Values that are Canadian?
One of the candidates for leadership of the federal Conservatives has proposed screening immigrants and refugees for their acceptance of “Canadian values and principles”. It is possible that this may not mean what it appears to say, and is a code-word for anti-immigrant prejudice. But if we take it on the surface, how will the thousands of immigrants and refugees be screened for the following: multiculturalism and pluralism; human rights; equality (racial, gender, economic, political and for the handicapped); loyalty; the rule of law (secular); opportunity; democracy and majority rule; consumer rights (right to expect honesty; right to complain); politeness and kindness; curiosity, freedom of inquiry and freedom of information; competitiveness; the values vs rights discussion; tolerance, respect for others and oneself; truthfulness and honesty; political accountability; voter participation; respect for children and for elders; education, intelligence and thoughtfulness; strong work ethic; respect for privacy, religious belief, personal dress codes; questioning authority peacefully; right of peaceful political protest; acceptinh refugees and refusal to return people to torture; mutual aid and helping others; cooperatives and community enterprises; play and laughter; classic autos, new cars, full gas tanks, winter tires; liquid wrench, anti-freeze top ups, heated seats; conservation of wildlife, wild spaces and green spaces; fresh water, exercise and fresh food; conservation of wetlands and marshes, breeding places for ducks, spawning beds for fish; wide-open spaces; world music; ethnic foods; the Group of Eight; manicured lawns; exercise, vitamins; maple syrup, salads; fresh fruit; ParticipACTION and wellness; cold beer; home-made bread, pie (blueberry), cake; motherhood; newspapers; warm and practical clothing; fishing and hunting; camping, hiking, ATVs and snowmobiles; ice fishing; Boreal Forest; song birds; Leonard Cohen and the Tragically Hip; movies, novels, poetry, songs and chants; public health-care; a public broadcaster; public transit; free, mandatory public education; the UN’s rights for Aboriginal peoples, for children and for refugees?
Shouldn’t we also select some of the following for screening: right to marry the person of one’s choice and have children; voluntary circumcision only; freedom of hair and skirt length; bilingualism, tri-lingualism even; green energy; peace and peace-keeping; organ donations, blood donations, sperm banks; train travel, air travel (best somehow without airports); convertible cars; pensions, savings, living wills, government pensions for seniors; the rights of banks to make huge profits from usury, and in general a non-extreme belief in progress, science, human goodness and rationality?
Each of us has at least 20 more items to add.
And we must not forget that we may well be screening AGAINST certain values, practises and attitudes – snuffing female offspring, genital mutilation of any kind; child labour; and especially any belief that there are higher sources of civil law than the three houses of government (four, sometimes), and the acceptability of honour killing (or of any killing) and torture?
And, somehow, we also want some calmness – nothing that justifies freak-outs, over mosquitoes, for example.
Problems arise when we get well into the details: I’m not sure I’d fully qualify. How about you?