Criticism of the Tim Uppal Racism Incident. (09/09/2014)

by Georges Melki on October 8, 2014 - 10:00am

In light of the course and its designated subject matter, the article “Tim Uppal, Multiculturalism Minister, Victim Of Racist Incident” in the Huffington Post’s Canadian Branch from the 9th of September, 2014 details how Tim Uppal and his family were the victims of a racist incident. Taking to Twitter, he had this to say: “"So this actually happened tonight...A woman leaving the tennis court looked at me and my wife and said 'are they members? Why can't they play in the day - they don't have jobs'. Worst part is that our children were with us," Tim Uppal is the federal minister of state for multiculturalism. He has run for office in Edmonton-Sherwood Park since 2008. He was chosen for the position of multiculturalism minister by the prime minster during a cabinet shuffle in the summer of 2013. Given his ethnic background, he was clearly suited to the task given to him by Stephen Harper. He referenced this fact during an interview with the Sherwood Park News.

            In my opinion, these key points are what I believe to be the strengths of the articles:

  • The article shows that nobody is immune to racism
  • Shows that a Canadian is not any less a Canadian or even less of a human being for that matter if their religious beliefs are different.

I agree with both points. The first point is eloquently demonstrated by the prime minister’s incident, as he held a sensitive position stationed within the upper echelons of society and STILL he has been victim of such an incident. Insofar as the second point is concerned, Uppal eloquently demonstrated proof of religious tolerance when he said that a Canadian is no less a Canadian should they choose to bear their religious symbols.



            The idea to be discussed here is what makes a Canadian a Canadian. We see in the article that Uppal says that a Canadian is no less a Canadian because of what they wear in terms of religious symbols. The first point in the discussion about the Canadian identity is the religious standpoint, slightly touched upon by Uppal in reference to Pauline Marois’s charter of values. Additionally, there is the cultural standpoint, which Uppal briefly touches upon when referencing his childhood and growing up as he immigrated to Canada.

            The first point to be assessed when looking at the Canadian Identity is the religious standpoint. As a first world nation, Canada should be expected to have religious tolerance at least. Religious tolerance is to tolerate other religions. While this is obvious it may be harder to do in practice, because to tolerate other religions literally means to not discriminate against others based on their religions to coexist with such people. To this end, they should all have the right to bear their religious symbols as it is within their right to do so. Doing otherwise, as seen in the Charter of Values pitched by Pauline Marois would be counter-productive as it is not conducive to the kind of multiculturalism Canada should be supporting. Multiculturalism is key to the Canadian identity because with the growing number of immigrants, tolerance will be required in order to better promote synergy amongst us.

            The second point to be looked at concerning the Canadian Identity is the cultural standpoint. Culture isn’t just something that takes place on a religious standpoint, but is the set of values and virtues that one has grown up with. Thus, on the cultural level the Canadian Identity requires the use of Cultural Relativism. Cultural relativism means that one person is understanding of another’s cultural beliefs and does not criticize them for such beliefs, and as such this is a necessary part of the Canadian Identity as it will go a long way towards promoting harmony among all ethnicities.

            In conclusion, what makes a Canadian a Canadian… is not the color of their skin, but the content of their character. To say that Canada thoroughly supports religious tolerance, multiculturalism and cultural relativism is too optimistic and even overzealous, and for that matter Canada still has a lot of work to put in before it achieves norms favorable to minorities and diverse ethnicities as illustrated by Mr. Uppal’s run-in. However taken into consideration the short end of the stick we haven’t done terribly at all. As the federal minister of state for multiculturalism, Tim Uppal makes a solid case that Canada is taking a step in the right direction at the very least by demonstrating what makes a Canadian a Canadian. 

(2014, September 09). Tim Uppal, Multiculturalism Minister, Victim of Racist Incident.  Huffington Post Canada