Toronto Star Columnist: Canada Has No Culture

post-nationalI read with amazement the Toronto Star’s national columnist Emma Teitel’s opinion that Maxime Bernier’s ill-advised tweets on diversity simply don’t make sense. In her column, she states her belief that Canada’s culture consists of brand loyalties, love of hockey, and politeness. With such a shallow understanding of Canada, is it any wonder she can’t understand Bernier?

In the world according to Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, there’s nothing wrong with diversity. There is something wrong, however, with “ever more diversity.” Confused? Me too, but I’ll try to break it down for you.

And you will fail. What Bernier is saying is clear: he is not against diversity, but we also need integration, and inviting too much change to quickly is dangerous.

Bernier made a series of ill-advised tweets around 8:30 on Sunday night. When many Canadians were presumably relaxing and spending time with family, the MP was sharing a few xenophobic thoughts with strangers on the internet. In his own words, on Twitter.

Bernier is a libertarian and an individualist, so excuse me if I’m skeptical of your opinion. Let’s read what he actually said.

“Trudeau keeps pushing his ‘diversity is our strength’ slogan. Yes, Canada is a huge and diverse country. This diversity is part of us and should be celebrated. But where do we draw the line?

Good question. I’d say we need to have a strict limit on refugees, who we are bringing in for humanitarian reasons, and will be paying for with our taxes. Legal immigrants who bring valuable skills should be encouraged. Illegal immigrants, who show their willingness to break our laws, should not.

“Canada is today one of the countries where people have the most freedom to express their identity. But why should we promote ever more diversity? If anything and everything is Canadian, does being Canadian mean something? Shouldn’t we emphasize our cultural traditions, what we have built and have in common, what makes us different from other cultures and societies?”

Makes sense to me. Not all cultures are equal. We should preserve what is good about Canadian culture.

“Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn’t make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don’t make our society strong.”

People who are authoritarian, discriminatory, intolerant, and close minded and don’t want to change don’t make use strong. How can you argue with that?

It sounds reasonable at first, right? That is, until you start asking yourself, who are these people “living among us” who reject our values?

Who are the people living among us who reject freedom, equality, tolerance, and openness? I would hazard a guess that Bernier is talking about people who have come to Canada from authoritarian and patriarchal cultures and want to retain those cultures in isolated communities. It’s hard to argue that people who come to Canada but don’t want to take part in our society are not going to make our society strong.

And how does one ’emphasize cultural traditions’ that don’t really exist? Unless Bernier is referring to a series of brand loyalties (Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Molson Canadian), an obsession with hockey and a penchant for politeness in situations where it isn’t necessary, I’m not sure what Canuck traditions he believes require emphasis. Are new immigrants not drinking enough bagged milk? Are they saying “soda” instead of “pop”? Are they saying “sorry” only when they really mean it?

The idea that our cultural traditions don’t exist and that being Canadian is no more than these superficial characteristics is ridiculous. I can only assume that Teitel, like Trudeau, wants to destroy our national identity for ideological reasons.

I volunteered for four years at the Halifax Public Library tutoring adult ESL and again failed to encounter a new immigrant under the age of 80 who had no interest in learning passable English and the customs of this land. I’d wager, having helped newcomers study for their citizenship tests, that new immigrants know more about Canadian civics and history than the average adult who was born here.

Language and customs are the surface. Principles are at issue. Those who believe in Socialism oppose freedom by voting for ever more government. Those who believe that the government should ban “hate speech” are advocating against free speech.

Do immigrants come with baggage from the old country? Of course. Does this baggage sometimes mean they take longer to warm up to ideas like same-sex marriage and gender equality? Of course. But I don’t care, because in my mind diversity means more than diversity of religion and ethnicity. It means diversity of opinion, a concept you’d hope a conservative of all people would embrace. And besides, where odious anti-democratic views are concerned, I’m confident our national identity — “be nice and carry on” — has a way of rubbing off on people. Most Canadian kids are more progressive than their parents.

Becoming ever more Socialist is not progressive, unless you consider progress toward the gulags and killing fields of Communism progressive. The liberal/media monoculture does not want diversity of opinion, as you have proven by smearing Bernier’s opinion as xenophobic. Your confidence that our national identity can prevail without limit is naive. Look to Europe for the turmoil that uncontrolled immigration from the third world can lead to: Pedophile grooming gangs, no go zones so dangerous that even the police fear to enter, and holiday celebrations marred by mass rapes. No thanks.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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