Saturday, May 03, 2008

Repeat after me: You have a Canadian identity

This morning I was reading an article in the National Post concerning a speech Tory cabinet minister Jason Kenney gave last night.

What caught my eye was Kenney's title: Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity.

That has me a little confused.

OK I get the multiculturalism bit. That just means Kenney's job is to dole out government grants to various ethnic groups so they will stop voting Liberal and start voting Conservative.

But why the heck do we need a cabinet minister in charge of "Canadian identity"? What exactly does that mean?

Are we having some sort of national identity crisis? Do Canadians wake up in the morning thinking they are Dutch, or Koreans or Egyptians?

If so, what does Kenney do to counter-act this? Are there "re-education camps" in the woods somewhere to re-install a "Canadian identity" into people?

It's funny, I never knew there was such a thing as a "Canadian identity".

I always thought people were individuals with their own unique identities.

Is that an unCanadian idea?

Maybe it's time I checked into one of Kenney's camps.

15 comments:

Surecure said...

You must come from a different Canada than I do.

When I was in high school just over 10 years ago, if I asked any of my peers what nationality they were, I'd be hard pressed to find anybody calling themselves Canadian. I called myself Canadian, even though my ancestry is quite diverse, but darned if I could find anybody else.

A Canadian identity? I think that is something that has been largely blasted past by the multicultural obsessions of modern Canada. To have a Canadian identity, one must first identify themselves as Canadian... and that is becoming more and more of a rare thing.

Babylonian said...

Nice to see Trudeau's past cause on life-support.

Anonymous said...

why wait? How about we define the Canadian Identity ourselves?

You go first.

Frank Hilliard said...

The lack of a Canadian identity is precisely because the Liberals foisted multiculturalism on Canada. In place of patriotism we got me-too-ism. Your post shows you bought the Trudeau line to such an extent you no longer know who you are.

Anonymous said...

perhaps there is an identity crisis among average canadians 1 or 2 generations removed from there ethnic backgrounds.  i am 48 and I don't recognize my country from 40 years ago.  i also don't recognize the world the same way I did 40 years ago.  One planet one people,we all should care and Canada is s great place to start.

Reid said...

Canadian identity is, "We're not Americans." This is the legacy of Trudopia. It's sad we identify ourselves by defining what we're not instead of what we are.

Anonymous said...

The poster above this is correct, the leftists so scared of capitalism and advancement have done the best they can by defining us as 'not american.' Even though we are more like americans than any other people on the face of the earth though. Multiculturalism is designed to destroy this country and bring us into the new world order for dominance. (real conservative)

nbt said...

Identity camp? Is there wiener roasts and late night sleepovers?

Miles Lunn said...

I wouldn't say multiculturalism is necessarily destructive to a country. Many people have multiple attachments, as long as being Canadian is their strongest attachment. For example in Europe, most Europeans are proud to be European, the region they are a part of, and the country they come from. A Parisian for example, would be proud to be European, French, and Parisian. However, being French would be the one they are proudest of. Besides, the longer someone has been in Canada, the less likely they are to identify with the country their ancestors came from. Quebec and Atlantic Canada have the highest percentage of people checking off Canadian for ancestry and not surprisingly most people in those two parts of the country have been in Canada for several generations. Likewise in the US, American as ethnicity is most commonly checked off in the South where people also have been there the longest.

As for being Canadian means being not American, unfortunately too many Canadians do define themselves in terms of what they are not rather than what they are. Also some (not myself) would argue one is not a true Canadian if they don't share Canadian values (i.e. left of centre values, not conservative ones). I off course believe one can be a proud Canadian regardless of their ideology, even though I would argue the centre-left ideology is the one the greatest number of Canadians subscribe to. Indeed, I've argued this can only be changed by arguing the goals of the centre-left can be achieved through a centre-right approach. Collectivism is far more popular amongst Canadians as opposed to individualism so the only argument one can make is less government will mean everyone is better off even if we are less equal, since far too many believe high levels of inequality mean lower standards of living for the poor and higher for the rich. Few recognize it is possible to raise it for everyone.

As for being more like the United States than any other country, culturally yes, but value wise, I would say No. The United States is without question the most conservative developed country, while Canada is somewhere in the middle being to the right of the Scandinavian countries and many Continental European ones (i.e. Germany and France), but to the left of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and some continental European countries, especially Eastern Europe. While historically, Australia and Britain were more left wing than Canada, Canada swung way to the left under Trudeau whereas Britain swung way to the right under Thatcher while Canada has only moved slightly to the right in the 80s and 90s, not nearly to the extent most countries have. In fact the differences in values between Canadians and Americans are widening as the US is moving to the right, but Canada is not.

Johnathon said...

Multicultarlism = Retardation.

Case closed.

Iain G. Foulds said...

... As always, this issue is another element of our tribal collectivist past that we are learning to leave behind... as we courageously forge ahead towards the recognition and respect for one another as individuals- both socially and economically.

zolton said...

No such thing as individuals silly.

Anonymous said...

Miles: polls show that over 60% of Canadians think Canada is TOO multicultural and gives too much to minorities.

As for political ideologies, I wholeheartedly disagree. I think the centre is shrinking and the left and right are both growing (at about equal rates). If you go through a downtown riding or a university campus, the socialist left has become the dominant force. Meanwhile, in most of the rural areas, it is becoming more conservative (especially on social issues).

Miles Lunn said...

Anonymous - There is a difference between believing Canada is too multicultural and wanting to scrap multiculturalism altogether. Most polls show most Canadians support multiculturalism but in moderation where people are proud of their heritage, but assimilate with the dominate culture. People don't support the idea of people coming here and being only loyal to the country they came from (mind you I have yet to meet an immigrant who felt that way. In fact most immigrants I've meant are often more patriotic than native born Canadians as they realize just how lucky we are and don't take what we have for granted as many Canadians do.)

As for the centre shrinking, that is true in terms of voters, but not in terms of the general population as a whole. The ideological types tend to be more likely to show up at the polls than the centrist types so this has more to do with a declining voter turnout than the country becoming more polarized. In addition, most people vote against what they don't like rather than what they want so most who vote for parties on the left or right tend to be against something the party is also against (be it immigration, social liberal policies, high taxes, high levels of government intervention on the right, while anti-American, against big corporations, against aggressive wars, against the growing gap between the rich and the poor on the left), but that doesn't mean they are right wing on every issue or left wing on every issue.

Hcheung said...

I do believe that we need some kind of identity enlightenment era.. This whole "our unity lies in our differences" thing is just a lazy way of seeing things. Why would a Canadian not be proud of our nation and history? And as for the immigrants, if you want to live here so much, why can't you just learn English? We used to be the country where everybody was always polite and our cities were always clean. This was at least a better excuse for something of an identity than this "no identity means we have an identity" business..