THE idea of screening new immigrants for ‘anti-Canadian’ values makes little sense to me. I have no partisan political affiliation but I am an immigrant myself and have helped others negotiate the complicated Canadian immigration process. There already is a very robust system in place to screen potential immigrants. The proposal is a ‘red herring’ that has little relevance to how our immigration system is designed. Immigration over the decades has been predominantly based on meeting internal requirements for growth and development—a points system to ensure the most educated and skilled arrive, a business classification to create more jobs, with family re-unification and refugees making up a smaller percentage of newcomers.
Of the 260,404 immigrants admitted in 2014—63% economic immigrants, 25% family class, 9% refugees, 2% other. Each of these classes has strict criteria and security clearance for admittance. Where would this ‘anti-Canadian values’ assessment come in all of this? What persons or groups have we let in over the past 100 years that have been hell bent on destroying the country that we now need this additional mind hoop to ask immigrants to jump through? The vast majority of immigrants apply for citizenship as soon as they can, a testament to their desire to pledge allegiance to the well-being of the country.
Culture and values are not static. They are an organic and evolving expression and commitment to a way of life. Some of our past values are now deemed discriminatory. Immigration history in Canada has a very checquered past. In the early 1900’s, there was an overtly racist policy that restricted admission to white American, British, and European applicants. There was a practice in the 1930-50 that limited and restricted the immigration of Jews. Finally Canada acceded in 1969 to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It was not until the 1970’s that refugees became a constant in the immigration allotment and even to this day remain a very small portion of overall immigration.
Our ‘Canadian’ values are evolving and a good thing too.
Our success is based on a shared destiny not a shared history.
We are a country that is continually ‘becoming’. Canadian values at this junction in our shared destiny are given voice and institutionalized in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association. Add to this Equality Rights: Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
I think we can handle any miscreants that might squeeze through the current process, don’t you?
Let us not become pre-occupied with the other—us vs the other. They are not like us… they are un-Canadian. It is a misconception born out of lack of recognition of the oneness of humanity. Yes, there is a great diversity but we are all driven by the same needs for safety, security, love, belonging and a desire to reach one’s full potential. The mosaic of geography, climate and peoples that makes up Canada provides a rich template for these needs to be met.
Canada is a great place to live because of what this diversity brings. Last Monday I was watching the CBC show ‘Still Standing’ with Johnny Harris in Inuvik, a town that is racially and religiously diverse and an example of how that mosaic is patterned. Picture this: Inuvik’s Arctic Food Bank is run by the town’s Midnight Sun Mosque. Now that is a reflection of Canadian values I can buy into. Only in Canada – Eh!