Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Robert L. Stanfield, David Lewis,
House of Commons Debates, October 8, 1971, pp.
Implementation of Policy of Multiculturalism Within Bilingual
Right Hon. P.E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I am happy
this morning to be able to reveal to the House that the government
has accepted all those recommendations of the Royal Commission on
Bilingualism and Biculturalism which are contained in Volume IV of
its reports directed to federal departments and agencies. Hon.
members will recall that the subject of this volume is "the
contribution by other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of
Canada and the measures that should be taken to safeguard that
Volume IV examined this whole question of cultural and ethnic
pluralism in this country and the status of our various cultures
and languages, an area of study given all too little attention in
the past by scholars.
It was the view of the
royal commission, shared by the government
and, I am sure, by all Canadians, that there cannot be one
cultural policy for Canadians of British and French origin,
another for the original peoples and yet a third for all others.
For although there are two official languages, there is no
official culture, nor does any ethnic group take precedence over
any other. No citizen or group of citizens is other than Canadian,
and all should be treated fairly.
The royal commission was guided by the belief that adherence to
one's ethnic group is influenced not so much by one's origin or
mother tongue as by one's sense of belonging to the group, and by
what the commission calls the group's "collective will to
exist". The government shares this belief.
The individual's freedom would be hampered if he were locked for
life within a particular cultural compartment by the accident of
birth or language. It is vital, therefore, that every Canadian,
whatever his ethnic origin, be given a chance to learn at least
one of the two languages in which his country conducts its
official business and its politics.
A policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework commends
itself to the government as the most suitable means of assuring
the cultural freedom of
Canadians. Such a policy should help to break down discriminatory
attitudes and cultural jealousies. National unity if it is to mean
anything in the deeply personal sense, must be founded on
confidence in one's own individual identity; out of this can grow
respect for that of others and a willingness to share ideas,
attitudes and assumptions. A vigorous policy of
multiculturalism will help create this initial confidence. It can
form the base of a society which is based on fair play for all.
The government will support and encourage the various cultures and
ethnic groups that give structure and vitiality to our c
. . . In implementing [this] policy, the government will provide support
in four ways.
First, resources permitting, the government will seek to assist
all Canadian cultural groups that have demonstrated a desire and
effort to continue to develop a capacity to grow and contribute to
Canada, and a clear need for assistance, the small and weak groups
no less than the strong and highly organized.
Second, the government will assist members of all cultural groups
to overcome cultural barriers to full participation in Canadian
Third, the government will promote creative encounters and
interchange among all Canadian cultural groups in the interest of
Fourth, the government will continue to assist immigrants to
acquire at least one of Canada's official languages in order to
become full participants in Canadian society.
Mr. Speaker, I stated at the outset that the government has
accepted in principle all recommendations addressed to federal
departments and agencies. We are also ready and willing to work
cooperatively with the provincial governments towards implementing
those recommendations that concern matters under provincial or
responsibility . . .
In conclusion, I wish to emphasize the view of the government that
a policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework is
basically the conscious support of individual freedom of choice.
We are free to be ourselves. But this cannot be left to chance. It
must be fostered and pursued actively. If freedom of choice is in
danger for some ethnic groups, it is in danger for all. It is the
policy of this government to eliminate any such danger and to
"safeguard" this freedom . . .