This week I had a dim sum lunch at the Empire Mandarin in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver, Canada: succulent barbecued pork buns, prawn dumplings and crunchy braised bok choy. At noon on a Tuesday amid dozens of tables, my companion and I were the only white faces and the only English speakers; indeed the waitstaff showed no signs of speaking English, though we were able to order using a bilingual form. Up and down the streets surrounding the Empire Mandarin are mini-strip malls also catering to Chinese customers. What's wrong with this picture? Nothing, of course, but that's not how some Canadians see it. Another Western Canadian metropolis, the city of Calgary, recently published on its Web site a consultant's report it had commissioned on retail development. Among the high-priced advice--$140,000 from city coffers--was this: "Avoid the development of Asian malls that cater only to a specific ethnic group. Avoid the concentration of ethnically dependent developments in any specific region or node." The report had been available online since December, but it appears that no one had read all the way through it until last week, when the Calgary Herald published a story about the report and several other publications picked it up. Outrage ensued. Reasonable questions were asked: Was the city about to ban Chinatowns? Or, say, Ukrainian and Jewish neighborhoods? Would the no-ethnic-enclaves rule apply equally to white, English-speaking neighborhoods? And, on a more practical level, where would one now go for deals on fresh seafood? The city promptly scrubbed the offending lines from the report, then thought better and pulled the whole publication. That, though, is not really the end of the story. The kind of thinking behind the report, a mix of plain old-fashioned racism with a penchant for social engineering, pops up all too often in Canada. Paradoxically, Canada takes great pride in its immigrant origins and its diversity, and not just on an official level. Torontonians will tell you with satisfaction that, ethnic origin for ethnic origin, their city is the most diverse in the world. But an ugly streak of thinking is also emerging, as descendants of the Europeans who first appropriated the land balk at the fact that new immigrants don't look and speak and behave just as they do. Bruce Allen, for example, a music promoter and member of the committee planning the 2010 Vancouver Olympic ceremonies, ranted on a Vancouver radio station in 2007 that immigrants seeking special treatment in Canada should take off, eh. "If you don't like the rules, hit it. We don't need you here. You have another place to go--it's called home. See ya," he said. Fair enough, if he had been talking about, say, the observance of democracy. But Allen also claimed incorrectly that immigrants with the common Sikh surnames of Singh and Kaur were required by Canadian law to change them. Calling people by their names is apparently too much special treatment of immigrants for him. A final example: In 2004 the Richmond Review, of the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, published a story about an Atlanta couple who was treated rudely in a local Chinese restaurant. It received a slew of letters in support of the couple, along the lines of "yes, those Chinese shopkeepers are so rude." One correspondent claimed a Chinese cashier had insulted him in a language he couldn't understand. "I'm appalled at how many signs there are on storefronts where English has a smaller font than the Chinese characters, if there's an English word at all," wrote L. Quest of Richmond. As Richmond has become predominately Chinese over the last two decades--more than half of the population of 188,100 is Asian--these kinds of citizen gripes have become common. There have been complaints that Richmond's public high schools are "too Chinese" and suggestions that Richmond should pass a law forcing shop clerks to speak English. To be sure, these cavils are just one side of an ongoing argument. But they are the marks of a paranoid and adolescent culture. They create a debate that is pretty much over in truly cosmopolitan cities, where change and the existence of the unfamiliar--before our very eyes--are facts of life regarded as benign, even welcome. Ethnic enclaves were once forced to exist in North America. San Francisco's Chinatown emerged because it was the only place the Chinese were allowed to own businesses. Those laws, thankfully, are long gone. But mandating an end to ethnic enclaves is just as misguided. Today's Richmond emerged out of people choosing where and how they wanted to live, and its business owners are freely responding to the market. As likely as not, those businesses will start catering to English speakers when the demand arises. I just hope that as demand shifts, the quality of the pork buns remains intact.