The May 7 Speakers’ Series meeting overcame a distance of several thousand kilometres separating Rudyard Griffiths, author of a controversial new book, and Peter Ferreira, president of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, whose member organizations represent some 18 million people.
Griffiths, co-founder of the Dominion Institute, from which he retired late last year, was urgently called out west by the Canadian Military College of which he is honorary colonel. He flew from Medicine Hat to Calgary in order to speak on time to members via speakerphone. He defended the position taken in his new book Who We Are, stating that an overemphasis on diversity was negating the establishing of a much needed Canadian identity, based on past victories and patriotic and pioneering acts.
Ferreira countered by stating that Canada had become such a diverse nation that an attempt to mould citizens into the identity suggested by Griffiths would be futile and impractical. He felt that Griffiths’ recipe for a Canadian identity was based solely on the achievements of English Canadians ignoring the First Nations and French Canadians. During question time. a member asked why, since so much of Griffiths’ recipe for Canadian identity came from claims by the Dominion Institute, why did he expect immigrant Canadians many of whom came from former colonies to respect the title “Dominion.” He replied that he didn’t attach much importance to the potential of the name to influence thought. The meeting applauded the efforts of Debbie de Groot, whose company is handling Griffiths’ tour, in arranging for the speaker to be able to stopover in Calgary long enough to participate in the meeting.