Cultural Revolutions

Backed Into a Box

Canada's social engineers got themselves into a box by creating what the Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission called in 1967 "an equal partnership between the two founding races." Descendants of all other immigrants, who until then had thought of themselves as Canadians, were suddenly excluded from the new definition. To placate them, the engineers declared the country to be multicultural.

In a preview of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms' fundamental flaw (the multicult label preceded the Charter by ten years), Canadians discovered that to define is to limit. It was no longer enough to announce, as Pierre Trudeau did in 1971, "a policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework"; that policy would have to be reinforced. "The government will support and encourage the various cultures and ethnic groups that give structure and vitality to our society," said Trudeau.

To suppose that a culture could not only consist of various cultural and ethnic groups, but that their variety and number could give it structure and vitality, reveals not so much an ignorance of human nature as a determination to change it. To suppose that civil servants closeted in Ottawa could support and encourage anything vital argues a faith in bureaucracy unequalled since the heyday of Beatrice and Sidney Webb. To suppose that a people whose forebears brought civilization to the wilderness could be...

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