Diversity is Not Off-Limits For Discussion

It’s rather troubling to know that at this very moment, after merely reading the headline of this article, there are some who have already condemned me as a racist bigot and an intolerant xenophobe, regardless of what follows in the text, and regardless of what I embody and live. At least, this is what I am led to believe by the overreactions to Maxime Bernier’s most recent tweets.

Mr. Bernier dared question the sanctity of Trudeau’s adoration and mystical use of the D-word, as though it’s mere utterance carries transcendent power. In boringly predictable fashion, and in a fine display of the cultish element Bernier was referring to, backlash from diversity’s religious community was harsh and swift. The ideologically possessed broke out into their usual broken-record songs of “ists”, “isms”, and “phobes”, not realising that their overuse of such terms have eroded much of their meaning over time.

For those who actually want to take the time to discuss and think things through, however, the role of diversity in our national identity is not off-limits for discussion. Diversity, on its own, is a rather vague term. In relation to our national identity, it seems to be only partial in description. We are a nation of people that can trace their ethnic and cultural origins from a great many places, but what is it about this fact that binds us together under a banner of national unity?

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That Which Unites Our Dominion

As we celebrate 150 years of confederation there is much discussion around the question of a Canadian identity and around what unites us as a country. Many believe that there is no core Canadian identity, no real heritage of value, and that all that unites us is our diversity. When looking back to those who founded this country, however, you will find that this diverse group of men united not on the basis of their differences, but on the basis of that which they shared, that is, a common heritage and a common set of values and beliefs. We would do well, I believe, to celebrate these things with the same vigour we celebrate diversity itself.

While proponents of confederation were in general agreement as to the desirability of this project, there was a fair amount of disagreement as to how to make it a reality, as well as how to unite the people around a common identity. They began, therefore, with the recognition of our common heritage in the Crown and of all that had been achieved under it. In the Legislative Assembly of the United Province of Canada (1865), Richard Cartwright, influential politician and orator, explained that Canada should indeed “cherish and preserve those time-honoured associations our American neighbours have seen fit so recklessly to cast away.”

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