I heard several news reports regarding some study performed recently on Canadian attitudes towards immigrants. The conclusion was that Canadians are less tolerant than we used to be, and several of the news reports said we are “more racist”. They then cited such things as requiring Moslem women to reveal their faces for ID purposes when voting, and referenced our vaunted “cultural mosaic” political mantra.
Like a lot of good ideas, the “cultural mosaic” or “multiculturalism” has flaws when interpreted to extreme ends. Some people, including some immigrants, believe that Canada’s cultural mosaic (versus the American “melting pot” mantra) means that they can transplant all of their personal beliefs and cultural standards to Canada wholesale, and Canadians will gladly accept them.
So if you come from a culture where the appropriate way to express your dissatisfaction with your wife’s behavior is to beat her with a steel rod, that’s fine. If men are absolute rulers, and women are considered chattel, that’s perfectly acceptable in Canada. If “divorce” of your wife means pouring gasoline on her and lighting her on fire where you come from, that’s okay too. If your religion has hated, tortured, and killed members of another religion for generations, that’s welcome in Canada as well. If your former homeland has fought a guerilla war with another land for decades, feel free to bring your hatred and fear here to Canada too.
Maybe that’s the way original crafters of the multiculturalism policy were thinking, but I don’t believe so. To my way of thinking, to be a Canadian you must accept certain values and agree to abide by our laws. Tolerance of cultural differences is all well and good, but that tolerance stops when those differences violate Canadian laws and basic principles of behavior. If the law says I need to wear a helmet to ride a motorcycle, then belonging to a certain religion or culture shouldn’t exclude me from adherence to that law. If carrying weapons is unacceptable in some areas, then having a particular faith shouldn’t get me a pass.
Canadian tolerance says that we should attempt to make some accommodations to support one another’s differences. For example, allowing veiled women to vote by providing them some alternate way to identify themselves is being “tolerant”. Removing unnecessary (I.E.: no practical purpose) headwear rules from organizations so that other cultures can participate is “tolerant”.
But if believing that “cultural” practices of violence, oppression, and hatred are unacceptable in my Country regardless of the individuals skin colour, country of origin, or religion is “racist”…then count me as a racist.