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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Canada

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 5 7.5 7.5


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and/or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • A commitment to multiculturalism is embodied in the constitution of the country. Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that “This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.”
  • The Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which was passed in 1988, affirms a policy of official multiculturalism at the federal level. It also provides for the establishment of programs and policies in support of the act.
  • On 30 October 2008, responsibility for the Multiculturalism Program was transferred to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, under the mandate of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2009c).
  • Provincially, there is some variation. Quebec and Ontario have policy statements and statutes related to multiculturalism, or interculturalism as it is referred to in Quebec. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia have statutes, although Alberta’s is subsumed within the Alberta Human Rights Act which was passed in 2009. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have policy statements. There are not policies or statements specifically devoted to multiculturalism in Newfoundland and Labrador or any of the three territories (see Dewing and Leman 2006; Garcea 2006).
  • In seven provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island), the legislation refers to a government body or ministerial advisory council. Although Saskatchewan and Alberta originally had such bodies, changes to their legislation in the mid-1990s removed all references to them (Garcea 2006; also relevant provincial websites and legislation).
  • At the local level, Good (2009, 8) notes that the multiculturalism infrastructure is “highly uneven,” and “municipalities vary in the extent to which they participate in implementing the norms of ‘official multiculturalism’” (see also Good 2005; Poirier 2006).
  • The policy landscape between 2000 and 2010 is roughly the same as that which existed between 1980 and 2000. Indeed, given that the federal government first introduced a multiculturalism policy in 1971, there has been long-standing affirmation and support for multiculturalism.


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Multiculturalism has been included in school curriculum for some time. This was the case throughout the 1980s and into 2000, and it remained so between 2000 and 2010.
  • The Council of Ministers of Education of Canada (2008, 52-53) recognizes that “integrating immigrant children into the existing education systems of the provinces and territories involves establishing policies embodying the principles of diversity, equity, and multicultural education as part of the daily classroom and school environment, as well as adapting the curriculum and providing teacher supports that address students’ real needs, especially for language learning.” It provides examples of initiatives in Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Education and Training (1993) adopted policy guidelines related to antiracism and ethnocultural equity in school boards. Among the requirements is the provision that school curriculum reflect a racially and culturally diverse society and is aligned with antiracism policy objectives. These guidelines remain in force.
  • The Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education (2002) recognizes, in its Common Curriculum Framework for Social Studies, the importance of recognizing Canada’s cultural diversity and including diverse cultural perspectives in school curriculum. The protocol includes the four western provinces and two territories. In addition, the British Columbia Ministry of Education (2008) recognizes multiculturalism in its policy framework for schools.


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation/sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Broadcasting Act governs the activities of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Section 3 of the act requires that the CBC’s programming “reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.” The act further stipulates that programming and employment opportunities in the Canadian broadcasting system, in general, “serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society.”
  • The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates broadcasting in Canada, which includes the issuing of broadcasting licenses. The CRTC must comply with the Broadcasting Act’s requirement that the broadcasting system reflect the diversity of the Canadian population. It has issued licenses to six ethnic television stations and five analogue ethnic specialty services, as well as approving 194 Canadian ethnic pay and specialty services (28 of which have been launched) and 81 non-Canadian ethnic pay and speciality services. The CRTC has also licensed 25 ethnic radio stations (CRTC 2009).
  • Although the CRTC was created in 1968 at the same time that the first Broadcasting Act was passed, it was not until the 1990s that cultural diversity and inclusion emerged as important issues on the media landscape. Significant progress has been made since the 1980s.


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 1 1

Evidence:

  • Since 1980, there have been incremental changes in this policy field. One of the most significant was in 1990 when the federal government amended the uniform policy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, allowing Sikh officers to wear turbans in lieu of the traditional head-dress. The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed this right, denying a request from two retired RCMP officers who appealed the amendment (Bouchard and Taylor 2008).
  • In 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada sided with the Quebec Superior Court, ruling that a Quebec student should be permitted to wear a kirpan to school under conditions negotiated by the boy’s parents and his school, namely that the kirpan be worn in a stitched sheath underneath the student’s clothing (Bouchard and Taylor 2008).
  • There are variations, however. For example, although two provinces—Manitoba and British Columbia—exempt turban-wearing Sikhs from legislation requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, an Ontario court sided with the provincial government in 2008, rejecting a Sikh man’s claim that his religious rights were violated by this requirement (Huber 2008).
  • Moreover, in 2007, incidents arose with respect to the wearing of the hijab in sporting competitions, most notably in soccer and taekwondo. Provincial organizations are permitted to set their own regulations in many cases, resulting in some variation. The Canadian Taekwondo Federation, for example, generally allows the wearing of sanctioned sport hijabs (Edmonton Journal 2007).


5. Allows dual citizenship

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Citizenship Act does not prohibit the holding of multiple citizenships, and dual citizenship has thus been permitted since 1977. As a result, a Canadian citizen who acquires the nationality of another country may retain his or her Canadian citizenship; likewise, a foreign national who obtains Canadian citizenship is not required by Canada to renounce the original citizenship (see CIC 2009).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The original multiculturalism policy, which was enacted in 1971, included cultural maintenance as one of its key objectives and thus included funds dedicated specifically to ethnic organizations and activities. When the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was passed in 1988, the focus shifted away from cultural communities and toward “all Canadians” (Biles 2006). This, coupled with a strategic review of the Multiculturalism Program in 1995, shifted the focus of funding away from ethno-specific activities and towards issues related to inclusion and institutional change (Biles 2006).
  • The Multiculturalism Program is now housed at Citizenship and Immigration Canada and continues to provide funding to support the integration and inclusion of ethnic, racial, religious and linguistic minorities in Canada (CIC 2009b). Applicants must meet specific criteria to qualify for funding, but ethnocultural groups are invited to apply. Citizenship and Immigration Canada also provides funding to ethnocultural groups that provide settlement programs to newcomers (see Biles 2008; Sadiq 2004). In both cases, the funding is provided to facilitate the delivery of social services.
  • It could be argued that the stipulations attached to funding represent an erosion of support for ethnic organizations and activities, which at one time received core funding from the federal government. Indeed, the Migrant Integration Policy Index (Niessen et al. 2007), which includes a measure related to the public funding of immigrant organizations, provided only a partial score to Canada on this indicator because the funding is dependent on the organization meeting specific criteria. It is debateable, however, if this erosion is related to a decline in multiculturalism policies or simply to the rise of new public management, accountability measures, and other cost-cutting initiatives.


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   Partially. Varies across provinces.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 0.5 0.5

Evidence:

  • Significant supports are provided for the maintenance and preservation of Canada’s official languages as well as for Aboriginal languages. In 2009, the federal and provincial governments signed a protocol governing official-language education and the delivery of programs in official language minority communities (Council of Ministers of Education and Canadian Heritage 2009). Funding for the preservation of Aboriginal languages is provided from the federal government to the three territorial governments (Canadian Heritage 2009b), while the Aboriginal Languages Initiative provides funding for community-based projects designed to preserve and promote Aboriginal languages (Canadian Heritage 2009a).
  • With respect to the funding of education in other languages, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act states that it is the policy of the Government of Canada to “preserve and enhance the use of languages other than English and French.” However, education is itself a provincial responsibility in Canada, so the actual availability and delivery of mother-tongue instruction varies.
  • Nonetheless, heritage language programs are available through ethnic organizations and private providers in most of the large immigrant-receiving communities. “International language” courses are also part of the primary and/or secondary school curriculum in many provinces.
  • In this area, there has been little change from 1980 onwards, with language courses available but, where provided by the government, usually couched in terms of skill acquisition, rather than cultural maintenance.


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • The Canadian Human Rights Act protects against discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion and language (among other grounds), while the Employment Equity Act is aimed at addressing employment barriers and correcting hiring inequities within federally regulated employers; visible minorities are one of the four protected groups (CHRC 2009).
  • These provisions are reproduced in a number of provincial statutes.
  • The Migrant Integration Policy Index (Niessen et al. 2007) gives full marks to Canada in terms of its equality policies and the breadth of applicability of its anti-discrimination policies, which cover several grounds of discrimination in a number of fields, including employment, housing and the delivery of social services.
  • Although the Canadian Human Rights Act was enacted in 1977, it was over the course of the 1980s and 1990s that policy in this area began to change significantly, spurred in part by the Abella Commission, whose report in 1984 laid the foundation for the Employment Equity Act. The broader influence of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has also been important.

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