11.10.2009

jason kenney changes citizenship guide: canada no longer called nation of peace

From the Globe and Mail, emphasis mine:
The Conservative government has re-written the book on what it means to be Canadian.

No longer will prospective immigrants learn that Canada is a strictly peaceful nation. Instead there will be a greater emphasis on Canada's military history and on the poppy as a symbol of remembrance and of Canada’s sacrifice in the First World War.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will reveal a major overhaul Thursday of the booklet given to all citizenship applicants. The current booklet, "A Look at Canada", was written under a Liberal government in 1997. In the past Mr. Kenney has said he can't believe the booklet, intended to help applicants study for their citizenship tests, includes a lengthy section on protection of the environment but barely makes mention of the Canadian Forces.

The 45-page booklet also includes a two-page discussion of Canada's aboriginal peoples and fails to discuss the history of tensions between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

“Since becoming Minister, I have often remarked on how the citizenship education materials the Government of Canada provides to newcomers are inadequate. They fail to provide newcomers with a solid grasp of our country's history, symbols, values and institutions,” Mr. Kenney says in a statement set to be released Tuesday afternoon.

“More than 150,000 immigrants take the citizenship test each year after studying our citizenship guide, A Look at Canada . Unfortunately, A Look at Canada lacks meaningful information about Canada's history, symbolism, values, and institutions.”

Mr. Kenney said officials in his department had consulted with experts in Canadian history, civics education and citizenship promotion in order to produce the new document. The new booklet will be called Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship , which is in keeping with many public statements by Mr. Kenney in which he emphasized the responsibilities of citizenship.

It is sure to spark debate when it's released publicly on Thursday. Many groups may be uncomfortable with the minister's reframing of Canadian history. One of the offending passages that's likely to have been excised reads: “Canadian values include freedom, respect for cultural differences and a commitment to social justice. We are proud of the fact that we are a peaceful nation. In fact, Canadians act as peacekeepers in many countries around the world.”

This isn't the first time Jason Kenney has rewritten Canadian history. You may recall that I reported on a significant change to the CIC website: references to Canada's history of offering refuge to war resisters was removed.

We should not be complacent about these changes. If you disagree, make your voice heard. Call, write, email, both the CIC and all media outlets.

15 comments:

Cornelia said...

Kenney is such an idiot!!

impudent strumpet said...

I do wonder if they gave thought to who the target audience is when they wrote this.

Because if they did think about the target audience, that means that they're trying to look more attractive to people who are into militarism, and less attractive to people who are into peace. And they're also trying to look less attractive to people who are into freedom, respect for cultural differences, and social justice.

If these are their goals, I wonder what their reasoning is?

All other things being equal, I find life is far more pleasant when my new neighbours are peaceful, protect the environment, and respect our cultural differences.

Joe Gravellese said...

It could be worse, you could live in a country where a fraud "health bill" is hailed as teh socialismz!!!

But seriously, that sucks. I'm sure those dopes will get voted out in the next election, though.

Andrea said...

yet one more reason why my husband does not want to take the citizenship oath.
sigh

Kim_in_TO said...

History is written by the assholes.

L-girl said...

God I love Imp Strump.

Joe, oh yes, it could be much worse. I'd feel better if the Libs looked to be in a strong position to turf these creeps. But no.

Some words of wisdom from Kim, eh.

L-girl said...

(And Cornelia!)

L-girl said...

Andrea In Japan, you are still here! I'm glad.

* * * *

I hope the Liberals are keeping a long list. Things To Change When We Form The Government Again.

M@ said...

The thing that galls me most is the whole poppy thing. A symbol of Canada's sacrifice? What does that even mean?

I have the good fortune to be speaking at a school about peacekeeping tomorrow. You can bet I won't be militarizing the whole Remembrance Day thing -- the point of the poppy is to remind us that war fucking sucks, so stop making it.

It distresses me to no end that people use the poppy as a rallying cry for more, not less, war, and it's led me to wonder whether to wear it in the last few years. I still do, but I know it's meant to be a symbol of peace, not of war, and I try very hard to help others see that.

Need it be said that Jason Kenney is getting it entirely wrong when he evokes "Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, or Juno Beach"? I think probably not.

And I'll put my record of service to Canada up against his, any day.

L-girl said...

I wish I saw the poppy that way. I know it's what we should see, but I don't.

M@, have you considered wearing the white poppy? I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

L-girl said...

And I'll put my record of service to Canada up against his, any day.

Yeah! I like that.

To be honest, I feel the same way about all the Canadian peace activists I work with. There are many kinds of service.

Greg said...

I believe the original claim was that we "won't recognize Canada" when they're done with it.

No surprises here.

L-girl said...

Greg, I've seen that in various places, but I've never seen an actual source. If you have one, please do post.

Some Person said...

My ritual is making this the only day of the year I have a drink before noon, specifically to commemorate the 11th hour. What can I say, there's a shortage of poppies - red or white - down here in Statesland.

fche said...

I read the bulk of the new booklet. There seems to be nothing materially objectionable in there.

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/discover/index.asp