Kelly, N, and M. Trebilcock. The Making Term Paper

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Kelly, N, and M. Trebilcock. The Making of the Mosaic: A History of Canadian Immigration Policy. University of Toronto Press, 1998.

One of the greatest initial strengths of the work by N. Kelly and M. Trebilcock called The Making of the Mosaic: A History of Canadian Immigration Policy, is the title of the book itself. Although this may sound like an attempt to damn a work with faint praise, in actuality the strength of the work is reflected in both author's choice of its title. The title stresses how a metaphorical attitude of a nation in shaping its immigration policy can formulate the way regional and ethnic diversity in the nation is viewed by the nation's population and political apparatus over historical time.

The most familiar metaphor for a multi-ethnic and a diverse country founded upon positive principles of immigration is the metaphor of the melting pot. This is the common metaphor for immigration in America, of course. The metaphor of the melting pot implies that prospective Americans come to the new nation of their citizenship and slowly shirk or melt away their cultural distinctions, forming one, unified American core identity. Of course, for America, this metaphor has proven problematic and far from perfect in explaining the diverse problems, ethnic textures, and racial divisions of the United States. Moreover, it is not the only metaphor that is useful or usable for the process of immigration and assimilation.

Another metaphor, more often used in Canada, is the metaphor of the country as a mosaic. Walk onto any street in Toronto in the Chinatown district and see street signs in Mandarin or Cantonese -- with no English characters in sight. The existence of Quebec, a French-speaking province that is one of the Canadian nation's economic and tourist powerhouses as well as a potent site of political division, is another powerful testimony to Canada's existence as a functional, or at least semi-functional mosaic of ethnic, regional, and even linguistic diversity. As noted in the "introduction" to this text, its metaphorical concept of immigration is key to any nation's view of its potential for positive forms of diversity. The metaphorical idea of the ethnic mosaic, as well as the interests, institutions, and specific issues that have shaped Canadian immigration policy since the founding of the nation, and even before the so-called icy wilderness became formulated into nationhood after 1867 has been shaped by the mosaic metaphor of incorporating ethnic and regional differences rather than asking individuals to shirk them.

Canada, often humorously known by its inhabitants as well as its detractors as 'The Land God Gave to Cain' in contrast to the relatively fertile and mineral rich United States, has existed as a patchwork of interests from its inception. This has been true since the French beaver trappers early on called Canada their economic home and destiny, while the English who later colonized the land also attempted to share in and exploit the wealth of its wilderness. Thus, rather than having a homogenous national identity, Canada has been known for its accommodating attitude to differences, because so many different nations and peoples have called it home, before it was colonized. Also, given that its Revolution from its eventual Mother Country England was peaceful and less ideologically driven and strident than the 1776 Revolution of the United States, this may be another reason it has been less riddled with ideological tensions.

Canada's more accommodating attitudes towards difference during the consolidation of the dominion, 1876 from 1896 and its subsequent period of industrialization, immigration, and the foundation of the national identity in the 20th century has also resulted in terms of speaking of Canada's national character and national political philosophy, not in the singular, as is common in the United States, but in terms of pluralism. Its overall immigration and integration policy has also remained pluralistic, because of the continued cultural…

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Interestingly enough, the authors end with a chapter on what they term to be the "Fraying of the Consensus" of the Canadian mosaic in 1998. In the author's points-of-view, the mosaic is still the 'correct' method for Canadian immigration philosophy, combined with continued tolerance of regional diversity. However, the authors fear that if some integrative attempts are not made to create an expansive yet cohesive philosophy of Canadian identity, difficulties may result. It would be interesting to have read this conclusion, had it been written not in 1998, during the heightened period of the most recent Canadian economic boom combined with Asian influxes from Hong Kong, but after the recent SARS scare that has done so much to detract from recent tourism to Toronto, and has highlighted the tensions between the Asian and English-speaking countries of that nation.

It would also have been interesting to read this text's analysis of the place of the French and French-speaking Quebec regional struggles for identity into the future, as Europe grows more homogenous in the form of the European Union, economically speaking if not linguistically speaking. Although adversarial in many respects towards the English speaking population, the ability for a nation to exist in a multi-lingual as well as a multi-ethnic fashion has been an inspiration to the EU in many respects, as well as other nations attempting to form complex, diverse, mosaic-like yet nationally integrated identities.

Stylistically, this book may not pass the reader's time as a compelling 'page turner' but it is an important contribution to the history of Canada, and just as importantly to the history of immigration and different paradigms of conceptualizing immigration in the 'real world.' Canada is often the large but overlooked 'sister' nation in both literature regarding the United States to the nation's South and also the United Kingdom and France, the cultural and political founders of this Northern land. This book helps give the history and political philosophy of Canada the intellectual attention it merits.

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