This wonderful op-ed piece from Angelo Persichilli, 1970s immigrant from Italy, and editor of Italian-Canadian newspaper Corriere Canadese, appeared in the Toronto Sun on Sunday, October 28, 2007. In the wake of the “reasonable accomodation” debate, in outlining the immigrant’s dilemma in Officially Multicultural Canada, he exposes the cynicism of a generation of Liberal politicians who exploited the policy for simple partisan political gain:
For new immigrants there is no alternative but to retreat into their own cultural ghetto. In fact multiculturalism has never been a policy for all Canadians, but a policy to keep new Canadians in their ghettoes. And this interpretation nests in very high places.
I interviewed a Liberal prime minister who told me multiculturalism was very important to him. “In fact,” he said, “40% of the voters in my riding are multicultural.”
I didn’t have the courage to ask him how he would describe the remaining 60%.
A few years later I was invited by another Canadian Liberal prime minister for a private conversation about a story I wrote in a Canadian paper about Canadian politics. Aside from my last name, there was no Italian issue on the table. Nonetheless, at the end he told me he was going to meet “your prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.”
I arrived in Canada more than 30 years ago and I’ve been a Canadian citizen for almost two decades. I’m wondering how long it will take for a Canadian prime minister to consider me a Canadian.
The Prime Ministers referred to, obviously, are Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, condescending power-mongers both.
Persichilli’s conclusion is bang-on, and should give all long-term non-“ethnic” Canadians pause to consider:
I agree, Canada is heading toward a social disaster. We have been too concerned about making Canada than creating Canadians. But please, stop blaming the immigrants. We are ready to become Canadian citizens, just tell us what that means.
Without a unified national identity, shared values, and common goals, we are indeed doomed to social disaster.