsibilities;
and to promote programs to preserve and promote multiculturalism in the
Manitoba adopted the Manitoba
Intercultural Council Act in 1984. Under the Act, the Councils
mandate is to advise the government, through the Minister responsible
for ethnocultural matters in the province, on education, human rights,
immigrant settlement, media and communication and cultural heritage. In
the summer of 1992 the Manitoba legislature adopted a new provincial Multiculturalism
Act, whose preamble states that:
society is not a collection of many separate societies, divided by language
and culture, but is a single society united by shared laws, values,
aspirations and responsibilities.
A Multiculturalism Secretariat
was established under the direction and control of the minister and through
which the minister administers and carries out the provisions of this
Act. The Secretariat is to "identify, priorize and implement actions
to contribute to the achievement of a successful multicultural society."
Alberta first adopted multiculturalism
legislation in 1984 with the passage of the Alberta Cultural Heritage
Act. The Act defined multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic
of Alberta society which confers economic as well as social and cultural
benefits on all Albertans. It was replaced in 1990 by the Alberta Multiculturalism
Act, whose main objectives are to encourage respect for and promote
an awareness of the multicultural heritage of Alberta and to foster an
environment in which all Albertans can participate and contribute to the
cultural, social, economic and political life of their province. The Act
established a Multiculturalism Commission to advise the government on
policy and programs respecting multiculturalism, as well as a Multiculturalism
Advisory Council to advise the Commission on policy matters. A Multicultural
Fund was also set up to finance programs and services related to its objectives
and to provide grants to eligible persons and organizations.
As part of its efforts to
streamline government programs and operations, the Conservative provincial
administration introduced new legislation in the spring of 1996 which
merged the human rights and multiculturalism programs. Under the Human
Rights and Citizenship Act, the Alberta Human Rights Commission took
over the duties of the former Multiculturalism Commission and now operates
under the name Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. Similarly,
the Multiculturalism Fund continues as the Human Rights, Citizenship and
Although Ontario inaugurated
an official multicultural policy that promoted the cultural activities
of the various ethnic groups in 1977, formal legislation establishing
a Ministry of Citizenship and Culture came into force only in 1982. Under
the Act, the Ministry is responsible for the promotion of multiculturalism
within the province and is advised by a Multiculturalism Advisory Council.
One of the chief objectives of the Ministry is to "stress full participation
of all Ontarians as equal members of the community, encouraging the sharing
of cultural heritage while affirming those elements held in common by
all residents." In 1987, the Ontario government reaffirmed its policy
of multiculturalism based on the following principles:
Quebec designates its policy
as "interculturalism." It is mainly concerned with the acceptance
of, and communication and interaction between culturally diverse groups
(cultural communities) without, however, implying any intrinsic equality
among them. Diversity is tolerated and encouraged, but only from within
a framework that establishes the unquestioned supremacy of French in the
language and culture of Quebec.
In 1981, the Ministry of
Cultural Communities and Integration set out its intercultural objectives
by publishing a plan of action entitled Autant de façons dêtre
Québécois (Québécois. Each and Everyone). The plan talked about the
development of a strategy to:
In 1984, the National Assembly
passed legislation creating the Conseil des communautés culturelles
et de limmigration (Council of Cultural Communities and of Immigration).
The Council advises the Minister on the planning and implementation of
government policies relating to cultural communities and immigration.
It also commissions studies and undertakes research on relevant issues.
orientation toward immigrants and diversity was further confirmed with
the release at the end of 1990 of the White Paper ("Lets Build
Quebec Together. A Policy Statement on Immigration and Integration").
Three principles were reinforced in the governments policy:
To meet these obligations,
the White Paper proposed a formal "moral contract" between immigrants
and native-born Quebeckers. Quebec would declare itself a francophone,
pluralistic society, yet one that is mindful of cultural differences.
Immigrants would subscribe to Quebecs Charter of Rights and
contribute to Quebec nation-building in cooperation with native-born Quebeckers.
Nova Scotia adopted its
multiculturalism legislation in 1989. The Act to Promote and Preserve
Multiculturalism recognizes multiculturalism as an inherent feature
of Nova Scotia society and pledges the government to the maintenance of
good relations between cultural communities. The Act created two administrative
structures to manage its implementation: a Cabinet Committee on Multiculturalism
oversees the application of the policy on a government-wide basis and
a Multicultural Advisory Committee advises the Cabinet committee and reviews
Bill C-93 (Canadian Multiculturalism Act)
This bill, which provided
a statutory framework for the existing policy, was adopted by Parliament
in July 1988 and immediately given Royal Assent. Passage of this legislation
has imbued the principle of racial and cultural equality with the force
The Act recognizes the need
to increase minority participation in society by mainstreaming Canadas
major institutions. Moreover, all government agencies, departments and
Crown corporations--not just the ministry responsible for multiculturalism--are
currently expected to provide leadership in advancing Canadas multicultural
It is also noteworthy that
the Act makes the government accountable to both Parliament and the public
for ensuring compliance with its provisions by requiring annual reports.
A multiculturalism secretariat was established to support the government
in implementing improved delivery of government services in federal institutions.
Bill C-37 (Canadian Heritage Languages Institute Act)
This bill, introduced in
the House in September 1989 and adopted by Parliament in January 1991,
provided for the establishment of a Heritage Languages Institute in Edmonton,
with the purpose of developing national standards for teacher training
and curriculum content for ethnic minority languages classes in Canada.
The February 1992 Budget
tabled by Finance Minister Don Mazankowski deferred the establishment
of the Canadian Heritage Languages Institute until further notice.
Bill C-63 (Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act)
Introduced in the House
in February 1990, this legislation was also adopted by Parliament in January
1991. It established a Race Relations Foundation in Toronto, with the
purpose of helping to eliminate racism and racial discrimination through
public education. Funding for the establishment of the Foundation was,
however, deferred by the federal government in the budgets tabled in subsequent
At the end of October 1996,
Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Hedy Fry announced the establishment
of the Foundation with a one-time endowment of $24 million from the
Report of the Standing Committee on Multiculturalism and Citizenship,
The last report of the Standing
Committee on Multiculturalism and Citizenship, entitled Study of the
Implementation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in Federal Institutions,
was released in June 1993.
Among its major recommendations
were several suggestions for improving the evaluation of progress in the
application of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act by federal institutions.
Other key recommendations identified specific measures whereby government
departments and agencies could strengthen their commitment to the principles
of the Act.
1948 - Canada adhered to
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which applies to all
human beings, regardless of sex, race, religion, culture or ideology.
1960 - Parliament passed
the Canadian Bill of Rights, which prohibits discrimination for
reasons of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex.
1967 - Racial discrimination
provisions that had existed in Canadian immigration law since the early
twentieth century were abolished.
1969 - The Royal Commission
on Bilingualism and Biculturalism released Book Four, on the contribution
of other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada.
1970 - Canada ratified the
International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, which had entered into force in January 1969.
1971 - The federal government
announced multiculturalism policy within a bilingual framework.
1972 - First appointment
of a (junior) Minister for Multiculturalism.
1973 - The Canadian Consultative
Council on Multiculturalism (later renamed the Canadian Multiculturalism
Council) was established as an advisory body to the Minister.
1974 - Saskatchewan was
the first province to adopt legislation regarding multiculturalism.
1977 - Parliament adopted
the Canadian Human Rights Act, which established the Canadian Human
Rights Commission to monitor and mediate disputes over human rights in
1982 - The Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms enshrined equality rights in the Constitution
and acknowledged our multicultural heritage.
1984 - House of Commons
Special Committee on Visible Minorities in Canadian Society issued its
Equality Now! report.
1985 - Establishment of
House of Commons Standing Committee on Multiculturalism.
1988 - Royal Assent was
given on 21 July to the Canadian Multiculturalism Act after Parliament
had adopted the legislation with all-party support.
1990 - Multiculturalism
Canada tabled its first annual report on the implementation of the Canadian
Multiculturalism Act by the Government of Canada.
1991 - Royal Assent was
given to the Department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship Act
on 17 January. On 21 April, the new Department was officially established
with Gerry Wiener appointed as the first full-time Minister.
1993 - The Liberal Government
elected in October announced that Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada
would be split along its two main components: the multiculturalism programs
would be merged with the Canadian Heritage Department established by the
previous administration and the citizenship programs would be amalgamated
with the newly established Department of Citizenship and Immigration.
December 1994 - The federal
government announced that it would not pay out any compensation to national
ethnic groups to redress past indignities meted out by the Canadian government.
This decision contrasted with the precedent set by the previous Conservative
government which paid out millions of dollars in compensation to the families
of Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War.
1997 - Minister of State
for Multiculturalism, Dr. Hedy Fry, announced a renewed multiculturalism
Abu-Laban, Yasmeen and Daiva
Stasiulis. "Ethnic Pluralism under Siege: Popular and Partisan Opposition
to Multiculturalism." Canadian Public Policy, XVIII: 4, p.
Abu-Laban, Yasmeen. "The
Politics of Race and Ethnicity: Multiculturalism as a Contested Arena."
In James P. Bilkerton and Alain Gagnon, eds. Canadian Politics.
2nd ed., Broadview Press Ltd., Peterborough, 1994, p. 242-263.
Berry, John W. Sociopsychological
Costs and Benefits of Multiculturalism. Economic Council of Canada,
Bibby, Reginald W. Mosaic
Madness: The Poverty and Potential of Life in Canada. Stoddart,
Bissoondath, Neil. Selling
Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. Penguin Books,
Burnet, Jean. "Myths
and Multiculturalism." Canadian Journal of Education, 4: 43-58,
Canada, House of Commons
Special Committee on Visible Minorities in Canadian Society. Equality
Now! Supply and Services Canada, Ottawa, 1984.
Canada, House of Commons
Standing Committee on Multiculturalism. Multiculturalism: Building
the Canadian Mosaic. Supply and Services Canada, Ottawa, 1987.
Canada, Royal Commission
on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Book IV, The Cultural Contribution
of Other Ethnic Groups. Queens Printer, Ottawa, 1970.
Canadian Human Rights Foundation.
Multiculturalism and the Charter. Carswell, Toronto, 1987.
Driedger, Leo, ed. Ethnic
Canada: Identities and Inequalities. Copp Clark Pitman, Toronto, 1987.
Fleras, Augie and Jean Leonard
Elliott. Multiculturalism in Canada: The Challenge of Diversity.
Nelson Canada, Scarborough, 1992.
Granatstein, J.L. Who
Killed Canadian History. Harper Collins, 1998.
Gwyn, Richard. Nationalism
without Walls: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian. McClelland
and Stewart, Toronto, 1995.
Kallen Evelyn. "Multiculturalism:
Ideology, Policy and Reality." Journal of Canadian Studies
17:1 51-63, 1982.
Kay, Jonathan. "Explaining
the Modern Backlash against Multiculturalism." Policy Options,
Vol. 19, May 1998, p. 30-34.
Reitz, Jeffrey G. and Raymond
Breton. The Illusion of Difference. Realities of Ethnicity in Canada
and the United States. C.D. Howe Institute, Toronto, 1994.
Renaud, Viviane and Jane
Badets. "Ethnic Diversity in the 1990s." Canadian Social
Trends, Autumn 1993, p. 17-22.
Wilson, Seymour V. "The
Evolving Policy of Multiculturalism in Canada." State of the Art
Review of Research on Canadas Multicultural Society. Multiculturalism
and Citizenship Canada, 1992.
original version of this Current Issue Review was published in January
1994. This paper replaces an earlier text with the same title.