Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Francophone Minority Communities and Immigrant Integration in Canada: Rethinking the Normative Foundations

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Francophone Minority Communities and Immigrant Integration in Canada: Rethinking the Normative Foundations

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper addresses one particular feature of Canada's accommodation of diversity--the existence of French-language communities outside of Quebec and New Brunswick--to show how there continues to be conceptual difficulties in reconciling Canada's many diversities. More specifically, we are concerned with conceptual ambiguities associated with the place of these minority communities in Canada's constitutive political sociology, and difficulties in promoting a coherent set of policies for their flourishing. Moreover, this paper will not simply rehash arguments about their formal and conceptual status. We are interested in illuminating a recent initiative that seeks to direct immigrants to these communities in the hope of maintaining their overall percentage of the Canadian population. This is a development that has received little attention to date from the perspective of the scholarship of multiculturalism and minority rights, and political theory more generally. We argue that the strategy to target Francophone minority communities as 'sites' of integration represents a false promise for both these communities and immigrants. This article will show that the federal framework of 'multiculturalism within a bilingual framework' obscures the realities confronting Francophone minority communities and thus their capacity to integrate newcomers, on both empirical and normative grounds.

Resume

Cet article porte sur un cas particulier de l'accommodement canadien de la diversite--l'existence de communautes francophones en dehors du Quebec et du Nouveau-Brunswick--pour montrer comment des difficultes conceptuelles a reconcilier les multiples aspects de cette diversite sont encore presentes. Plus precisement, ce qui nous concerne, ce sont les ambiguites de la sociologie politique constitutive du Canada envers la place donnee a ces communautes minoritaires et les difficultes promouvoir un ensemble coherent de politiques en faveur de leur epanouissement. De plus, il ne s'agit pas ici de simplement repeter les arguments sur leur statut formei et conceptuel. Ce qui nous interesse, c'est d'eclairer une initiative recente qui tente de diriger des immigrants vers elles dans l'espoir de maintenir leur pourcentage general de la population canadienne. Ce developpement a recu peu d'attention du point de vue de la recherche sur le multiculturalisme et les droits des minorites, ainsi que sur la theorie politique en general. Nous soutenons que la strategie de viser les minorites francophones comine <> d'integration represente une fausse promesse, aussi bien pour ces communautes que pour les immigrants. Nous montrons dans cet article que les modalites federales du <> cachent les realites auxquelles elles sont confrontees et, donc, leur capacite a integrer les nouveaux-venus, aussi bien pour des raisons empiriques que normatives.

INTRODUCTION

Canada has 1ong been considered a pioneer anda leader in state-minority relations. Pollster Michael Adams has even claimed that "if there's one area where Canada can truly be called a global expert, it's in managing diversity" (Adams 2007, 8). This article examines one particular feature of state-minority relations in Canada--French-language communities outside of Quebec and New Brunswick. (1) More specifically, it is concerned with ambiguities associated with the place of these minority communities in Canada's constitutive political sociology, and difficulties in promoting a coherent set of policies for their flourishing.

In the usual discourse on diversity, most observers have borrowed from Will Kymlicka's distinction of 'national minorities' and 'ethnic groups' to interpret minority claims on the wider political community (Kymlicka 1995). In terms of language rights, we tend to assume that the necessity for a common public language, from both instrumental and cultural perspectives, is more apparent within national minorities, as part of their claims for distinct national status. …

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