Sociology of culture
2 min

Rob Oliphant on multiculturalism and the spring session

As my roundup of queer MPs continues, I caught up with Liberal Rob Oliphant after question period in the foyer today.

Q: How was your break?
A: There was no break; I worked the whole time. I took five days to go to Sault Ste Marie for holidays and the rest of the time was spent working.

Q: We heard UK Prime Minister David Cameron weigh in that he thinks multiculturalism has been a failure. You’re the Liberal multiculturalism critic – what do you think of his remarks?
A: He very clearly said state multiculturalism in Britain is a failure – I can’t judge that. My sense is there are differences between Canada and Great Britain in the way we have done multiculturalism, what it means here and how it’s woven into the fabric of our country. It’s quite different from Britain, which is quite monolithic in its cultural approach, whereas Canada has had diversity for a long time. I will not say that multiculturalism in Canada is a failure. Multiculturalism in Canada is Canadian – it’s part of the bedrock that is Canada. Do we have problems in multiculturalism in Canada? Do we have problems with ensuring effective integration? Yes, there are. There are communities that are struggling to find a way in and we have to make sure that every door is open to them. That means better funding for settlement services, that means more cross-cultural conversation, that means more engagement of communities in a variety of ways.

Q: What are you looking forward to in the spring session?
A: I’m waiting to see the budget and how this government is going to deal with a $56 billion deficit. I want to see what they’re going to do to actually create an environment for business to generate wealth, and to take that wealth and share it to make sure that Canadians are taken care of. The reality is the biggest problem for business in this country is not corporate taxes – we’re competitive. The biggest problem in this country is a deficit. If you’ve got a large deficit like this, it’s a noose around the neck of business and hidden payroll taxes are slowing down our economy. It’s a rightwing agenda and we want to make sure we have a people’s agenda.

Q: Do you think we’re going to have a spring election?
A: I think there’s a greater chance we will have one than we won’t. And I’m ready.

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