Thursday, June 04, 2009

Gruending On Kymlicka On Canadian Immigration Policy

In which Dennis Gruending channels Queens University professor Will Kymlicka's full-throated defense of Canadian multiculturalism:

There is a high degree of political integration among immigrants and an elevated percentage of immigrants to Canada who become citizens. They are more likely than immigrants in other countries to vote, to seek political office and to get elected. Canadians are just as likely to vote for a foreign born or visible minority candidate, as they are to vote for any other candidates.


Rather than focusing upon social science research, many commentators rely on anecdote. They say it creates ethnic ghettos but Kymlicka says that is no truer now than it was previously for other groups such as Italians and Hungarians. Some commentators say that among visible minority immigrants the second generation express lower levels of “belonging” to Canadian society than do their parents. Kymlicka said that, in realty, studies show no dramatic differences and second generation immigrants still express a “high level of belonging to Canada. Too many Canadian commentators, Kymlicka says, are importing a European analysis that holds we are sleepwalking into segregation. “There is little evidence to support this, he says. “My view is that this ominous public debate is off target and unhelpful."


Kymlicka then outlined what he sees as the major problems confronting Canada’s multicultural model. One is economics. The current cohort of immigrants is not keeping up with native-born Canadians. Policies of multiculturalism, Kymlicka said, cannot deal with broadly based economic problems. There are also problems that relate to multiculturalism and religion. Policies developed in the 1970s did not take account of religious sensibilities. “We still do not have a good framework to decide which religious demands are legitimate.” He gave as examples the debates that have swirled around public funding for religious schools and around the use of shariah law in solving certain disputes.

Makes me wish the whole presentation was on-line somewhere. UBC Professor David Ley's “Multiculturalism: A Canadian Defense”, which I admit to not having read, can be found here.

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