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Accommodation, Tolerance, Inclusiveness, and Patriotism

Since the beginning of an immigration open-door policy in Canada under Prime Ministers Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, there has been an influx of immigrants from all around the world. Many of these immigrants, as with many others before them, came to Canada to find a better life for themselves and their families. It has been an interesting marriage of East meets West, especially in the major cities of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. With the different cultural backgrounds that immigrants bring to this country, it is no wonder that many academics have defined Canada has a mosaic or a mixed salad. Immigration itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it should be encouraged. Immigration has been a contributing factor to our multicultural identity and our willingness to accept new and diverse cultures.

Immigration, amongst other things, leads to another topic: Reasonable Accommodations. This is understandably a sensitive subject for many Canadians. The question that is often asked in regards to that subject is “How far should the majority accommodate the minority?”. This question could be applied to many things such as cultures, faiths, and other belief systems. There are others who would ask: “Why should the majority accommodate the minority at all?”. The fact that we live in a democracy where in theory we are ruled by the opinion of the majority, it would be the most obvious point to consider why the minority would be given any accommodations. But would Canada be Canada today if we did not accept and accommodate cultural, ethnic, or faith minorities? Of course not. If we did not provide a individual of a minority group with accommodations, we would be violating one’s rights under section 15 of the Charter. Although the majority is obligated to provide accommodations to the minority under the Charter, the question still remains: “How far should the majority accommodate the minority?”. There is no question that the diverse cultures, faiths, and beliefs in Canada that come from around the world should be respected and allowed to thrive. However, they shouldn’t be allowed to supersede the traditions and values of this country. At some point, we as Canadians must draw the line.

Recently, a New Brunswick school made national headlines. The principal of that school began a policy which O Canada, the national anthem, would not be played at the school except for the monthly assemblies and special events. Erik Millet, a former Green Party candidate and the principal of the school in question, claimed that the new school policy regarding the anthem was created to accommodate some parents, who indicated they didn’t want their children taking part in the daily singing of the anthem. To be more “inclusive”. The trouble is that Mr. Millet can seem to get through his politically-correct skull is that the system is already accommodating: For children whose parents do not want them taking part in the daily singing of the anthem can choose leave the classroom or  not participate during the duration of the anthem. Opponents of the current wording of O Canada have stated that the anthem is not “inclusive” of all Canadians. Rex Murphy puts it correctly when he states “If you hear the word “inclusive,” something a majority wants is being banned.” He continues by asking several questions:

Why do the sensibilities of a few who find something objectionable seem so frequently to overrule the sensibilities of the great many who find the same thing joyful or meaningful? Why is being offended by O Canada more worthy, as a sentiment, than taking joy or pride in O Canada?

What many pro-inclusive individuals and groups seem to forget is that Canada is a democracy where every Canadian has a say, but at the end of the day, it is the majority (or plurality, in some cases) that gets the final word. As that is the case, outside of their Charter rights, minority groups (not only the diverse ethnic and cultural minority in this country, but the minority faith and/or beliefs groups as well) should not be able to force change on the majority. Nor should they be able to force their values in place of ours. If they do not like our traditions, our values, and our way of life, then they should move out of the country or return to their previous place of residency. Rex Murphy makes another good point in regards to “inclusiveness” and accommodations to the minority:

In our brave new world of tumid tolerance and shrunken common sense, very frequently if even one person “objects” to some long-respected tradition, innocuous greeting or symbol of unexceptional commonality, then in the name of “tolerance” that tradition, greeting or instance of our common interest will be banned.

There is no doubt that we should provide accommodations to minority groups, however, the Canadian people as a whole need to realize when it has gone too far. We need to draw the line and say “hands off” when our traditions, our values, and our way of life is threatened as a result of the “need” of inclusiveness or an extreme brand of “tolerance”.



2 thoughts on “Accommodation, Tolerance, Inclusiveness, and Patriotism

  1. I don’t believe in the “mosaic”/”mixed salad” bullshit. Step outside the country, see what life outside our bubble is like. In China, for example, you have what I would refer to as “Cultural Darwinsim”, with inferior traditions and practices being weeded out.

    The issue with Canada is that out belief in multiculturalism has come at the expense of our own. This starts with the banning of O Canada, followed by the singing of other songs, the celebration of other religions in place of our own (last Christmas one school in the states refused to celebrate Christmas, instead making the “politically correct” move of celebrating Ramadan and Ede), etc

    As the former Australian PM said “if you don’t like it (our country’s ways) there’s the door”. After the incident in New Brunswick, I also believe this applies to Canadians looking to rewrite our culture as well, not just immigrants who don’t want to integrate.


    P.S. The Chinese, Japanese, etc who do come to this country do integrate. Sure we do see tightly knit communities, but within those communities, they are teaching integration. While they will remember their culture, it doesn’t stop them from adopting ours, even celebrating Christian holidays.

    I don’t see anything wrong with having their time to celebrate things like Chinese New Year, but they realize that when our holidays roll around, they have to take part. I am sick of all this talk about “not forcing our ways upon them”, especially when many groups are trying to do that to us.

    Can you say Sharia courts?

    Posted by clancop | February 10, 2009, 6:10 PM
  2. I was really surprised when I learned my daughter was singing “O canada” everyday at school. I thought these kind of practices were restricted to authoratatian countries to induce a false sense of patriotism. I don’t mind her singing it everyday- but I happened to mention it one day in my own universuity class, and some of the other “real” (ie non-first generation–immigrants) students were really surprsied. They said that for example in Alberta/Calgary where they come fram, noone sings O Canada everyday.

    Anyway, let’s not forget that these “majority” canadians who are now so worried at having their culture and traditions wiped out attained their majority status when their not-so-distant ancestors effectively stompied on and wiped out vast swathes of other majority cultures, at the point of sword, when they first arrived in this wonderful land…

    Posted by thenewcomer | February 12, 2009, 1:13 PM

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