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A Cabinet Minister Responds to
Stephen Lautens


Calgary Sun


February 10, 2000

STEPHEN LAUTENS column (Feb. 3) misinterprets the discussion of ethnic origin in the census.

Multiculturalism does not refute the notion of Canadian identity, but rather encourages it to define itself through diversity. Canadians are proud, not only of their national identity, but of their varied ethnic origins, which happen to be French, Scottish, Somali, Italian, etc.

Canadians need not deny their "Canadian-ness" while maintaining their ethnicity.

In fact, this is the uniqueness of Canada's integrative (as opposed to assimilative) policies.

Under the Multiculturalism Act, the government is "obligated to collect statistical data in order to enable the development of policies, programs and practices ... sensitive and responsive to the multicultural reality of Canada."

The main source of this information is the census conducted every five years and due again in 2001. The data collected is necessary not only to provide a snapshot of Canada's evolving diversity, but also to identify which Canadians face barriers to full participation in society.

The multiculturalism program, renewed three years ago, is not the same program it was when the policy was introduced nearly 30 years ago.

Today, its focus is not celebrating ethnic customs and traditions, but addressing issues of injustice, intolerance and hate across all sectors of Canadian society. Our preoccupations go beyond tolerance to focus on respect and inclusiveness.

Hedy Fry, MP
Secretary of State, Multiculturalism

Calgary Sun Editor's Note: (But can we call ourselves Canadian or not?)


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