26 – TheAmbiguities of a Bilingual and Multicultural Canada
Guy Rocher (1972) – analyzes the consequences of the Trudeau government’s unveiling of its
multiculturalism policy in October 1971.
• The official stand of the Canadian government breaks with the image of a unitary and
bicultural country which has consequences (investment of millions of dollars in programs
designed to support Canadian cultural diversity).
The Bases for This New Position
• Pearson government’s Laurendeau-Dunton Commission
-two nations supported by two facts (historical and sociological)
1- Historically, the country originated in two communities (Anglophone and
francophone) which provided the principal social and political structures.
2- New Canadians integrate with one of these communities (linguistically and culturally)
• Trudeau’s government – psycho-sociological foundations (October 8, 1971)
• Feeling of belonging (social malaise) – ethnic groups and pluralism helps avoid
homogenization – create a feeling of unity and security amongst Canadians
• Fidelity to one’s own culture does not necessarily diminish one’s fidelity to the
collectivity of the country
• The distinction between the historic-sociological foundations and psycho-sociological
foundations creates two very different concepts of Canada.
• The first emphasizes the central role of the two original communities, to which is grafted
the cultural impact of all the other ethnic groups
• The second emphasizes the multiplicity of the ethnic groups and their absolute cultural
and political equality within the framework of Canada’s official bilingualism.
The Dangers Inherent to This Position
• The distinction between language and culture is one of the most debatable implications of
• Official bilingualism is detached from cultural support and has no sociological roots since
the majority of Canadians are not bilingual.
• When the idea of two cultural communities is abandoned in favor or Canada’s
multicultural nature, bilingualism becomes an abstraction • Maintaining bilingualism will be more and more difficult – one will soon find no reason
to maintain bilingualism
• Canada will be defined as a unilingual country or a country with 4-6 official languages
• Ambiguities of bilingualism in a multicultural context; proclaiming the distinction
between language and culture while taking measures to supply educational materials for