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Commentary On “Canadian Multiculturalism: Global Anxieties And Local Debates By Keith Banting And Will Kymlicka

924 words - 4 pages

In “Canadian Multiculturalism: Global Anxieties and Local Debates” Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka challenge the understanding that failed multiculturalism in Europe will follow suit in Canada. Although Canada is not immune from the challenges that can come with multiculturalism, the way in which they tackle problems are country specific and do not necessarily reflect the practice or outcomes of other nations. As UK critic of multiculturalism Trevor Phillips, observes Canada to be ‘sleepwalking towards segregation’ (44) when the dynamics are far more complicated. TRANSITION SENTENCE REQUIRED
The mention of the abolition of multiculturalism for a “new” post-multiculturalist approach becomes difficult to understand. It claims, “to avoid the ‘excesses’ of multiculturalism” (47), however where does this notable governmental and social switch take place? How is the term coined, and how is it understood in theory versus in practice? How is it different from its predecessor? Even the classification of history struggles to define what is considered to be modern, let alone post-modern, and yet the term suggests a positive approach to alleviating difficult assimilation projects similar to those faced elsewhere (47). This notion may developed on the grounds of “someone else’s problems” ¬– in regards to its Canadian context – as a means to label, or justify, miscellaneous aspects of multiculturalism. However, with the government-wide commitment to policies and programs, in conjunction with social understanding, it naturally becomes subject to a wide array of differing opinions. As both immigration and citizenship policies change, its public reception often shifts as well. Especially since the channels referred to within the ‘multiculturalism policy’ (51) are greater than one single designated entity.
Multiculturalism policies are not a guarantee in Canada; they provide Canadians with a symbolic public affirmation of its goals (51). Though, a symbolic affirmation is only as good as the commitment when it is put into practice, once it is no longer tradition, its understanding is often contested. Although, Banting and Kymlicka note that “most Canadians have no clear idea how this complex field of multiculturalism policies operate” (51), and yet it plays a major role in all levels of society. It speaks to the larger issue of voter apathy and the disinterestedness that Canadian politics and policy often receive unless it interferes with a specific individual directly. Immigration and citizenship seem almost like social afterthoughts, or non-thoughts, among the general public.
Despite the fact that the deconstruction of Canadian multiculturalism, from that of the European notion, is being assessed in the British Journal of Canadian Studies it targets valid and well-thought-out aspects of Canadian life. Banting and Kymlicka seek to illustrate the Canadian picture from a very different standpoint, observing its absence as “multicultural paradise” (52), while not...

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