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How Canada's largest-circulation newspaper is welcoming new Syrian refugees

The Toronto Star is Canada's largest-circulation daily newspaper. Today it's running a cover welcoming refugees from Syria to their new home in Canada, in a huge implicit rebuke to the waves of xenophobic politics that have been sweeping the United States and much of Europe this fall and winter:

Canada had a major federal election in October, before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, but one in which the role of Islam played a major role. Incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in bad shape due to the adverse impact the falling price of oil had on the Canadian economy, and he tried to use Islamophobic themes to turn his political fortunes around, but it backfired.

New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently explained to the New York Times why he believes Canadian political culture is unusually welcoming to diversity:

Trudeau's most radical argument is that Canada is becoming a new kind of state, defined not by its European history but by the multiplicity of its identities from all over the world. His embrace of a pan-cultural heritage makes him an avatar of his father's vision. ‘‘There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada,'' he claimed. ‘‘There are shared values — openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state.''

In other words, Canada is an inherently bicultural state due to its mixed Francophone and Anglophone backgrounds, which makes it a less promising terrain for traditional nationalist politics.

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