The challenge of multiculturalism

In the current issue of the University of Toronto Magazine, Janice Gross Stein describes some of the ways that Canada's commitment to multiculturalism is being challenged. This relates to a point I made in my last post (sort of), so I thought I'd discuss it a little bit.

Professor Stein, who may be familiar to frequent viewers of CBC's The National, points out that multiculturalism has become "part of the sticky stuff of Canadian identity." It has been enshrined in the Canadian constitution, and "has worked extraordinarily well in practice."

But the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for freedoms that sometimes come into conflict with one another. For example, it guarantees religious freedom. But it also insists on various equality rights, that religions do not recognise. One might argue that religious institutions are private organisations, while the charter pertains to the state. Which is true. But as Stein points out, religious institutions "enjoy special tax privileges given to them by governments. Religious institutions do not pay property tax and most receive charitable status from the federal government."

Stein asks if "the equality rights of the charter [should] have some application when religious institutions are officially recognized and advantaged in fundraising" by tax benefits given to contributors?

I think that's a pretty good question.

Work Cited:

Stein, Janice Gross. "Religion Versus the Charter." University of Toronto Magazine. 34/2 Winter 2007, 27-30.


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