When the Liberal Party formed the Canadian government in 2015, the world sat up and took notice. Never before has such a multicultural and multireligious party made such great strides in a First World Country.
For months after the elections, every move of the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was carefully watched by political pundits everywhere and today, his government could best be described as the most inclusive government in the world.
Canadian High Commissioner to Malaysia Julia Bentley is very proud of the fact that inclusivity is what Canada is known for.
She agreed that Trudeau had almost every colour, every race, all religions, all genders, all social strata and people who hailed from other parts of the world but now being Canadian in his cabinet.
There were minorities and majorities represented.
"We are not a melting pot nor a mosaic of cultures. We are a small globe," said Bentley.
She said that Canada is strong because of its diversity.
Just like Malaysia, Bentley said that Canada can feel like home to anyone, no matter where they came from. It is also a country which allows every citizen to contribute to society no matter what race they are. It also means that people from all different backgrounds can find a place in contributing to the society feeling they are full citizens. She said no one has to hide their sexual orientation or belief.
We are not a melting pot nor a mosaic of cultures. We are a small globe.
Bentley explained that with such an outlook, policies formulated by the government consider the views of everyone.
With the recent win of a multicultural Pakatan Harapan overthrowing race-based parties in Barisan Nasional, she is probably elated as well, as now Malaysia too probably could have a proper inclusive government than mere political party representatives.
Bentley said that being inclusive is what every government should strive to be.
"I think Canada’s experience suggest having an inclusive policy, means that people with different background can feel they are part of society. They don’t feel really the need to conform to one particular mode, or what it means to be called 'Canadian'.
"So, through this kind of policy, people would different heritages, different religions, different linguistic groups, or perhaps different sexual orientations, Canadian citizens are with equal rights to anybody else. So, I think it will have advantage the way people feel about the security, the identity but there are also benefits socially and economically.
"Economically will be in terms of providing access to education and employment, based on merit. You can tap into the whole talent pool and you don’t have to preconceive the expectation of what talents look like," said Bentley.
She said when people are excluded or sidelined in nation building by governments, there will be the tendency for the rise of extremism and unwanted elements seeping into the society, breaking it apart.
"If people feel they are excluded or there is injustice because they are not being recognised formally in this society, they may be more inclined to be more engaged in activities destructive to social harmony," said Bentley.
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