Canadian Values Are Real

October 1st, 2016 | M. Menuck
leitch values
The question of values have recently come to the fore in Canadian politics. MP Kellie Leitch, one of an ever growing list of aspirants to the newly vacant position of leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, captured a great deal of media attention and no small amount of controversy by proposing that potential immigrants should be tested for their commitment to Canadian values as part of the immigration progress. The suggestion immediately provoked the expected reactions of horror from a good deal of the mainstream Canadian media. Many of Leitch's declared rivals either condemned the suggestion outright or voiced misgivings. Justin Trudeau, our eternally shirtless and selfie loving Prime Minister, went so far as to declare that there is no such thing as a core Canadian identity in a sermon that was as predictable as it was sanctimonious.

It is perfectly fair to question the usefulness of including some kind of values test in the immigration process. There is no way to actually look inside the minds of potential immigrants and see if the actual ideas they hold match the words they would presumably write on such a theoretical test, and one would presume aspiring new Canadians who hold views we would consider at odds with Canadian values would be smart enough to simply lie when queried about them. It is also reasonable to question the necessity of such a scheme, given that Canada (for all the mythology of multiculturalism our Laurentian Elites like to cloak themselves in) already does a relatively successful job of integrating newcomers into our values and way of life. Much of the opposition to Leitch's proposal, however, goes far beyond such practical considerations and to furious objection to the very idea itself, that there is such a thing as an objective set of values that go with being Canadian and that people who aspire to be Canadian should conform to them.

For the sake of argument, let us presume an aspiring immigrant was actually so foolish as to declare that he or she felt adultery should be punishable by stoning, or that homosexuality should be criminalized and subjected to capital punishment, or that women should not have the right to vote. Would it really be outrageous in such a scenario for we, as the society that this morally despicable idiot was seeking to join, to say "thanks but no thanks"? Does anyone seriously find it objectionable that such a cretin should go to the back of the que behind those who hold views less outside the established consensus of who we are as Canadians?

Despite all the faux outrage and virtue signalling by the talking heads, the members of the public themselves would seem to be of a resounding "no" on this question. Polling has shown that two thirds of Canadians believe that newcomers to the country should conform to Canadian values, including a majority of those who identify as Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats. Most tellingly, a majority of new Canadians themselves also agree with this view; unsurprisingly given that most of them likely chose to make this country their new home because they feel the values it embodies are ones they wished to live under as opposed to those of the countries they originally came from.

Saying that Canada is a country of tolerance, diversity, and pluralism is in and of itself a statement of core Canadian values, and to say otherwise as Justin the Boy King has done is an indulgence of moral relativism at its worst. Indeed, it is likely a view that previous liberal Prime Ministers would be left aghast by. Not the least of whom would be Pierre Trudeau himself, whose central political principle was the idea that Canada was a "just society"; the ideals of which he encompassed in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms - which in and of itself is most certainly a statement of a core set of Canadian values.

There most certainly is a central set of values that embodies who we are as Canadians; one passed down to us that dates back through centuries of British common law to the Magna Carta; freedom under law to live as free individuals in a democratic society as our consciences, beliefs, and personal identities see fit. It is a set of values we have held throughout our history, and one that young Canadian men in the hundreds of thousands have fought and died for in the mud of the Somme and hills of Sicily and the beaches of Normandy.

To assert this is not divisive but a mere statement of fact, and to suggest that those we welcome into our Canadian family should also hold these views is not discriminatory or bigoted or racist. It's merely common sense. Certainly, when discussing questions of identity and what it is to be Canadian we should always do so with a degree of tact and consideration. We are, after all, a nation of immigrants and all of us can trace our ancestry back to another continent of origin in some form or other (even the First Nations if we go back far enough). To go from that, to the puerile assertion that any discussion of what it means to be Canadian is somehow out of bounds, or that we have no history or identity but instead are some relativistic soup of nothingness, is sheer foolishness.
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