On March 29, the Canadian Embassy, the Hertie Foundation and GMF Berlin gathered 15 German and Canadian Integration Experts and Practicioners at the Timber Hall of the Canadian Embassy in Berlin in order to exchange ideas on the "Future of Multiculturalism - a Canadian - German debate on the future of diversity and the concept of Multiculturalism". The purpose of the meeting was to develop broader policy concepts as a framework for concrete policy instruments.
Input for discussion was provided by Leslie F. Seidle, Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Research on Public Policy. He presented the results of his study "Diversity, Recognition and Shared Citizenship in Canada", which includes the latest and most comprehensive research on the concept of diversity in Canada. This was responded to by the Germans who were present who are members of the ongoing working groups of the Integration Summit of the German Chancellor and are in the process of drafting a comprehensive integration concept. This so-called "Integration Plan" will be presented by Chancellor Merkel this summer.
The debate focused on the concept of "shared citizenship" developed by Seidle and his co-authors. They argue in favour of a broader, more liberal concept of integration, based on the values of a liberal-democratic state. The basic arguments were:
- strengthening shared citizenship: sense of belonging to a broader community, sense of civic engagement, pursuit of common projects
- Shared citizenship flows from the values of a liberal-democratic state and the three equalities: human rights; socioeconomic equality; political equality.
- "When multiculturalism is unhinged from equality, it tends to careen off in unpleasant directions."
Seidle gave a comprehensive overview and insight into the Canadian debate and therefore enabled the participants to reflect better on the German situation. The main areas identified to work on were: Integration and the education system, religious diversity, immigration regulations and media and integration.