Integration before assimilation: Immigration, multiculturalism and the Canadian polity

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As a strategy of immigrant inclusion, official multiculturalism in Canada is based on the premise that national integration is possible, even preferable, without assimilation. This article considers whether such an approach can be successful. Drawing on a qualitative study of Lao immigrants in Ontario, it is suggested that newcomers can in fact be disposed to high levels of political commitment, specific mechanisms of political assimilation aside, as a result of the process of immigration itself. At least in the short term, though perhaps mainly in the short term, the Canadian political order does not seem to suffer for lack of an assimilative emphasis.

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