Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Well done on the first of our four Issues essays. Next class we will be picking up where we left off after the presentations before the holidays. We continue to discuss the 1960's and into the '70's as we examine issues surrounding Immigration, the beginnings of the Environmental Movement and questions about our developing relationship with the Untied States.

During class we will open the floor for discussion about many of these issues, but for now please consider the following:

The American model of immigration is one called the “melting pot,” while Canada has an
official policy of multiculturalism. A brief summary of the theories:

• The melting pot – encourages assimilation of minority groups; they are supposed to
embrace the language, values, and history of the dominant group.
• Multiculturalism – acknowledges that minority groups generally have less power,
and are more likely to be discriminated against. This policy attempts to embrace
diversity and difference between cultures, and protects freedoms such as religion,
holidays, etc.

While there is debate over the multicultural policy both qualitative (anecdotal) and
quantitative (statistics) do show that there tends to be lower levels of racism, hate crimes,
and discrimination in countries that promote multiculturalism.

What is your opinion of Canada’s multiculturalism policy? To what extent do you believe it should be protected and upheld?


  1. answers to 2 questions on the quiz are.....to question 2 - education and ability to speak french and english

  2. Canadians should be proud to have such a diverse nation. In my opinion, only positive things can come out of this. If you walk in Downtown Vancouver, you will probably see people who come from every single continent (well, maybe not Antarctica). How cool is that?However, Canada's multiculturalism policy, especially for immigration, is too soft. Take the recent boat that harboured Tamil migrants for example. These 490 people will cost taxpayers (yes, people like you and me) tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to house (think of the property values in Vancouver), feed and provide jobs for these people. I would have no problem if this was a genuine case. But here's the catch, most people don't know that these people pay upwards of fifty thousand Canadian dollars to get smuggled into Canada. Do you think smugglers would do this for free? (also being threatened by heavy fines, imprisonment, or losing their boat) And what about those people who apply to get into Canada through legal grounds - you are putting people who jump the queue in front of those. How would you like it if someone budged in line - the destination being a place far safer and nicer than where you are now i.e Canada? This is unjust and purely absurd. Yes, we must allow multiculturalism to foster, but a line should be drawn between what is acceptable and what isn't. Clearly this is not one that shines. If we don't we may see thousands of illegal immigrants landing in Canada with nothing to stop them - producing a great burden on our already weak social safety net.

  3. I personally agree with Matthew's comment about how "we must allow multiculturalism to foster, but a line should be drawn between what is acceptable and what isn't." Immigrating has it's pros and cons. In Vancouver, a large population of the city is of Asian descent making the whites a minority now. With the new wave of Mainland Chinese immigrants, they are boosting our economy by coming here and consuming our products and living in Vancouver. By doing so, they have also risen the prices of land and living costs and more and more immigrants arrive and space for them to live is becoming scarce. Especially in popular areas, such as Richmond ( high abundance of Asian peoples), the rates of housing has increased by 20% in price over the past few years. This is a large effect from immigrants as before, Richmond was not a desirable area to live for fear of flooding. But with the chinese populating that area, the land pricing has risen substantially. So in the end, multiculturalism is good and bad.

  4. I agree with the first part of your argument, in that Canada's diversity in a positive feature of our nation. In my opinion, we are lucky to live in one of the richest multicultural cities in the world. However, you must keep into consideration that a refugee is someone "who is (according to the formal definition in article 1A of this Convention) owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country (wikipedia)." Legitimate refugees are at risk at home and that is the sole reason they are wanting to evacuate their country. It is our moral obligation to help those at risk (facing death) and severe persecution the best way that we can. In this case, it means sharing our homeland with less-fortunate human beings. I agree that screening should be done case by case, but we cannot look down upon these people as invading our country. Sure, if there are terrorist ties or other pending and outlying issues we should act appropriately, but this could be someone's last chance for survival. You cannot forget that these people do not have the privileges that we do. There is no second chance for them. In a nutshell, they have no place to call home. Moreover, you mentioned that the amount of money they are paying to get out of a horrible lifestyle is significant. However, they are taking money out of their own lifesavings to escape fear and oppression to find a better life. Wouldn't you ? Furthermore, you stated that those applying by legal grounds are being "budged in front of." However, we must take into account the circumstances. For instance, had the Tamils applied at a Canadian Immigration office, they would have no chance. If they took this impossible legal route, they would probably be killed off before any progress was made. We cannot forget that they are in dire circumstances to escape. As for the analogy, "if it was an emergency sometimes you have to go to the front of the line!" Lastly, although it may be hard to imagine, we must try to put ourselves in these peoples shoes. They have nothing, and they are trying to make something out of nothing. We can sit and discuss how we don't want immigration due to the financial aspects, but refugees (such as the Tamils) simply don't have the opportunities that we do.

  5. Roy Yang

    I agree that in this day and age, when racism is put down and diversity is celebrated, a country such as the U.S to have a policy of a "melting pot" is anomalous. Multiculturalism in Vancouver shows that a diverse community of difference races of people can prosper; it allows an exchange of different cultural values and makes the children of vancouver more aware and sensitive to racism and different heritages. Immigration is goooood :)

  6. Multiculturalism is one of the aspects that is distinctly Canadian and, while some destest it, is the pride of the nation. Since, my family has lived in both the United States and Canada, my parents have seen many examples of the difference between a melting pot and a cultural mosaic. In the States, almost all of our friends/acquaintances could not completely deal with the American assimilation method of immigrants/landed persons. And gradually, almost all of them drifted back towards Asia not being able to deal with the culture shock of being assimilated. Though it still happens in Canada, my family finds that the 'satisfaction level' of being Canadian and the transition into a totally alien country is much higher than that of the United States where racism and hate were much higher.
    However, many of us, including me, were not born in our 'motherland', 'fatherland' (ancestral country). And so, we do not truly know the difference between living in a developing country and a developed one; visiting our ancestral country isn't enough to experience the difference. And I for one, would say my greatest privilege is to be able to live in this country. And so, there is no true reason for us to deny the majority of people who come to our borders wishing entrance. The term refugee status, in my opinion, though it tries, doesn't completely eradicate the innate prejudice, fear and racism that we all harbor in ourselves.
    And so I wholeheartedly agree that there is a fine line between multiculturalism and the country that has open borders. How else would we be able to protect our citizens? However, as described above in response to the Tamil incident, when our lives and the lives of our family are at risk, extreme circumstances call for extreme actions.
    And @Matthew I am a bit confused at your weak social safety net. If you mean weak in this sense: As I understand, the world's nations are put on a scale with collectivism at one end and individualism at another. Now, to compare two nations at completely different ends is absurd and largely unhelpful. And so, I think is it most accurate to compare our safety net to that of our southern neighbour. We are both highly developed countries with welfare states. However, according to an article from Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/9/12/64054/5167 United States is the only industrialized nation without job protected maternity leave by right of law. Given that this was a topic we just covered in our seminar, it is a crucial component to our safety net. So in that case, I feel our 'weak' social safety net is far from weak at all.

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  8. Ahh! I feel I'm bombarded by all sides!!! :D Okay, give me a moment to defend myself here. So first, let's talk about queue jumping. The fact remains that all of those people waiting in line ARE refugees too. So now we're saying that other refugees (with just as much risk, maybe even more) that try to get into Canada legally, are bumped behind? Putting these people that are attempting to abide by Canada's rules and laws behind these Tamil refugees who illegally land is unfair and unlawful. Also, with this unexpected landing, it will cost even more because the government has to set up practically on the spot - a very expensive and inefficient task. In the end, we are sacrificing one group of people for another. (Not to mention, resources have to be pulled away from the regular Department of Immigration to deal with this situation - therefore, those waiting in line will have to wait longer). I would rather have people living near me that are used to respecting the law, wouldn't you? In the end, these are all emergencies, and giving certain people special privledges to jump the queue is simply unacceptable. I agree that we should let all legitimate refugees in, and I'm still optimistic about that.

    As for Denis (forgot to answer you first time around), I do not mean weak in that sense. To clear things up, my reference to Canada's 'weak social safery net' implies that Canada's system is heavily burdoned with domestic issues. In other words, our social programs (I am not saying that they are bad or inferior) are cracking just trying to support US, let alone trying to deal with others who will not pay into the system anytime soon due to documentation issues.

  9. I would like to just add a sidenote, since this topic has already been so thoroughly discussed.

    It's a little note on the US,
    In class, and as said here, we say that the US is "a melting-pot", which is arguably true, but I've talked to many Americans who like to refer to the US as more of a chunky stew, where there are distinct subcultures, but inevitably, each part is effected by another.

  10. @ matthew, there is one thing that you said that does not add up:

    "The fact remains that all of those people waiting in line ARE refugees too."

    This is completely inaccurate. Many people apply for immigration for better jobs and family reasons for example. They are not all refugees, and thus refugees should be given a priority due to the circumstances.

  11. You took my quote out of context. Here's the deal:
    We were talking about refugees in line - not everyone in immigration. I said that in context of what we were talking about.

  12. I think that Canada does an amazing job at fostering multiculturalism, as many others have mentioned. In fact, my parents decided to send me to Canada for this very reason: they wanted me to be educated in a multicultural environment, where racism does not exist, and people from different backgrounds come together to create a positive atmosphere. Hence, for me, the best thing about Canada is that it welcomes almost anyone, ranging from immigrants such as me, to refugees. Some people above have stated that "a line should be drawn between what is acceptable and what isn't", that once Canada starts accepting too many people, its economy and citizens will suffer. However, that is not necessarily true. Through welcoming many different people into the country, Canada becomes a very diverse nation that can establish ties with almost any other nation in the world. For instance, from my research last year, I know that Canada, especially British Columbia, is forming strong ties with Korea; BC trades a lot of natural resources with Korea, and furthermore, they have set up policies so that people from Korea can enter Canada easily, and vice versa. Such relationship is the result of the increasing Korean population, which is not entirely composed of professionals who may contribute to the economy, in British Columbia. Hence, ultimately, allowing more people into the country is conducive to raising the well-being of a nation.

    -William Kim

  13. I agree with Matthews opinion of the Tamil migrants controversy. Yes, our immigration policy is designed to protect those who may suffer from unjust persecution, torture or even death; however, in order for any policy or system to work, the rules must be followed. Many will argue against my opinion and say that it is our moral obligation to protect the Tamil migrants, but is it our moral obligation to ignore the hopeful immigrant who has been waiting to legally enter the country? Clearly, the Tamils attempts to illegally enter our country have the potential to cause havoc upon our immigration system. Additionally, our immigration system has been designed to be financially stable. It is estimated that the full cost of the Tamil immigration operation will be 35 million dollars (http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlets/an/local/CTVNews/20100813/tamil-ship-arrives-100813/20100813?hub=TorontoNewHome). This requires the Canadian government to make cut backs to necessary systems to fund this operation.

    Clearly, this topic is not an easy topic to discuss; however, I feel that it is necessary that Canada strictly enforces its immigration policies.

    -Michael Wong

  14. Canada must strongly enforce its immigration policies. On November 6, I read a newspaper article about a Chinese man, who wore a mask of a Caucasian man, trying to enter Canada illegally. (http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Smuggling+network+suspected+eight+other+cases/4089475/story.html) The immigration department refuses to deport him, and they were suggesting that the man is applying for refugee status. It is evident that the immigration department believed that the man will face very severe punishment in China, which enforces the death penalty; but at this stage, the man is part of a human smuggling operation thus he must be deported. Canada should be must stricter in accepting refugees. There are only six countries in the world that does not allow refugee applications to Canada in their home country. Refugees SHOULD apply for that status in their home country and not attempt to immigrate illegally.

    The Americans often said that the Canadian policy on multiculturalism will fragment our nation, and in times of crisis, the allegiance of Canadian citizens will be compromised due to the different nationalities and citizens. The Canadian system welcomes more immigrants and offers a sense of hospitality to tourists, as many places are adopting multi-language signs, maps etc for the ease of newcomers and visitors.

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  16. So far _ people have commented from ______ descent

    5 people of Chinese/Taiwanese
    3 people of Korean
    1 person of Malaysian
    1 person of Indian

    Canada is definitely a cultural mosaic.

  17. Canada should be quite lenient with its policies. Considering it is a country built upon immigrants, there is no reason for harsh immigration protocols such as in the case of the Tamil refugees not long ago. In the past, Canada has made mistake with events like Komagata Maru, and in the state of Modern law, had to pay a lot of money to those involved.

  18. I would argue that Canada is multicultural, but not in a conventional way. Rather than having equally diverse numbers throughout the country, I think that distinct regions of the nation are represented by concentrated groups of different ethnicities.

    @Han: I agree with your analogy that it like a chunky stew. Each ethnicity is represented in large groups, but they do not necessarily "mingle" between each other, like a kind of shelf at footlocker. Maybe a few Nikes, right beside some Adidas, and then those are above the Pumas and they are all spread around the Converse.

  19. I don't have sources right now, but I think apparently in Vancouver, Caucasians have become a minority (albeit still the largest group).

    I would also point out that even though people praise Canada for its willingness to accept refugees, Canada does NOT like refugees at all. Refugees, whether legal or not, simply eat up the welfare system. Canada has every right to reject those Tamil immigrants. As a result, the question of whether they should be let into Canada is a purely moral consideration, and has to be weighed against the consequences. This gray area is littered with many philosophical schools of thought, and I am not going to divulge and write a 1000 word essay on that.

    Those people using the point system have a long long wait as well. Canada limits them because there are so many, and they will often use the welfare system as well (i.e. pass the point system, but can't find a job, so go to UBC to get a PhD, while costing govt. money for 5 years).

    What the govt. likes the most is people coming here to invest (and lose!) $$$ (> $400k, and still going up) in Canadian companies. This is the reason why Vancouver is full of Chinese people.


    In response to the question of examining Canada's policy of cultural mosaic, I would generally agree. However, many people are racist and at this point in time, the visible minorities are discriminated. For example, it is close to impossible to rise to a senior executive position in a Canadian company if you are Chinese. Furthermore, a visible minority (like Indian) is almost guaranteed to not be elected into the parliament or provincial legislature. I don't see that changing much in the next 10 years. If Canada is to embrace true multiculturalism, then these discrimination has to disappear.

    Another consideration, as someone else mentioned, is Vancouver getting less and less affordable due to rich immigrants. At this point in time, it is very hard to tell when the immigration wave will start to stabilize. Canada is not in a position to stop accepting immigrants anyways, and the govt. is probably delighted to accept $$$ into the economy.

    Perhaps in 20 years Chinese immigration will die down and Vancouver living expenses will stabilize (like it did in Toronto). Meanwhile, maybe Canadian govt. can try to spread the immigrants more evenly across the nation.

    In conclusion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with accepting many immigrants and adopting a policy of multiculturalism. The several issues I mentioned can probably be solved in some way or another, and I believe it would be a good idea to become more and more multicultural.

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  21. Canada has only ever been considered a mosaic. The issues at hand that people usually bring to the forefront most of the time involve retaining an aspect of someones culture. Whether it be Natives, Asians, or East Indians, e.t.c. the government is confronted with keeping individualism alive. Canada remains unique in that it respects diversity.

    -Dylan Sidoo

  22. I think Canadians should be proud of the fact that one can look at their nation and see so many individuals of different ethnic backgrounds. Multiculturalism has already become a part of our nation's identity, whether we like it or not, because it is how most of the world sees us. This in the end, is a major aspect of our country. Should we decide to enforce our immigration policies heavily, how would that affect our foreign relations with other countries?
    Although I do believe certain requirements must be met in order to enter Canada, I believe that respecting our country's values and cultural identity should be upheld above all.

  23. I believe that our multiculturalism policy is held up very well. Even though there are those people that will criticize us for it, there cannot be one true minority because there are many different people with different ethnic backgrounds. It should be maintained as it is because the policy is what makes Canada what it is. We essentially provide a stable background with many groups of smaller numbers instead of having two large groups go head to head. A downside to the policy is having a hatred of some sort carry over from past homes in other countries and result in hate crimes to a particular group or ethnicity. If it reaches that point then those responsible should be convicted for what they do.

  24. However we as a society here in Vancouver choose to embrace multiculturalism, I believe to be successful, we have to take everything with a grain of salt and remember not to take our culture and heritage too seriously. I often am entertained by the fact that people will say that they are Canadian, but as soon as an issue comes into focus that effect us all, some people will choose to identify with being Chinese, Indian, English or French in an attempt to benefit their own agendas.

    In a way I do not fully agree with the clear cut "cultural mosaic" idea any more than I choose to accept that a "cultural melting pot" is best for society. To be stronger, we have to stop identifying with being Chinese, Irish, etc, and identify with being Canadian-Japanese, Canadian-Indian, and Canadian-Anglo-Saxon. Case-in-point; we take our cultures too seriously!

    A massive example of solely identifying with our "Mother-countries" would be the UBC Condos and their attempt at curbing the Palliative care Unit from being built beside the site because they do not want to be haunted by ghosts, and they do not want to have their "children having paranormal encounters". These CHINESE-CANADIAN condo owners are not compromising! Vancouver is a Chinese dominated city, so it is a no-brainer to say that if a hospice such as this one was to be built anywhere in the city it would be near Canadian-Chinese citizens!

    According to a Canadian-Chinese tenant of the UBC building, the smallest condo is worth around one million dollars, so based on the evidence above I believe this is not a cultural issue as opposed to a financial one. These tenants are obviously privileged, and yes, they do have a right to cultural security. However, they seem to show a lack of empathy for those "no so wealthy" Canadian Chinese who would be effected by the paranormal activity of the recently deceased.

    In conclusion, when people take culture too seriously, no one wins. We live in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual city, and we all need to compromise in order for everyone to feel most comfortable with their Muslim, Christian, Jewish (ect) neighbors. We need to focus less on the culture our ancestors have set before us, but at the same time hold some close, because we can create a cultural quilt together in which the entire country can benefit.

  25. i think canadas multicultural policy is what makes canada the place that it is, canadians enjoy the feature that even though they are canadians they can still hold their own nationalities they are not absorbed into the canadian way of life. this goes back to the fact that canada is more of a cultural salad bowl unlike the melting pot of our neighbours to the south.