Sunday, November 22, 2009

"New citizenship guide says no to 'barbaric' practices"

Rare is the day when the Canadian government does something worth applauding, but when it does, compliments should be as forthcoming as criticism ever is. The publication of Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Canadian Citizenship marks a new, clear-minded day in multiculturalism. Most notably, expressed on Page 9 of the guide:
"In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, 'honour killings,' female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada's criminal laws."
That, of course, should be a no-brainer, but alas, it's not. We live in a world where such things need to be spelled out. And kudos to those who had the guts to spell it out because there will never be any shortage of hand-wringers and hurrumphers who are quick to trample on their own culture in deference to others coming to this culture.

It's good that Canada is not a melting pot. It is good that we are a mosaic. What the hand-wringers and hurrumphers don't seem to understand is that it's tough having a coherent mosaic when one of its tiles is trying to mutilate the genitals of another.

This is a step forward.

There remain, however, other objectionable aspects of Canada and Canadian citizenship that still need to be worked on. The Quebec language police is one. Another is the line in the Oath of Citizenship that states ". . . To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second Queen of Canada . . ." Come on, we're adults. People can and should make their oath to the flag or entity or idea of Canada. Over the years, Queen Elizabeth has demonstrated that she's hardly queen of her own family, much less of Canada.

Those, I guess, will be saved for another day. For the moment, it's a positive step forward having updated citizenship guidelines that uphold Canadian ideals, rather than bending them for the most objectionable among us.

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