Immigrant cultures under fire

Canada has often been described as the mosaic society reflecting a vast diversity of cultural heritages and racial groups; a global village of varied traditions and faiths; a nation created by immigration from all around the world.

In reality, according to 24Hr newspaper,

… the debate raging through Quebec over how far society should go to accommodate immigrants’ religious and cultural practices could soon spill over to the rest of Canada.  

A majority surveyed Canadian believe that the country should draw a limit on allowances for religious and cultural activities (including prayer space) in public schools, hospitals, workplaces and during sports activities. 

Across the country, 53 per cent of Canadians said they felt immigrants must fully adapt to the country’s culture, compared to only 18 per cent who felt the notion of reasonable accommodation reflected their views.  Full article 

So, are they against, Multiculturalism in Canada?

Here in Vancouver, one of famous radio commentator/a top music promoter, Bruce Allen is under fire for his remarks aired Sep. 13th on his minute long show “Reality Check” on CKNW radio against Sikh- and Muslim Canadians.  His view might reflects those 53 per cent of Canadian.

In his minutes-long daily editorial,  Bruce Allen cited Sikh uproar with Passport Canada when children wearing kerchiefs in their photos were denied documentation, and controversy surrounding berka-clad women’s right to vote without revealing their faces.
Sep 13th. Reality Check

“If you choose to come to a place like Canada, then shut up and fit in … these are the rules,” he said in his broadcast rant. “There’s the door. If you don’t like the rules, hit it. We don’t need you here.”

Richmond MP Raymond Chan filed papers yesterday requesting the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission  investigate Bruce Allen’s remark and added he would urge the 2010 organizing committee to strip Bruce Allen of his high-profile position if he does not retract his remarks and make a public apology.

Canada, as far as I know, promotes multiculturalism.   And we Canadian celebrate and respect multiculturalism.   As an immigrant and a minority to the society,  Bruce Allen’s remarks crossed a step over the line of fire and believe he may have offended Sikh- and Muslim Canadians as there is no law stating voters have to be identified by their faces and no law forcing Sikhs to change their last names, as he inferred.  But, I also agree the part of Bruce Allen’s view regarding the rules, as the fundamental value of society, that immigrants also have to adopt local customs, laws and values.  Isn’t it the principle 101 to any society or country? 

<update> Bruce Allen’s words about it on Sep 26, 2007

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8 Responses to “Immigrant cultures under fire”

  1. Phanyxx Says:

    Bruce Allen’s an asshole, but he presents a valid point. Passport and voting rules are in place for a reason.
    I think he’s only coming under fire because he’s an arrogant, middle-aged, white male.

    All in all, the experiment we call Vancouver functions pretty well. I see good and bad everyday, but I still love it to death. d=)

  2. Duncan Says:

    Whatever. People absolutely cannot be allowed to vote with faces covered, because then they cannot be identified. This is so basic I wonder how anyone with a shred of logic could miss it. How do we know you are who you claim you are if we can’t see your face?

    Passports follow a global agreement as to photo standards – that’s why almost every country follows virtually same rules. The irony is that Saudi and other Arab countries’ passports do not permit burkhas (since they are following global guidelines), so why the hell would anyone in Canada start demanding them?

    About this fantasy: “Canada has often been described as the mosaic society reflecting a vast diversity of cultural heritages and racial groups; a global village of varied traditions and faiths; a nation created by immigration from all around the world.”

    Yes, that is the line now – it was started by the Trudeau liberals in the early seventies to dilute/counter the French separatist threat. It was somewhat effective in doing that.

    In fact, Canada only opened it’s immigration doors fully to non-Europeans in the late 60’s, after 200 years of predominantly French/English makeup, with an enormous influx of East Europeans/Ukranians into the prairies about 1880-1910.

    Canada’s prosperity is a product of the hard work of generations upon generations of French, English and Ukranians, on the farms, mines, logging camps etc. of Quebec, Ontario and the Prairies. This prosperity attracted immigrants. Hundreds of thousands of these same died on the battlefields of WWI and WWII, to mention two, which gave Canada the international clout far above it’s population.

    So yeah, you appear have swallowed the multicultural kool-aid, but the French, English and Ukranians know who REALLY built Canada, and who showed up from Korea, the Caribbean, China, etc. 30 years ago hoping to cash in on the prosperity already existing.

    If you desire the culture of Saudi Arabia, go to Saudi Arabia. If you desire the culture of Korea, go live in Korea. But don’t come to a country and demand they change things to suit the customs of a country far away. That’s called imperialism, colonization and invasion.

  3. JiMong Says:

    Again, I agree with your points about rules on identification including passport, Phanyxx & Duncan.

    And also your points about the hard work of early European immigrants are valid and very true, Duncan.

    I don’t know how you want to perceive the immigration history of Canada as well as the world history and other factors. Is the current model of immigration the best one for Canada? Maybe, maybe not. To me it is ongoing development, and I consider my self as one of contributor to the Canadian value like you and your ancestors. I immigrated here for better life just like your ancestors. I don’t see much difference there.

  4. renstein Says:

    It all depends on what you mean by multi-cultural. It seems natural, by observation at least, that multiculturalism only can exist at the scale of the state. At the community level, what tends to happen is varying levels of segregation as people want to be around others that are like them (the internet being one of the biggest proofs of this).

    Of course, our institutions tend towards the secular and it is very difficult to go through the education system without secularization on the other side. And just so people don’t think this is a good thing, being a secular humanist is just as cultural as being a Muslim from Saudi Arabia. There is difference in beliefs, but not in form.

    There is the sense, that if you want to immigrate, you have to take on certain secular humanist beliefs, otherwise you won’t fit in within the framework of the Law. How much should the system here tolerate, that should be democratically decided within the framework of the constitution act through our MPs. How much can communities and people tolerate is a completely different and impossible question. So many other emotions such as fear, jealousy, etc. come into play.

    The government can force communities to outwardly accept immigration, but that is as far as it can go.

    Personally, I enjoy seeing other cultures, and having them come to Canada means I don’t have to travel as far or spend as much to touch, see, hear, taste, and smell them. Although, our society marginalizes other cultures ways of life here and even back into the home country.

  5. JiMong Says:

    Many thanks for your comment Renstein.

    It’s really complexed issue and everyone has different view on it. That’s the core of this issue. IMHO. Thanks again.

  6. Sewing Says:

    I used to think this was a simple issue…now I know differently.

    Renstein makes a lot of prescient points.

    Duncan: There were Chinese and Hawaiian (especially) immigrants in the 19th century. Many Chinese died building the CPR; many Hawaiians worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

  7. Sewing Says:

    My last comment was a little vague.

    I went to public school in the 70s and 80s, so I was raised on the Trudea-era vision of Canada and on the values of moral relativism. On the other hand, I have spent a lot of time living and working with immigrants.

    It seems that on some level in contemporary western society, the laudable principle peaceful multi-ethnic coexistence is getting rolled into the more fundamental philosophical premise that all values are equal and that what’s right for you may be wrong for me. I embrace the first principle; I reject the second principle.

    What Bruce Allen said was ill advised, because no matter how good his case might have been, it got reduced to a soundbite that sounded to many people like “go home,” something that has been uttered countless times in anger. So the problem is that whatever sound argument he might have been making got lost, and was devalued by his opponents and the media as they seized on the most regrettable part of his speech.

  8. JiMong Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments Sewing!

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