Diversity in Decline Book Discussion Shows How the Right Wing Influences Multiculturalism

Author Dr. Arjun Tremblay spoke on campus about how right wing governments have affected legislation related to multiculturalism

Dr. Arjun Tremblay leads a discussion on his first book, Diversity in Decline. (Ivy Edad)

As part of an event hosted by KPU Arts, Dr. Arjun Tremblay led a discussion of his book, Diversity in Decline, at the Surrey Campus on Sept. 23.

Tremblay, an associate professor at the University of Regina, tackled how multiculturalism will survive during a time when conservative governments are being elected in Canada, Britain, and America. In Tremblay’s book, he writes, “The most extreme of right-wing ideological positions are both holistic and ‘historicist’ … in that they envision an idealized version of society and seek means to preserve this ideal by excluding (or exterminating) difference.”

He also explained which conditions are needed to protect multiculturalism under a conservative government. One of the theoretical propositions in his study is that multiculturalism can be protected if voters decide to vote for other parties, and that the safety of multiculturalism could depend on whether or not conservatives form a majority government after the election. 

If that were to happen, implementing policies that protect immigrants would be especially important, he believes. These could guarantee them immunity to unpredictable changes in government and protect their identities.

“If a government of political right is elected, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will take action upon multiculturalism. If they do, what my research says is multiculturalism is only likely to disappear under a few circumstances,” he says.

In order for multiculturalism policies to remain effective under a conservative government, politicians need to recognize and accommodate the diversity that stems from immigration.

“Whether it’s a minority or majority government, the fate of Canadian multiculturalism would then depend on the types of designs on Canadian multiculturalism policies,” Tremblay says.

Diversity in Decline also discusses the alterations the Conservative Party of Canada made to multiculturalism policies over the past 13 years, part of which were budget cuts for multiculturalism programs and implementation of public policies that targeted Muslim Canadians.

Veto players, who are politicians with the power to change the status quo, can “intercede on their behalf despite strong partisan opposition to the recognition and accommodation of cultural, religious, and/or linguistic diversity,” turning the tide in multiculturalism policy changes, according to Tremblay’s writing. 

“The liberal party’s immediate actions on multiculturalism when they regained power in 2015 was to reverse the previous policies that have been implemented under the previous conservative government,” he says.

Tremblay adds that his study shows that “there is a difference between what politicians and political leaders promise they’re going to do and what they can actually deliver.”

“It’s something that political scientists can really bring to understanding the world, for people of your generation, for your parents, for my parents, for people who are looking at and listening to what politicians are promising. There’s a difference between policy and outcomes.”