Can Canada Stay the Course?
The recent shocking arrest of 17 Muslim men from the Toronto area has sent an arrow into the hearts of Canadians who believe that a multicultural Canada is a wonderful gift worth cherishing.
But with the idea that born and bred Canadians were actively plotting the beheadings of our political leaders, many are wondering where the line should be drawn between diversity and integration.
In a disturbing documentary shown on CBC Tuesday night, a young journalist, full of the naive tolerance possessed only by a Canadian weaned on the promise of a de facto United Nations in our his land, traveled to Europe to see the damage being wrought by un-integrated immigrant populations.
It wasn’t pretty.
Young men in France and England, from both sides, swaggered through no-go zones threatening death.
A Dutch filmmaker was murdered for a producing a film about Muslim women by a Dutch-born Muslim.
All over Western Europe, whole towns are divided into two camps.
There is a revival of nationalist, anti-immigration political parties fanning the flames of intolerance.
Over and over the journalist asked: could it happen in Canada?
Unfortunately, events of the past week have shown that it already has.
There have always been, in our country built by the sweat, blood and tears of successive waves of immigrants, those who wanted to lock the gates after their chosen group had established a foot-hold.
Growing up in our country, we all learned the pejoratives for various ethnic groups: wops, japs, chinks, micks, pakkis. Sometimes we learned them from our fathers and sometimes on the playground.
Until now, however, it seems our country has been able to absorb each new surge of immigration. Children grew, were educated in Canada, married into settled families and provided their children a new Canadian identity – sometimes hyphenated, but often not.
Even the Irish and English immigrants who battled for decades in Southern Ontario seem to have relinquished their tribalism.
Do these arrests mark just a new, more difficult phase on the same path to immigrant integration in Canada or are we facing a new road – one where communities don’t assimilate and instead ghettoize? Are we on a path where angry young men, isolated by their faith and their culture, find an outlet in destruction and mayhem?
Most Canadians are very open and tolerant as new arrivals settle, acclimatize and begin the process of integration. But there will be a backlash if the events of this week are repeated.
It would be a shame to lose our unique commitment to diversity because of one group’s unwillingness to join Canadian culture or the over-reaction of existing Canadians to a community’s struggle to adapt to a new land.
As seen today in 24 Hours