Values of some immigrants contrast sharply with ‘Canadian’ values

May 25, 2017

By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun |

Our discussion of “Canadian values” couldn’t be more hobbled.

When Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch recommended screening immigrants for “Canadian values,” politicians and pundits mocked her.

I understand their reaction, in part. Leitch may be playing rough politics, since polls show her idea is popular. And it could certainly be awkward, pragmatically, to screen newcomers on values.

But the barrage launched at Leitch, particularly from the so-called “liberal elite,” falls into its own unhelpful ideological pitfalls.

The first mistake that Leitch’s critics make is dismissing the entire notion that most Canadians aspire to certain values. Their second mistake is assuming that talking about Canadian values is out-and-out xenophobic.

Despite the moral panic over Leitch’s proposal in Canada, Australia is getting on with screening immigrants for “Australian values,” such as respect, democracy, freedom and rule of law.

And, believe it or not, reasoned public discussions about national values have already occurred in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and other civilized countries, where citizens do not fear difficult debates.

The fact is, national values are easily measured with social-science techniques.

And I suggest people who are not ready to believe residents of different countries often hold different values are people who are not really prepared to embrace “diversity,” which means “difference.”

How can we appreciate members of a multicultural society if we adopt the mawkish cliché that everyone is essentially the same under the skin?

Or, if we are willing to admit ethno-cultural differences exist, who are we to assume, as many Canadians do in a patronizing way, that immigrants will eventually become “just like us” anyways?

How can we learn from members of another ethno-cultural group if we aren’t curious about them?

The World Values Survey can help.

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