Multiculturalism in Britain – a defence

The Montreal Gazette has published an excellent letter from a Canadian now resident in Richmond responding to Quebec premier Pauline Marois’s attack on multiculturalism in Britain.

As a Canadian, brought up in Montreal and now living in England with the privilege of dual nationality, I was interested in Pauline Marois’s recent comments regarding multiculturalism in the U.K.

Britain has tried, with great success, to absorb a huge number of diverse immigrants, each with their cultural traditions and religious observances. Of course compromises have to be agreed in an intelligent, thought out manner and, to these ends, certain concessions are achieved based on respect and common sense.

It is no longer considered worthy of comment to see a soldier guarding Buckingham Palace wearing a turban instead of a beaver skin hat. Burkas, kippahs, priests’ collars are all accepted, but certain provisos are maintained in the interest of security and common interest. Face veils must be removed for legal identification but, out of respect, this is done in front of a female official. Certain cultural and religious customs are banned; female circumcision and the killing of animals in public are two examples that immediately come to mind. The newcomers adapt to these regulations just as I, on a lighter note, had to give up my Canadian traditions and refrain from clubbing seals on the Thames. Signs in predominantly “ethnic” areas are written in Hebrew, Polish, Arabic, Greek and, indeed, in a multitude of languages, and this practice is regarded as interesting and appealing by most of the indigenous population.

Of course, as in any society, there is a minority of morons who are so insecure in their own identity and self-regard that they feel it necessary to strike out in a thoughtless, irrational manner based on an emotional reaction to change and compromise and, thus, inflict terror on the immigrant community. This ignorant minority exists in many countries; however, it appears that in Quebec the maniacs have taken over the asylum.

I enjoy the fact that, because of my Quebec upbringing, I am bilingual, have the Québécoise joie de vivre, an educated palate and a tolerance based on mutual respect and inclusion. Now I despair for my province, and worry for the loved ones I left behind.

Frederick Lee Pascal

Richmond, United Kingdom