For many, it is one of the things that defines Canada, something that sets an example for other countries.
However, according to a new poll, Canadians feel Canada’s Multiculturalism Act contributes less to Canadian unity than either the Charter of Rights or the Official Languages Act.
The poll, conducted by Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies and released exclusively to QMI Agency, found that as Canadian multiculturalism gets ready to mark its 40th anniversary next year, only 55% of Canadians feel it is good for Canadian unity.
By comparison, 73.2% said the Charter of Rights contributes to Canadian unity and 57.8% agreed the Official Languages Act did.
So is diversity our strength? Harvard scholar Robert Putnam has some important findings to help us answer that question. From the Boston Globe we read:
IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.
But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.
His findings on the downsides of diversity have also posed a challenge for Putnam, a liberal academic whose own values put him squarely in the pro-diversity camp. Suddenly finding himself the bearer of bad news, Putnam has struggled with how to present his work. He gathered the initial raw data in 2000 and issued a press release the following year outlining the results. He then spent several years testing other possible explanations.
Though the study concentrates itself with the American experience Canada is not doing a better job of it.
Words describing Toronto as a multicultural harmonious society, that the social experiment is a success, are over stating the lived reality, which is a polite way of saying that the words lie. True, it's not all out war on Toronto's streets but the absence of conflict is not proof of a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious utopia. In this Toronto Star article we read:
Severe overcrowding and poverty is heightening stress and ethnic tensions in Canada's most populated immigrant neighbourhood, says a study of the Thorncliffe Park community released Monday.
An influx of Afghans into the predominantly Indian and Pakistani community has seen regional tensions carried over into Canada. Meanwhile, only one part-time mental health worker serves residents, many who have fled violent conflicts.
More than 30,000 residents – mostly newcomers – are crowded into 34 highrise and lowrise apartments in a 2.2-square kilometre concrete jungle behind Don Mills Rd. and Don Valley Parkway. Frontline workers are worried the population is outpacing programs and services, hindering their ability to quickly integrate.
Toronto has become a city of enclaves. It will grow to a region of colonies. This will be replicated in major cities across Canada.
Though not openly admitted it can be observed and experienced simply by living in Toronto. The open secret is this: birds of a feather flock together. The appearance of social harmony is superficial and when on display is done for show mostly at the behest of some official government supported function. Even among first generation Canadians there is a tendency to associate with your own.
Saying "diversity is our strength" doesn't make is so especially when the lived reality begs to differ. To me it is nothing more than a four word sentence.