Rising Anti-Immigrant Sentiment In The West Doesn’t Bode Well, Especially For Countries Like Canada

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Recent tragedy in Norway, riots in the U.K. and the growing sentiments against immigration and multiculturalism don’t bode well for the international community. This is more so for countries like Canada. For the past couple of years, these issues have been front-page news in most of the European countries. As a matter of fact, the leaders of countries like Germany and Great Britain have declared multiculturalism as a failure in their countries. In view of all of these developments overseas, Canada needs to be more proactive than before in addressing the issues of immigration and multiculturalism.

By Balwant Sanghera

Recent tragedy in Norway, riots in the U.K. and the growing sentiments against immigration and multiculturalism don’t bode well for the international community. This is more so for countries like Canada. For the past couple of years, these issues have been front-page news in most of the European countries. As a matter of fact, the leaders of countries like Germany and Great Britain have declared multiculturalism as a failure in their countries. In view of all of these developments overseas, Canada needs to be more proactive than before in addressing the issues of immigration and multiculturalism.

Fortunately, here we have quite different dynamics than the ones in Europe. First, the mere geographical location of this country offers as a kind of buffer against some of the problems facing Europe. It is a bit more difficult for undesirable people to enter Canada than it is in Europe. This serves as a natural screen to keep most of the shady characters and troublemakers out.

Second, Canada was founded by two nations –English and French. Along with that was a solid and very rich pre-existing Aboriginal culture. Thus, despite occasional conflicts, Canada has a long history of different cultures living side by side. Furthermore, the history of immigration from China, Japan and South Asia goes a long way. This gradual fusion of cultures has been a great facilitator of multiculturalism in Canada.

Third, Canadians are more open minded, compassionate, accepting of cultural diversity. Even those who have diverse opinions about these issues express their views and concerns in a civilized and respectful manner.

Four, to their credit, every level of government in Canada-federal, provincial and local-has been making an ernest effort in promoting tolerance and harmony between different cultures. As a matter of fact, Canada was the first country in the Western world to officially adopt multiculturalism in early 1970s.

Finally, the international image of Canada as a country of peace, prosperity, stability, mutual respect and understanding goes a long way in shaping people’s thinking.  It is considered to one of the best, if not the best, country to live in. However, as Canadians, we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We live in a global village. Thus, if something happens in one corner of the world, it does have an impact everywhwere. Cosequently, it is incumbent upon all of us to uphold the values that make this nation so unique. Rather than being complacent, we need to learn the lessons from the troubles in Europe in order to avoid the pitfalls that are affecting that continent these days.

Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.