What Are Canadian Values?



The following, supposedly, are the questions that Kelly Leitch, candidate for the leadership of the Canadian Conservative party, would require all potential immigrants be asked:


  • Are men and woman equal, and entitled to equal protection under the law?
  • Is it ever OK to coerce or use violence against an individual or a group who disagrees with your views?
  • Do you recognize that to have a good life in Canada you will need to work hard to provide for yourself and your family, and that you can’t expect to have things you want given to you?


Personally, I wonder just how many Canadians would honestly answer “yes, they live by and support those values”, if they were asked.


Let’s take a look at some data.  Calgary police received about 19,000 domestic calls in 2015, and  around 2,796 of those domestic calls, in 2017, have turned out to involve suspected violence.


Are men and women equal?  Possibly not according to a tweet sent out by the Communications Director of the Calgary Campus Wildrose group: “Wildrose On Campus Calgary has fired its communications director and cancelled a film screening planned for Wednesday at the University of Calgary following public uproar over an email promoting the event. The email, sent out by the student group Monday and widely disparaged on social media, read in part: “feminism is cancer.” (CBC)”


Now to be fair, the film, evidently, tries to document how men are treated unfairly, but the comment surely indicates one point of view that is disturbing to those who believe that both sexes are equal and should be treated equally.


According to research conducted by the Pew Institute, “There’s a significant gender gap on this issue. Roughly half of men (46%) say that men and women are generally treated equally by society, while only 34% of women agree. Roughly half (53%) of women say society favors men over women, compared with 36% of men who say the same.”  There is, then, a gap between what people say they value and what they think is happening around those values.


The third value addresses the need for people to work hard and not expect handouts.   Tell this to all the people who are unemployed, but who refused to take a part time job (which could conceivably lead to full time employment) because they would then lose their EI benefits.   If this isn’t an attitude of entitlement and accepting handouts, then I’m not sure what is.


Now, granted that many employees do pay into the EI fund (although employers pay a premium of 1.4 times the employee premium, unless they qualify for reduced premiums).  So, I suppose, it is not a complete handout.  But there is no denying a common observation that many millennials are the poster children for the entitled generation.


I remember talking with one person who was out of work and when asked what he considered absolute essentials for any new position, the list included:  his own office, a parking space, a salary of $100,00 a year, and a minimum of 4 week’s holidays.


Is there such a thing as an agreed upon list of Canadian Values?    Perhaps Kelly Leitch is partially right (shudder); not that we need to define Canadian Values for immigrants but that we need a discussion about Canadian values for Canadians who have lived here for generations.  And more important than identifying the name of the value is to arrive at some sort of agreement that we should actually practice them.


As Jennifer Crusie has written: “Values aren’t buses… They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to

define who you are.”



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