multiculturalism in the canadian state

* yu217096 at
Sun Nov 21 22:06:54 MST 1999

Sorry for clogging up everyones mailboxes but i felt that i should state
that this paper was written a few years ago when I first began to cut my
teeth politically. I no longer hold certain views that i held then , one of
which is the cookie cutter model of what a nation  is.

* wrote:

> Hi folks,
> If anyone is interested here is a paper i wrote on multiculturalism a
> few years back, because i cut and paste it the footnote references have
> been lost. If anyone is interested in the sources for any quotes please
> e-mail me and i will send them to you.
> The Policy of Multiculturalism in The Canadian State
> Shiraz Rawat
> The introduction to the Seventh Annual Report on the Operation of the
> Canadian Multiculturalism  Act states that the Act, “provides us with an
> opportunity to rededicate ourselves to our vision of  a society of equal
> citizens regardless of race, colour, language, or ethnicity.”   The
> report goes on to state that, “Canadians are justifiably proud of our
> respect for fairness, tolerance, and civility. Our recent history
> demonstrates our determination to reject violence as a reaction to
> social tensions, to condemn racism as a response to the changing faces
> of Canada.”   The focus  of this paper is not the hypocritical nature of
> these statements  given the government’s economic violence towards
> impoverished people in Canada , not to mention the fact that the State
> makes a great deal of use of violence in order to deal with “social
> tensions” caused by government policy. The focus is on the policy of
> multiculturalism specifically the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and how
> it does not address all the issues it purports to. The Act does not
> distinguish  racism, ethnic chauvinism and national chauvinism as being
> different. By doing so the Act not only fails to  address racism and
> national chauvinism, it maintains them by shielding their true nature.
> The Canadian Multiculturalism Act lumps three distinct forms of
> intolerances together  treating them all as similar phenomena which
> results in only one of them being dealt with. These three intolerances
> are racism, national chauvinism, and ethnic chauvinism. Racism is based
> on the concept of race. This concept is problematic as science has
> proven that races do not exist. However, the fact that races do not
> exist does not mean that people do not engage in racism. “If  men define
> situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”  Racism is the
> practice and beliefs based on the premise that different populations are
> distinctly superior or inferior due to their phenotypic characteristics.
> National chauvinism is based on the concept of  nationhood. A nation has
> the following five features, a common territory, a viable economy, a
> common language, a common history, and a common culture. National
> chauvinism is hostility against a nation.  Ethnic chauvinism is based on
> ethnicity. An ethnic group has a common language, a common history, and
> a common culture but does not have a common territory or viable economy.
> Ethnic groups exist within nations. Ethnic chauvinism exists when the
> target of hostility is an ethnic group. The Canadian Multiculturalism
> Act helps create ethnic tolerance however does nothing to stop racism or
> chauvinism.
>      “In 1971 Canada adopted a multicultural policy with the stated
> purpose of preserving the language and heritage of all ethnic groups and
> removing social obstacles towards equality. The multicultural policy was
> put into law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988.’
>  The Preamble of the act declares that “the government of Canada
> recognizes the diversity of Canadians as regards to race, national or
> ethnic origin, colour and religion as a fundamental characteristic of
> Canadian Society and is committed to a policy of multiculturalism
> designed to preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage of Canadians
> while working to achieve the equality of all Canadians in the economic,
> social, cultural and political life of Canada.”  This Act defines
> multicultural policy by directing the Government of Canada to “recognize
> and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the
> cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society  and recognize and
> promote it as a fundamental characteristic of Canadian heritage.”   This
> demonstrates that this policy lumps racism, ethnic chauvinism, and
> national chauvinism together. The specific mandate of the act directs
> the government to “encourage and assist individuals, organizations and
> institutions to project the multicultural reality of Canada, undertake
> and assist research relating to Canadian multiculturalism, promote
> exchanges and cooperation among the diverse communities, assist in the
> full participation in Canadian society  of individuals of all origins,
> preserve, enhance and share the evolving multicultural heritage of
> Canada, assist ethno-cultural minority communities to conduct activities
> with a view to overcoming any discriminatory barrier, and to assist in
> and actively promote multiculturalism in Canada.”   The specific mandate
> of the Act demonstrates how it is only be effective in dealing with
> ethnic chauvinism yet does little to combat racism and national
> chauvinism.
>  Why does the state make no distinction between racism, national
> chauvinism, and ethnic chauvinism in the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
> Why does the state only deal with ethnic chauvinism yet neglects racism
> and national chauvinism. Perhaps the answer to this question is best
> summed up by the title of a “speech in 1986 at a conference given by
> Brian Mulroney,
>   Multiculturalism Means Business.”  The policy of multiculturalism aids
> in the accumulation of wealth for the bourgeoisie. “Capitalist systems
> are driven to fulfil two basic sometimes contradictory functions. First
> they must create conditions necessary for capital formation, namely
> transport infrastructure and so on. Second, a social climate conducive
> to accumulation must be fostered - in part by ameliorating the social
> costs of private production.  These functions serve to facilitate ruling
> class interest with respect to wealth accumulation and social
> reproduction. State policies pertaining to multiculturalism are closely
> linked with the need for social control in a profit oriented society.”
> An ethnic tolerant society helps the bourgeoisie manage the economy. The
> bourgeoisie, however benefit from racism and national chauvinism.
> Therefore they have a stake in maintaining it. By having policy that
> fights against national chauvinism they  essentially would be fighting
> against their precious borders and would also allow for the First
> Nations and Francophones  to form their own nations. By working towards
> eradicating racism  they would be working towards creating  working
> class unity. If workers were more united  they  would be stronger in
> their struggle against their exploitation by the bourgeoisie. “The
> continual subjugation of the masses depends on competition and internal
> disunity. As long as discrimination exists, the entire working class is
> oppressed, the entire working class is weakened. This is so because the
> Capitalist class is able to use racism to drive down the wages of
> individual segments of the working class by inciting racial antagonism
> and forcing a fight for jobs and services. This division is a
> development that ultimately undercuts the living standards of all
> workers. Moreover, by pitting Whites against Blacks and other oppressed
> nationalities, the capitalist class is able to prevent workers from
> uniting against their common class enemy. As long as workers are
> fighting each other, the capitalist class rule is secure. If an
> effective resistance is to be mounted against the current racist
> offensive of the capitalist class, the utmost solidarity between workers
> of all races is essential. “  As pointed out in his article on Race in
> Ethnicity Peter Li states “if the multicultural policy fails to combat
> racism and discrimination, it succeeds in managing race and ethnic
> relations within a state apparatus.”
>       The Canadian Multiculturalism Act is not in itself a bad thing. It
> helps to eliminate ethnic chauvinism which, although benefits the
> bourgeoisie, also benefits the working class.“It reflects the notion
> that reality cannot be carved into fixed and mutually exclusive units of
> good or bad.’  However the Act and policy of multiculturalism must not
> be held up as a tool to combat racism or national chauvinism. By not
> making distinctions between racism,  national chauvinism, and ethnic
> chauvinism the state has been able to affectively  ignore the first two
> intolerances to the benefit of the bourgeoisie and the detriment of the
> working class. It is therefore imperative for the working class to work
> towards eradicating all forms of intolerance, with or without the
> assistance of the state, in order to move forwards in the struggle
> against expolitation by the bourgeoisie.
> Ervin, Kom’Boa, Lorenzo. Anarchism and the Black Revolution. Monkey
> wrench Press. Philadelphia, 1994.
> Feldhammer, Louis. Naiman, Joanne. Readings in Sociology.  Ryerson
> Polytechnical University.
> Fleras, A. Elliot, J. Multiculturalism in Canada. Unequal Relations.
> Prentice Hall. Scarborough, 1992.
> Li, P. Race and Ethnicity. Race and Ethnic Relations in Canada. Oxford
> Press.Toronto, 1990.
> Satzewich, V. The Political Economy of Race and Ethnicity Race and
> Ethnic Relations in Canada. Oxford Press.Toronto, 1990
> 1994-1995 Annual report on the Operation of the Canadian
> Multiculturalism Act. Department of Canadian Heritage. Ottawa, 1996.
> Statutes of Canada. Chapter 31. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act. Acts
> of Parliament of
> Canada 1988. Ottawa, 1989.
> --
> ÐÏࡱ


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