Multiculturalism R Us

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I approached Michael Adams’ Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism (Penguin 2007) with more than a little skepticism. The introduction begins, “This book is a good-news story about Canadian multiculturalism. [The book] argues that immigration and the social diversity that flows from it are working well….”.

I find it hard to trust a book that is written to promote a certain idea. Books written in that manner often bend the facts to support their argument. By trying too hard to convince you that they are telling the truth, they sometimes only succeed in convincing you that they are trying too hard.

So I was pleasantly surprised when Unlikely Utopia made good on its promises.

The book does not ignore the bad news stories like the concentration of poverty among non-white Canadians, incidents of racism or the career difficulties encountered by internationally trained professionals. But what it does very well is to put these issues into context. By comparing Canada’s approach to the approach of other countries like France, Great Britain and the USA, your new homeland comes away looking very good indeed.

Michael Adams uses his experience and contacts within the research industry to present interesting and convincing statistics about things like immigrant satisfaction with their decision to settle in Canada.

Since even before confederation, Canada has been a nation in search of an identity. This preoccupation has consumed generations of writers and politicians, who never managed to provide believable answers. Adams suggests that the reason this task has been so difficult is that diversity and multiculturalism is actually what defines us as a nation and a people. This book is worth the cover price, if for no other reason than that it finally provides a good answer to that eternal dilemma about Canadian identity.

I came away feeling very satisfied and more than a little smug that I am part of one of the most progressive nations on Earth when it comes to an ability to weave ourselves into the global fabric and become a viable and desirable destination for immigrants from around the world.

This is not a book that will help anyone with the day to day process of settlement and integration. But if you want to inject some optimism and contentment into your life, this short, easy-to-read book provides a great quick fix.

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