Trudeau didn't introduce multiculturalism to Canada

Manoly R. Lupul - Calgary Herald

Letter to the Editor
May 5, 1998

Re "Like him or not, Trudeau left his mark," Wendy Cox, Calgary Herald, April 20.

Both Cox and Louis Balthazar,the retired Laval University professor whom she quotes, are mistaken when they blame Trudeau for introducing "the idea of multiculturalism."

The latter was introduced by senator Paul Yuzyk in the '60s in reaction to the dualistic thrust of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, established on the simple view that, according to Cox, "Quebec and English Canada" were the "two equal halves" of the "Canadian whole."

At its hearings, the commission was bombarded by numerous briefs which insisted that Canada was culturally a pluralistic country that functioned with two working languages - English and French - at the federal level.

In response, the commission's fourth volume in 1969 focused on "The Cultural Contribution of the Other Ethnic Groups," whose 16 recommendations brought on the multicultural movement that led Trudeau to adopt the policy of "multiculturalism within a bilingual framework" in October 1971.

The policy recognized the indisputable fact that the "Canadian whole" is made up of more than "two equal halves," and that the French-speakers, though culturally a large Canadian minority, are indeed - to quote Cox describing Trudeau - "one among many" ethnocultural minorities.

It is wrong to declare, as does Prof. Balthazar, that this is what has created "the problems today." Only someone unfamiliar with Canada's recent history or who has a poor understanding of Canada's cultural evolution during the last 100 years could attribute today's "problems" with Quebec to multiculturalism