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Testing 'the Canadian diversity model': hate, bias and fear after September 11th

Canadian Issues; Montreal (Sep 2002): 54-58.

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IN THE 2001 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, CHIEF COMMISSIONER MICHELLE FALARDEAU-RAMSAY OBSERVED, "CANADA HAS A REPUTATION AS A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE FROM EVERY CORNER OF THE WORLD CAN LIVE IN HARMONY WITH MUTUAL RESPECT AND TOLERANCE. THAT REPUTATION IS WELL-DESERVED. BUT IN THE FALL OF 2001, OUR RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER WAS PUT TO THE TEST. IN SOME WAYS, OUR RESPONSE WAS ADMIRABLE; IN OTHER WAYS, NOT SO" (CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION 2002: 4).

The reputation to which the commissioner refers is one that has been built most extensively since the end of the Second World War (Dreisziger 1988, Jaworsky 1979; Joshee 1995, Pal 1993, and Schiffer-Grahame 1989), but one which other researchers suggest has been developing for well over a century (Biles and Panousos 1999; Day 2000). While far from a coherent 'model' per se, the Canadian approach to fashioning a country composed of extremely diverse peoples does have some core elements: an emphasis on bringing Canadians of diverse backgrounds together; fostering a culture of inclusion; and a commitment to core values of equality, accommodation and acceptance.

This approach has been largely driven by Canadians themselves and is an amalgam of initiatives of individuals, communities, different levels of government and judicial decisions.

Of late there has been a number of attempts to meld this approach into an explicit "Canadian Diversity Model." Two of the most recognizable attempts are Prime Minister Jean Chretien's "Canadian Way" speech at a conference on "Progressive Governance for the 21st Century" in Berlin 2-3 June, 2000 and a paper commissioned by the Department of Canadian Heritage from the Canadian Policy Research Network (2001) entitled, "The 'Canadian Diversity Model': Repetoire in Search of a Framework."

These attempts to articulate a coherent model are matched by a number of stock-taking exercises in the...