Angela Merkel deemed multiculturalism — the idea that social harmony is best achieved through celebrating our differences — a complete failure in Germany. David Cameron claimed it facilitated the rise of radical Islam in Britain and called for "stronger societies and identities at home," along with a "much more active, muscular liberalism" that "believes in certain values and actively promotes them."

Last fall, the European backlash against multiculturalism crossed the Atlantic and landed in Quebec, when the governing Parti Québécois proposed the Charter of Values, which sets out a vision of government that breaks sharply with Canada's broader multicultural ethos.

Quebec, of course, with its distinctive religious history, feminist bent and linguistically diverse metropolis of Montreal, has never been reluctant to go against the Canadian grain. In 1977, the province passed the French Language Charter, which made French its sole official language and required immigrants to attend French public schools (about 80 percent of Quebecers are native French speakers). Not content to use clean hydroelectric power as its primary energy source, it ratified the Kyoto Accord — an agreement Canada itself reneged on — and teamed up with California last year to introduce North America's first carbon-trading market. And this year, all of its public sector workers and most private ones will be required to adhere to equal-compensation laws, the strongest in North America, that ensure men and women are paid on a par.

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