By Wayne Litke
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and every year at this time my mind returns to the same question: What have I done to help maintain the freedom that million of servicemen died fighting for? Did I do anything in that regard in the last year, aside from attending a Nov. 11 memorial service?
Unfortunately, we appear to be on the threshold of losing freedoms in the name of cultural-religious acceptance and ethnic diversity. If anyone feels offended by that statement, please don’t pick up a club and look up my address until this column is read in its entirety and carefully considered.
In my travels across this country and limited excursions outside of Canada, respecting the laws and customs of the land in which we were travelling always took priority. Unfortunately, many people get themselves in trouble when they fail to respect the cultural beliefs of a host country. Remember the 10 hikers who ignored their guide’s warnings and posed naked on Malaysia’s highest peak earlier this year? Two members of the group were from Saskatchewan and they were fined and spent three days in jail after an earthquake (which supposedly angered the gods) that killed 18 hikers and damaged roads, buildings and landmarks.
Should anyone go to another country and expect to do whatever comes to mind including breaking laws that are enforced in their own homeland? Of course not! Liberty is not a license to break laws and cause offense. Freedom is not the ability to live recklessly or without regard for others. It is not forcing a person’s values or morals on another. However, that is what’s occurring thanks to misinterpretations of our constitutional rights.
Sadly, some immigrants – a small minority – are entering our country and following the customs of their homeland instead of observing Canadian law. Through our Charter of Rights, a blend of immigrants’ culture and religion is being pursued in the courts in an effort to enshrine their beliefs in their host country. Democracy is their tool and lawmakers are often too accommodating when it comes to precedent-setting cases.
Canadians are generally tolerant and accepting and seldom speak out vocally against cultural or religious practices of others. That acceptance is allowing a slow integration of practices within some ethnic circles that will eventually undermine everyone’s rights and freedoms as they exist now.
Let’s look at Ujjal Dosanjh, an immigrant from India and the 33rd premier of British Columbia (2000-2001). He is a moderate Sikh who spoke out against extremists. He was declared a heretic by radicals and was brutally attacked in the parking lot of his law office in 1985. He survived, but suffered a broken hand and required 80 stitches in his head. It could have been an isolated act committed by a deranged individual. However, serving as an MLA in the Legislature, a break and enter was committed at his constituency office and a Molotov cocktail was left burning on a table.
Like other people, the former premier is concerned large-scale immigration will allow inequality for women to continue in ethnic communities, along with a prohibition on interracial marriages. He said, “I think there is something fundamentally frightening happening to Canadian society. It shows we’re not being vigilant enough.”
In Toronto and Halifax, some male Muslim students recently campaigned for their religious right to work with only men. Federal government reports claim more than 100 (family) honour killings have occurred in Canada. It’s terrible that our acceptance of other cultures is being exploited to the point that Canadian laws are being ignored and heinous crimes committed according to cultural-religious beliefs entrenched in foreign countries.
An Angus Reid survey in 2014 revealed seven of every 10 Canadians felt minorities should do more to fit in with the customs and traditions of our land. Furthermore, 62 per cent of English-speaking people do not want Muslim women to wear a burka (face covering) in a workplace.
An earlier poll showed 81 per cent of all residents felt immigrants should adopt Canadian values regarding the roles of women, but only 36 per cent of Muslims in Canada shared the same feeling. Eleven per cent of Canadians wanted to settle disputes using Shariah law, while fifty-three per cent of Canadian Muslims were in favour.
For the record, I really appreciate our newcomers and the ethnic diversity of Maple Creek. The individuals who chose to settle in Maple Creek are great people and I am proud to call them friends. However, it is not that case in every town and city.
Therefore I say, closed-minded and unaccepting immigrants cannot be allowed to dictate what the future of Canada and civil liberties will look like. It’s time to remember why Canadians fought in wars against tyranny and politely get vocal in hopes of preserving the rights and freedoms that make this nation great.
Let’s all stand on guard to ensure Canada remains an accepting and tolerant nation, not a melting-pot of hate, prejudice, inequality and crime based on the beliefs of individuals who refuse to accept their hosts’ laws and customs.