The Fractured Nation Interviews
Culture and Religion as Contributing Factors
Boom-Boom: It is true that the so-called troubled times that preceded The Fracture began with immigrants, the sons and daughters of immigrants in low paying, dead-end jobs; immigrants, sons and daughters of immigrants who increasingly found themselves on welfare through no fault of their own, joining together in a common cause to try to change the system that exploited them.
Adding to the “troubles” were religious groups, the most prominent being Muslims, who, having achieved what I would call a critical religious mass began making demands on a secular government that a secular government could not grant without giving up the claim to being secular.
Johnny: So you agree with Dr. Smith that The Fracture was mainly bad economics?
Boom-Boom: Not completely. Canada might have been able to overcome these economic inequities given time. What it could not overcome was the society it created where almost everyone’s first allegiance was somewhere else and, this is where I regretfully part company with the lovely Dr. Diane. It is self-evident today that The Fracture occurred where Canada was most vulnerable, at the intersection of the pieces that made up its cultural and religious mosaic.
Johnny: Unlike its southern neighbour, the United States, which encouraged newcomers to become part of American culture, to immerse themselves in that great melting-pot where everybody comes out American, Canada encouraged new-Canadians to maintain the culture and traditions of their ancestral homes. It encouraged them to remain a visible and vocal part of the so-called Canadian multicultural mosaic.
Boom-Boom: The cultural and religious clashes that contributed to the fracture need not have happened if Canada had not persuaded newcomers to remain culturally, therefore sentimentally attached to the country they left as opposed to encouraging them to immediately form an attachment to their adopted country by adopting the culture of their new country.
Johnny: Perhaps, but except for Québec, I don’t think the rest of Canada admitted to having a culture or a culture worth preserving.
Boom-Boom: That would explain their readiness to welcome other cultures and traditions. Be that as it may, this policy of encouraging new citizens to maintain deep emotional ties to the land of their ancestors was, in my opinion, a dubious way of creating the necessary cohesiveness among citizens of a country, that sense of belonging that is necessary to a nation’s survival. Without it a country is in constant danger of flying apart, is always in danger of fracturing. That line from that poem you quoted prior to your interview with MAD, Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold was prophetic for Canada.
Johnny: Was it this cultural attachment and the religious differences that Canada had encouraged, that led to the rise of the ethnic gangs, these same criminal gangs that would serve as the shock troops of the different factions fighting for land and influence after The Fracture?
Boom-Boom: Every society has its criminal gangs. In Canada, membership in most of these gangs was ethnically based partly because Canada did not promote cultural and religious mingling of the races. Also, ethnic violence would have been an everyday occurrence in the ancestral countries of some citizens.
So the answer to your question, and I don’t mean this as a, how do you say it, a cop out, would be that Canadian policy towards its cultural and religious minorities did not encourage the creation of ethnic gangs but it did not discourage it either. It was a policy that led to the creation of ethnic ghettos and neighbourhoods based on race or religion. It is only natural that these types of gangs would emerge from these ghettos and neighbourhoods.
Johnny: Did the knowledge that their ancestors had been exploited have anything to do with the gang violence, taking revenge against the ancestors of those who had exploited their ancestors?
Boom-Boom: Everybody is exploited by somebody at one point in their lives, usually more than once. It’s the nature of the system; you could say its part of society, perhaps even a necessary part. Did knowledge of the exploitation of their ancestors encourage criminal behaviour? I don’t think so, except perhaps to rationalize criminal behaviour and breaking the law. This is not to say that the historical exploitation of their ancestors was not used by some community leaders as encouragement to these same gangs to commit those horrible crimes in the name of real and imagined crimes against their long dead relatives.
Johnny: How would they have known? I mean, how would they have developed such a negative, violent attitude towards contemporary Canadians on the basis of events that occurred at least one-hundred years before they were born?