British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canadian Multiculturalism: Global Anxieties and Local Debates

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2010), 23, (1), 43–72.

Abstract

In much of the world, and particularly in Europe, there is a widespread perception that multiculturalism has failed, and Canada has not been immune to these rising global anxieties. A number of commentators have argued that smug complacency is blinding Canadians to growing evidence of stresses and failures in ethnic relations in their country. In this article, we explore this evolving debate. We briefly review the global backlash against multiculturalism, and why some commentators see warning signs in Canada as well. We then look at the evidence about how the multiculturalism policy in Canada operates, and about trends in immigrant integration and ethnic relations. We show that there are indeed stresses and strains within Canadian multiculturalism, with real issues that require serious attention. But we misdiagnose the problems, and their remedies, if we read the Canadian experience through the lens of the European debate.

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Banting, Keith

Kymlicka, Will