Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Leitch's Values Test



Canadian values: Fernie Swastikas, 1922.

Kellie Leitch would not be my pick for Canadian Conservative leader. I find her efforts to mimic Trump in the US amateurish and embarrassing. However, it is strange to me that her proposal for “values testing” immigrants is controversial. It is something we ought to be doing.

Canada is obviously not an ethnically-based state. We speak two official languages; if predominantly Christian, we are half Protestant and half Catholic; we come from everywhere. The whole idea of immigration belies that notion of an ethnically-based state, even if most other states are.

So what is left that makes Canada Canada? Is it no more than a geographical designation? If so, who cares? Why take up arms, for example, to defend it? Can any conceivable enemy sink this geography beneath the waves?

No, if Canada exists at all, it is on the basis of shared values.

Since this is so, it is vital to ensure that immigrants share those values. If they do not, they constitute a threat to Canada’s existence. Because that, shared values, is what Canada is.

What values?

Not a tough question. They would, of course, be those found in the Canadian Constitution.

The values test could, of course, be skewed towards things that are not really shared Canadian values, but a partisan political agenda. That does not seem to be what Leitch has in mind. Here are her sample questions:
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?
Hard to see a problem with any of that. Okay, I don’t like the first one, because without context, the assertion that men and women are equal is incomprehensible. Of course they are not: men cannot have babies, for example. The issue is equality before the law. 
“Are men and women entitled to equal protection under the law?”
Surely question two is of vital importance to our way of life, to peace, order, and good government. It is, moreover, obviously not accepted everywhere. In the Arab world, for example, a word is considered as morally significant as an act. Therefore, you can kill someone for something they say. This cannot be accepted, or democracy is not possible, because open public debate is not possible: there is good reason why democracy has never been managed in the Middle East.

Question three is merely a matter of government acting as responsible stewards of the public purse.

It is not hard to think of other questions that should be asked.
Do you believe that everyone has the right to freely practice their chosen religion?
This, of course, is not generally accepted in the Muslim world, and that is impossible to reconcile with basic human liberties. China presents the same problem.

Better yet to add:
Do you agree that everyone has the right to their own religious views, and to freely express them?
Close to a restatement, but it eliminates the possible fudge that, as in China, one might be permitted to practice a religion in private, but not speak about it. That is not religious freedom.
Do you think everyone deserves equal protection under the law, regardless of race, sex, or place of origin?
It is wrong to restrict the question to sex alone.

Perhaps it should be clarified by being restated in these terms:
Do you think the same laws should apply to everyone, regardless of race, sex, or place of origin?
This clarifies what “equal protection under the law” means.

Here’s one that might seem controversial:
Do you accept Canada’s constitutional monarchy and parliamentary form of government?
Some may feel immigrants ought to be free to disagree with monarchy. But they are actually not now. Allegiance to the throne is in the oath of citizenship, and the monarchy is not going anywhere, given its constitutional status. If nothing else, it is only fair to make this clear to new immigrants. And it seems wrong and seditious in principle to immigrate to a new country with the notion of changing its form of government.
Do you agree that everyone has a duty to support themselves and their families?
More or less what Leitch wants to ask. But it removes the element of dishonesty. The fact is that, by world standards, most immigrants can indeed expect to have a good life in Canada without working. Sorry to say, but living abroad, I see immigration to Canada often sold in ads on the basis of “come and get your freebies!” Nothing we can really do about it, except point out the immorality of it. We ought at least to do that.
Do you agree that everyone has the right to their opinion, and to freely express it?
Of course, the modern left, within Canada, does not accept this. But this is a huge problem and it ought not to be controversial. It is, after all, in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Without this, again, democracy is not possible. Nor is peace, order, and good government.
Do you agree that disagreements should not be solved by individuals with violence?
Absolutely fundamental to peace and order. Why on earth would we not ask it?

Any others? What am I forgetting?



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