Montreal multiculturalism?

We have to talk about interculturalism again. The public debate on intercultural relations in Quebec is in decline while we are still in search of an institutionalized model indicating the way forward. And this despite the commitments made for 20 years by the parties in power.

In terms of policies, a vacuum has thus been created. But as it often happens, it is a void that fills imperceptibly, and not always as we would like. In this case: it is a form of emerging multiculturalism of which the Montreal metropolis is becoming the epicenter. A vision is gaining ground among a good part of its population according to which one is Montrealer long before being Quebecer. Following this logic, the metropolis risks transforming itself into a free electron where an identity and belonging are developed on the fringes of Quebec as a whole, thus promoting the development of unofficialized bilingualism. It would no longer be a question of developing a general conception of the nation based on the integration of all Quebec citizens, those of the majority and minorities, while respecting the rights of each other (as is required by interculturalism). ).

Several observers see the progress in Montreal of a latent form of multiculturalism without a program, the management of which is left to microsocial transactions and daily life, that is to say to the movement of globalization. This opens the way, in the heart of Quebec, to a civic life gradually freed from the national framework.

Structuring factors are promoting this development: the growing influence of English on a planetary scale, the demographic dynamics which suggests a greater number of immigrants in the coming decades, the very high concentration of newcomers in the Montreal region. , the divide at the same time ethnocultural and political between Montreal and the rest of Quebec – a divide that already in 2010 Guy Rocher qualified as “dramatic”.

Once again, nothing formalized or programmed in the course of this multiculturalism; just let it go. The municipal administration does not seem to have an integrated vision of the situation and still does not have an official policy.

Intercultural cities

An opportunity has presented itself over the past 10 years to reduce this divide, but one wonders whether Montreal has taken full advantage of it. In 2010, I approached the leaders of the Council of Europe so that they admit Montreal as a member of the prestigious international project of Intercultural Cities. A few speakers (especially Gilles Rioux, a long-time player in this field) then led the City’s management to apply, which was therefore accepted. It was in 2011.

Currently, 140 cities spread over four continents are participating in this project. The objective is to encourage everyone to innovate in terms of diversity management, to discuss with others and to enrich their programs. Founded in 2007, this network has become the place of a tremendous bubbling of reflection and innovations from which each member can benefit greatly (detailed information on the subject can be found on the Internet). What has Montreal been doing for 10 years? In the opinion of various informants familiar with the matter, the results would be mixed. We would like to be sure that participation in this major project has received all the attention it deserves from the two municipal administrations that have succeeded each other since.

By virtue of an orientation adopted by the Council of Europe, interculturalism is the general light under which the work takes place. This is a vein of reflection that has mobilized many Quebec researchers for 30 years. Montreal, by drawing on this work (focused on the conception of an interculturalism inspired by Quebec), could therefore bring something original to the network. In return, it would draw substantial lessons from it leading to the establishment of original policies and innovative programs.

Better linking the collective consciousness of Montreal to that of Quebec is a complex task. It would first be necessary to raise awareness, to take the exact measure of the problem, to initiate a reflection and then to apply a plan at the national as well as the metropolitan scale. Bill 96 under discussion in the National Assembly may constitute an important step forward (despite the pessimism of several demographers). It is essential to strengthen our identity and our national culture. Otherwise, it will be difficult to create the feeling of belonging and solidarity allowing our society to be mobilized around collective ideals. And along the way, to inspire pride in what we’ve done together.

Shouldn’t the CAQ be more involved than it is currently?

Note: On interculturalism and growing multiculturalism in Montreal, the most recent focus can be found in the excellent master’s thesis that David Carpentier has just completed at UQAM under the supervision of Alain-G. Gagnon and soon to be published.

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