Tag Archives: Immigration

A Letter to Kellie Leitch On Her Proposal For A Canadian Values Test For Immigrants

Dear Kellie Leitch MD

From David Laing Dawson MD

In a paradoxical fashion, what you are suggesting does not conform with “Canadian Values”. It is, in fact, antithetical to Canadian values.

Besides, you are talking about the wrong thing. Some Canadians value money, others value freedom, love, generosity. Some value the opinions of old religious books. Some value the opinions of Justin Bieber or Oprah. Some value our diversity. Some like to eat the same meal every night. Some abhor meat. Others like to BBQ.

It is really our evolved social contract that you are addressing. Rightfully, you do not want to see it threatened. It is, quite clearly, more evolved and very superior to that of most societies. One can only find its equal in a few other countries.

Although, for each specific facet of our social contract we can usually find at least one other country more evolved. We can always learn something from Australia, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark….

Importantly, that social contract is, to the extent it can safely be, without undermining the very rights and freedoms we value, codified in law. We can talk trash about one another, but we can’t promote hate. A fine distinction we leave to our very complex court system, our independent judiciary.

Certainly we don’t want to suddenly find ourselves with a situation of fifty-one percent of the population being newcomers who favor Sharia Law. Maybe not even 2%. I don’t want to hear the adoption of Sharia Law debated in my parliament. The concept of cultural relativity (understanding, not necessarily accepting, cultural practices within the context and history of that culture) should be confined to anthropological studies.

But. We need to have faith that our laws and courts will protect our social contract. We need to have faith that our evolved social contract is the envy of the world, and so obviously better than most others that it can resist a few outliers here and there, a few family patriarchs clinging to thirteenth century ideals.

The first generation of immigrants may stick with some outmoded ideas. Our laws prohibit the worst of these being enacted. (After many committee meetings over the years, a female participant would say to me, “Did you notice how Dr. (Indian name here) did not  once acknowledge my presence?” )

The next generation evolves quickly, providing they attend our public schools, sometimes becoming more Canadian than I am with my four and five generation lineage.

Kellie, have faith in our values, our social contract, our laws and our forms of governance. They will withstand a few immigrants with little education and some strange beliefs. Their children will attend our schools and become good Canadians.

Your ideas are potentially far more damaging (as are Trump’s) to our “Canadian Values” than any dozen immigrants appalled by same sex marriage, nudity, bare-headed women, and secular education.

All the nations of the world with evolved social contracts and liberal democracies are struggling with this. How do we protect all that we have achieved when a few of many arriving on our shores have very primitive beliefs about sexuality, women, girls, marriage, Gods and eternity?

We teach and we demonstrate. We do not exclude. We have faith that all will conclude, given time and shown acceptance, that it is far better to live this way, in this rich tapestry of safety, respect, kindness, and diversity, than that other way.