Who spoiled Toronto's miraculous ethnic transformation?

What a difference a decade or so makes. This is from a 1996 National Geographic article on Toronto by Richard Conniff:

you may be under the impression that it is a white-bread kind of town, largely Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. Indeed, a lot of people in Toronto were under that impression until recently, and they are typically bemused and delighted by the miraculous ethnic transformation that has taken place in their city during the past 25 years.

"I grew up when you went to Sunday school and dropped your pennies in the box for the missionaries to convert the pagans and the heathens," one older Torontonian told me. That was back before World War II, when the biggest parade in Toronto was the Orange Order's July celebration of Protestant supremacy. Then, in that agreeably noncommittal tone Canadians have perfected, he said, "Now the pagans and the heathens have moved in here, and they're quite nice people, eh?"

Not only have the Orangemen receded, but their children now boast that Toronto is the most ethnically and racially diverse city on earth. It has six Chinese newspapers. Its Caribbean community celebrates a huge two-week-long Mardi Gras-style festival (permanently scheduled in summer on account of weather), It has a radio station, CHIN, which broadcasts in 32 different languages. Asked which language is playing at the moment, the station's owner, Johnny Lombardi, looks at his watch: "It's 11:45am. So..yeah, that's Croation.

About a third of the 230,000 immigrants who arrive in Canada each year end up in the Toronto area. Refugees arrive in sychrony with the latest international nightmare -- Tamils from Sri Lanka, Hutus from Rwanda, Chechens from the former Soviet Union. Not only have they turned out to be quite nice people, but they have also made Toronto an infinitely nicer city.
Wow, all those closures on the Gardiner freeway and mass protests that demand the Canadian government take a side [possibly the wrong side, but who cares? -ed] in their civil war have really made Toronto "infinitely" nicer haven't they? Remember the bad old days when cars drove down roads?

How about the non-Tamil ethnic groups...? I've written before about Sudan's ethnic problems following them to Edmonton, but Jamaican gun violence is a routine fact of life in Hogtown these days. Speaking of Edmonton problems, it is to laugh that just 3 years before Edmonton's Boxing Day slaying at West Edmonton Mall you could have read this bit:
It occured to me that Toronto has remained law-abiding partly because so many newcomers, arriving from places like Vietname in the 1970s and '80s, have seen how bad the world can get when order slips away to madness. Like Tran, they are usually middle-class. Canadian immigration policy encourages what critics call designer immigrants.
Yep, designer immigrants. Imagine how great things could be if, like the critics request, we just did it blindly!

Speaking of blindly, here's Wayne Hayes from Ontario Welcome House:
"Canadians appreciate order, and we are willing to sacrifice certain freedoms to have that order. So we don't carry handguns. We readily give this up. Canadians believe in lining up. You wait your turn, whether it's for a movie or a bank teller.
Or healthcare. Hey, do you remember that time you went to a movie in Buffalo and you never got in because reams of black men kept shoving ahead of you in line? What, that doesn't happen? Go figure.

Well, you'd think this massive immigration worry was all a figment of your imagination. Don't dispair: after talking to regular people who support immigration I'm sure a National Geographic writer would then find ordinary people or perhaps academics and professionals who have valid and reasoned concerns about assimilation.
I went to visit 56-year-old Ernst Zundel, one of the leading neo-Nazi propagandists in the world.
See, I told you he'd find a reasoned criticism and not go to the most discredited crank he could find!
Zundel, an immigrant from Germany, lives in a gentrified Toronto neighborhood on a street with Caribbean, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and Spanish restaurants. His house was crammed with too much narrative, in the form of the books and videotapes he sells, with titled like Did Six Million Really Die?

"Canadians deserve all the problems that are coming with immigration," he said. I asked him which problems, and he mentioned drive-by shootings, rapes, robberies. Which immigrants did he blame? "Blacks," he said. "I'm objecting to allowing hordes of racially unabsorbable populations to invade the living space of a specific race."

But if it was easy to dismiss Zundel, it was also easy to detect a developing racial tension beneath the city's genteel surface. Other Torontonians spoke euphemistically, but with unmistakable edginess, about how the population of 241,000 blacks, mainly Caribbean immigrants, is fitting in."
Ask Jane Creba's family, for example. Today with the Caribbean immigrants causing huge amounts of violence in Toronto's streets it seems like despite the distasteful titles of his tomes Zundel was onto something... in 1996, for example. Drive-by shootings by non-blacks in Toronto...quick, somebody name the last time that happened. Was Capone still alive?

Naturally the article is quick to go to blacks claiming police harassment and employment discrimination. Wait, I thought "Canadian immigration policy encourages what critics call designer immigrants" just a few paragraphs ago? Whoops, guess not.

Elsewhere in the article we can find reference to our favourite of creatures,the "community organizer". Oh hey, forced marriages make an appearance too:
In one paper there were brokered marriage proposals: "Punjabi Khatri Hindu/Kayasta parents seek suitable match for their beautiful daughter, Canadian born...doing Master's in Education.
But hey, that's just another great aspect of the Toronto melting pot...like those wonderful Tamil Tigers that a 'restrictive' immigration policy brought in.


Realtor from Toronto said...

Very nice post, I live in Toronto and I see all the aspects you've mentioned. Sometimes I do love that Toronto is such a diverse city with countless communities each showing us their unique style of living and cultures that would otherwise be a mystery to us. But on the other hand, I too see many disadvantages in this especially when those nice and friendly communities turn "bad" and start demanding stupid requests and bothering the average folk with their problems. Seems a bit unfair to me sometimes...

Take care, Elli