Friday, April 16, 2010

Canada Citizenship: Rule of Law

Let’s face it, western countries have rules of law, whether in the home or society, without rules there would be chaos. Some rules seem just, some unfair, majority rules, our rights and freedoms and laws are what makes Canada one of the greatest democracies in the world.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Minister Jason Kenney has modified a new set of rules for newcomers to Canada to follow in the Discover Canada
The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship in a special section on "The Equality of Women and Men." The news breaking story is featured in the Ottawa Sun, titled barbaric rituals, a no-no feds warn. The new rules were put in place as it seemed that barbaric rituals such as honour killings, genital mutilations and other horrific acts against persons and young women in particular, though rare, were starting to become media headlines, suggesting this was becoming too commonplace in Canada. Canada decided (it seems) to reiterate the what most of us know is common sense and unacceptable in a civilized society and not to be tolerated. Strangely enough, these new set of rules seem to mirror, in part, a rule of norms established three years ago by the citizens of Herouxville, Quebec.

Herouxville, Quebec, a small rural farming village of 1,300 people had passed a town charter in 2007 with a rule of norms titled Our way of life in Quebec, of which one section states barbaric rituals against humanity will not be tolerated in Herouxville. Rules, which the Herouxville citizens led by town councilor Andre Drouin, needed to include in their town charter so newcomers would know in advance what is expected of them before making a decision whether to live and work in Herouxville. Needless to say once this rule of norms was made public, Herouxville soon found itself suffering the slings and arrows of ridicule, being the butt of jokes with accusations of racism from the media, the public and politicians alike.

Herouxville town councilor Andre Drouin soon found him giving media interviews and defending their town’s charter to the world. Surprisingly, the world listened, and the response was mind boggling. Worldwide responses from both Canadians and the world for the most part was positive, squelching the race baiting voices of Canadian media and politicians who previous screamed to the rafters that Herouxville attitudes have no place in world affairs, yet alone trying to make a difference.

The end result culminated into a provincial election issue with Quebec Premier Jean Charest setting up the provincial Taylor Bouchard commission on reasonable accommodation for newcomers to Canada.

This firestorm of controversy continued when Andre Drouin suggested that the federal government’s Citizenship and Immigration Canada would do well to include a similar rule of norms in Canadian Consulates the world over so newcomers would be informed in advance what Canada is all about before deciding if Canada is to their liking.

In ending: Too many newcomers it seems get their ideals of the West from television series such as old 1980s-1990 reruns such as Dynasty, Dallas and Baywatch are still shown and quite popular in their countries. Though these are American shows and really, really cheesy ones at that. It seems some citizens in these countries know the difference, western society is all much the same to some. But then did we all believe Borat? Apparently some did!

One has to wonder, is this what we wish to convey what our society is like to the world? Let’s face it, one only has to pick up a paper or watch reality TV today to see why most newcomers have an unrealistic view of the west.

So now in 2009, we come full circle, it seems the federal government department Citizenship and Immigration Canada has had a rethink and decided that perhaps outlining what Canada is all about is a good thing.

To quote Margaret Mead a noted anthropologist once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has”.

Agree or not, love or hate Herouxville ideals, someone, somewhere owes Herouxville an apology.

“Lest we forget" this past Remembrance Day, the very few who have offered to die for us, are Jesus Christ and our Soldiers, one died for our souls, the other for our freedom.

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