As Canadians look down upon the severe tone of the Republican primary season, they might console themselves by saying: "We would never resort to that kind of hateful dialogue, and it would never work here -- in the multicultural haven that is Canada." Prime Minister Robert Borden might prove them wrong.
In the social context of Canada before the Quiet Revolution (1950s), before Viola Desmond's act of defiance (1946), before Rosa Parks triggered the United States' Civil Rights Movement (1955), Fred Christie stood up to institutional discrimination. A decade before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1947), Fred Christie exhibited unimaginable courage and perseverance in asserting his civil rights. Though the judicial process did not deliver the desired result, Fred Christie remains a key instigator in Canada's journey towards the establishment of universal rights.
Canada has made tentative steps in acknowledging racism in our past, like aboriginal residential schools and the Chinese head tax. But there is a tendency to view these as isolated events of history. With our national rhetoric of a tolerant and multicultural society, many Canadians bristle at the suggestion that racial discrimination was and is a force in Canada.
The xenophobia from the Quebec election spilled over to the rest of Canada today when it was revealed that the Bank of Canada, our country's central bank, chose to carve out all hints of diversity from its $100 bank note after heeding to discriminatory judgements from focus groups. As Canadians born with names a rural Quebec mayor cannot pronounce and with facial features unfit for a Canadian bank note, it is high time Canada acknowledge its long legacy of divisiveness and address its ugly remnants in order to move forward to the pluralistic vision of our beloved country we have yet to fully achieve.