South Asian Focus
November 25, 2009

Sunil Rao

The federal government is unequivocally telling the 400-plus Canadian professional licensing bodies: “It’s time to open up your doors to foreign trained professionals.

This was among the key messages brought by Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, to members of the ethnic press last weekend.

Ottawa is also bringing all the professional bodies – the gatekeepers to their respective professions – to the table to streamline the process of foreign credentials recognition, in a bid to have “a national policy framework approach” to this key issue, Kenney said.

Addressing members of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada during the course of a three-day conference held at Seneca College’s Markham Campus, Kenney added his government is also seeking to focus on the country’s concept of multicultural diversity as meaning more social and cultural integration – not assimilation – rather than on segregation into parallel communities or ethnic enclaves.

“Hence we’re investing in such initiatives as language proficiency, pre-integration seminars, improving foreign credentials recognition, and fast-tracking immigration,” he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also made time to address the delegates, representing some 170 different ethnic publications and media outlets, in between his tours of India last week and of China next week. “We believe strongly that freedom for Canadians goes hand-in-hand with journalistic freedom,” Harper said.

What multiculturalism will mean: Justin Trudeau.

A number of other key political figures also addressed delegates.

Interestingly Justin Trudeau, the rising Liberal Party star, also based his address on what constitutes multiculturalism, and how the concept his father, the renowned Pierre Trudeau, enshrined through the Charter will play out in coming decades.

“In future there will be a greater tendency to talk about ‘us’ and ‘them’, just as there will be an increasing tendency to blame the other – but that is not the solution to building bridges between us,” he said.

“Thirty years ago, multiculturalism was about recognizing and being proud of our diversity; today we Canadians need to build on that, to partake and share of our multiple identities, in a spirit of openness and mutual respect and justice for all.

“But politics by division is, unfortunately, very easy. Don’t be fooled by the transactional nature of any political party, for this demeans us all,” he warned.

He however admitted the Liberal Party is at present questing for direction, and is also “not getting (its) message out”.

Thomas Saras, president, Nepmcc, who along with Asha Rajak, vice-president, was instrumental in staging the conference, urged the authorities to support the ethnic press “with is today becoming Canada’s main voice”.


Reference: South Asian Focus