As recently as 20-30 years ago in North America, racism and prejudice were alive and well. It was normal. People were ok with it (well, visible majorities were anyway) and governments looked the other way.
It was a tolerance of the intolerable.
Today, while not totally eradicated, it is now illegal and socially unacceptable to treat a person differently because of the colour of their skin. In fact, it has become unacceptable to a point of going out of ones way to not be accused of racism. We hire visible minorities solely because of the colour of their skin. We make exceptions to laws to accommodate varying cultural and religious beliefs, often to the absurd extreme. In many cases, people are infuriated by this, and governments are proceeding blindly.
The tolerance is becoming intolerable.
Canada is a nation of immigrants. 96% of us are not considered aboriginal. This means we have done nothing but adapt, change and accomodate from day one. So to some extent, not only should be accept this as the truth, but embrace it as what makes Canada truly unique.
Having said that, we are a sovereign nation. Our traditions, cultures and laws must be respected. Change can and will happen, but it must be fair to all, and not to benefit any one race, culture, sex or religion.
In the next several entries I will be discussing examples of where we (society, governments or individuals) demanded our rights, often at the expense of common sense. At the end of each example, I'll include my personal opinion. (Hey, it's my blog...)
White males need not apply
In the early to mid-90's, the Province of Ontario had the NDP party in office, with Bob Rae as Premier.
During this time, some unusual hiring practises were put into place designed at increasing the number of visible minorities, women and disabled employees within the government's employees, otherwise known as affirmative action, or more commonly known as "White males need not apply".
Interestingly, the Federal government had a similar policy in place in 2005-2006:
"All persons recruited externally must be from designated groups (persons who are visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and women), except for cases having received ADM/CEO written approval."Some people may justify this as "reverse discrimination", which is simply ignorant. Discrimination is discrimination.
During the first days of President Obama's administration there was a controversy surrounding a similar issue. Robert Reich, a top economic adviser to Obama, stated in a speech:
"I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers...It seemed the more Mr. Reich attempted to clarify his statement, the further he dug himself into a hole. You decide what he really meant. If nothing else, this is proof that the issue is still a sensitive one.
... I have nothing against white male construction workers, I'm just saying there are a lot of other people who have needs as well. There are ways in which the money can be, criteria can be set so the money does go to others, the long term unemployed, minorities, women... "
My opinion: While I certainly support equality between race, sex and culture, there was (is?) a clear misrepresentation of the public working within the government. I am all for putting policies, procedures and controls into place to prevent this from happening in the future. This is by no means a simple task, and I'm glad I'm not charged with it's ownership; however, we cannot change history, only learn from it. Discrimination against a majority is no less a crime than against a minority.
Go on - your turn.
Coming in Part 2...
Can there be anything more sacred to Canadians than the uniform of the RCMP? The entire world identifies us with that red uniform. Even Monty Python poked fun at it!