News

Friday April 27, 2018, The Globe and Mail

Multiculturalism with a capital M was born of smart crisis management – of political agility and the characteristic Canadian willingness to compromise in the service of national unity and nation building. The trigger, as you may know, was the Quebec crisis of the 1960s and early 1970s, when the so-called “Quiet Revolution” exploded into nationalism and violence. In 1963, the government of Lester B. Pearson created the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism to recommend means of defusing the issue.

But something unexpected happened. Paul Yuzyk, a new senator from Saskatchewan, spoke up. Canada, he said, was not “bicultural,” but “multicultural.” The commissioners were shrewd enough to understand what Mr. Yuzyk meant: He was saying that a solution for Quebec had to include the rest of Canada, or it wasn’t going to fly. So they agreed to take into account the contribution made by other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada – and how to safeguard that contribution. [more]

Friday April 6, 2018, The Globe and Mail

Although ordinarily somnolent, the black dog of unaddressed history will sometimes warn about obscured misdeeds. U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency has triggered just such a wake-up – for Ms. Haspel’s history with the CIA includes practising torture – a war crime – during George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”

There was sporadic outrage when Ms. Haspel’s nomination was announced: Republican John McCain demanded that she explain the nature of her involvement in the interrogation program. Democrat Ron Wyden said her past makes her “unsuitable to serve as CIA director.” The American Civil Liberties Union called for her CIA records to be declassified. But when the moment of her Senate confirmation arrives this month, only one thing will matter: the decibel rate and the resonance of their dissenting voices. [more]

Friday January 4, 2018, The Globe and Mail

Eugene Ionesco’s comic play, Amédée, featuring a “corpse” in a closet that extends grotesque members during an urbane dinner party, was almost certainly intended to spoof the blindness of the French to their wartime collaboration with the Nazis; but the playwright’s metaphor can be extended to other willful hidings, including one now facing the government of Canada.

Canada’s unexamined role in transferring captured Afghans to notorious prisons where they were certain to be tortured is another stubborn entity that keeps popping out of the cupboard. Both former prime minister Stephen Harper and current PM Justin Trudeau have tried to ignore the unwelcome visitor, but it will not be snubbed. [more]

Tuesday November 7, 2017, The Globe and Mail

Will Trumpism come to Canada? When asked over the past year, I’ve said no. Canadian respect for diversity, an economy that has stayed afloat and our reputed politeness have made such an evolution improbable – at least in the near term.

That’s still true, but we’re seeing ground-level challenges.

Yes, Ezra Levant’s hateful website, The Rebel, fell into disrepute after its coverage of the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August. Yes, the federal NDP has elected a Sikh man as its leader. And yes, the recent outing of men with a history of predation may actually kick-start change to the oldest status quo in history: the demeaning of uppity women who think they’re equal. [more]

Wednesday September 13, 2017,
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

The Faculty Club
Faculty Club, 41 Willcocks St, Toronto, ON M5S 1C7

Contact: Senior College
416-978-7553
senior.college@utoronto.ca

Multiculturalism is Canada’s greatest strength in these early years of the 21st century. It is the reason we have not fallen prey (so far) to the populist movements afflicting other pluralist nations. But we cannot take social peace for granted. Erna Paris will be speaking about the reasons for Canada’s success to date and also about the success and failure of an earlier multiethnic society, from which we have much to learn.

Programs are free for Fellows of Senior College, but RSVP is required. Members of Senior College who are not Fellows and visitors are asked to donate $10.00 to help defray costs.

Please complete the registration form for the talk on September 13, 2017