Ethnic communities should embrace Canadian values: Kenney

Posted by admin on Apr 4th, 2009

By ALTHIA RAJ. The Ottawa Sun. April 4 2009

Canada needs to better integrate its ethnic minorities in order to combat the potential for extremism, says Canada’s immigration and multiculturalism minister.  In an interview with Sun Media, Jason Kenney said Canada’s high level of immigration runs the risk of creating “ethnic silos” that could do here what they have done in Europe.

“We shouldn’t be naive about the very real dangers of radicalization, of extremism. We shouldn’t over-exaggerate it and nor should we just pretend it doesn’t exist,” he said.

Kenney is concerned some communities are not actively integrating with mainstream society. While he won’t point fingers, he said “there are people who come to Canada or are born in Canada that have very illiberal views, who believe that their religious dogma or their ethnic grievance justifies violence.”

“Now, that may be a tiny minority of people, but that’s all it takes to cause real problems,” he said.


Kenney said it’s unhealthy for immigrants to isolate themselves and he’s pushing an “integration” agenda.

Giving the example of a teenager in Richmond, B.C., who arrives from mainland China and spends most of his time fraternizing with other Mandarin speakers — at school, at home, on social networking websites — Kenney asked how much someone like that would have contact with people of different backgrounds. He believes modern communication — Internet, satellite television — slows down the process of integration.

“We don’t just want a country that is a bunch of different silos where people don’t associate with each other,” he said. “Canada isn’t a hotel.”

He understands new immigrants will seek out family and friends as their first point of contact, but Kenney is concerned that’s the only network some new Canadians are building.


“If we are getting in the second or third generation in cities where people are staying more with what they are familiar with than reaching out, that might be a concern and that’s all I’m flagging.”

Learning English or French, mixing with people of other backgrounds, and embracing Canadian values — “Western liberal democratic values” — are integral to moving ahead, Kenney said.

He’s floating the idea of a new language program with vouchers and wants to focus multiculturalism programs on building bridges between different communities. He recently blessed a new project which gives Somali youth in Toronto internships with Jewish professionals.

“I don’t think what I’m saying is controversial. I think it’s common sense,” Kenney said.

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