Multiculturalism and Intergroup Relations

By James S. Frideres | Go to book overview
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Jean Burnet

The Canadian government introduced its policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework on October 8, 1971, as a response to Book 4 of the Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. It was a response, the authors of the policy felt, that met the recommendations of Book 4 and even went a bit further. Just how far it went and in what directions may not yet be completely clear: in the past twelve years there has been much analysis of the policy and much criticism of it, mainly hostile. Having participated both in the preparation of Book 4 and in the analysis of the policy of multiculturalism, I should like to discuss the significance of Book 4 in changing public policy concerning what the terms of reference of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism referred to as the "other ethnic groups." The somewhat cryptic title of this chapter is drawn from those terms of reference. The terms of reference were to recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian confederation on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding races, taking into account the contribution made by the other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada and the measures that should be taken to safeguard that contribution. The way in which the commission took into account the other ethnic groups represented a transition from a policy of assimilation to a British model to a policy of ethnic pluralism. I shall begin with a detached look, but later I shall describe what I tried to do as a research associate preparing Book 4 for the approval of the commissioners.


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