Our national tolerance is breaking down. In this week's issue, Maclean's
asks, "Is our cherished multicultural tapestry fraying?" Also featured in
the Maclean's hitting newsstands today: O.J. and Benoit - do concussions
trigger madness?; and Onstar's lifeline - can it help save GM?
TORONTO, Oct. 11 /CNW/ - Recently overheard at one of Quebec's hearings
on "reasonable accommodation": "We receive them here, we feed them, we house
them, we give them an education, and they don't integrate at all." The
response? Many in the audience winced. But many others clapped. "The hearings
have demonstrated how utterly conflicted Quebecers are on the question of how
accommodating they should be to newcomers, and to cultural and religious
minorities," writes Maclean's assistant editor Martin Patriquin.
And Quebecers aren't the only ones. The past few months have seen a
number of high profile incidents echoing the sorts of sentiments heard in
Quebec. In Vancouver, uber-manager Bruce Allen, co-producer of the opening and
closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics, declared on his popular radio
show, that Canada has "rules". "If you're immigrating to this country," he
announced, "and you don't like the rules that are in place (...) We don't need
you here. You have another place to go. It's called home. See ya." In the town
of Georgina, Ont., police have been investigating incidents of "nipper
tipping," the ugly term for assaults on Asians in the quiet cottage-country
area around Lake Simcoe. In Mississauga, Ont., an Islamic high school was
vandalized twice in August. Arsonists torched the private Abraar School in
Ottawa late last month on the first day of Ramadan. And in Calgary last month,
three potential jurors in a murder trial of an alleged Muslim hit man were
excused after they admitted they might be biased against the accused because
of his religion.
Beyond the incendiary comments, the issue revolves around this question
of "reasonable accommodations" of cultural and religious minorities, and where
the limits should be drawn. Just how fraught the matter is became clear in
this month's Ontario election campaign, when Progressive Conservative Leader
John Tory found himself pounded in the polls when he advocated extending
public funding to faith-based schools. "For most Ontarians," reports
Patriquin, "this was one accommodation too far."
Since it was enshrined as official policy in 1971, multiculturalism has
been worn by Canadians as a badge of honour even as its consequences have
remained happily abstract. But if tolerance has long been one of the
touchstones of Canadian identity, there is reason to believe our cherished
multicultural tapestry is fraying.
What do wrestler Chris Benoit and O.J. have in common? New research
suggests that concussions may induce psychosis later in life. Maclean's deputy
managing editor Steve Maich reports on how head injuries can trigger a descent
into dementia, madness and maybe even murder.
Wish upon an Onstar
The GPS eye in the sky keeps getting smarter, but can it help save GM?
General Motors' OnStar service is doing brisk business. Maclean's associate
editor Barbara Righton asks, "Can it save the sinking automaker?"
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