Provincial Multiculturalism Policies in Canada, 1974-2004: A Content Analysis

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ABSTRACT/RESUME

This article provides an analysis of the origins, evolution, provisions, and value of provincial multiculturalism policies during the past three decades as well as some prognostications on their continued evolution and future value. It suggests that although such policies have been overshadowed by national multiculturalism policies, their past, present, and future importance in supplementing that policy should not be underestimated, since such policy supplementation helps to reinforce the shared commitment of all Canadians to the multicultural ethos. It also suggests that more intergovemmental collaboration involving the federal, provincial, municipal, and Aboriginal governments is required to ensure that this policy supplementation function maximizes the consonance and coordination of their joint efforts to strengthen the multicultural ethos for purposes of advancing social cohesion and the public good across Canada.

Ce document analyse les origines, l'evolution, les dispositions et la valeur des politiques provinciales sur le multiculturalisme au cours des trois demieres decennies et presente des pronostics sur leur evolution et leur valeur dans l'avenir. Il suggere que, meme si les politiques provinciales sont eclipsees par la politique nationale du multiculturalisme, il ne faudrait pas sous-estimer leur role passe, actuel et futur de complementarite. En effet, ces politiques contribuent a renforcer l'engagement commun de tous les Canadiens envers la philosophie du multiculturalisme. Le document souligne aussi que les gouvernements federal, provinciaux, municipaux et autochtones doivent collaborer davantage pour s'assurer que cette fonction de soutien de la politique federale vient maximiser l'harmonisation et la coordination de leurs efforts visant a renforcer la philosophie du multiculturalisme, dans le but de promouvoir la cohesion sociale et le bien public dans tout le Canada.

INTRODUCTION

A core element of Canadian identity and pride is the multicultural ethos which values not only the preservation and perpetuation of various cultures, but also cross-cultural understanding and harmonious cultural coexistence. This ethos relating to cultural diversity, cross-cultural understanding, and cultural coexistence has been, and remains, a central component of Canadian political culture and the public philosophies which have shaped public discourse and public policies and programs in this country in recent decades. This includes the multiculturalism or, as in the case of Quebec, intererculturalism (1) policies and programs at the national, provincial, and local levels (Kymlieka 1998; Fleras and Elliott 1992, 2002). Despite the value that the majority of Canadians place on the multiculturalism ethos, they are by no means unanimous in their support for the multiculturalism policies and programs adopted by governments at the national, provincial, and local levels. Indeed, such policies and programs have been contested over the past three decades, and they remain so (Abu-Laban and Stasiuslus 1992; Abu-Laban 1994; Kymlicka 1998; Jedwab 2005). Unfortunately, they are contested in the absence of much information or understanding regarding their precise nature or purpose (Biles 2002; Jansen 2005). The central objective of this paper is to provide an analysis of the origins, evolution, and provisions of the provincial multiculturalism policies promulgated from 1974 to 2004, as well as their prospects and potential value in the future.

An analysis of the multiculturalism policies of the three northern territories is beyond the scope of this work largely because none have a singular policy explicitly devoted to multiculturalism. Their focus has been less on advancing the goals of multiculturalism comparable to those of the provinces than on advancing four other important policy goals that are rooted in their unique ethnocultural configuration. The first two goals have been cultural preservation and acculturation designed to ensure that indigenous languages, customs, and values survive. …