Canada’s Liberal government has removed condemnation of “barbaric cultural practices” like Muslim honor killings and female genital mutilation from the study guide used to complete the Canadian citizenship exam.
The Canadian Press has obtained a copy of the soon-to-be-released guide and noted extensive revisions.
There’s also a new chapter on the evolution of LGBTQ rights in Canada and a section on how the country has historically discriminated against everyone from Japanese-Canadians to disabled Canadians.
The reference to “getting a job” as an obligation of Canadian citizenship has also been excised. The previous Conservative government reworked the document in 2011 when Jason Kenney was immigration minister
Kenney, who has since left the federal scene to lead the Alberta Conservative party, included large portions of Canadian military history that emphasized the country’s contributions to major wars and not just to peacekeeping — as Liberal governments have tended to focus on. The passage that reminded potential citizens that female mutilation and honor killings are a crime in Canada was criticized by some because they felt it was “anti-Muslim.”
The new Liberal citizenship guide offers a different set of expectations in tune with the party’s ideological positions: mandatory obligations for potential Canadian citizens now include respecting “Indigenous Peoples” and treaties negotiated with native bands, paying income tax and completing all of the questions asked on the federal census.
The section that describes how Canada embraces the rights of LGBTQ groups was first proposed by government bureaucrats in the previous Conservative government but Kenney specifically overruled them, opting instead for one reference to same-sex marriage being legal in Canada.
Former Liberal Immigration Minister John McCallum said redesigning the study guide was a top priority when he assumed the office in 2015. While redacting references to female genital mutilation, the War of 1812 and working for a living, the new document also divides a citizen’s responsibilities between voluntary and mandatory obligations.
Voting, speaking both official languages, and upholding the human rights of others are voluntary responsibilities; obedience to the law, jury duty, filing income taxes. and respecting Indigenous treaties are mandatory.
“Today, Canadians, for example, can own their own homes and buy land thanks to treaties that the government negotiated,” the draft document suggests. “Every Canadian has responsibilities under those treaties as well. They are agreements of honor.”
The guide doesn’t ignore one of Prime Miniser Justin Trudeau’s favorite expressions: “Canada has learned how to be strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them.” The slightly altered phrase can be found in the introduction.