In the annals of media bias, the October 2, 2009 edition of CBC Radio`s "The Current" should be promoted to the Hall of Shame. The lead-off topic revolved around an incident where Canadian officials in Kenya confiscated the passport of a Canadian citizen , Suaad Hagi Mohamud, whom they concluded was faking her identity after she failed to correctly answer elementary questions about the city and country she had lived in for many years. DNA testing subsequently vindicated her contentions.
The issue for the discussion panel was "cultural competence"—"What should a Canadian be expected to know?"
Or, as the interviewer, longtime CBC journalist Jan Wong, framed it, "Whether it is fair to assume that there is a common set of cultural reference points" that Canadians relate to.
As VDARE.COM readers would expect, the verdict was "No"—exactly the answer that Ms. Wong had engineered, with loaded questions and a loaded panel, all of whom were members of visible minorities, like Wong, and all of whom were foreign-born, except for Wong. The only missing ingredient in this classic formula for manufactured consent was a soundtrack from the usual "rent-a-crowd" cheer-leading section for politically-correct pronouncements.
Jan Wong made no pretence of neutrality or objectivity. Throughout the discussion, she consistently offered excuses for Suuad Hagi Mohamud`s memory lapses. So what if the woman struggled to remember what a T-4 [tax] slip was, or that she didn`t remember the date of her son`s birthday—"she was only off by two days", Wong exclaimed, and besides, "not every culture uses the same calendar."
And why would anyone have to name the transit stops on their way to work? And how many Canadians know who the Prime Minister is? As for forgetting who her employer was, heck, it was just a courier company after all.
Wong even played her own victim card for emotional impact. She intimated that she, too, was wrongly detained by customs officials in Toronto after returning home from her assignment at the Atlanta Olympics. She was "thrown in a pen with illegal immigrants" and felt "powerless" and fearful. No matter what knowledge she acquired, people would always make assumptions about her from her appearance, not knowing that her family`s Canadian roots went back to 1880.
Of course, Wong didn`t reflect that all of us are judged by our appearance in one fashion or another. That is why we dress formally at job interviews, or why those in wheelchairs are assumed to be without capabilities, or seniors are often patronized like children. But not everyone nurses these grievances to score verbal points or angle for sympathy.
Wong made a point of ridiculing the comments of a representative of an immigrant settlement centre who argued that to be successful, immigrants must acquire so-called "soft skills" like making eye contact and shaking hands upon greeting people, which are common to North American culture. She turned to her main witness for the prosecution, Debbie Douglas, [Email her] the Executive Director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Servicing Immigrants [OCASI], and remarked sarcastically, "Actually, Debbie, with the threat of the H1N1 virus, we are told not to shake hands. What is acceptable culture?"
Silly question, according to the CBC and their champions. Canada doesn`t have a culture, at least not of the home-grown variety.
It is a measure of the CBC`s stacked-deck strategy of rigging an "open" debate that it was left to panelist Nick Noorani, editor of Canadian Immigrant webzine, a man not normally known for his objectivity, to defend the importance of learning soft skills: "If I moved to Japan, I would learn to bow and leave my shoes outside at the door."
But OCASI`s Debbie Douglas interjected that learning soft skills were only necessary within the culture of institutions, but there was no general set of soft skills external to them in this new and wonderfully diverse Canada of ours. Lending emphasis to a point that she made a few times during the discussion, she said that Canada is no longer "this white, Western, European place—we need to move away from this whole notion of what `Canadianism` means." It is a mistake, she asserted, to assume that there are "basic cultural reference points…we are as diverse as the rest of the world." And why, Douglas asked, "should immigrants have a heavier burden of having this knowledge than Canadians themselves don`t have?"
But Mr. Noorani felt moved to draw a line: "Is that what we really want, to have immigrants still oblivious to what is going around them even after having lived in the country for 10 years?"
However, Dr. Izumi Sakamoto, a Professor of Social Work at thezGcame to the rescue. She cited the case of a Greek immigrant who had not had a vacation for ten years because, like so many immigrants, he was too busy working to put food on the table and hadn`t the luxury of taking the time to explore his environment. Debbie Douglas concurred—"it is a class issue for everyone". Douglas concluded the debate by stating that the conversation should be about "How do we get our communities engaged."
Precisely. Should the question also not be "If there is in fact no longer `a common set of cultural reference points`, should we not set about re-establishing them?"
Can a nation-state function without any cultural cohesion, a shared cultural vocabulary, a common knowledge of a shared history?
Or are we to become merely an amalgam of ethnic solitudes more psychologically connected to foreign homelands than to other Canadians?
Is Canada just, as Debbie Douglas would argue, just a microcosm of the United Nations? Is it already a "done deal`?
That seems to the (taxpayer-funded) CBC message. Its motto is "Canada lives here". But the reality is that, on the CBC, "Canada dies here". Its advice is to traditionalists: throw in the towel and park your nostalgia. Give it up. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated into the global shopping mall culture. We will never again be the country you yearn for. We are diverse, and getting more diverse with each passing day.
My response: Sorry, Mother Corp—the news of our death is greatly exaggerated. Eighty per cent of Canadians are not immigrants, and 83% are not visible minorities—60% of whom congregate in just two major cities.
Believe it or not, there is a world outside of Toronto (= New York), even of Ontario (= East Coast). A world where the real Canada still is alive and kicking, and not defeatist. You haven`t heard the last of us yet.
Tim Murray (email him) is a Director of Immigration Watch Canada and Vice President of Biodiversity First. He blogs at Canada The Sinking Lifeboat. He is a member of Optimum Population Trust UK, and has published frequently on the Australia website (We) Can Do Better. An avid hiker and conservationist, he lives on Quadra Island, British Columbia. He is currently working on an anthology tentatively entitled "Overloading Canada: The Ecological Case Against Mass Immigration".