Multiculturalism or ‘pluralism’ describes a society in which various ethnic groups co-exist within a single country. For immigrants, multiculturalism holds out the promise that they will not have to fully integrate into the host society, but can maintain the identity and traditions of the “old country”. A basic principle of multiculturalism is that all cultures are equally deserving of tolerance and respect.

Many Canadians have a positive view of multiculturalism and would be surprised to learn that multiculturalism has failed or is failing in many of the countries in which it was adopted. The United Kingdom’s ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have said that multiculturalism has failed in their countries, and the former leaders of Spain and Australia have voiced concerns about the effectiveness of their multicultural policies for integrating immigrants (See Source #1).

In Europe generally, the failings of multiculturalism have been exacerbated and exposed by pressures put on these countries by the mass in-migration of refugees and economic migrants since 2015. In that year, the European Union forced through a deal to impose migrant quotas on member states. This measure was opposed by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, claiming that further immigration would “alter the fabric of European society” (#2).  These countries were subsequently joined by Poland.

The authors have a number of concerns about multiculturalism in Canada. We have always been leery of a policy that discourages newcomers from assimilating into Canadian society. Given Canada’s high level of immigration, we are worried about losing our heritage, culture, and the superior way of life we enjoy, all of which were established by our founding peoples. We do not want a society disconnected from its past and composed of competing ethnic groups all vying for favoured treatment by the state. We don’t like to hear our federal members of parliament saying things like “Through conversations with my community …” (#3).

There is also a subtle, psychological message in multiculturalism, and that is that the country is not “owned” by anyone in particular. Since all ethnic groups are equal, the founding peoples, whose ancestors built and went to war for this country, have no more claim on the country that any other ethnic group. This has the effect of disenfranchising those of European extraction, currently the majority of the population.


Updated:  4 Feb 2018

Photo by jens johnsson on

Next:  Canadian Culture