When multiculturalism, and the mass immigration industry that feeds it, is ever discussed publicly it is usual through "rose coloured glasses" and in glowing terms often to the point of being embarrassing. The commentary is constrained by the present, rarely if at all does it bother itself to reflect on the current trends and look to the future. It is like someone living in present day Toronto looking out his or her window and seeing what a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multicultural utopia the city has become and talks as if it will stay in that state forever, as if some balance has been achieved never to be disturbed. Our common sense tells us that this is unrealistic and an imagination. Things change and sometimes not for the better.
Mass immigration has dramatically changed the city of Toronto in as little time as a quarter of a century. The city has gone from majority white and native born to majority non-white and foreign born within a single generation. The city was once a Conservative stronghold and now that party can't even get elected in that town and this leads me to comment on mass immigration and its implications for national unity.
Immigration Watch Canada released this weekly bulletin, a paper by Stephen Gallagher of McGill University, that touches on the potential destabilizing effects mass immigration may have on national unity.
Canada simply does not have a high profile immigration advocacy or research organization which questions the need for a mass immigration policy.
So what does all this mean for Canada’s national identity and how does it affect national unity? I would argue we are approaching a crossroads because the implications of Canada’s transition into a diasporatic country are so profound and manifest that the current studied disregard coupled with on-going fundamental demographic change is not sustainable. The implications of this transformation can be broken into the reality in Quebec and the ROC. In ROC , the rooted British and ‘northern’ connected identity has been largely buried and forgotten.
But Francophone Quebec has not forgotten its roots. In Quebec, collective memories, stories and symbols are deeply rooted and the French language constitutes a formidable nexus of identity. In addition, given sovereignty fears and general economic sluggishness, Quebec has not been a relatively attractive destination for immigrants. Therefore, compared to Toronto and Vancouver, Montreal with 20% foreign born population in 2006 has better preserved its rooted character. Overall, unlike in the ROC, the national re-branding exercise of the sixties and seventies with its new Canadian creed and Charter of Rights did not replace the admittedly evolving Quebecois identity.
In the Canadian context, all this has real implications for national unity. Immigration has already relegated ‘British North America’ to the history books and more recently rendered national bilingualism and biculturalism unrealistic.
The danger for Canada’s national unity lies in the possibility that both conservative and socialist nationalists in Quebec will reach the conclusion that the French language and culture is more secure outside of Canada than in it.
I have been mulling this same thing over and over in my head for some time now and have come to similar conclusions but Quebec's concerns for self preservation are not the only one we should be considering. We also need to be mindful of western Canada particularly Alberta.
When election time rolls around the government has pretty much been decided at the Ontario/Manitoba border and many of those votes are immigrant votes or the so-called "ethnic vote." The vast majority of these votes resides in Canada's major cities particularly voter rich southern Ontario that hosts a sizable portion of Canada's immigrants. And invariably the "ethnic vote" is a vote for the Liberal Party of Canada. Reviewing the results of the last federal election reveals a split between rural, and Canadian, Ontario, and immigrant urban Ontario. The Conservative Party was able to capture a few seats in Ontario but only in the rural areas outside of seat heavy Toronto and the surrounding area. The vast majority of the ridings in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) went to the Liberal Party and these ridings are immigrant heavy of host sizable immigrant populations that can swing the vote.
Alberta and much of western Canada is Conservative territory in relation to their eastern cousins. The western provinces may very well start to consider secession if Ontario continues to posses the power to decide governments which are constantly Liberal governments at the most, or weak minority Conservative governments at the least. And many of the seats these parties are vying for are influenced by immigrant voters. The west may feel itself being subjected to an immigration policy designed in Ottawa which has become, more or less, a program to import more Liberal Party voters. In other words the immigration system can be manipulated to break Conservative strongholds like it did to Toronto. So, like Quebec, Alberta may feel it will have to leave confederation to ensure its political and cultural future.
There is also the potential for regions of Canada going exclusively "ethnic" and this can have destabilizing effects as well. What I mean by this is a future Asian British Columbia, hypothetically speaking but possible nonetheless, where Punjabi and Mandarin have become the dominant languages. The province may very well, firstly, split along ethnic and linguistic lines and, secondly, become a kind of "Quebec of the west coast" and seek secession so that they may also become "masters in their own house" albeit on Canadian soil.
These are real concerns and shouldn't be dismissed as alarmist. I do feel that mass immigration and officially sanctioned multiculturalism will be this nation's undoing. In other words, diversity is not this country's strength. Life has a way of handing us unintended consequences and the political dissolution of Canada may be the result of an out of control and mismanaged mass immigration system exacerbated by multiculturalism as domestic policy.
Secondly, although Canada is certainly a leader in promoting cosmopolitan objectives, there appear to be few if any enthusiastic followers. Certainly tension, debate and reflection on the need for migration controls and a strengthening of integration policies which cross over into assimilationism are mainstream preoccupations in Australia, UK and US. For continental European countries and Japan, the draw bridges are up when it comes to mass immigration and diasporatic communities are being strongly directed towards full integration. This should give Canadian decision-makers pause and stimulate a thorough review of the issues related to immigration, integration and citizenship.
This comment runs counter to the many claims made in Canada's leading newspapers that this country is looked to the world over as a leader in immigrant integration and a model to be emulated. It seems that this isn't the case at all.
Finally, Canadian national unity may be endangered by unmanaged immigration. There is an emerging sense among Francophone Quebecers that the French Fact in America may not be compatible with high levels of immigration. At one level, there is a concern that new-Quebecers tend to assimilate into English cultures. This may not be objectively true but regardless, should a consensus arise among rooted Quebecers that participating in the new Canada (with its new creed and demographic reality) is endangering the French language in Quebec, then national unity will indeed be threatened.
Few countries in the world, even immigrants to Canada, will prescribe the same mass immigration multicultural model for their native countries. Why should we?
Canada has been described as a social experiment but experiments do fail and Canada as a social experiment may very well fail. I don't want that to happed and it is not worth the risk either. Countries have dissolved or been torn asunder or divided because the "social experiment" did not work there. Who's to say that Canada will be different? Where's the assurance?
Erstwhile Parti Quebecois leader Jacques Parizeau lamented that "money and the ethnic vote" defeated Quebec nationalist dreams in the last sovereignty referendum. It seems that not money but the "ethnic vote" may eventually give him what he wanted after all. Vive le Canada, libre!