Multiculturalism: The Official Response to the Bi and Bi Commission

Prime Minister Trudeau's government's first response to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (the "Bi and Bi Commission") was to enact the Official Languages Act of 1969[1].  This Act recognized English and French as the official languages of Canada.

At the start of the 20th century, Canada’s population of around 5.3 million was comprised of mainly English and French speakers.[2] However, the latter half of the century saw increased immigration from countries other than England and France. Immigrants of Lebanese, Italian, Portuguese, as well as Asian and Latino descent, started to move into large Canadian cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.[3] In the same 2011 Census mentioned in the video below, it has been reported that 80% of the Canadian population who spoke languages other than English, French, or an Aboriginal language, now live in one of the country’s six largest Metropolitan areas.[4]

 The diversity of languages, in addition to the bilingualism in the Official Languages Act, is one major factor in Canadian society that showcases the country’s multiculturalism in addition to others such as race, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau stated on the topic of Canadian multiculturalism, that “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.”[5]

 

[1] http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/o-3.01/page-1.html
[2] http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2016001-eng.htm
[3] http://www.tolerance.cz/courses/papers/lena.htm
[4] https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-314-x/98-314-x2011001-eng.cfm
[5] http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/documents/Primeministers/trudeau/docs-onmulticulturalism.htm

In 1971, the Trudeau government turns its attention to the cultural recommendations of the Bi and Bi Commission's Report, only this time, the government's response was not an endorsement of the official place of French and English culture in Canada.  Instead, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Canadian government was adopting an official policy of "multiculturalism". To learn more about how this policy was developed and how it has implemented, please see the report below entitled "Canadian Multiculturalism".

Canadian Law and Identity: Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism: The Official Response to the Bi and Bi Commission