Annual Report on the operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act: Building a diverse and inclusive society

The 2014-15 report was released discretely (no press release, no announcement), given that it covers the period of the previous government. The only changes that could be made were largely cosmetic in nature.

The sub-title changes to Building a diverse and inclusive society, and Minister Joly picks up on the now standard language:

In Canada, we are recognized worldwide for our successful approach to multiculturalism, which focuses on building a diverse and inclusive society by promoting and encouraging awareness, understanding and respect for the many different cultures that contribute to the economic and social wealth of our country. While the Government of Canada sets the stage through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, it is thanks to the full participation of our provincial and territorial partners, stakeholders and the Canadian public that we are able to find unity in our diversity and to learn from one another.

…As Canadians, we know that our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it. By working together, we are advancing respect and appreciation for multiculturalism across the country while fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging in all Canadians.

In contrast, the previous report, consigned to Former Minister Kenney, reflects a different tone:

Our government is committed to promoting integration, intercultural understanding, peaceful pluralism as well as religious freedom—in Canada and abroad. I have been pleased to meet with many community organizations and international partners over the past year to advance our values and goals.

…By working together, we are making strides in celebrating our multicultural heritage, strengthening the value of citizenship and ensuring the successful integration of newcomers to Canada.

One of the disconnects or ironies is of course that the period under question, and thus the report, reflects the language, approach and activities for that period, with only really the Minister’s message reflecting the change. I was in a similar position when Minister Kenney had to sign-off on a report that largely reflected the priorities and language of the previous government.

No where is this more apparent than in the report’s vaunting of the changes to citizenship, both legislative and administration, many of which are being undone by the current government.

The other striking aspect is what appears to be under-spending in multiculturalism grants and contributions, $3.9 million, compared to the $8.5 million indicated in the DPR. This may reflect ongoing financial commitments in multi-year projects (which next year’s DPR will indicate).

Annual Report on the operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act: Building a diverse and inclusive society


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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