PARIS — Canadians are the most tolerant people in the developed world, are terrific readers, enjoy more "positive experiences" than everyone but Icelanders, and don't produce many babies, according to a new report released Tuesday.Such widespread acceptance didn't happen automatically just because we are so much nicer - not completely anyway. It took deliberate and intentional public programs and initiatives. Social engineering in other words.
The conclusions were contained in the latest edition of Society at a Glance, a broad-brush analysis of social and economic indicators among the 34 member states of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
"At 84 per cent on average, Canadians report the highest community tolerance of minority groups — ethnic minorities, migrants, and gays and lesbians — in the OECD, where the average is 61 per cent," said a summary of Canada-specific findings.
It's an unpopular contention, bringing up connotations of bloated bureaucracy and the discredited legislation of political correctness. But remember a lot of those connotations have been deliberately spawned and nourished by the same people trying to brand every progressive policy or program as 'Failed Big Government Run Amuck!' There, I just boiled down every Financial Post editorial headline ever.
But while Canada was welcoming and integrating newcomers into our society and crucially, our economy with an inclusive respect for cultural differences, Germany was openly renouncing multiculturalism and France was standing on the principal of 'secularism' another great, enlightened idea but used too often as a cudgel. At least that's how they've used it. They just outlawed veils that cover a woman's face and have started rounding up and arresting women who refuse to take them off. Short sighted, mean-spirited and counter-productive, but portrayed as high minded defense of feminism and liberty. This while the large French Muslim community remains disenfranchised, excluded, disproportionately underemployed and ghettoized.
We've had our own flare-ups, largely but by no means solely, in Quebec where a entrenched majority manages to transform isolated friction points into an argument that multiculturalism as a whole is a failed model and a sign that they are under siege from a small minority.
But in general I would argue that the huge success Canada has had integrating every Canadian into our society is the proof that multiculturalism is an unheralded success story.