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Ethnic And Linguistic Canada Essay

1471 words - 6 pages

Ethnic and Linguistic CanadaCanada has long struggled with issues of ethnicity and linguistics as the nation's large French-speaking minority struggles to maintain its linguistic and cultural heritage. However, the French-speaking Canadians are not the only political players north of the border, and as Canada becomes increasingly diverse, its politics become increasingly complex. According to a 1991 Canadian census figure, almost one third of Canadians had an ethnic background other than British or French. This figure represented a 25-percent increase over that of five years earlier. (Statistics Canada) "In 1991, the groups designated as visible minorities represented 9.4 percent of Canada's population, an increase from 6.3 percent in 1986. Chinese, South Asian and Black comprised the three largest visible minority groups." (Statistics Canada)Several trends can be seen from recent census figures. One is that Canada is becoming increasingly diverse as more immigrants arrive from non-European than from European countries. Another trend is that members of these minority groups are concentrating in the country's large cities. "Approximately 40 percent of the minority-group members live in Toronto, 15 percent in Vancouver and 14 percent in Montreal." (Statistics Canada) This greater diversity has led to some inter-racial and inter-ethnic tensions. "Canada's policy of multiculturalism was initiated in 1970 and the federal legislation pertaining to employment equity was put in place in 1986. Recently, there has been considerable debate regarding these policies and related programs." (Statistics Canada)Yet despite increasing ethnic diversity, and programs to ensure immigrant access to jobs, Canada lacks the violence which can be seen, for example, between the Hutus and the Tootsies of Rwanda or between the Hindu and the Muslim populations of India. This lack of violent confrontation can be credited to the fact that in a democratic system such as Canada's, people are able to have their voices heard at the polls, and see their interests represented in Ottawa. Using the 1995 Quebec sovereignty referendum, this paper will demonstrate how various ethnic and linguistic groups voice their differences through the electoral process.For the French Canadians, preservation of their language is of tremendous importance: "If you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is indiscernible to linguistic identity - I am my language." (Genesee) "The key factor for the political players is the potential reaction of Quebec voters. History has shown that when important issues, such as the future of the French language, are perceived to be at stake, the French-speaking majority in Quebec can react with great unity and force." (Kennedy) Quebec is Canada's largest province, with 7.1 million people, according to the 1996 census. (Collins) "Quebec is the center of French Canadian culture, containing 91 percent of the country's French-speakers...

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