To Azouz Begag, minister for the promotion of equal opportunity in the French government, Toronto is like the North Star, pointing the way on issues of tolerance and social inclusion.
"I'm here to learn," the 48-year-old novelist-turned-politician said. "We are convinced that Toronto is the capital of diversity. It's the incarnation of modernity. You have already reached the future we are trying to implement."
Begag, the first member of a visible minority ever appointed to the French cabinet, was in Toronto this week to participate in the International Metropolis Conference on immigration and cities.
Toronto's civic elites pride themselves on the city's very disconnection from anything resembling a common culture, history or identity. The city's founding and early history, being the work of WASPy British imperialists, is generally considered an embarrassment best left forgotten.
For that matter, the whole history of Toronto before about 1965 seems to have been consigned to the memory hole. Toronto the Good, that symbol of starchy WASP rectitude, is now as one with Nineveh and Tyre.
In its place, we have a pack of heremtically sealed ethnic townships surrounding several blocks of office towers and an ever-growing mob of addicts, lunatics and other wretched of the earth left in the streets to shift for themselves.
New York, London, Paris--all genuine world-class cities confident in their identity.
Toronto is but merely a pretender.
Source: Toronto Star