Editorial Exchange: Pauline Marois Shows Ignorance of Canada

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Editorial Exchange: Pauline Marois shows ignorance of Canada

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Sept. 8:

We knew that Quebec Premier Pauline Marois was a small-minded and cynical politician. Her latest salvo in defence of the idea of a Charter of Quebec Values shows she is also remarkably ignorant about the country she seeks to destroy.

In the course of reflecting on her shambolic first year in office (broken promises, abrupt reversals in policy, bungling ministers), Marois threw out a revealing twist on her determination to affirm "Quebec values." According to Le Devoir:

"Pauline Marois compared the French model of laïcite [roughly: secularism], which 'is not perfect,' to multiculturalism as practised in the United Kingdom. 'In England, they hit each other in the mouth and send bombs because it's multiculturalism and no one can find his place anymore in that society.' "

In other words, to put forward a critique of the idea of multiculturalism, Marois, a citizen of Canada until further notice, invokes racial and religious divisions in a European country that, like many others, is struggling with issues involving immigration and minorities.

Britain has indeed had a debate about "multiculturalism" -- or at least what they call multiculturalism. Same word as we use in Canada, but the history, policies, practices and politics that surround it are completely different, as are many of the outcomes. The U.K.'s Conservative government has declared that "multiculturalism" doesn't work there, amid concern about Islamic radicals, bus bombings and the like. That's their debate for them to settle and it has little relevance to multiculturalism as lived in Canada over the past four decades or so.

Marois knows that, or ought to. If she doesn't, she could spend a little time in Toronto or Vancouver, two of the most successful cities on the planet when it comes to integrating vast numbers of newcomers from around the world. Or she could visit with Calgary's Mayor Naheed Nenshi, whose own life and work exemplify Canadian multiculturalism (and who slyly issued an invitation to anyone who doesn't feel welcome in Marois' Quebec to move to his community). …