Friday, January 30, 2009

Quality Trumps the Incidentals

Letter to the Toronto Star. Unpublished.

Re New push to make boards match colour of city, Jan 26 (2009)

Toronto has adopted a Utopian report that every board, commission, committee, sub-committee and school-yard huddle must consist of people reflecting the ethnic mix of the city. This misplaced idealism carries seeds of danger en route to failure. Nowhere do we read of quality, competence and ability.

In this quota system, the minority appointees will feel they represent only their particular ethnic or social group. In the absence of competition for these appointments, how else did they get the job? This initiative is based on the belief that the present system does not represent every community. By the same token, should we fear that ethnic appointees will not represent majority interests?

The danger is the ghettoization of supposedly pan-representative committees and commissions. Worse yet, the majority may defer to the representative of this or that particular community, even though the matter under debate is not in the best interests of the larger community. Worse still, the practice may develop whereby community representatives horse-trade authority among themselves.

Toronto's motto once was: Industry, Integrity, Intelligence. The city's new motto, Diversity Our Strength, celebrates our differences, not something we can all aspire to together.

This is multiculturalism and diversity gone barking mad. How else to keep this policy current other than by racial profiling? We can hope this is a temporary aberration in our city's passage into maturity. At which time, the sole criterion for appointment or election to office will be ability to speak to the interests of every community, and voters mature enough to judge candidates solely on quality, competence and ability.

One person cited in this report believes that children are inspired by people of the same skin colour, ethnicity or religion. Role models are important. But to the extent that it is true, our educators have failed. The challenge is to teach young people that they can be successful regardless of these incidentals, and that they should grasp good ideas and inspiration whatever their source.

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