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SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2016
One of the major issues that I see with Bruce Allen's comment is that he convolutes his point by mixing up important issues with unimportant ones. For the comment read Alamir's Racism in the Olympic Organization

The issue of the motorcyclist not wearing a helmet, I think is an important issue. While it's important to respect the rights and religious beliefs of others, it is also the government's duty to protect citizens from others and from themselves. The lawmakers are not practicing religious intolerance by enforcing a law promoting safety - and this isn't quite a question of assimilation. In this case though, it is upon the rider of a the motorcycle to obey the motorcycle riding laws - or otherwise use another form of transportation that is more suitable to them, because there are many options available.

The issue of the last names I found quite silly. To enforce the changing of names due to administration issues is pure laziness on the administrator's side - and this is, in some ways intolerance. I'm only left wondering if this would have been a similar issue if it were many "Smiths." As a web developer I deal with issues like this all the time - particularly for websites that have user accounts. Assigning a unique identifier to an item that is independant of all other user-controlled factors. I can't rely on first names, or last names. I can't rely solely on randomness (because the likelyhood of the same value occuring increases). I can to some degree rely on usernames and emails, as long as I ensure that they are unique - at some point though, the realm of possibilities for usernames is extinguished (think how hard it is to get yourname@hotmail.com) - but this isn't particularly a concern of adminstrator. As long as the username is unique, I'm happy. In the government's case, they simply can assign "usernames" - with Social Insurance numbers, or other forms of ID. Asking immigrants to "assimilate" doesn't leave much option to them - and really only is temporary relief from the issue. But if all the Khans become Smiths, then what?

Between these two issues, there is gray area. Passport photos require a straight-on head shot, with no cast shadows, no smile, and no glasses. As someone who wears glasses, and has a mop of hear atop my head, this usually results in interesting passport photos - ones that don't look like me unless I remove my glasses, and give my "I don't see the camera, where am I supposed to look?" pose. Does this look like me? It certainly doesn't look like the every-day me. Should Passport/ID photos be made to look more like the every-day you? Drivers licenses are a more every-day look, but Passports are not - but for that same reason, the day you change your every-day look, your Driver's license becomes just as reliable as the Passport photo (if not less...)

Anyway, with these three different types of issues, I don't see how any conversation he was attempting to have could really be had, particularly the way he wants to have it. And by putting him on the welcoming committee just seems an odd choice - due to his abrassiveness, but also due to his lack of international fame. Frankly, I doubt many Canadians really know of Allen - or would be able to identify him in a picture. Canada has many more Canadians that are already well known around the globe and act as better embassadors. The fact that he is on the committee, and is still on the committee is clear sign that there's just some corporate sponsorship behind it all.

Now, I'm going to argue that in some ways assimilation isn't particularly a bad thing - when it occurs within reason. The US model is distinct from the Canadian, and does require more assmilation on the part of its immigrant citizens. US Immigration is, as is often noted, more difficult than Canadian Immigration, and there is a particularly long naturalization period. Think of it at acclimation - the US wants its citizens to become American before really having a strong say, such as with voting rights. This doesn't mean immigrants are going to be abused, or treated as sub-humans without rights. The laws protect everyone and the US respects cultures, religions, and practices - afterall, it is constitution was built on the idea that all men are equal. However one glaring difference between it and Canada, is that the US asks that if you want to live in America, you consider yourself American. Or to put it even simpler: If you want to be American, then become American. This doesn't mean you must become caucasian if you're not already caucasian. It also doesn't mean you should go buy a Ford truck, wear a cowboy hat, and host superbowl parties. What it does mean that you should accept and promote the values the country was built upon, learn the language of the country, learn the culture of the country, and its history. It's largely through this that I believe the US has a stronger sense of identity than Canada - particularly among immigrants even.

An American immigrant is doing what a born American is doing - chasing that American Dream. It sounds nothing short of a Hollywood movie, particularly to Canadians who don't experience a Canadian Dream. The US has the reputation of being the land of the possible, as well as the land of the free. No matter whom I've spoken with, there's always a strong sense of belonging, and pride about living in America - it's as though America is allowing people to pursue their life long dreams, and goals that they couldn't otherwise have done. And whether you want to brush it off as naive idealism, or whether you fully acknowledge it, there is a stronger sense of national community, and far greater patriotism within the US than I've seen within Canada.

Canada seems, for one, to have always defined its own identity as American, but not. Perhaps this is in part because Canada is a much smaller in population, and much younger in history, but I also believe it's in part of the people and how being Canadian is viewed. Canada is quite a diverse country, there's no denying it - with Toronto being the most diverse city in Canada, and also one of the most diverse in the world. But even within Toronto, there's a certain degree of segregation - each cultures having their own neighborhoods with shops selling goods from their particular countries, and everyone freely practicing their traditions. And it's a wonderful thing, that they are able to have a place outside their country of origin to do this - and it's certainly a benefit to race relations, for people of varying backgrounds to all live around one another, and their children to go to school together. But in all this, with everyone practicing their old traditions, no one it seems is practicing being Canadian.

I'll conclude with saying that perhaps being Canadian is just that - the definition of Canadian is to practice your traditions from your country of origin, to maintain your culture, but in a different Country that may provide you with greater opportunities, while also to be among other cultures. At that point, the only assimilation, the only way to be Canadian is by not being Canadian.


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