Wednesday, 1 January 2014

“Hearty Eating, Cold Weather and Friendly People”: Perceptions of a Visitor to Canada.

“Hearty Eating, Cold Weather and Friendly People”: Perceptions of a Visitor to Canada.

                                                        Munish Alagh

“Hearty Eating, Cold Weather and Friendly People”: This sums up my overall perception of Canada. But for the uninitiated lets start from the beginning:

Canada is a country in North America consisting of 10 provinces and 3 territories, so says the Wikipedia entry. But in reality when the Canadian Confederation was officially proclaimed on July 1, 1867, it was initially with four provinces- Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

Ontario is one of the ten provinces of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province by a large margin, accounting for nearly 40%of all Canadians, and is the second largest province in total area. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto.

Quebec is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province that has a predominantly French-speaking population, and the only one to have French as its sole provincial official language.

Quebec independence debates have played a large role in the politics of the province. Parti Québécois governments held referendums onsovereignty in 1980 and 1995; both were voted down by voters, the latter defeated by a very narrow margin. In 2006, the House of Commons of Canada passed a symbolic motion recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within a united Canada."
While the province's substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry also play leading roles. These many industries have all contributed to helping Quebec become a very economically influential province within Canada, second only to Ontario in economic output
Nova Scotia ("New Scotland", is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and constitutes one of the four Atlantic Canada provinces. Located almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole (44º 39' N Latitude), its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest province in Canada, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), includingCape Breton Island and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2011, the population was 921,727, making Nova Scotia the second-most-densely populated province in Canada.The largest ethnic group in Nova Scotia is Scottish.

New Brunswick:  is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the Canadian federation that is constitutionally bilingual (English–French). It originates as the British Colony by the same name which was divided from the colony of Nova Scotia in 1784. Fredericton is the capital and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton (Moncton,Dieppe, Riverview) forms the province's largest census metropolitan area. In the 2011 nation wide census, Statistics Canada estimated the provincial population to have been 751,171. The majority of the population is English-speaking, but there is also a large Francophone minority (33%), chiefly of Acadian origin.

North West Territories were formed with a large aboriginal population, here in 1870 the Red River Rebellion by the Metis created the province of Manitoba. British Columbia (united with Vancouver island in 1866 joined the confideration in 1871, while Prince Edward Island joined in 1873.

Manitoba is a Canadian prairieprovince. The province, with an area of 649,950 square kilometres (250,900 sq mi), has a largelycontinental climate, with thousands of lakes and many rivers. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other major industries are transportation, manufacturing, mining, forestry, energy, and tourism. The word "Manitoba" comes from the native word manitou, meaning spirit. Lake Manitoba was named earlier, north of Portage la Prairie.
Manitoba's capital and largest city, Winnipeg, is Canada's eighth-largest Census Metropolitan Area, and home to 60 percent of the population of the province. Winnipeg is the seat of government, home to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba and the highest court in the jurisdiction, the Manitoba Court of Appeal. Four of the province's five universities, all four of its professional sports teams, and most of its cultural activities are located in Winnipeg.
The name Manitoba (meaning "strait of the spirit" or "lake of the prairies") is believed to be derived from the Cree, Ojibwe or Assiniboine language.Fur traders first arrived during the late 17th century and Manitoba was the heart of Rupert's Land, owned by the Hudson's Bay Company. Manitoba became a province of Canada in 1870 after theRed River Rebellion. A general strike took place in Winnipeg in 1919, and the province was hit hard by the Great Depression. This led to the creation of what would become the New Democratic Party of Manitoba, one of the province's major political parties and currently in power, led by premier Greg Selinger.
British Columbia also commonly referred to by its initials BC or B.C., is a province located on the West Coast of Canada. British Columbia is also a component of thePacific Northwest, along with the U.S. states ofOregon and Washington.[4][5] The province's name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858, reflecting its origins as the British remainder of the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada. Its Latinmotto is Splendor sine occasu ("Splendour without Diminishment").
The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, the 15th largest metropolitan region in Canada, named for the Queen that created the Colony of British Columbia. The largest city is Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, the largest inWestern Canada, and the second largest in thePacific Northwest. In 2012, British Columbia had an estimated population of 4,622,573 (about two and a half million of whom were in Greater Vancouver).[6] The province is currently governed by the BC Liberal Party, led by Premier Christy Clark, who became leader as a result of the party election on February 26, 2011 and who led her party to an election victory on May 14, 2013.
British Columbia's economy is largely resource-based. It is the endpoint of transcontinental railways and the site of major Pacific ports, which enable international trade. Though less than five percent of its vast 944,735 km2 (364,764 sq mi) land is arable, the province is agriculturally rich (particularly in the Fraser and Okanagan Valleys) because of its mild weather. Its climate encourages outdoor recreation and tourism, though its economic mainstay has long beenresource extraction, principally logging, farming, and mining. Vancouver, the province's largest city and metropolitan area, also serves as the headquarters of many of the Western-based natural resource companies. It also benefits from a strong housing market and a per-capita income well above the national average. While the coast of BC and certain valleys in the south-central part of the province have mild weather, the majority of BC's land mass experiences a cold winter temperate climate similar to the rest of Canada. The Northeast corner of BC has a Subarctic climate with very cold winters.
Prince Edward Island is a Canadianprovince consisting of the island itself, as well asother islands. It is one of the three Maritime provinces and is the smallest province in both land area and population. The island has several informal names: "Garden of the Gulf" referring to the pastoral scenery and lush agricultural lands throughout the province; and "Birthplace of Confederation" or "Cradle of Confederation",[4]referring to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, although PEI did not join Confederation until 1873, when it became the seventh Canadian province. The backbone of the economy is farming, as it produces 25% of Canada's potatoes. Historically, PEI is one of Canada's older settlements and demographically still reflects older immigration to the country, with Celtic, Anglo Saxon and French last names being overwhelmingly dominant to this day.
According to the 2011 census, the province of Prince Edward Island has 145,855 residents. It is located about 200 km north of Halifax, Nova Scotiaand 600 km east of Quebec City. It consists of the main island and 231 minor islands. Altogether, the entire province has a land area of 5,685.73 km2 (2,195.27 sq mi).
The main island is 5,620 km2 (2,170 sq mi) in size, which is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Delaware, is the 104th-largest island in the world, and is Canada's 23rd-largest island.
Alberta and Sasketschwan became provinces in 1905.
Alberta  is a province of Canada. With a population of 3,645,257 in 2011,[1] it is Canada's fourth-most populous province and most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces. Alberta and its neighbour, Saskatchewan, were established as provinces on September 1, 1905.
Alberta is located in western Canada, bounded by the provinces of British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east, the Northwest Territories to the north, and the U.S. state of Montana to the south. Alberta is one of three Canadian provinces and territories to border only a single U.S. state and is also one of only two provinces that are landlocked.
Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, is located near the geographic centre of the province and is the primary supply and service hub for Canada'scrude oil and also oil sands (Athabasca Oil Sands) and other northern resource industries. Approximately 290 km (180 mi) south of the capital is Calgary, Alberta's largest city. Calgary and Edmonton centre Alberta's two census metropolitan areas, both of which have populations exceeding one million, while the province has 16 census agglomerations. Notable tourist destinations in the province include Banff,Canmore, Drumheller, Jasper and Sylvan Lake.
The current Premier of the province is Alison Redford.
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has a total area of 651,900 square kilometres (251,700 sq mi) and a land area of 592,534 square kilometres (228,800 sq mi), the remainder being water area (covered by lakes/ponds, reservoirs and rivers). Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by the Province of Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S.states of Montana and North Dakota. As of July 2012, the population of Saskatchewan was estimated at 1,079,958.[6] Residents primarily live in the southern half of the province. Of the total population, 257,300 live in the province's largest city, Saskatoon, while 210,000 live in the provincial capital, Regina. Other major cities include Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current andNorth Battleford.[7]
Saskatchewan was first explored by Europeans in 1690 and settled in 1774, having also been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups. It became a province in 1905, its name derived from the Saskatchewan River. The province's economy is based on agriculture, mining, and energy. Saskatchewan's current premier is Brad Wall and its lieutenant-governor is Vaughn Solomon Schofield.
"In 1992, the federal and provincial governments signed a historic land claim agreement with Saskatchewan First Nations." The First Nations received compensation and were permitted to buy land on the open market for the tribes; they have acquired about 761,000 acres (3079 kilometres squared), now reserve lands. Some First Nations have used their settlement to invest in urban areas, including Saskatoon.

Some Jottings On The Political Economy of Canada
As a politically aware and informed visitor to Canada it is my observation that Canada has many similarities to India, specially regarding its political economy, pluralism and multiculturalism are major features of the Cnadian Governments stated policy, in short, like India, Cnada celebrates diversity.  In the political sphere Pluralism and democracy have been confronted with challenges in India and Canada not least sucessionism and terrorism, but remain important foundations on which the two countries depend.

The Past
We begin with a quote from Sunil Khilnanis “The Idea of India” where he sees in India’s democratic experience evidence of something that James Madison and his Federalist colleagues well understood more than two hundred years ago. “Large republics with diverse and conflicting interests can be a better home for liberty, a safer haven against tyranny, than homogenous and exclusive ones. Within them, factions and differences can check one another, moderating ideological fervour and softening power.” This statement could hold as true of Canada as of India although many could say that the changing cycles of Social equilibria in such culturally multi-hued countries leave nothing to certainty, least of all the certainty of social peace; as has been seen through time with periods of comparative stability and inter-communal amity being punctuated with periods where it seems that Religious Conflict has taken the Driving Seat.

Common features between India and Canada are many but what stands out are the adherence to Secularism in India’s case and Pluralism in Canadas case. In the case ofIndia its emergence as a secular state despite the native religiosity of its people is significant. Indeed India stands apart from its immediate neighbours Bangladesh andPakistan specially in having forsaken an ethnic religion as the basis of its national development. With its large size India presents a natural case as a country which should be given its due in world affairs but our case is that its very much for the features that accompany India’s large size that it should be given importance specifically its adherence by and large to secularism and its independent chartering out of its economic path. Despite ambivalence over its federal structure and a strong centre India continues to have ideologically contrasting parties at the helm in many cases at the centre and the states. Despite prophets of doom warning against disintegration regional parties continue to bloom. It is the democratic structure of India’s nationalist movement which has bequeathed to us an egalitarian structure of governance, in these days of abuse of the nationalist movement and its icons specially in Gujarat (except Sardar Patel) it would serve us well to remember a quote from a popular book on modern Indian history. “A nationalist movement has to be disciplined and organizationally strong and united; yet it cannot afford to be monolithic or authoritarian”2
As Trudeau himself writes in the introduction to the book “Towards a just society” edited jointly with Thomas Axworthy-
The ideas that animated our efforts from 1968 to 1984 are every bit as compelling today as they were during our years of power.
·                     We fought for a Canada where individual rights including linguistic rights, would be accepted across the land.
·                     We fought for a strong federal government capable of initiating programs that would equalize opportunities for Canadians wherever they happened to live.
·                     We fought for an independent Canadian economy and foreign policy so that we would have the ability to create and maintain a distinctive way of life in our part of North America.
·                     We fought for a fairer, more humane Canada, in which the power of government was a necessary instrument in the quest for a more just society.

The period when Trudeau was in the driving seat in Canada saw a lot of conflict, because conflict does arise when a leader who espouses strong humane ideas emerges and drives his point home quite forcefully to the discomfort of elements inimical to Individual freedom. As we see below these ideas which remain a force in Canada today emerged during a period when they were even more forcefully contested then they are today in Canada.

Pierre Elliot Trudeau-The man and his ideas-

Rather than discuss personalities and events it is our aim in this project to discuss ideas, but behind these ideas lie certain events, and in the case of Trudeau these include events like the October Crisis and the Quebec Referendum. The ideas that lie behind these events include Multi-Culturalism, Federalism and Canadian Nationalism.

October Crisis:3 During the October Crisis of 1970, the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped British Trade Consul James Cross at his residence on the sixth of October. Five days later, Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte was also kidnapped (and was later murdered, on October 17). Trudeau responded by invoking the War Measures Act, which gave the government sweeping powers of arrest and detention without trial. Although this response is still controversial and was opposed as excessive by parliamentarians like Tommy Douglas and David Lewis, it was met with only limited objections from the public. Trudeau presented a determined public stance during the crisis, answering the question of how far he would go to stop the terrorists with "Just watch me". Five of the FLQ terrorists were flown to Cuba in 1970 as part of a deal in exchange for James Cross' life, although they eventually returned to Canada years later, where they served time in prison.

Trudeau’s credo was to strengthen individual rights over groups. Notwithstanding his approach of individual freedom being paramount, or perhaps, because of it, during the crisis of October 1970 Trudeau while initially making some concessions dealt with terror with a heavy hand. In this he showed that whereas he was all for individual freedom the legitimacy and the authority of the State was to be upheld. As Trudeau explained ‘Freedom and personal security are safeguarded by laws; those laws must be respected in order to be effective.’

He emphasized ‘This government is not acting out of fear. It is acting to prevent fear from is acting to make clear to kidnappers and revolutionaries and assassins that in this country laws are made and changed by the elected representatives of all Canadians-not by a handful of self selected dictators.’

Trudeau it was claimed was acting during this crisis to discredit the PQ, but this is clearly contradicted by his statements and that of his Ministers at this time. Thus Trudeau’s record as a democrat is enhanced not weakened by the events of October 1970.

Defeat of the referendum on Quebec sovereignty4, called by the Parti Québécois government of René Lévesque, which was held on May 20, 1980 was another landmark event in Trudeaus career. In the debates between Trudeau and Lévesque, Canadians were treated to a contest between two highly intelligent, articulate and bilingual politicians who, despite being bitterly opposed, were each committed to the democratic process. Trudeau promised a new constitutional agreement with Quebec should it decide to stay in Canada, and the "No" side (that is, No to sovereignty) ended up receiving nearly 60% of the vote.

Federalism: With regard to federal –provincial relations and constitutional reform too Trudeau’s steps mirrored his credo of individual rights over groups. However his governments overall record was mixed with regard to this ‘bold in approach, but often enfeebled and infirm in withstanding the provinces political demands.’4This credo was however put to test in the crisis of Autumn 1970. Trudeau was definitely not one ‘to put Quebec in its place’ unlike what some commentators noted, instead his efforts was always for cultural and social accommodation following his credo.

Multi Culturalism: On October 8, 1971, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau announced in the House of Commons that, after much deliberation, the policies of bilingualism and multiculturalism would be implemented in Canada. When the Canadian constitution was patriated by Prime Minister Trudeau in 1982, one of its constituent documents was the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and section 27 of the Charter stipulates that the rights laid out in the document are to be interpreted in a manner consistent with the spirit of multiculturalism.

Trudeau ‘represented a legitimate strand of Quebec thought or opinion, often overlooked both inside the province and in the rest of Canada.’5 That opinion was of providing the rights of French-Canadian people within Canada. His approach ‘urged French speaking Quebeckers to seek their future in a larger Canada than a narrower Quebec; it stressed safeguards for individual rights rather than the collective responsibilities of a beleaguered French-Canadian people.’6

This was similar to Henri Bourassa who represented a strand of Quebec thought which was unique in Canada in the late nineteenth century another thought or opinion-Indian nationalism was inaugurated in the same time period. This phrase Indian nationalism is somewhat misleading; “Infact a sense of region and nation emerged together through parallel self definitions-and this point is essential to any understanding of the distinctive layered character of Indianness”7

The commonness in Bourassa’s thesis of a federal security to French Canadians and Jinnah’s initial project to protect the interests of  the Muslim minority in provinces is noticeable.

This need for a federal balance in population is reflected in Bourassa’s thinking as well when he claims “we do not have the right to make Canada an exclusively French country any more than the Anglo-Canadians have the right to make it an English country.”

But indeed Bourassa had strong roots, he had a conviction that  the church and the French culture were coexistential. In this respect he was close to Maulana Azad who had deep roots in Islamic tradition and simultaneously in Indian tradition. Bourassa had deep roots in the church and in French Language and culture but even so had an unshakeable belief in Canadian unity.

It is interesting to note that Trudeau moved from supporting Quebecois Nationalism in his early years to being a Canadian Nationalist through most of his political life speciually with regard to the constitutional and federal stand which he took.

Canada largely has followed Social Liberalism during its existence with regard to health care, pensions, federal province expenses etcSocial liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include a social foundation. Social liberalism seeks to balance individual liberty and social justice. Like classical liberalism, it endorses a market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights and liberties, but differs in that it believes the legitimate role of the government includes addressing economic and social issues such as poverty, health care andeducation.[1][2][3] Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual.
Canada has always attempted for equal partnership between the two founding races, taking into account the contribution made by the other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada and the measures that should be taken to safeguard that contribution.
Multiculturalism in Canada is the sense of an equal celebration of racial, religious and cultural backgrounds. Multiculturalism policy was officially adopted by the Canadian government during the 1970s and 1980s.[1] The Canadian federal government has been described as the instigator ofmulticulturalism as an ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.[2] The Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism is often referred to as the origin of modern political awareness of multiculturalism.[3]
Canadians have used the term "multiculturalism" both descriptively (as a matter of fact) and normatively (as an ideal). In the first sense "multiculturalism" is a description of the many different religious traditions and cultural influences that in their unity and coexistence in Canada make upCanadian culture. The nation consists of people from a multitude of racial, religious and cultural backgrounds and is open to cultural pluralism. Canada has experienced differentwaves of immigration since the nineteenth century, and by the 1980s almost 40 percent of the population were of neitherBritish nor French origins (the two largest groups, and among the oldest).[4] In the past, the relationship between the British and the French has been given a lot of importance inCanada's history. By the early twenty-first century, people from outside British and French heritage composed the majority of the population, with an increasing percentage of individuals who self identify as a "visible minorities".
Multiculturalism is reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Broadcasting Act of 1991 asserts the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the diversity of cultures in the country. Despite the official policies, segments of the Canadian population are critical of the concept(s) of a cultural mosaic and implementation(s) of multiculturalism legislation.[5] Quebec's ideology differs from that of the other provinces in that its official policies focus on interculturalism
Interculturalism refers to support for cross-cultural dialogue and challenging self-segregationtendencies within cultures.[1] Interculturalism involves moving beyond mere passive acceptance of a multicultural fact of multiple cultures effectively existing in a society and instead promotes dialogue and interaction between cultures.[2] Interculturalism has arisen in response to criticisms of existing policies of multiculturalism, such as criticisms that such policies had failed to create inclusion of different cultures within society, but instead have divided society by legitimizing segregated separate communities that have isolated themselves and accentuated their specificity.[3] It is based on the recognition of both differences and similarities between cultures.[4]It has addressed the risk of the creation of absolute relativism within postmodernity and in multiculturalism.[5] Philosopher Martha Nussbaum in her work Cultivating city, describes interculturalism as involving "the recognition of common human needs across cultures and of dissonance and critical dialogue within cultures" and that interculturalists "reject the claim ofidentity politics that only members of a particular group have the ability to understand the perceptive of that group".[6]

Interculturalism has both supporters and opponents amongst people who endorse multiculturalism.[7] Gerald Delanty views interculturalism as capable of incorporating multiculturalism within it.[8] In contrast Nussbaum views interculturalism as distinct from multiculturalism and notes that several humanities professors have preferred interculturalism over multiculturalism because they view multiculturalism as being "associated with relativism and and identity politics"

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