Leo Housakos' Views: Insult to Canada's Multicultural Tapestry

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By Jim Karygiannnis MP

- An article titled "Multiculturalism's An Outdated Insult" recently appeared concurrently in Toronto's English-language newspaper, The Globe and Mail, as well as in Montreal's French-language daily, La Presse. Penned by Leo Housakos, a Canadian Senator of Greek descent, the item brought the ever-controversial issue of multiculturalism in Canada into the spotlight once again. Full Article -

In a speech to the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress on October 9, 1971, Prime Minister Trudeau stated “A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate. A society which eulogizes the average citizen is one which breeds mediocrity. What the world should be seeking, and what in Canada we must continue to cherish, are not concepts of uniformity but human values: compassion, love, and understanding.”

This is the essence of Canadian multiculturalism – a belief that no matter where you come from or how long you have been in Canada, once you have taken the oath of citizenship you are a Canadian. As we acknowledge that we are a country of immigrants, we realize that each of us brings a unique set of values and talents to the table. Like a jigsaw puzzle, these values and talents are fitted together with those of other Canadians and have ensured that the picture which emerges is a beautiful mosaic and not a muddy grey of a melting pot.

Throughout the world, there are those who are questioning “multiculturalism”. However, they are questioning their type of multiculturalism – not ours. Their multiculturalism has created linguistic and cultural silos. They have not encouraged people of difference ethnic and racial backgrounds to share their experiences with their fellow countrymen and women.

In Canada, multiculturalism is a vision of a free and diverse society in which all individuals live peacefully on an equal footing with each other.

While multiculturalism was introduced in Canada over forty years ago, it is still relevant today. The policy set out four objectives:

  1. to assist all cultural groups to grow and contribute to Canada;
  2. to help people overcome barriers so they could participate fully in Canadian society;
  3. to promote a creative exchange of ideas and sharing of cultures between all Canadians; and,
  4. to help new Canadians learn at least one official language.

While the fundamentals of the multicultural policy are still the same, over the years, it has evolved. At first, it was funding of folkloric activity. Then equality, race relations and the inequality facing immigrant women, became the focus. With the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the focus switched to freedom of religion and equality rights.

At times, there are strains on our multicultural policy. We must all work to ensure that the objectives set out in the original policy apply to all Canadians. We must encourage every Canadian to become a full participant in Canadian society, including politics.

For too long, political parties have been content to only rely on certain ethnic or cultural groups to vote for them. It is time to stop this practice and truly integrate multicultural communities as full partners in the decision making of Canada.

What we need to do is make sure that all Canadian, regardless of where they come from, the color of their skin or their religious beliefs, become full participants in the political life of Canada as civil servants, political staff, candidates and Members of Parliament, both federal and provincial.

We need to ensure that all Canadians are fully engaged in the great experiment we call Canada.

Multiculturalism is alive and well in Canada and it has its rightful place in our country.

We need to Respect our fellow Canadians as equals. We need to Accept them as full participants in all aspects of Canadian life. We need to Celebrate their full participation in our communities. We need to Embrace where it will take us. We need to come together as Canadians and show the world that we are all part of the human RACE.


Vol. 12 - No. 3


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