Many times I have referred to Canadian values in my columns. So what are Canadian values? A great book to read is Andrew Cohen’s The Unfinished Canadian, which explores what it is to be Canadian.
Canada has received many immigrants over the years, but recently we have welcomed immigrants from countries that have cultural values that are not consistent with accepted Canadian values. Our government’s minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander has brought forward an act that will now identify some foreign cultural values that will not be accepted as Canadian values.
The “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices” Act puts limits on arranged marriages of minors, female genital mutilation, violence in the name of honour, and polygamy.
Did you know that currently in Canada a girl at seven years old can be married off with parental consent?
The new act will increase the age to 16. This act also makes criminal the removal of a child from Canada for the purposes of forced marriage. It is hard to believe that in the last decade, 100 million girls (14 and under) have entered into arranged or forced marriages globally. This is not an accepted Canadian practice.
Did you know 91per cent of women between ages 15 to 49 in Egypt experience genital mutilation?
Female genital mutilation also happens in Canada in the name of cultural practice even though it is a violation of a female’s Charter Rights. This act will protect female Charter Rights.
Women come to Canada for a better life; they will only enjoy this when their right to say ‘no’ to this practice is protected.
Did you know some new immigrants have brought two or more wives to Canada?
This act will make it illegal to practice polygamy in Canada. Polygamy is recognized in 50 countries so Canada must make it clear that this is not a Canadian practice. Any new immigrant that is practising polygamy will be immediately deported.
I know you have read of honour killings in Canada committed by immigrants from cultures that practise this type of violence. This act will, of course,not only prosecute perpetrators of these types of acts but also these types of threats.
Honour killing is not a cultural practice; it is simply murder in the first degree.
The purpose of this act is to make certain anyone immigrating to Canada knows what Canadian values are and that the reason people view Canada as a great country to immigrate to is because we will protect our children and women against abuse and ensure their human rights are honoured.
Canada does have identifiable values and protecting those values has made Canada the most desirous place to immigrate to, so why would we embrace values of other cultures that violate these principles?
Ethnic cultures that also embrace Canadian values are protected in the name of diversity in our Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in Canada.
Canadians sing the “True North Strong and Free” for a reason and we will not change our tune.
-Colin Mayes is the member of Parliament for the Okanagan – Shuswap riding.