January 18, 2012
"CULTURE" AND "MULTICULTURE"
Recap from last semester: It is problematic to understand race as biological and cultural
1. Official Multiculturalism in Canadian Public Policy and Law
Multiculturalism sets up a hierarchy in which the “culture” (i.e., white people) is set up above the
so-called “multiculture” (everyone else)
Entrenched Charter in the constitution was an obsession of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
since the 1960s, and he finally saw that dream come to pass in 1982. Section 15 is used as a legal
tool against discrimination based on sex or race etc.
However, sexism and racism in Canadian society were not huge concerns of Trudeau. Trudeau was
not overly concerned with issues related to sexism and racism in Canada. Rather, he was
concerned with the rise of the Quebec Sovereignty Movement.
Multiculturalism, like the Charter, didn’t come about because of serious concerns amongst federal
politicians about racism in Canada; rather, it came about by a way of delegitimizing Quebec’s
claims to be an important culture. If we we’re a multicultural nation, Quebec’s culture is one
a. Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
The government appointed a Royal Commission to study and recognize solutions to
The Royal Commission of bilingualism and biculturalism taught the Canadians to talk about
bilingualism and biculturalism and so-called Quebec problems, hearings were held from
The commissioner heard about more than just English and French relations, that Canada
was not a “bilingual” or “bicultural” society should not have come to a surprise by those
running the hearings in the 1960s.
Given Canada’s colonial legacy, there are obviously a variety of cultures, mainly a variety of
The commissioner found that biculturalism was unable to account for a variety of regions
and communities in Canada that were neither English or French such as not only Aboriginal
people, but also Aboriginal communities in Nova Scotia
As such, it was in the 1960s that multiculturalism replaced biculturalism in Canadian
The idea of multiculturalism was convenient for Trudeau and other Federalists, as he
believed that it might save the day for a united Canada. The “multicultural” people were
neither English, nor French, became the moral club with which to create aspirations for
Quebec (i.e., sovereignty).
b. Federal Multiculturalism Policy (1971)
Multiculturalism policy refers to the claim in 1971
This policy seems to reverse earlier attempts to assimilate new immigrants. Yet,
multiculturalism was multiculturalism within a bilingual framework. Indeed, the original
English/French multiculturalism was far more important to Trudeau.
In the late 70s to early-mid 80s, the federal government allotted far more money to develop
bilingualism than it did for multiculturalism.
The Canadian Multiculturalist Council was established in 1993
c. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)
The Charter included multiculturalism as an important part of the Canadian identity.
d. Canadian Multiculturalism Act (Bill C-93, 1988)
In July of 1988, the conservative government passed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act
This act formalized the government’s multiculturalism policy, and “recognized all
Canadians as full and equal participants in Canadian society”, by establishing legislation to
protect ethnic, racial, linguistic, and religious diversity.
In 1988, multiculturalism was very much about diversity and celebrating cultural, and
The term “multiculturalism” was coined in 1960, and officially the multiculturalism policy
was developed in the 1970s and 1980s.
2. Multiculturalism from 1990s-Present
a. In political discourse
In the 1990s, multiculturalism has become a major part of Canadian political discourse
b. Demand from above (i.e., Trudeau, and the vast majority of federal politicians),
rather than below
This is a policy entirely initiated by the federal government; it wasn’t a policy that grew
from dissention/complaints from the people
This is referring to class – it’s more of a demand from politicians, than from Canadian
There are different social justice organizations that are working on the issues of race and
racism in the 70s, 80s and today. None of these organizations lobbied for anything
remotely relating to the multiculturalism policy. Feminists, anti-racists, immigrants and
other social justice organizations never called for multiculturalism in the form it resembled
in the 70s, 80s, 90s or today. Multiculturalism policy has basically never come from below,
and is entirely something that came from above.
Its roots, which are really important to its ineffectiveness (i.e., adjusting social justice
today), are within the ideological discourse to undermine Quebec nationalism.
Multiculturalism has never had much class-awareness. Anti-racism in Canada has never
been part of official multiculturalism. In other words, multiculturalism is not a policy that is
concerned with the way in which the wage hierarchy (i.e., how much people make), is
racialized; it’s not concerned with which the ways the advancement and employment is
very much dependent on race; it’s not concerned with racial profiling of individuals on the
street. Ultimately, it’s not concerned with any of these social justice-related topics.
c. Concerns granting/funding, electoral politics, "ethnic" cultural fairs and religious
celebrations, legal defenses in court (but not social justice)
Multiculturalism relates to granting, funding (i.e., cultural affairs, religious celebrations,
legal defenses in court), electoral policies, outcomes
d. Organizes social, cultural, political and legal spaces in Canada
Funding – an array of federal incentive programs towards multiculturalism have
immerged; a national research institute on multiculturalism and race-relations started in
the 90s; Canadian Heritage supports multiculturalism programs such as heritage language
e. Video clip: Little Mosque on the Prairie, "Flying While Muslim" (2007)
In the post 9/11 era, the general representation of Muslims is as terrorists and potential
terrorists which is very problematic
Ann Coulter – incredibly racist conservative woman
Recap from last semester: it is problematic to understand race as biological and cultural: official multiculturalism in canadian public policy and law. Multiculturalism sets up a hierarchy in which the culture (i. e. , white people) is set up above the so-called multiculture (everyone else) Entrenched charter in the constitution was an obsession of former prime minister pierre trudeau since the 1960s, and he finally saw that dream come to pass in 1982. Section 15 is used as a legal tool against discrimination based on sex or race etc. However, sexism and racism in canadian society were not huge concerns of trudeau. Trudeau was not overly concerned with issues related to sexism and racism in canada. Rather, he was concerned with the rise of the quebec sovereignty movement. Multiculturalism, like the charter, didn"t come about because of serious concerns amongst federal politicians about racism in canada; rather, it came about by a way of delegitimizing quebec"s claims to be an important culture.