Opinion: It’s time to face facts, diversity makes Canada stronger

posted on September 11, 2019

By PrinceGeorgeMatters |

A couple years ago I had the honour to give opening remarks at a ceremony at New Vista Society in Burnaby recognizing a $1.5-million contribution of a benefactor, Ms. Eunice Oh.

The society is building a modern care home with a wing dedicated to supporting elderly Korean-Canadians.

Seated in the front row was Sav Dhaliwal, the longtime Burnaby city councillor, current chair of the Metro Vancouver board and one of a handful visible minorities in local government here.

The City of Burnaby is recognized for being one of the country’s most ethnically diverse municipalities, I said, and there can be no greater visual for this than the food court at Metrotown mall.

“In that place,” I commented, “there is more cultural diversity within the range of a pitching wedge shot than at the U.N. building.”

I am convinced that claim was only a slight exaggeration. Metrotown’s mall attracts thousands from diverse backgrounds and age groups each day, who see it as a welcoming place to work, dine, shop and meet up with companions.

For this reason, I was disappointed to see a photo of a crowd at Metrotown accompanying an opinion piece by Mount Royal University instructor Mark Hecht published last weekend in the Vancouver Sun. In his piece, “Ethnic diversity harms a country’s social trust, economic well-being, argues professor,” Hecht appealed for a Canada that was more ethnically pure, and admonished our country’s multiculturalism policies.

Instead of representing something positive — that Canada has many diverse communities — the use of the Metrotown image implied that diversity brings chaos and uncertainty.

An uproar on social media followed the publication of Hecht’s op-ed — both from readers and even Postmedia’s own reporters. It was ultimately removed from the paper’s website and followed by an apology by the paper’s editor-in-chief.

The piece had its fans though, including many who decried the paper’s decision to pull the piece, calling it censorship.

In the forthcoming federal election campaign, it is almost certain that the topic of immigration will once again enflame the political debate. In 2015, we all remember how the phrase “old stock Canadians” was coined by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a supposed signal to his predominantly white voter base.

Since that time, an entire new political party led by Maxime Bernier, the People’s Party of Canada, has been established, in part, to take a hard line on immigration.

Look to Quebec, where new legislation was passed that disallows teachers and other public servants from wearing head scarves and other religious symbols. Regrettably, most of the federal parties have soft-pedaled their criticism of this discriminatory law for fear of alienating voters in La Belle Province.

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