This story, from the Canadian Press, raises a disturbing question: is Kellie Leitch’s campaign team the same one that bought us “barbaric cultural practices?”
According to the story Dr Leitch has asked her supporters: “Should the Canadian government screen potential immigrants for anti-Canadian values as part of its normal screening for refugees and landed immigrants?“
Well, the short answer is: No! No! NO!
The question is even worse because, again, according to the report, “The Leitch survey does not spell out what is meant by “anti-Canadian values,” nor otherwise declare where Leitch herself stands on the issue.” Although, to her credit, Dr Leitch, in a press release, issued after the linked story caused a stir, has clarified the issue saying that these “anti-Canadian values” include:
- intolerance towards other religions, cultures and sexual orientations;
- violent and/or misogynist behaviour; and/or
- a lack of acceptance of our Canadian tradition of personal and economic freedoms.
Those are her words, not mine, but just how do we “test” someone during a screening process for intolerance? Let’s leave aside “violent behaviour;” police checks are already done, so arrests and convictions for violent behaviour are, already, grounds for refusal (my wife, from Hong Kong, just went through such a screening, by the way, so I’m mildly familiar with how the questions are farmed and how the “checks” are done); but I recognize that not all police/court systems treat “anti-Canadian” behaviour as a crime. Can someone, please tell me, how we define and screen (test) for “acceptance of our Canadian tradition of personal and economic freedoms?”
We saw what happened when (ill-defined but easier to grasp) “barbaric cultural practices” was put to voters: formerly reliable suburban, “ethnic” voters stayed home in colossal numbers; most didn’t go out and vote for Justin Trudeau, but they helped clear his path to victory by just staying home because they lost faith in our, Conservative, support for them. And for what? So that a few thousand, maybe even a few tens of thousands of Neandercons would not abandon our party?
It appears, to me, that, according to an article in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, that Dr Leitch took ownership of the “barbaric cultural practices” theme and will take responsibility for proposing that we “screen” immigrant for “misogynist behaviour” out of a very real and deeply held conviction that too many women and girls are victims of “old country” cultural norms that are imported, in family groups, into Canada and then, when immigrants, as they often do, congregate in their community centres, including temples and mosques, are made acceptable in the “new country,” too. I agree, fully, with her concern … but I disagree with her proposal to, somehow or other, screen for it.
I would be very happy to hear from someone of the Leitch campaign team or from the Harper 2015 campaign team about just how many people they think want these sorts of policies and, even more important, how many votes they think she (or the whole party) might lose (and lose to who? the Christian Heritage Party? the Bloc Québécois?). Dr Leitch says that these issues, amongst others, “have been raised with me and are being discussed across the country.” Is screening immigrants really a big issue? I agree that there is an anti-immigrant faction in Canada, my guess is that it is spread across the political spectrum, probably more like an upside down bell curve:
I have no doubt that there is a substantial (say 25% to 35% anti-immigrant vote in Canada, just as there is an anti-free(er) trade vote, but my guess is that it infects only the left and the right and that it is unimportant to the 70±% of moderate voters who are the real prize in any election.
And now to my biggest problem: “our Canadian tradition of personal and economic freedoms.” It’s not that I disagree with the notion; heaven knows I have talked about it, the issue of “values,” more than once. But how, do we “test” anyone, especially a prospective immigrant, for “values?” It seems to me that it is our, national, job to teach those values to new Canadians. And who, amongst the Conservative Party leadership candidates has enunciated those values? What standard would Prime Minister Leitch ~ or Prime Minister Bernier or Prime Minister Clement or, or, or ~ set? What instructions for screening would (s)he issue to our immigration department?
This brings me to my point; Dr Leitch asks: “Should the Canadian government screen potential immigrants for anti-Canadian values as part of its normal screening for refugees and landed immigrants?“ My answer is a resounding “No!“
But … there’s always a “but” with me, isn’t there? But, I commend Dr Leitch for having “values” and for trying to enunciate them, even though, as Saskatoon Star Phoenix Reporter Jonathan Charlton asked (in the article linked above): Is that not “an example of what you talked about earlier — something that is a good idea but wasn’t communicated as effectively as it could be to the public?” That’s how I see it: the germ of a good idea but one which, like “barbaric cultural values,” was poorly communicated.
I say “the germ of a good idea” because I think that Dr Leitch, and all actual and wannbe Conservative leadership candidates (and others in the party) need to get out and enunciate their version of what I have called “our enlightened, secular, Anglo- Saxon, liberal democratic values [that] are the “gold standard” for all Canadians and all residents of Canada regardless of race, colour or creed.” That’s just my notion but I believe that something like it ~ a clear statement of our, Canadian values ~ needs to be part of the Conservative platform.
I said, further, that “We have to make it clear that all those who seek safety in Canada, who want to make new lives or or just seek temporary refuge, must adapt to our norms and mores; they must leave old customs and old loyalties and old hatreds behind … or they must leave.” First we must say what those “norms” are. It’s easy enough to say what is unacceptable, and I’m about 99.99% certain that our current criminal code says that this sort of thing …
… is already a crime that will will be investigated and punished. What worries me, and what I suspect worries Dr Leitch, too, are less obvious, less frightening acts of “violence” and misogynist behaviour that are too rarely reported because they happen in the home or within the relatively “closed” confines of one or another of our many ethnic “communities.” We need to teach our children that “our enlightened, secular, Anglo- Saxon, liberal democratic values” mean, very, very clearly, that people cannot be chattels, that everyone, even children, have fundamental rights and that there are legal and community standards for e.g. parental discipline. How to enunciate that is the challenge I think Dr Leitch and all other would-be Conservative leaders must face.