By Mahfooz Kanwar
March 30, 2009
Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is getting flak from the usual suspects, but he deserves praise instead.
Recently, Kenney pointed out that while at a meeting in Toronto, members of Canada's Pakistani community called on him to make Punjabi one of Canada's official languages. It makes me angry that such an idea would enter the minds of my fellow and former countrymen, let alone express them to a Minister of the Crown.
A few months ago, I was dismayed to learn that Erik Millett, the principal of Belleisle School in Springfield, N. B., limited playing our national anthem because the families of a couple of his students objected to it.
As a social scientist, I oppose this kind of political correctness, lack of assimilation of new immigrants to mainstream Canada, hyphenated-Canadian identity, and the lack of patriotism in our great nation.
Increasingly, Canadians feel restricted in doing things the Canadian way lest we offend minorities. We cannot even say Merry Christmas without fear of causing offence. It is amazing that 77 per cent of the Canadian majority are scared of offending 23 per cent of minorities. We have become so timid that the majority cannot assert its own freedom of expression. We cannot publicly question certain foreign social customs, traditions and values that do not fit into the Canadian ethos of equality. Rather than encouraging new immigrants to adjust to Canada, we tolerate peculiar ways of doing things. We do not remind them that they are in Canada, not in their original homelands.
In a multicultural society, it is the responsibility of minorities to adjust to the majority. It does not mean that minorities have to to-tally amalgamate with the majority. They can practise some of their cultural traditions within their homes --their backstage behaviour. However, when outside of their homes, their front stage behaviour should resemble mainstream Canadian behaviour. Whoever comes to Canada must learn the limits of our system. We do not kill our daughters or other female members of our families who refuse to wear Hijab, Niqab or Burqa which are not mandated by the Qur'an anyway. We do not kill our daughters if they date the "wrong" men. A 17-year-old Sikh girl should not have been killed in British Columbia by her father because she was caught dating a Caucasian man.
We do not practise the dowry system in Canada, and do not kill our brides because they did not bring enough dowry. Millions of female foetuses are aborted every year in India, and millions of female infants have been killed by their parents in India and China. Thousands of brides in India are burned to death in their kitchens because they did not bring enough dowry into a marriage. Some 30,000 Sikhs living abroad took the dowries but abandoned their brides in India in 2005. This is not accepted in Canada.
In some countries, thousands of women are murdered every year for family or religious honour. We should not hide behind political correctness and we should expose the cultural and religious background of these heinous crimes, especially if it happens in Canada. We should also expose those who bring their cultural baggage containing the social custom of female circumcision. I was shocked when I learned about two cases of this barbaric custom practised in St. Catharines, Ont. a few years ago.
I have said it on radio and television, have written in my columns in the Calgary Herald, and I have written in my latest book, Journey to Success, that I do not agree with the hyphenated identity in Canada because it divides our loyalties. My argument is that people are not forced to come to Canada and they are not forced to stay here. Those who come here of their own volition and stay here must be truly patriotic Canadians or go back.
I am a first-generation Canadian from Pakistan. I left Pakistan 45 years ago. I cannot ignore Pakistan, because it is the homeland of my folks, but my loyalty should be and is to Canada. I am, therefore, a proud Canadian, no longer a Pakistani-Canadian. I am a Canadian Muslim, not a Muslim Canadian.
I do not agree with those Canadians who engage in their fight against the system in their original countries on Canadian soil. They should go back and fight from within. For example, some of the Sikhs, Tamil Tigers, Armenians and others have disturbed the peace in Canada because of their problems back home. Recently, a low-level leader of MQM, the Mafia of Pakistan, came to Canada as a refugee and started to organize public rallies to collect funds for their cause in Pakistan. On July 18, 2007, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that MQM is a terrorist group led by London-based Altaf Hussain, their godfather. As a member in the coalition government of Pakistan, this terrorist group is currently collaborating with the Taliban in Pakistan. That refugee was deported back to Pakistan. Similarly, I dis-agree with newcomers who bring their religious baggage here. For example, Muslims are less than two per cent of the Canadian population, yet in 2004 and 2005, a fraction of them, the fundamentalists, wanted to bring Sharia law to Canada. If they really want to live under Sharia, they should go to the prison-like countries where Sharia is practiced.
I once supported multiculturalism in Canada because I believed it gave us a sense of pluralism and diversity. However, I have observed and experienced that official multiculturalism has encouraged convolution of the values that make Canada the kind of place people want to immigrate to in the first place.
Here, we stand on guard for Canada, not for countries we came from. Like it or not, take it or leave it, standing on guard only for Canada is our national maxim. Remember, O Canada is our national anthem which must not be disregarded by anybody, including the teacher in Springfield, N. B.
Mahfooz Kanwar, PHD, Is A Sociologist and an Instructor Emeritus At Mount Royal College.