#Multiculturalism Transferred Back to Canadian Heritage: Impact

CM_Table_12_Transfer_to_CICThe Order in Council announcing the reversal of the 2008 transfer to CIC as part of then Minister Kenney’s Package:

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, pursuant to paragraph 2(a) of the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act, transfers, effective November 4, 2015,

(a) from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to the Department of Canadian Heritage the control and supervision of those portions of the federal public administration in the Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch within the Department of Citizenship and Immigration that relate to multiculturalism; and

(b) to the Minister of Canadian Heritage the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration relating to multiculturalism.

The PCO press release indicates that responsibility for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is also transferred but makes no reference to either the Global Centre for Pluralism or the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (the previous government gave the head of the Office for Religious Freedom the lead responsibility).

Personally  interesting,  given that I managed the transfer to CIC in 2008, and have consistently written that multiculturalism was atrophying at CIC given its more operational focus on citizenship and immigration.

As I wrote two years ago in my conclusion to Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism on the longer-term impact of CIC’s departmental structure and culture on the multiculturalism program:

A functional model like CIC has advantages in creating greater clarity between the policy and operational functions, but tends to reinforce the centre of gravity and allocate resources accordingly. A business line model like PCH provides more focused policy and program integration at the business line or program level, but increases rigidity and coordination issues between business lines. While the PAA structure acts as a counterweight, over time the centre of gravity will dominate. Arguably, for integration, citizenship and multiculturalism, the lines between pure policy and pure operations (e.g., citizenship ceremony design, G&C management) are less clear than for admissibility and immigration selection. Additionally, one of the legacies of the Cullen-Couture agreement transferring immigration selection and integration funding to Quebec meant CIC was largely uninterested in using the levers in citizenship and multiculturalism to highlight federal presence in Quebec. A sharp contrast to PCH which had, and viewed itself as having, a strong role in Quebec.

In many ways, the collective impact for multiculturalism will, over time, become closer to the original Reform Party objective of 1996-97 of abolishing multiculturalism and strengthening a strong, common narrative of citizenship. The Cabinet shuffle of July 2013 and the separation of the political function, which remained under Minister Kenney, from the departmental function, under Minister Alexander, is significant in that context. While political, community-based outreach is central to electoral strategies (the “fourth sister”), as evidenced by Minister Kenney’s ongoing responsibility for this critical outreach, the substantive policy and program focus on long-term integration issues will continue to decline. This is a legitimate policy choice but it is striking just how little debate this change has provoked.

The Liberal government’s decision to reverse the transfer and restore the broader Canadian Heritage identity mandate (and no longer have the file ‘travel’ with a minister), with a strong diversity and inclusion emphasis, will reinvigorate multiculturalism, both within the department and across government more generally.

However, given the dispersal of and reductions to multiculturalism resources at CIC (now IRC), considerable rebuilding will be required.

The above table highlights the FTEs and Operations and Maintennance resources transferred in 2008 (about $12 million in Grants & Contributions funding was also transferred).

Chapter 6 of my book describes the process, resource transfers and impact (available at Lulu.com, direct link My Author Spotlight).

Source: Orders in Council – Search – Privy Council Office

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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