The face Canada showed the world – Margaret Wente

Margaret Wente’s cheery piece on what Canada got right, referring to the Hamilton video experiment on attitudes towards Muslims (Hamilton racism social experiment ends with a punch | Toronto Star) and the community efforts to clean up the damage at the Cold Lake Mosque (Volunteers help clean vandalism from Cold Lake mosque):

When I wear the poppy, I sometimes think of my dad and grandfather, who fought so that some day we could live in a nation just like this. But why us? Why are we the lucky ones? How have we managed to escape the racial and ethnic strife that plagues most of the rest of the world?

One reason is that Canada is so new. Almost all of us are immigrants – newcomers ourselves not so long ago. And our dual English-French identities have been a great test of our ability to accommodate our differences without tearing each other to shreds. So far, so good. We’ve learned a lot from that.

Our identity is not defined by blood, or by our sense of destiny. We have no concept of Volk. We’re just folks. We don’t care who you are or where you came from or who or what you worship, as long as you share our good Canadian bourgeois values. Don’t litter. Send your kids to school. Wear a poppy.

We are blessed with a lot of elbow room, and we have borders that are relatively impermeable. No massive waves of refugees and migrants wash up on our shores. We never imported guest workers who we thought would go home, but didn’t.

Unlike Europe, our immigrants come from all corners of the planet. We’ve dodged the problem of large subgroups that self-ghettoize and don’t assimilate. Here, everyone gets thrown together and winds up at Tim Hortons or maybe Starbucks. And the locals are extremely friendly, which means that the whole world wants to come here, so we get our pick. We have created a virtuous circle of tolerance and openness that is rivalled only by Australia, a nation just like ours, only with a better climate and a worse accent.

As my friend and colleague Sheema Khan said of Mr. Albach’s video, “This is the face that Canada is showing to the world.” After two terrorist attacks, people punched out the bigots and took flowers to the mosque. No wonder we’re the envy of the world.

The face Canada showed the world – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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