DE ZHONG GAO
The Taylor-Bouchard Commission: A guide to Successful Integration of Quebec Communities
Multiculturalism grew straight out of a rejection of “biculturalism” proposed by Liberals in 1963 as a means to protect Québec’s distinct national country in the same country as Anglophones also had been developing a culture of their own. Québec nationalists see multiculturalism as a threat to their unique position within Canada. Sovereignists introduced Bill 101 as their cultural charter and compelled Quebeckers to choose between French and English while sacrificing any distinct and different culture of their own. Québec realized that it needed newcomers even more desperately than other Canadian regions because of its low birth rate. However, welcoming newcomers and integrating them in the Canadian societyare another story. Many controversies have arisen over the past few years about the accommodations and integration of immigrants in Québec.
In 2007, Premier Jean Charest appointed the Bouchard-Taylor Commission to inquire about the issue of reasonable accommodations.This essay will present a case-study on Canadian multiculturalism and Québec interculturalism, which the author has undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission. To do so, I will compare and contrast the achievements of interculturalismwith the Canadian federal policy of multiculturalism in helping immigrants integrate in Québecby looking at a series of interviews from English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians and immigrants vis-à-vis multiculturalism and interculturalism.
The Canadian Multiculturalism Policy of 1971 can be traced backto the 1964 Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Leading the wave against biculturalism were second and third generation Canadians of non-English or French descent. This “third” force composed of non-French and non-English and non-Aboriginal Canadians objected to the bilingualism and biculturalism set by the Commission. The result was the Book IV of the Report on the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Bilingualism—the Cultural Contribution of Other Ethnic Groups—which claimed that Canada is not a bicultural society, but a multicultural one, where people speak different languages and possess distinct cultural heritage. Many French-speaking Quebeckers and immigrants, including a former Chinese English teacher in the department of foreign languages in Tianjin,believe that the multiculturalism policy would better help newcomers integrate in Canada,
“It is a strategy…This [multiculturalism] policy only exists because Canada wants to attract talents across the world. It is quite useful, it doesn’t matter whether you are blue, green, yellow, red, white or black, you will eventually be recognized and brought into the market because Canada wants to use your talent. All skills are all discovered and used eventually. So it is pretty good as far as I am concerned…”
Others do not hesitate to show their skepticismabout multiculturalism, an English-speaking Canadian who has a passion for sinology, claims how,
“Multiculturalism…Mme, I think it’s a big [focus] mess. I believe in division, but multiculturalism, it really institutionalizes diversity in Canada. Look at the Chinese-Canadians. The first generations lands in Vancouver, Toronto or what-have-you…Then the second generation is still Chinese-Canadian and the third generation, well guess what…They will always be Chinese-Canadians! So, I prefer melting-pot [because] it fosters unity, whereas multiculturalism does not make newcomers fully Canadians. It really stands in the way of integration; people have divided loyalties. Who wants that? With melting-pot, you’ll have more incentives to assimilate and learn, so that we, Canadians, will have one solid identity…”
The policy of multiculturalism within a framework commends itself to the government as the most appropriate means of assuring the cultural freedom of Canadians because such a policy can help to break down discriminatory attitudes and cultural jealousies. As a McGill Arts student claimed, “I am confortable…Multiculturalism, it is essential to get into society [since] it helps bring in diverse values; it is really great.”For many, multiculturalism is a guarantee they would get some kind of job. Immigrants are ensured an equal economic and social standing like Canadians,” claims an interviewee.
Nevertheless, intellectuals and politicians have viewed the policy as undermining or at the least complicating, “the claims to nationhood of the Québécois and French Canadians.” Indeed, by severing culture from language, multiculturalism policy rejected the 'two nations' thesis about Canada's development, and reduced the status of French Canadians from that of 'founding people' to the same rank as the 'other ethnic groups.' But others such as Abu-Laban and Stasilius defend multiculturalism, which “allows for some ideological space to pursue demands for affirmative action, and for more representative and responsive institutions within areas such as education, health care, and policing.” Some claim that multiculturalism is quite useful, but does not promote integration as much as interculturalism does. For a Chinese-Canadian merchant keeper, from Canton,
“Multiculturalism can be quite useful…I mean I feel I am confident to say that it helps people to integrate in Canada. I have the possibility to learn and meet Chinese, Afghans, and Pakistanis and to learn their cultures. But, I think the policy can [and should] be improved. Look at me. I succeeded in China because I had good contacts, a good life and a decent level of education, but here the policy does not help me so much. “
The case of multiculturalism in Québec is interesting in that it raises questions about how modern societies handles diversity without losing its internal cohesion or even allowing immigrants to cling to their ethnic enclaves. Multiculturalism has been accepted with much anxiety about the gradual erosion and eventual erasure of Francophone identity and culture within the context within the context of a predominantly Anglophone country with an annual flux of immigrants. The federal approach to multiculturalism has been severely criticized in Québec: Quebeckers claim how the Canadian Multiculturalism Policy degrades the French identity and dilutes the Québec’ssens of national identity. In 1990, Robert Bourassa’s Liberal government issued a policy statement on immigration and integration. The document stressed that immigrants were expected to make the necessary efforts to learn French and to gradually develop a sense of commitment to Québec’s development.
 Yasmeen Abu-Laban and Davia Stasilius, ‘Ethnic Pluralism under Siege: Popular and Partisan Opposition to Multiculturalism,’ Canadian Public Policy (1992), 366.
 Ibid., 366.
 Ibid., 366.
 Ibid., 366.
 Ibid., 367.
 Ibid., 367.
 Ibid., 367.
 Sharify-Funk Meena, ‘Muslims and the Politics of “Reasonable Accommodation”: Analyzing the Bouchard-Taylor report and its Impact on the Canadian Province of Québec,’ Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 30 (2010), 537.
 Chris Durante, ‘Québec’s Intercultural Response to Religio-Cultural Pluralism: What’s at Stake for Religious Freedom?’ McGill University, 3.
- Quote paper
- De Zhong Gao (Author), 2012, Understanding Interculturalism and Multiculturalism for the Successful Integration of Immigrants, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/191923