Canadian Values…What are they?

I normally write on marketing topics but I just can’t help myself from commenting on Conservative MP and party leadership contender Kellie Leitch who wants to have a conversation on Canadian values. Leitch who is a medical doctor has been insisting lately that we consider a values test for prospective immigrants.

Many have criticized her proposal by saying it is impractical, since no one person or group can define or determine Canadian values.

The key point to understanding Canadian values is that they are adopted organically. Canadian values cannot be indoctrinated into our national character by any government institution.

As a son of immigrants, I know that my parents’ values lined up with their adopted Canada. No amount of testing or screening was required to complete this transformation. Like most people, they valued the same freedom and democracy we cherish in Canada. I would even argue that most immigrants coming from places whose governments don’t value democracy value it immensely here – and is one of the reasons they seek to create a life in this great country.

My parents’ Canadian experience is not unlike many thousands of immigrants who arrive in Canada each year.

Let’s be clear, nobody is against a debate on upholding Canada’s tradition of freedom, democracy, tolerance and generosity. Wherever intolerance resides – among immigrants or native-born – it must be rooted out.

But if we have learned one thing in our history, it is that immigrants are easy to pick on, and many Canadians have no doubt that a Canadian-values debate would probably turn into an immigrant-bashing exercise. We know how one man’s intolerance is having a major impact in the U.S. and we want none of that here.

We are very fortunate to live in a country where no wars have been fought for two hundred years. A country with big freedoms – freedom of movement, freedom of political choice, freedom of religion, freedom from arbitrary persecution, Yes, Canada is no Utopia. Yes, we still have poverty and racism and all the other problems people wrestle with – including, petty stuff that we sometimes agonize over where many countries wish they had our problems. But Canadians need to celebrate what we have … a great country.

canada-day_hero_960x540A few years ago, an article crossed my desk that just blew me away. There was a report in the world news that someone in Pakistan had placed an ad in a newspaper with an offer of a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian-any Canadian. Who in God’s name would want to kill a peace-loving people like Canadians kind of boggles my mind but I guess there are a lot of unbalanced people out there.

Any way according to this article (which unfortunately does not have a source) an Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so that they would know one when they found one. Here is what he wrote.

“A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.

A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux or one of the many tribes known as native Canadians. (Note he forgot our northern neighbours the Inuit). Canadian religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada, they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which recognizes the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least, -the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected. These are the people who build Canada.

You can try to kill a Canadian if you must, as other blood- thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but, in doing so, you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be Canadian. “

Let me know what you think. I would appreciate hearing from the readers of this blog.

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