An excellent piece on multiculturalism and Sir Wilfred Laurier. Would that today's grits remember what this great Canadian stood for.
Laurier’s vision expressed in a speech to the Ottawa Canadian Club in January 1904 has since been cited frequently. He viewed the country’s history as heroic and claimed, “It is Canada that shall fill the 20th century.”
Yet more importantly, and perhaps more critically relevant in 2010 than in 1910, was Laurier’s insistence immigrants to Canada become Canadians and assimilate its deeply embedded culture of individual freedom and respect for tradition as handed down by Britain.
Given his origin, Laurier was uniquely situated to speak of a united Canada as he had, according to the historian Michael Bliss, “transcended his ethnic and cultural roots.” Laurier was, as his biographer Joseph Schull called him, “the first Canadian.”
Laurier belonged to an age not too long ago when a people could readily, as Scott did a century earlier, unashamedly express love for the country that was their home.
But in the period since Canada’s centennial year in 1967, the politics of multiculturalism joined with Lennon’s sentiments have contributed to widening ethnic divisions in a country of immigrants that Laurier devoted his political life to reconciling.