Volume 46 Issue 3, September 2021, pp. 403-429

Background: This article draws on municipal, provincial, and federal archives to examine multiculturalism as an ideology, a government strategy, and a media discourse.

Analysis: The author scrutinizes official and corporate forms of multiculturalism in Canada between 1971 and 2003, and develops case studies of “tempered radicals” who worked with and within small-l liberal institutions and discourses while trying to change them.

Conclusions and implications: The author suggests that the keyword “shy elitism” might be a helpful tool to address the forms of credentialism and anti-intellectualism that have often confined and defined the study of multiculturalism.

Contexte : Cet article puise dans les archives municipales, provinciales et fédérales pour examiner le multiculturalisme en tant qu’idéologie, stratégie gouvernementale et discours médiatique.

Analyse : L’auteur examine les formes officielles et corporatives du multiculturalisme au Canada entre 1971 et 2003, et développe des études de cas de « radicaux tempérés » qui ont travaillé avec et au sein d’institutions et de discours libéraux de petite taille tout en essayant de les changer.

Conclusions et implications : L’auteur suggère que le mot-clé « élitisme timide » pourrait être un outil utile pour aborder les formes d’accréditation et d’anti-intellectualisme qui ont souvent limité et défini l’étude du multiculturalisme.

As part of the commitment to approaching the state as one frame of meaning among others, we might reconsider the status, and state of closure and security, accorded to national citizenship, to the passport, to the social insurance card.

—Richard Iton, 2008, p. 198

In the end, the special circumstance of the African-Canadian activist, artist, and intellectual is to be, automatically, a citizen of the African Diaspora, with a Canadian passport and a polyphonous consciousness, and a multicultural, multiracial set of global affiliations.

—George Elliott Clarke, 2014, p. 771

The title of this article was first conceived in response to a deliciously droll librarian who looked down at a copy of Multiculturalism: What is it really about? (Canadian Ministry of State for Multiculturalism, 1991) and, with a sly smile, told me that it “looked interesting.” When I recounted the librarian’s incisive and ironic commentary to friends and colleagues, some wondered if I had described the report by the Canadian Ministry of State for Multiculturalism as the thrilling sequel to War: What is it good for? Others reminded me that the word “multiculturalism” should not be used in a course title because students found it boring. All pushed me to do some fresh thinking about top-down attempts to define multiculturalism that had made the policy, and the programs funded through it, appear rather bland and banal.

Banality is often used dismissively to identify that which is dull and unoriginal. However, it can also be considered valuable or necessary for good governance. Liberal political philosophers have argued that multiculturalism is banal because it has been incorporated into the same everyday logic of negotiation and power that shapes all domestic politics in Canada (Kymlicka, 2003, 2015). Political scientists have similarly asserted that multicultural policies are successful when they create new cadres of community leaders familiar with the banality of Canadian institutions and practices (Kesler & Bloemraad, 2010). Even intellectuals who contest official and corporate forms of multiculturalism that confine the “proper boundaries of the political” to “all but elected officials and those interested groups primarily concerned with and licensed by the state” (Iton, 2008, pp. 82, 108) may find themselves advocating for the banalization of multiculturalism. The Black Atlantic intellectual Paul Gilroy (1993a), for example, has not only called upon intellectuals to creatively communicate “real” (p. 24) forms of multiculturalism—and convivial cultures in which “one set of habits flows into others and all of them are altered by that encounter” (Gilroy, Sandset, Bangstad, & Høibjerg, 2019, p. 176, emphasis added)—in contradistinction to sclerotic approaches to multiculturalism that narrowly read it as a governmental and/or rhetorical aspiration about group cultural rights and formal institutional inclusion. He has also described lived, everyday multicultures as a “banality of good” (Gilroy, 2017).

The first part of this article considers official strategies to build awareness and acceptance of multiculturalism in Canada after the federal government announced an official policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework in 1971. It demonstrates how capital-M Multicultural policies and initiatives were conjoined with the politics of recognition and a dominant discursive regime of small-l liberalism that sought to extend, across time and space, a belief in the epistemological and ontological primacy of the category “individual” (Bannerji, 2000; Chazan, Helps, Stanley, & Thakkar, 2011; Coulthard, 2014; Day, 2000; McKay, 1998, 2000; Mackey, 2002; Thobani, 2007). It draws on the public statements and private correspondence of small-l liberals such as John Munro, the minister for labour responsible for multiculturalism during the seventies; Robin Winks, the author of The Blacks in Canada: A History, which was sent to the Canadian Commission on Biculturalism and Bilingualism in advance of its official publication in 1971; and Daniel Hill, an African-American immigrant to Canada who, after serving as the director and chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, set up the country’s first human rights consulting firm in 1973. This brief discussion of politicians, academics, and human rights campaigners who made their mark on multiculturalism writes against the grain of many academic accounts that exclusively or primarily focus on federal documents and legal and constitutional frameworks—rather than the panoply of multicultural initiatives in provincial and municipal contexts, private businesses, or other civil society organizations—to “most easily” (Kymlicka, 2015, p. 18) trace the evolution of multiculturalism.

After discussing the mostly white, male, and middle-class worlds of human rights agencies and multicultural institutions at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of Canadian society in part one, sections two and three of this article discuss the lives and circumstances of Rosemary Brown and Frances Henry between 1971 and 1983. Born in Jamaica in 1930, Brown moved to Canada in 1951 to study at McGill University. After moving to British Columbia, she achieved a national profile in the sixties as the social worker host for the CTV television show People in Conflict. In 1972, Brown entered the British Columbia legislature as a member of the New Democratic Party and the first Black woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada. In 1975, she became the first Black individual to run for the leadership of a federal political party. Born in Germany in 1931, Henry moved with her family to the United States when she was eight to escape Nazi persecution. She would later become a social anthropologist at McGill and York universities, publish an account of Black Nova Scotian communities in 1973, compile a study of racism in Toronto supported by the Group Understanding and Human Rights Programme in the Department of the Secretary of State in 1978, and write about Jewish and non-Jewish relations in a small rural village in Western Germany where her Jewish grandfather had once been a prominent resident (Henry 1984).

Aside from helping address a national narrative that includes, but cannot be reducible to, Toronto-centric concerns, the careers of Brown and Henry illustrate the struggles of tempered radicals (Meyerson & Scully, 1995) who worked with and within small-l liberal institutions and discourses while trying to change them. On the one hand, they could be framed as hot-tempered, angry, or frustrated activists articulating visions of social justice that were distinct from human rights campaigners, who were depicted as “gentleman experts” in the business of fighting “gentleman bigots” (Stein, 1962, p. 26). On the other, they were fashioned as tempered radicals in contradistinction to “intemperate” militants such as the Caribbean political activist Rosie Douglas and other participants in the Sir George Williams Affair, the largest student occupation in Canadian history, which was sparked by accusations of a biology professor unfairly grading students of colour at what is now known as Concordia University. Since tempered radicals were also defined in opposition to “ineffectual intellectuals” considered too utopian to translate the theoretical discourse or speculative thought of faculty lounges or Black Power study groups to broader publics, the article also draws attention to Brown’s (1990) critique of academics who were unwilling to appear “commercialized, common or ordinary” (p. 96) and Henry’s (1986) attempts to use quantitative analysis and evidence-based work to appear serious and less “impressionistic” to public servants (pp. 50, 65).

Section four delves beneath the surface of later efforts to graft anti-racist initiatives onto multicultural policies, programs and discourses that had initially been focused on integrating cultural and linguistic groups into the Canadian nation-state. Between 1984 and 1993, Progressive Conservative governments in Canada marketed multiculturalism and employment equity programs as viable commercial propositions that would help Canadian businesses succeed in a globalized marketplace. Between 1993 and 2003, Liberal governments in Canada established new guidelines to subsume the expression of ethnic and cultural diversity under the notions of social cohesion, mutual respect, and a shared sense of Canadian identity. To connect the government strategies and discourses in both periods (when Canadian commentators often conflated the terms immigrant and visible minority [Reitz, 1988], and presumed that visible minorities were immigrants or, like immigrants, alienated in “a profoundly psychic sense” [Philip, 1992, p. 29] from the Canadian nation), this article does not develop a critical discourse analysis of a single document or set of texts by Immigration and Citizenship Canada.2 Instead, it draws on a diverse range of material from Library and Archives Canada, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, and the Archives of Ontario, about anti-racism, Canadian heritage, human rights, immigration, labour, multiculturalism, race relations, settlement, and the status of women. This oft-overlooked archival material permits us to connect the unconvincing depictions of happy, smiling, multicultural subjects used to project Canada as a tolerant “nation of immigrants” to broader questions about multiculturalism as a performative, symbolic diversion that veils the violence of settler colonialism (Ahmed, 2007; McNeil, 2004). They provide us with access to private reflections about “multicultural elements” within Canadian institutions as well as the deliberations of multicultural agencies that, mindful of limited and short-term funding, turned to corporate sponsors to convey the message that racism was an economic and political problem for Canadian society.

Section five considers how Henry and Brown sought to communicate their progressive work and campaigns to Canadian “decision-makers” between 1984 and 2003. After publishing “state-of-the-art” reflections on race relations for the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 1986, Henry was appointed to the Royal Society of Canada in 1989 and received an award for excellence in race relations from the Ministry for Multiculturalism and Citizenship in 1991. She would author a book about the racism experienced by the Caribbean diaspora in Toronto (Henry 1994) and co-author multiple studies of racism in Canadian society with Carol Tator. In the eighties and nineties, Brown served as the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 1987 and 1988 and was the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission between 1993 and 1996. She was also awarded more than a dozen honorary degrees from Canadian universities and became a member of the Order of British Columbia in 1995 and an Officer in the Order of Canada in 1996. Six years after her death in 2003, Canada Post issued a stamp commemorating her life and achievements during Black History Month.

By selecting key works written by Brown and Henry, this article adds some content and cutting edge to forms of credentialism and anti-intellectualism in Canada that I have labelled “shy elitism” (McNeil, 2020). I associate shy elitism with discourses and practices that bolster the authority of politicians, academics, and other experts by announcing their connections to elite universities (in, for example, reports of “a study by renowned Harvard psychologist” [Ien, 2018] and CVs that are “impeccable” because they “include a PhD from McGill and a five-year stint at Harvard as an assistant professor” [Schiff, 2018]). I also use shy elitism to refer to the attempts of Brown, Henry, and other tempered radicals with elite validation and credentials to appeal a Canadian public sphere that is uncomfortable with anything that may be perceived as too elitist, esoteric, or intellectual. According to Brown (1989a), only “the safest, most acceptable and bland of communicators” (p. 153) would be successful in Canadian politics and ensure that young Canadians would grow up seeing Blacks in the highest levels of government, law, and education. According to Henry and her collaborators, it was problematic for an “intellectual elite” to develop museum exhibits, newspaper articles, or applied research that included metaphors, a strong use of irony, and references that might go over the head of an “informed general reader” (Henry, 2013; Tator & Henry, 2006; Tator, Henry, & Mattis, 1998).

While inevitably flawed and partial, this rendering of tempered radicalism and shy elitism is designed to provide context for the work of Canadian immigrants who sought to translate their messages about social and political transformation into less challenging or disruptive terms.3 In plenary sessions and other venues in which tempered radicals with credentials from elite universities in North America and Europe were invited to say their piece and be given respectful (and “politically correct”) hearing (Jameson, 1993), Henry and Brown could advocate for systemic change. Henry would consistently note that racism and racial inequality persisted despite (and perhaps because of) a rhetorical commitment to multiculturalism, and Brown would call for a socialist and feminist transformation of Canada. Rather than argue that Henry, Brown, or other tempered radicals were incapable of engaging with work written within a Black radical tradition about race relations and multiculturalism as performative distractions from systemic issues, this article argues that their political and academic projects to participate in civil and courteous discourse with Canadian “power brokers” were also defined against “intemperate” radicals. In the early period of multiculturalism in the seventies, this meant that Henry and Brown sought ways to connect with audiences that consumed media depictions of Black radicals such as Rosie Douglas as threats to the health and security of the nation who were unwilling or unable to participate in constructive dialogue. After the grafting of race relations initiatives onto multicultural policies in the eighties, their advocacy work and applied research were often designed to appeal to an informed general reader concerned about Black Canadians falling victim to radicalism, violence, or an oppositional culture.

Canada’s position as the first country to adopt an official policy of multiculturalism in 1971 has been interpreted as a sign of a forward-looking small-l liberal nation seeking to develop a civic philosophy of democratic pluralism that would replace loyalty to the British Empire. Such analyses connect the policy’s evolution to educational and legal campaigns to discredit scientific racism and white supremacy after World War II, and acknowledge the impact of decolonization movements in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean on a Canadian immigration policy that was shorn of its more overt forms of racial exclusion (English, 2008; Triadafilopoulos, 2012). They may also allude to the Canadian self-image as a nation of do-gooders—which perhaps reached its apogee with the celebration of Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s finessing of the Suez Crisis and acceptance of a Nobel Peace Prize in 1957—based on policies that sought to transform concerns about national disunity into positions of prominence on the international stage (Litt, 2016).

Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s promulgation of multiculturalism on October 8, 1971, has also been portrayed as a cynical political move by the capital-L Liberal Party. The Liberal leader’s creative reading of the findings of volume four of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism—which was tasked with examining the cultural contributions of non-British and non-French ethnic groups—has been described as a means to win votes from ethnic communities in Ontario, appease the opposition to official bilingualism in Western Canada, and offset the challenge to the Liberal Party’s traditional base of support in Québec from the rise of separatism after the FLQ crisis of 1970 (Harney, 1988). Events such as the Black Writers Congress in 1968 and the Sir George Williams Affair in 1969 have also been suggested as factors that may have informed the Canadian government’s desire to develop a multicultural policy that provided it with some plausible deniability against charges of racism (Austin, 2018; Clarke, 2002).4

The archives of John Munro, the Liberal MP for Hamilton East and minister of labour and multiculturalism, usefully illustrate how federal politicians sought to use multiculturalism as a nation-building tool that was nimble enough to respond to political and demographic changes in provinces and municipalities. In public speeches, Munro (1976b) claimed that multiculturalism was too important to be left to “bearded academics,” and that the federal government needed to build “awareness and acceptance” of multiculturalism as a means to resist American “consumer culture” by making better use of the national public broadcaster, the public authority in charge of regulating and supervising Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications, and the ethnic press.5 Finding it challenging to balance the portfolios of labour and multiculturalism (Pal, 1993), Munro (1976a) also appealed to the self-interest of Liberal politicians in cabinet meetings by arguing that a new Ministry of Multiculturalism would help the Ontario Liberal Party after it had lost its official opposition status to the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the 1975 provincial election, and predominantly Italian ridings in Toronto had switched from supporting the Liberal Party to the NDP. He argued that the “emotional attachment of immigrant groups to the party that brought them to Canada is waning,” and that many immigrant and ethnic groups were “no longer intimidated by communist or socialist philosophies” (p. 2). Since their electoral support was not assured by “high profile but selective ethnic issues, backed by grant programs” (p. 3), he recommended that the Liberal Party needed to appeal to immigrants from the Communist bloc by assigning knowledgeable MPs to communicate Canada’s support for prominent Soviet dissidents. Moreover, he suggested that they needed to emphasize the federal government’s aid to “underdeveloped countries” (p. 4) to garner greater support among Canada’s burgeoning Caribbean communities.

While the Liberal Party sought to strengthen the perception that multiculturalism was integral to Canada, and divert attention away from the idea that Bay Street and Rue Saint-Jacques had colonized the Caribbean, small-l liberals asserted that principles of individualism and meritocracy, along with benign (i.e., unbigoted) forms of assimilationism, were the only fair and effective policies for modern Canada. John Porter (1965), the author of The Vertical Mosiac: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada, was perhaps the best-known advocate of this small-l liberal position in Canada. His influence is evident, for example, in Robin Winks’ decision to conclude his history of The Blacks in Canada with a chapter called “The Black Tile in the Mosaic.” Winks (1971) — a white American of Welsh ancestry — presumed that multiculturalism was fine for groups such as “the Irish … the Scots, the English” who could take pride in their “old world cultures” (p. 477), but believed that it would leave Black Canadians adrift since they did not have a national self-identification or “cultural base to which they could return” (p. 482). The Blacks in Canada portrayed Black Canadians as pragmatists who “wanted nothing more than to be accepted as quiet Canadians … [and] were unlikely to organize militant, noisy, pushing protests (p. 466).” It described the destruction wrought on the Sir George Williams computer centre as “thoughtless, needless, and frustrated” (p. 478), and associated the anti-racism protest with militant Caribbean students who detected “racial insults … where none are intended” (p. 470) and spread “un-Canadian ideas” (p. 403) about Black Power. The Yale historian did not mention that Black students who protested racism in Canada were often subject to criticism in Canadian media in a manner that Black students in sit-in protests against racism in the United States were not.

The Blacks in Canada was praised by Daniel Hill, an American-born sociologist, human rights advocate, and consultant, who became the first full-time director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1962, as a document that was as good and accurate as anything he could hope to develop in campaigns against serious discrimination in housing, education, and employment (Winks, 1967). Hill (1960) also shared Winks’ concern that “only some Negroes, West Indians primarily, maintain the notion of community … a sentimental illusion, a form of wish fulfilment” (p. 357). Yet when he engaged in a Canadian public sphere that depicted Caribbean immigrants as illiterate anarchists corrupting young people in the overdeveloped world (Anonymous 1975a; 1975b), his anti-racist advocacy would include barbed comments about Black militants who were incapable of proposing constructive action to build a respectable Black Canadian community (Hill, 1977). Furthermore, he would portray his national histories about “Black achievers” as accessible translations of the “obscure” work that intellectuals published about the complexities of local and global Black communities in academic journals (Bowers, 1981; Hill, 1981; Walker, 1997).

After becoming the first Black woman elected to a provincial legislature in Canada, Rosemary Brown was asked by her political opponents in the legislative assembly of British Columbia why she did not go back to Jamaica if she cared so much about the land of her birth. In addition to such overt attempts to alienate her from Canada, Brown was often exoticized by journalists who wondered whether someone so “deliciously minority and yet so chic, so articulate” (Timson, 1980) could connect with bland, frugal and unpretentious Canadians. Even journalists sympathetic to Brown’s cause acknowledged that Canada’s “philosopher queen” found it difficult to hide her frustration with the banal and intrusive questions that she was asked, ad nauseam, about her comfortable upbringing and privileged status in Jamaica, her expensive home in the fashionable Point Grey area of Vancouver, and her Parisian wardrobe (Fotheringham, 1975; Hunter, 1975). Brown confronted sneering reports about her insubstantial radical chic by suggesting that Canadian journalists may have been bamboozled by an American media that associated so-called authentic blackness with ghettoization and poverty. She reminded journalists that her childhood development in Jamaica was relatively untouched by “glittering vulgarity” (Brown, 1989a, p. 59) and American popular culture. Further more, she attributed her confidence and self-esteem to her upbringing in a Jamaican environment in the thirties and forties that, while colonized by the British, allowed her to see Blacks in positions of authority. “The governor was black, judges were black, the police were black, anyone who was anyone was black” (Rockett, 1973, p. 45, emphasis added). Rather than connect her political aspirations to achieve a socialist and feminist transformation of Canada to radical Caribbean thinkers who maintained that ordinary people did not need an intellectual vanguard to help them think or tell them what to say (James, 1980), she maintained that ordinary people did not have the time and education to develop theoretical ideas and that it was her responsibility—as well as that of others with time and formal educational qualifications—to speak out on their behalf (Brown, 1975a. See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Front Cover of The Georgia Straight, December 4–11, 1975

Source: Rosemary Brown Fonds. University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Archives

During her campaign to become leader of the NDP (see Figure 2), Brown (1975b) resisted the scapegoating of visible minorities for congested metropolitan areas, housing shortages, pressures on arable land, and damage to the environment. She also spoke at campaigns to prevent the deportation of 1,500 Haitians and Rosie Douglas from Canada and had her private conversations with Douglas recorded by an RCMP informer. Such radicalism was tempered by her belief that she needed to communicate democratic socialism and other progressive ideologies in the safest, most bland terms to the Canadian voter (Brown 1989a). She would repeat platitudes about the candidacy of a Jamaican-born feminist providing voters with an opportunity to live up to Canada’s creed as a multicultural “nation of immigrants,” and appealed to audiences invested in the cultivation of quiet leaders of minority groups by stressing the point that responsible human rights organizations had a “more lasting impact on the quality of life” (Brown 1989a, p. 54) of Black Canadians than more prominent or newsworthy radical organizations. Allied with her limited ability to communicate in French,6 such rhetoric meant that Brown’s campaign primarily appealed to Anglophone Canadians who wanted to promote Canada as a progressive nation while remaining wary of “untempered radicals” who called for an end to class oppression, racial hierarchy, sexual discrimination, and neocolonialism, wherever they may be in the world.

Figure 2: ‘Rosemary Brown is …’ Rosemary Brown Leadership Campaign Committee, 1975

Source: Rosemary Brown Fonds. University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Archives

After achieving second place in the 1975 NDP leadership convention, Brown maintained a national profile as a speaker at conferences and events about the women’s movement, social inequality, and Black liberation. At a United Black Conference, Brown (1978) demonstrated her understanding of a “liberal way” that restricted grants to anything that seemed too threatening and took credit for anything that was funded, and presented the case that a national Black organization that accepted government funding would keep Blacks discreet, isolated, and “ghettoized” from the real sources of power and influence. Moreover, the NDP politician called on Blacks to achieve significant social change by working inside established organizations and supporting experts, leaders, and representatives who could communicate the aspirations of racialized minorities to “decision-makers” (Brown, 1977, p. 178) inside Canadian institutions.

In the summer of 1962, Alan Borovoy, the secretary of the Jewish Labour Committee in Toronto, visited the Black community of Africville. Believing that it was unacceptable for respectable Canadians to tolerate a “ghetto” that was situated by a dump, he resolved to take action to arouse public support and bring pressure on political leaders to relocate the people of Africville. In pursuit of this goal, he helped form the Halifax Human Rights Advisory Committee, which drew upon studies conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs (1962) at Dalhousie University that claimed “personal impressions and opinion … [and] self-help efforts by the Negro” (p. iii) needed to be aligned with academic expertise if Nova Scotian society was to right historical wrongs and solve complex social difficulties.

When he chaired the Halifax Human Rights Advisory Committee, Rosemary Brown’s brother Gus Wedderburn (1969) would complain that Black radicals such as Burnley “Rocky” Jones, the leader of Afro Canadian Liberation Front, condemned “all the positive things that have been done so far without any alternative … and [were] being given leadership and support by outsiders.” In his director’s report to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Marvin Schiff (1969), a white Jewish journalist from Toronto, clarified that small-l liberals were concerned about radical outsiders, such as Black Panthers from the United States, providing leadership and support to Nova Scotians. They were willing to invite white experts from outside the community to discuss how their research might align with human rights agencies:

Dr Frances Henry, a highly qualified McGill University anthropologist, has chosen to work with a research team in Cherry Brook and the Guysborough area, studying the mechanisms by which poor blacks in these parts of the province have adapted to or overcome the effects of discrimination and other social afflictions they have suffered for generations. After she and her two-man summer project team have completed a month’s work, she has said she would consult with us again to determine how her work might be fashioned to meet some of our needs. (p. 41, emphasis added)

Henry’s (1973) Forgotten Canadians met some of the needs of liberal human rights activists by contending that Black Nova Scotians were a “miserable” (p. 27) group that did not have an alternative value system and, as a result, had ended up “structuring their lives to correspond with the values they have learned from the society at large” (p. 155). Although the book included evidence collected by Henry’s research team about Black Nova Scotians subscribing to a “levelling culture” that believed that “all people are, or should be, the same, and status distinctions should not exist” (p. 158), it did not consider that such a levelling culture might constitute evidence of an alternative value system. Henry argued, instead, that a Black Nova Scotian culture did not correspond to a “distinctive sub-culture based on racial status” akin to black Americans and their “violent hostility” (p. 104) to white authority (p. 161).7 Moreover, she lamented that a levelling culture prevented Black Nova Scotians from following or admiring potential Black Canadian leaders who advanced their status within mainstream Canadian society, and, in a revealing Freudian slip, mistakenly recorded the title of a dissertation on which she served as an internal supervisor as “West Indian Activism Abroad” rather than “West Indian Radicalism Abroad” (Henry, 1973, p. 174). Such a small yet significant shiuft in language reflects a text that called on a white, conservative power structure in Nova Scotia to listen to the constructive demands of West Indian and Black Canadian activists if they wished to prevent charismatic leaders mobilizing the people into more radical directions (pp. 175, 178). Canadian functionaries could heed such calls for greater Black representation and role models in advisory boards without disrupting stereotypes about the economic mismanagement of Black organizations. For example, the Canadian Multiculturalism Directorate (1981–1982) responded favourably to an application from the Black United Front in Nova Scotia in the early eighties—even though it expressed concern that the Black United Front had “poorly managed funds” and had failed to write the Black history series it had listed as an objective in a previously awarded grant—because it was important to ensure that Blacks had “an active member on the provincial Advisory Committee of the Department of Education” to facilitate their participation in the “institutional decision-making process.”

When she moved from McGill to York University, Henry found that her lectures on Caribbean anthropology and the Caribbean Diaspora attracted many white female students who “had black Caribbean boyfriends” in Toronto.

As the term would progress, they would come to me and spill out their guts; what are they going to do? Should they marry or partner with this man? The advice I always gave is: have a ball, have a great time, enjoy, but do not marry and do not get into a permanent relationship. But why, they would ask, you did it? [Henry was married to Jeff Henry, Black Trinidadian professor at York, and founder of Theatre Fountainhead in 1974, which developed and produced plays by Black playwrights] … In the Caribbean, gender relations are still very problematic; men are very patriarchal, for the most part … Then there is a deep-seated belief in, for want of a better word, male promiscuity. (Agnew, 2007, pp. 408-409)

Such comments may be unpacked in a variety of ways. An interdisciplinary scholar may note, for example, that Henry leans into her professional role as an anthropologist to discuss cultural barriers to permanent relationships with students (rather than, say, the research of historians, criminologists, or human rights agencies about members of a Toronto police force who stopped and searched Black Caribbean men when they were driving convertible cars with their white wives because they thought that they might be involved in the business of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for payment8). In addition, the tone and texture of the interview is markedly distinct to that of Henry’s (1978) report on racism, which was funded by the Group Understanding and Human Rights Programme, Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, and sought to generate quantitative data about the “thoughts, feelings and attitudes of the majority of the mainstream population towards … visible minority groups” (p. 6). This report used a “scientific method” to analyze the responses of 617 white Torontonians to a questionnaire on racial attitudes that associated racism with an authoritarian and anti-liberal perspective (rather than, say, interrogate romantic racism and the exotification of non-white groups). It concluded that “racists and liberals differed significantly,” and that 16 percent of the sample expressed “extremely racist thoughts and feelings, 35 percent exhibited “some degree of racism,” 19 percent were “extremely tolerant,” and 30 percent were “inclined towards tolerance” (Henry 1978, p. 39).

In 1984, a special committee on the participation of visible minorities in Canadian society published their list of 80 recommendations for governmental, institutional, and organizational cooperation to amend inequities of race and ethnicity in Canada. The committee included Liberal, Progressive Conservative, and NDP MPs from across Canada—such as Laverne Lewycky, a Ukrainian-Canadian NDP politician and professor of sociology and communication studies—but it did not include any women or visible minorities. Lewycky used a particularly revealing analogy to disseminate the committee’s work when he compared the multiculturalism directorate’s position within the Secretary of State Department to that of a teaching or research assistant in a university. That is to say, he rationalized the committee’s call for the Department of Multiculturalism to be made a senior office in the Cabinet of Canada, i.e., granted the status of a “full professor,” because he believed it was just plain common sense that the dean of a faculty would look at a proposal for funds received from a teaching or research assistant differently to one submitted by a full professor (Ziniak & Gross, 1985a). To go further, the co-author of a document called Equality Now! did not engage with a Black radical tradition that viewed race relations as a “counterproductive, essentializing euphemism for hierarchy” (Reed, 2015). He advocated, instead, for a set of recommendations that called on the federal government to support “more non-governmental organizations in making prestigious annual awards … which contribute to harmonious race relations” (Canada, 1984, p. 139).

Many of the policy recommendations proposed by Equality Now! would be implemented by the Progressive Conservative governments led by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Following a 1986 conference entitled, “Multiculturalism Means Business,” in which Mulroney delivered a speech to the convention, the Ministry of Multiculturalism initiated annual citation awards in 1987 that honoured up to twenty Canadian individuals and organizations from the voluntary, private, or public sectors that contributed to the integration of permanent residents or convention refugees in an exceptional way. A Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which acknowledged multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society with an integral role in shaping Canada’s future, was introduced in 1988, and the Department of Multiculturalism was made a senior office in the Cabinet of Canada in 1991. Such policy changes did not, necessarily, mean that the federal government assigned more public money to support multiculturalism programs. Multiculturalism and race relations programs were increasingly shaped by matching funds payments, such as when the federal government matched the contribution of $12 million raised by the National Association of Japanese Canadians to create a one-time $24 million endowment fund to establish the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Such emphasis on securing matching funds in the nineties would be accomplished by multicultural organizations and Canadian arts organizations spending an increasing amount of their time collecting “economic information quantifying outcomes to justify their activities in the corporate sector” (Godard, 2002, p. 220).

With often limited and short-term funding for multicultural initiatives, Canadian functionaries could focus on symbolic or rhetorical gestures of inclusion and recognition. As the Chief of Program Planning and Evaluation for the Governor-General (1990) explained, after receiving a letter inviting the Governor-General to the Conference for the Canadian Council for Multicultural and Intercultural Education in 1990, “I don’t feel strongly about His Excellency accepting this particular invitation especially because I don’t think that there will be much media coverage, if any. On the other hand, I think it is important that we try to add some ‘multicultural’ elements to His Excellency’s program.” Representatives of the Toronto Metro Police Service Board (1991) would also seek to improve police-community relations and avert violence and civil disturbance by screening the hip-hop exploitation film Boyz n the Hood and calling for further discussion about Black role models, family structure, and drug culture in a post-screening symposium. Vera Cudjoe, Black Theatre Canada’s executive director, and many other Black thinkers were skeptical about symbolic gestures and consultations about Black culture that were not accompanied with any concrete or material action to redress systemic racism (Ziniak & Gross, 1985b). Prominent protests against racial violence, and policy tinkering that was considered insufficient in addressing systemic racism, included the 1992 Yonge Street uprising against discernible institutions and everyday networks of activity.9

Shortly after the Yonge Street Uprising, Multiculturalism Canada worked with the Benetton clothing company to sponsor a contest in which young Canadians designed T-shirts about racial tolerance. The successful designs were then used as part of Benetton’s sales and marketing strategy for the Christmas holiday season. When they reflected on such public-private initiatives in 1993, the anti-racism campaign committee for Department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship expressed satisfaction that the notoriety of the clothing company (which had repeatedly attracted controversy and attention with advertisements that included photographs of a Black woman breastfeeding a white baby as well as images of a white child styled to appear like a cherub alongside a Black child with hair styled like devil’s horns [Tinic 1997]) had helped them to spread the simple and accessible message that there was no room for racism in Canadian society. Rather than engage with Stuart Hall and other cultural theorists who associated a “Benetton effect” with the emptying of any critical, radical, or challenging content from multiculturalism (Chicago Cultural Studies Group, 1992; Hall, 1993), the External Anti-Racism Campaign Committee (1993) hoped to target corporate funding, and perhaps the hospitality and tourism industries, to support future campaigns that would move from raising awareness about racism to proposing some ways to tackle racial discrimination in Canada.

Between 1993 and 2003, the Liberal government under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien placed the short-lived Ministry of Multiculturalism within the Ministry of Canadian Heritage, reduced its funding by 30 percent, and announced new guidelines that subsumed the expression of ethnic and cultural diversity under the notions of social cohesion, mutual respect, and a shared sense of Canadian identity. In the attempts to assert a Canadian identity in this period, policy workers and journalists oscillated “between seemingly neutral Canadian patriotism and explicitly Anglo-Saxon Canadian nationalism” (Winter, 2015, p. 644). A Newcomer’s Introduction to Canada, published by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (1997) for example, expressed rather rigid forms of heteronormativity and cartoonish Anglo-conformity by proposing a vision of Canada in which men “may formally embrace old friends or family [with a handshake] but almost never kiss other men in public” (p. 67) and “passionate kissing or touching are considered impolite and offensive in public” (p. 69).10 Although the document considered public displays of affection beyond the pale, it encouraged new arrivals to perform public displays of deference when interacting with police officers. In short, staccato sentences, it also tried to make it clear that racism was not a very serious problem in Canada.

Some people may tell you that there is no racism in Canada. Others may say that racism is a very serious problem. The truth lies somewhere between. Some Canadians may make you feel unwelcome. However, the majority of Canadians are fair-minded. They will accept and respect anyone who accepts and respects them. (Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1997, p. 10)

Such commentary reflected reports on the operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act that considered racism to be something to be mindful of in training days, public relations material, school visits, and so on, but not a very serious issue that should be given too much emphasis when discussing multiculturalism as a Canadian success story with visitors from around the world (Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada, 1993). In a similar fashion to Discover Canada and other guides developed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, it constructed Canada as welcoming to others and defined Canadians by their positive traits of fairness, openness, and generosity (Gulliver, 2018).

There are also significant overlaps between the messy, ad hoc way the Canadian government mobilized multiculturalism in the nineties and the increased academic attention to liberal pluralism and minority rights. Seven years after the Canadian Ministry of State for Multiculturalism and Citizenship (1991) claimed that the federal government should subsidize folk festivals (or “song and dance”) because they brought “Canadians of diverse backgrounds and communities to meet each other and work together (p. 14),” the political philosopher and advisor to the Government of Canada Will Kymlicka (1998), argued that the federal government should fund inter-ethnic festivals that “help the majority learn something about the presence of other groups in our midst, and so perhaps lead to greater recognition of the needs to accommodate them” (p. 45). However, he did not believe that there was any “reason why the government should fund folk cultural activities” that did not “bring together people of different ethnic groups” (p. 46). Black Canadians provided an intriguing example for Kymlicka’s attempts to disarticulate the efforts of immigrant and ethnic groups to secure protection and recognition in Canada from the struggles of national minority groups for elements of autonomy and self-government. For while he acknowledged Canada’s history of slavery and segregation—and conceded that separate schools and cultural activities that focused on Black Canadian culture might be justified if Black Canadians could “claim for historical injustice [in Canada],” were suffering from a cycle of poverty in Canada, or were likely to “adopt an oppositional subculture” (Kymlicka, 1998, p. 87) akin to African Americans or national minorities—Kymlicka (2001) believed that most Black Canadians were recent immigrants from the Caribbean who “want their children to attend integrated schools, just as they want to live in integrated neighbourhoods, so long as they think they are safe from racism” (p. 193). In contrast to interventionist intellectuals such as Stuart Hall, who provided a wealth of material and symbolic resources for the constitution of a living archive of oppositional cultures that were symbolically central and socially marginal, Kymlicka (2001) associated a separatist, oppositional Black subculture in Canada with social marginalization and believed that it should be averted.

After retiring from the British Columbia provincial legislature in 1986, Rosemary Brown continued to combine pessimism of the mind with optimism of the will. The tempered radical would critique Canadians who ignored the ugly strains of racism, classism, and sexism that excluded women and minorities from elite positions in Canadian institutions (Brown, 1988), and contend that “Let’s Pretend, Let’s Deny” would be a fair and illuminating title for a book about Canada and its peoples (Brown, 1991). Brown’s (1989b) interviews and speeches would include notes about Canadians unwilling to recognize that there may be a “psychological and emotional price” paid by the children of immigrants who grow up Black. When she became the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1993, Brown would similarly express frustration with Canadians who liked to pretend that there are harmonious race relations and deny the depth of the rage between the Toronto police force and the Black community (Lewis, 1996). Concurrently, the tempered radical would express faith that such critiques, when couched in hopeful terms about individual opportunity and platitudes, would appeal to fair-minded Canadians. She would, for example, insist that her adopted homeland was a “nation of immigrants” (Brown 1992), describe multiculturalism as a source of enrichment and strength for all Canadians by emphasizing that immigrants had moved quickly into the mainstream (Brown & Working Women Community Centre, 2002), and praise simple and accessible histories that permitted Black and white children to take pride in “the courage of their ancestors” rather than dwell on the shamefulness of slavery in Canada (Brown 2000).

In 1986, Frances Henry published a “state of the art” review of race relations research funded by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Henry (1986) appealed to a multicultural environment that was pro-business and anti-racist by considering how it might be possible to more effectively “sell” (p. 27) employment equity initiatives to “existing corporate and public sector institutions” (p. 42) and reproduced business-friendly soundbites about Canadian society wasting economic potential and running the risk of racial unrest or riots that might damage property. Such examples of tempered radicalism challenged narratives that imagined Canada to be a land free from systemic racism. However, they also tended to be connected to what the Jamaican-British intellectual Stuart Hall (1988) called the “innocent notion of an essential black subject” (p. 254) and the fakelore of Black victimology. For example, Carol Tator, the director of the Urban Alliance of Race Relations, a frequent collaborator with Henry on projects that addressed racism in Canada, and Henry’s partner in a race relations consultancy firm, believed that visible minorities were always and only “the victims of racism. The perpetrators are all the rest of us — the majority culture. Racism is a white person’s problem.… The victims don’t have control of the solutions” (Ziniak & Gross, 1985a).

The Progressive Conservative government in Ontario between 1995 and 2002 introduced staggering cuts to arts and multicultural organizations in Ontario (Godard, 1998). In such a neoliberal and neoconservative conjuncture in Ontario—in which Toronto-based media outlets were often unwilling, or unable, to differentiate between anti-racist activists and radicals— Henry and Tator sought to translate the work of prominent cultural theorists such as Stuart Hall for readers and practitioners who found it difficult to grasp postmodern and post-colonial theory. Unlike Hall, who sought to examine the different formation of energy and interest around keywords in cultural studies (i.e., how they have acquired quite discrepant and even contrary meanings over time and across space), Tator, Henry, and their co-author Winston Mattis (1998) believed that it was necessary and important to accompany their challenges to racism in artistic institutions in Canada with glossaries that provided clear and simple definitions of terms such as “encoding/decoding,” “hybridity,” and “cultural studies” as well as “institutions,” “mainstream,” and “stereotype” (p. 271). Henry and Tator also advanced a position distinct to Hall by expressing concerns about the use of literary techniques such as metaphor and irony in the Canadian public sphere. Hall (1978) was sensitive to metaphors used by the British press to convey cultural racism, and evocatively described post-colonial subjects as the sugar in the British cup of tea; Tator and Henry’s (2006) study of racial profiling in Canada contended that it was “confusing” for journalists to compare the skin colour of victims and perpetrators of gun violence to well-known metaphors such as “the elephant in the room” (p. 141). Hall appreciated the power of irony to disrupt hegemonic forces; Henry and Tator (2009) believed that “one of the many problems of … [the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibit Into the Heart of Darkness, which was intended to be an ironic look at how the items exhibited entered the museums through damaging colonial relationships] was the strong use of irony to deliver the message” (p. 235, emphasis added).

In an interview conducted with the academic Vijay Agnew (2007), Henry elaborated on a professional career in which she sought to unambiguously convey the realities of racism to a broad cross-current of Canadians. She acknowledged that her work may appear banal to Black Canadians who reminded her that “you’re not telling us anything new, we know this, we’ve experienced it (p. 389).” However, the social scientist who had been the recipient of national awards and grants for her work on race relations went on to contend that “it takes white validation and serious research … [to] get people to pay attention to [racism] … Validate the victim’s experience” (Agnew, 2007, p. 397, emphasis added). She also claimed that unspecified Black intellectuals had “negative feelings” about her work, which she attributed to a “very anti-Semitic” environment and “race ownership” (Agnew, 2007, p. 400). Such opinions evoked an essay by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1992) in the New York Times, which drew attention to surveys claiming that African Americans were more likely to hold anti-Semitic views than whites and that anti-Semitism was most pronounced among young and educated Blacks. They did not demonstrate substantive engagement with Black intellectuals such as Adolph Reed Jr. (1995) who, in an essay for the Village Voice, discussed the pitfalls of associating a distinct pathology of anti-Semitism to Black communities as if it is radically different to anti-Semitism amongst white communities. The introduction to Agnew’s (2007) interview with Henry, which erroneously claimed that Paul Gilroy, a professor of sociology and African American Studies at Yale University between 1999 and 2005, was an “American scholar” (p. 396), may also reflect a rather superficial engagement with Black critical theory. After all, careful readers of Gilroy would not only know that he was a Black British scholar who critiqued ethnic absolutism and cultural insiderism in Afrocentricity and African American Studies, and invited dialogue between Black and Jewish people about diaspora, exile, slavery, and the ambivalent experiences of being inside and outside the modern West. They would also appreciate that Gilroy’s (1993b) intellectual work engaged closely with Frantz Fanon, C.L.R James, Stuart Hall, Toni Morrison, and other Black Atlantic thinkers who repeatedly reminded their audiences that not all academics are intellectuals and not all intellectuals are academics.

The term intellectual appears eight times in Henry’s (2013) review of David Austin’s Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal in the Literary Review of Canada, and is used to refer to an “intellectual elite” and left-orientated figures. Henry seeks to remind her readers that intellectuals led protests that resulted in “a roomful of destroyed computer equipment worth about 2 million”, and she later repeats, for emphasis, that the protest against racism at Sir George Williams University led to the destruction of a “mainframe computer.” Moreover, Henry contends that Austin’s use of critical theory and Black cultural studies may be “misconstrued and misunderstood” by an “informed general public.” The informed general public is a floating signifier that points to no actual object and has no agreed-upon meaning, but a close reading of Henry’s review suggests that she imagines an informed general reader to be someone who believes that subcultural groups must experience “many of the elements of Canadian culture and its values,” considers it surprising that “even the ideological left” have often paid marginal attention to Black movements for liberation, and accepts the premise that there is a widespread denial of racism in a Canadian establishment that pays lip service to questions of equity in “multicultural legislation, policies and practices.” She also writes from a position that expects writers to cater to an informed general reader by citing, summarizing, and translating the social scientific literature on racism. In their introduction to a special issue on Black Canadian thought in the C.L.R. James Journal, Peter Hudson and Aaron Kamugisha (2014) assert that Henry’s review of Austin’s book was “condescending” (p. 7). They link its tone and approach to the pitfalls of a liberal tradition that “has a limited engagement with the Black World and the history of Pan-African thought beyond Canada and is largely mute on the question of Canadian imperialism,” and is often concerned with the “writings of white Canadian liberal philosophers including Will Klymicka [sic] … and their assertions of Canadian tolerance and inclusivity and their ultimate belief in the benevolence of the Canadian state when it comes to protecting group rights” (Hudson & Kamugisha, 2014, p. 8). Moreover, they argue that the dominance of a liberal tradition means that an Anglophone Canadian establishment often overlooks writers working within a radical tradition, particularly “esoteric” (p. 11) intellectuals outside of Canadian universities and scholars unwilling to produce work that primarily or exclusively deals with the specific spatial and temporal coordinates of Canada.

Drawing on radical egalitarian thinkers within and outside of academia, and writers who worked with and within small-l liberal institutions, this article has critically engaged with the strategic, tactical, and political decisions made by prominent Canadian immigrants during the first three decades of state-sanctioned multiculturalism. It has suggested that Rosemary Brown and Frances Henry may be read as tempered radicals who responded to, and appropriated small-l liberal rhetoric about the perceived dangers and limitations of Black radicalism. Such tempered radicalism could challenge the lack of racial diversity within the upper levels of Canadian institutional society. However, it often found it challenging to communicate the power and necessity of metaphors structured by and through the groundedness of Black life, and the anti-hierarchical and speculative thought of Black radicals who generated work within and against the nation-state (McKittrick 2021). Put slightly differently, tempered radicalism ran the risk of throwing out the baby of Black Atlantic intellectuals with the Eurocentric bathwater of small-l liberalism. It not only contested the rhetoric of the Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who formally announced the federal policy of multiculturalism and was deemed “esoteric” (English, 2010, p. 147) in the Canadian media when he made references to ancient Greek playwrights. It also developed a language, style, and approach in marked contrast to C.L.R. James and other Black radicals who fed some of the politics and poetics of ancient Greece and Rome into conversations about Black liberation, and invited “ordinary people” to adapt them for new political and cultural possibilities (Gilroy 1993b; Greenwood, 2004; James, 1956).


Some of the material on multiculturalism and Frances Henry’s work in this article was previously published in “Shy elitism: A new keyword in critical multiculturalism studies” (McNeil 2020). I would like to thank Ramona Mielusel and Simona Pruteanu for inviting me to contribute to their edited collection on Citizenship and Belonging in France and North America, and Palgrave Macmillan for permission to re-use excerpts of the material in the chapter in new works. I would also like to thank the Caribbean Philosophical Association and the York University Graduate Students’ History Association for opportunities to discuss themes and issues addressed in this article, and Morgana Adby, Francesca D’Amico-Cuthbert, David Austin, Dhanveer Brar, William Felepchuk, Jennifer Henderson, Jackie Kennelly, Elsa Koleth, Paul Litt, Richard Mullan, Sofia Noori, Chris Russill, Samra Sahlu, and Ashwani Sharma, for conversations, support and feedback that helped sharpen my thinking about multiculturalism, immigration, and “race relations.” They should not necessarily be associated with the arguments of the article, and certainly not with its faults.


1. Prior to defining the African-Canadian activist, artist, and intellectual as “a citizen of the African Diaspora, with a Canadian passport” (Clarke, 2002, p. 17n1) in the special issue on Black Canadian thought in the C.L.R. James Journal, Clarke (2014) had claimed sojourners and residents “located in Canada” (p. 77) before the first Canadian passport was issued in 1862 as foundational to African-Canadian literature. For example, he claimed Martin Delany as an African-Canadian writer on the basis that he wrote parts of Blake while resident in Chatham, Ontario, between 1856 and 1859.

The term poly consciousness was used by Charles Johnson (1993) in the New York Times Book Review in 1993 to adapt W.E.B. Du Bois’ concept of double consciousness for the twilight years of the twentieth century. George Elliott Clarke later applied the term poly consciousness to African-Canadian literature and culture in a review of The Complex Face of Black Canada in 1997 and the essay “Contesting a Model Blackness” in 1998 (Clarke, 2002). More recently, Molefi Asante (2004) has insisted that the idea of poly consciousness “is as old as the Kemetic priesthood” (p. 38).

2. The terms visible minorities, ethnic minorities, and immigrants were also used interchangeably in the Canadian public sphere in the twenty-first century. See, for example, John Ibbitson’s (2005) article “Same Sex Will Smite Harper.” This article does not discuss appeals to the Canadian state on the grounds of religion that, while evident in debates in the eighties (perhaps most notably the bombing of Air India Flight 182), played a more prominent role in multicultural policy and discourse after September 11, 2001.

3. A fuller history of shy elitism would consider the way it complicates and exemplifies histories of Canadian reserve, deference, pragmatism, and empiricism; the problem of mass culture in Canada; and the elitist system of settler colonialism that rewarded work written with due decorum in English or French, even if the abstractedness of such work meant that many average citizens would not read it (McKay, 1998; Rutherford, 1993). Shy elitism may also be connected to critical work in the humanities that has demonstrated how literary prize winners are a) read as reinforcing the primacy of the category individual; and b) marketed as important, prestigious, and critically acclaimed with awards, top ten lists, and book club recommendations in ways that often work against the cultivation of individual, idiosyncratic systems of value and interpretation (Scott & Tucker-Abramson, 2007).

4. Although this article does not address the history of multiculturalism before 1971, it is worth noting that the term multiculturalism was not, as some policy analysts have claimed, “first coined as a result of the federal policy in 1971” (Inglis 1996, p. 16). The Progressive Conservative Senator Paul Yuzyk, the most prominent spokesperson for Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry, was the first person to use multiculturalism in a parliamentary debate on March 3, 1964. Yuzyk also collaborated with other senators and groups such as the Canadian Cultural Rights Committee to develop a Thinkers’ Conference on Cultural Rights to study Canada’s multicultural patterns in the sixties, which was held in Toronto from December 13 to 15, 1968.

Historians have also demonstrated how state- and elite-driven forms of cultural pluralism lay the groundwork for what would later be called multiculturalism. For example, the origins of state multiculturalism may be traced to the Advisory Committee on Cooperation in Citizenship, which was established in the Canadian Department of National War Services during World War II. This committee was primarily the brainchild of Captain Tracy Phillips, an Englishman with a “lifetime [of] experience in the British colonial and overseas intelligence service” (Caccia, 2010, p. 68), and sought to interpret the views of Canadian citizens of non-British and non-French origins and to communicate them to the government and the general Canadian public. How the committee interjected itself in situations that appeared to be producing “misunderstanding, dissatisfaction or discord amongst groups of Canadians of European origin, non-French or non-British” (Caccia, 2010, p. 108) is particularly notable as a template for a Canadian multiculturalism policy that sought to assist the development and growth of non-Indigenous, non-British, and non-French cultural groups; help immigrants learn French or English; and promote creative exchanges between cultural groups in the interest of “national unity” (Caccia, 2010, p. 117).

5. Munro’s calls to use the media, culture and the arts to advance multiculturalism for the Liberal Party in the seventies are not dissimilar in tone and texture to calls to use media, culture, and the arts to advance interculturalism for the Parti Québécois (Congres National du Parti Québécois, 1977, p. 173).

6. There were precedents for unilingual politicians being elected to the leadership of federal political parties. For example, Robert Stanfield was elected federal leader of the Progressive Conservatives in 1967 even though he had not studied French “Since his days at Harvard” (Bruce, 1963, p. 1). Brown (1974c) also promised to remedy her pitiful French if elected leader of the federal NDP and developed policy statements on Québec that recognized the “French fact.”

7. George Elliott Clarke (2002) provides an incisive rejoinder to Henry’s inability to recognize cultural differences among people of African descent, and insists that critical, X-ray exact scholarly work must include an analysis of the radical egalitarianism and conservative collectivism of Black Nova Scotia, Africadia, and African Canadian culture. Clarke’s (1993) doctoral dissertation also maintained that English Canadian and African American cultures “share a similar political philosophy, namely, that of a classical conservative collectivism stressing communitarian values and a respect for tradition,” and had both been cast in a “dissident or dissenting relationship with mainstream American — essentially liberal — culture” (p. ii).

8. One Black male who lodged a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission accepted the apology of the Toronto police force for incorrectly clocking his speed and for the assumptions made by the police officer about a Black male and a white female in a large white car with a red-leather interior. “He and his wife have decided to leave Canada and return to his home in Trinidad, partially because of the continuing harassment they have experienced, not just from the police, but from Canadian society” (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 1979).

9. The Black Action Defence Committee led multiracial protests in Toronto in 1992 against the acquittal of the LA police officers who beat the African American Rodney King; the acquittal of two Peel Region police officers charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Black teenager Michael Wade Lawson; the killing of a 22-year-old Black man, Raymond Lawrence, by an undercover Toronto police officer.

10. The federal government’s attempt to define a distinctive Canadian way of life in the late nineties was notably distinct in tone to some provincial documents in the late seventies. According to The Newcomers Guide to Services in Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation, 1978), Canadians are a people made up of many different cultural groups and, since each person has his or her own beliefs and ways of doing things, it is impossible to describe Canadian customs.

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