Ian Bushfield, humanist and secularist, is between countries and between jobs, but it is obvious his thoughts are with Canada and the BC Humanist Association. In anticipation of returning to Vancouver at the end of July and reassuming his role as executive director of BC Humanists, Bushfield has critiqued Humanist Canada’s response to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report on Storify and on his own blog, Terahertz. His critique was well received by Humanist Canada:
Wow and thank you Ian.Our Board will indeed have a close review of your notes. With Your permission, I would like to share the entire discourse with our Humanist Canada community. Thanks again. Respectfully, Eric Thomas, President Humanist Canada
Write blog on compatibility of secularism & multiculturalism. . . .
There are numerous definitions of myth, but for purposes of this post, myth is defined as stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Bushfield subscribes to the Canadian myth that multiculturalism works and is compatible with secularism.
In his July 9 Storify article, “Multiculturalism, Interculturalism and Secularism,” Bushfield focuses on T M (Terri) Murray’s article “Polite Self-Censorship No Environment for Free Speech,” which was recommended on Canadian Atheist on July 8.
In order to advance his thesis and give him a focus for his research, Bushfield misquotes Murray in the first paragraph of “Multiculturalism, Interculturalism and Secularism”:
Yesterday I wanted to put together some thoughts on how multiculturalism, in framework of Canadian government policy, is entirely compatible with secularism and actually promotes a human dignity better than alternatives. This stemmed from the various strawmans of multiculturalism I see, eg this article that starts a paragraph with “Proponents of multiculturalism…” without naming one or what they actually say.
Murray’s exact words are,
Multiculturalism’s proponents have garnered popular support for the illiberal notion that all citizens in liberal democracies must demonstrate respect for religion or religious believers.
If Bushfield had quoted Murray exactly, he may have had a basis to criticize her article.
Bushfield goes on to perpetuate another Canadian myth:
Pierre Elliott Trudeau, one of the most popular Prime Ministers in Canadian history, is responsible for much of Canada’s policy on multiculturalism. Born in Quebec, he’s reportedly a Catholic, but a couple years ago I came across an obscure reference that he was briefly an early member of the Humanist Fellowship of Montreal (one of the groups that went on to form Humanist Canada). My point isn’t that Trudeau was a through-and-through atheist, but that there is a possible intellectual connection between multiculturalism and Humanism in Canada. But that’s for next time.
Bushfield must be reading articles about Pierre Trudeau written after Trudeau left office and especially those articles that compare Trudeau to Brian Mulroney. In any comparison between the two, Trudeau would win. However, it was Mulroney who “won the largest landslide majority government (by total number of seats) in Canadian history.”
There was surprise and in some quarters almost distress when it was revealed after his death that [Trudeau] was deeply committed to the [Catholic] faith.
However, Trudeau may have been a humanist; humanism and Catholicism are not incompatible, and he most certainly “is responsible for much of Canada’s policy on multiculturalism.”
Another one of Bushfield’s tweets indicates he is planning another Storify to
attack critique David Rand’s guest post “Secularism Betrayed: A Summary” and praise a comment by Indi. However, as Bushfield says,
But that’s for next time.
In preparation for “next time,” I recommend Bushfield read Neil Bissoondath’s essay “No Place Like Home.”