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Canadians becoming less tolerant?

I heard several news reports regarding some study performed recently on Canadian attitudes towards immigrants.  The conclusion was that Canadians are less tolerant than we used to be, and several of the news reports said we are “more racist”.  They then cited such things as requiring Moslem women to reveal their faces for ID purposes when voting, and referenced our vaunted “cultural mosaic” political mantra.

Like a lot of good ideas, the “cultural mosaic” or “multiculturalism” has flaws when interpreted to extreme ends.  Some people, including some immigrants, believe that Canada’s cultural mosaic (versus the American “melting pot” mantra) means that they can transplant all of their personal beliefs and cultural standards to Canada wholesale, and Canadians will gladly accept them.

So if you come from a culture where the appropriate way to express your dissatisfaction with your wife’s behavior is to beat her with a steel rod, that’s fine.  If men are absolute rulers, and women are considered chattel, that’s perfectly acceptable in Canada.  If “divorce” of your wife means pouring gasoline on her and lighting her on fire where you come from, that’s okay too.  If your religion has hated, tortured, and killed members of another religion for generations, that’s welcome in Canada as well.  If your former homeland has fought a guerilla war with another land for decades, feel free to bring your hatred and fear here to Canada too. 

Maybe that’s the way original crafters of the multiculturalism policy were thinking, but I don’t believe so.  To my way of thinking, to be a Canadian you must accept certain values and agree to abide by our laws.   Tolerance of cultural differences is all well and good, but that tolerance stops when those differences violate Canadian laws and basic principles of behavior.  If the law says I need to wear a helmet to ride a motorcycle, then belonging to a certain religion or culture shouldn’t exclude me from adherence to that law.  If carrying weapons is unacceptable in some areas, then having a particular faith shouldn’t get me a pass. 

Canadian tolerance says that we should attempt to make some accommodations to support one another’s differences.  For example, allowing veiled women to vote by providing them some alternate way to identify themselves is being “tolerant”.  Removing unnecessary (I.E.: no practical purpose) headwear rules from organizations so that other cultures can participate is “tolerant”.

But if believing that “cultural” practices of violence, oppression, and hatred are unacceptable in my Country regardless of the individuals skin colour, country of origin, or religion is “racist”…then count me as a racist.

[tags]canadian tolerance, racism, immigration[/tags]

6 comments to Canadians becoming less tolerant?

  • I think the thing is that most immigrants don’t feel that way. A not insignificant minority do, and they get a great deal of press and support from others with cynical short term political agendas … and the result is that “we” start to think all immigrants are like that, where most just want to come and have a better life for themselves and their children ( even if they aren’t really sure what or how to do that.) But we lump them all in with the few, and that’s prejudiced, if not technically racist.

    The whole veil thing is a perfect example… the muslims had no objection to showing their faces. There law is already written to allow people to vote with certain forms of I.D. that do not require seeing a person’s face, and you can vote in advance without any real ID at all. The whole thing was a terf war between the politicians and the top bureaucrats started in an attempt to get more of the quebec vote.

    It had absolutely nothing to do with immigrants or adopting “Canadian” ways, and yet thanks to sound bites and bad reporting all most people remember is that “muslims don’t want to vote like us”.

  • Colin Adams

    I find it rather interesting that the earliest history of the “veil” dates back to about the 16th century and involved the Shaw of Iran and his new wife. It has been debated as to whether he insisted on veils for all women because his own wife was beautiful or quite ugly. Muslim belief in the covering of adult females did not have wide acceptance until more recently (approx. 150 years ago) and was due to the thought that “man” would be tempted from his religious course. Another note on this, in all countries that insist that adult females wear the “veil” or headress while in public do not allowed them to vote. I believe in freedom of choice for all the Worlds Citizens as long as it does not infrindge on anothers freedom.

  • Greetings, Colin!

    I don’t know much about the history of veiling women, but poking around a bit on Wikipedia suggests that it goes back amongst Muslim women at least as far as the middle ages (I.E.: between 400 and 1000 AD). But I’m guessing it has gone in and out of religious “fashion” at various times.

    I think we are on the same page, though, regarding tolerance and freedom. I sort of believe in the old “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins” premise. An individual may choose to subjagate their will to another, and I suppose I can’t really argue against that. But a culture that demands that one entire class of people (E.G.: all women) must submit to another is not one that I want to tolerate in Canada.

  • And the saga continues … the conservatives have introduced legislation to close the “loophole.”

    Fair enough.

    But instead of spelling out that all voters must present photo ID and allow an official to see their face to verify their identity, they propose to ban veiled individuals from polling places entirely.

    So, if a conservative muslim woman that chooses to weir a veil wants to vote, or to serve as scrutineer or party observer they have to remove their veil not just to be identified, but to even enter the room. And remain unveiled and in full view of all.

    That no longer is about ensuring that everyone has to meet the same standards of identification, but deliberately targeting the dress of one particular ethnic / religious minority.

    In other words, saying one entire class of people must submit to another.

  • That sounds rather extreme. Possibly a conservative back bencher introduced it, but given the presence of the Bloc in our current Parliament and their apparently rather extreme concepts of racial and cultural purity, it might just pass.

    Hopefully, though, some rational thinking will prevail…what am I talking about? They are politicians- being rational isn’t in their playbook.

  • Remember Harper is a “conservative christian”,and he appointed Stockwell Day to be in charge of security, border crossings, holding people without trial under security certificates and such…

    It gains him political support in Quebec, but I’m pretty sure he isn’t exactly concerned about oppressing the muslim minority either.

    The proposal was actually in the Throne Speech, though a BQ mp has now introduced a private members bill that says the same thing.

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