LETTER OF THE DAY
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