Ethnic, Linguistic, and Multicultural Diversity of Canada

Will Kymlicka

in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195335354
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Ethnic, Linguistic, and Multicultural Diversity of Canada


In the past twenty years, there has been a growing pessimism on the effects of ethnic diversity. Studies are dominated by the assumption that ethnic diversity is a problem along multiple dimensions. Studies also suggest that countries marked with high levels of ethnic diversity are less peaceful, less democratic, underdeveloped, and negligent to the needs of the poor. In short, ethnic diversity is seen as a dysfunction for modern societies, and is moreover viewed as a threat to political systems, as ethnic minorities are now seeking public recognition in the form of multiculturalism and minority rights. This article discusses ethnic diversity in Canada. Against the background of the pessimistic view on diversity, Canada is an exception. It contains high levels of ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity. Moreover, although Canada supports multiculturalism and minority rights, it remains peaceful and enjoys a prosperous democracy with a reasonably well-developed welfare state. The Canadian experience suggests that the effects of ethnic diversity and identity politics are not predetermined, and that a multicultural form of citizenship is possible. In the following discussions of the article, the basic features of the Canadian approach to ethnic diversity, including the controversies and challenges of Canadian diversity, are examined.

Keywords: ethnic diversity; diversity; multiculturalism; minority rights; linguistic diversity; religious diversity; identity politics; multicultural

Article.  9187 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics

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