You might think the most valuable THING I own would be my technology tools, but that’s not the case… No, the most important THING I own is my Canadian passport. With this proof of my citizenship I am entitled to the full Canadian lifestyle and every one of its accoutrements. This is not a short list of privileges. I am free to explore the globe and know upon my arrival home I will be welcomed back by my Canadian Family. At the present this is what makes my passport, a tangible symbol for my nationality, the most valuable thing I own!
I imagine by now most of you have learned that in a few weeks Justin Trudeau and John McCallum, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, will be announcing what they have referred to as ‘radical changes’ to the requirements for citizenship. One of these changes is said to be the elimination of the language requirement. At present in order to be granted citizenship every applicant under the age of 55 is required to take a test, or prove competency by other certified means, showing their proficiency in either English or French, the two official languages of our land. The elimination of this requirement goes so far beyond the realm of insanity I’m still waiting to wake up from the nightmare I must be in. We’re in an economic crisis and our government is tinkering around with Citizenship laws. We’re trying to handle thousands upon thousands of refugees – which isn’t going well at all and they are wasting our time and money with this!
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO BENEFIT TO THE ELIMINATION OF THE LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT AT ALL! I challenge anyone to find how this change does anything but devalue Canadian Citizenship; present and future! Trudeau what kind of games are you playing? Who are you loyal to?
This change would essentially create an unspoken (no pun intended) two tiered citizenship in this country. A nation that prides itself on unequivocal equality, spilt off in two very separate groups; Canadians with the critical language skills required to function in this country and those who will be handicapped; fundamentally unable to fend for themselves. Do we really want to even begin to entertain this thought? As we strive to level the playing field as often as possible – why would we take such a disastrous step backwards. I’m appalled at the creation of intellectual ghettos in my incredible, intelligent nation!
Let’s imagine something as simple as a trip to the grocery store. Imagine, for a moment, a Canadian CITIZEN unable to either follow basic traffic signs, or bus route instructions, unable to select items they need to purchase, unable to communicate with the person at the till etc. Now imagine if there were even one emergency in this situation. A person without the requisite language skills would be completely intellectually crippled. Canada is not a cruise ship, we cannot possibly have multilingual tools and staff posted on every street corner. Nor do we want to! Creating a cohesive society between English speakers and French speakers is challenging enough.
Whether you believe the biblical story of Babel to be truth or myth it is the quintessential lesson in the ultimate need for clear and precise communication in a civilization. In the ancient city of Babel at first all the inhabitants spoke the same language. They were working together to build the world’s most marvellous city. When God introduced many new languages to the people of Babel and they could no longer communicate with one another, the progress for their great city ceased and the people scattered. While this age old story has certain obvious differences with the modern Canadian experience the core message is entirely applicable; common language is required for a fully cohesive society, a group of people who are able to work together successfully. Canada is already a vast and complex nation, we don’t need anything else to add to the mix!!
I have worked closely with dozens of Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) applicants. I have heard, first hand, the absolute delight of those I’ve helped as they read their letters of invitation to THEIR citizenship swearing-in ceremony. (Will we now need to print this off in foreign languages?) Their glee and excitement is similar to that of a proud new parent showing off their bundle of joy! I could hear them smiling over the phone. On some occasions people have been so enthusiastic they would bring the letters to the office for me to see! These folks recognize the tremendous privilege of joining the Canadian family.
Asking those who wish to join our ranks to have a working knowledge of either English or French isn’t some pointless barrier established for fun. It is an essential skill to ensure that new citizens are given an equal chance at achieving their goals as Canadians. I have to ask why on Earth would someone seek to build a life in a country where they cannot communicate? Other bloggers and online contributors have already pointed out that the inability to communicate in the official languages creates enclaves. Little miniature sub-communities within Canada that function as virtually separate entities from the rest of the country. This begs the question – if that’s how these people are choosing to live why are they even here? A working knowledge of the official languages is the litmus test to determine if a person is able to contribute to our country. Not bothering to learn our language before attempting to join our family is nothing short of an insult to me and others (I have seen folks try to get by on the bare minimum, usually attempting citizenship to abuse what Canada has to offer). In fact why have we been ageist thus far allowing those over 55 to obtain citizenship without meeting the language requirements. Canadian Citizenship is precious and must remain so. Let’s not start putting passports in Cracker Jack boxes!!As a writer I cherish words and language mastery. When I’m able to communicate effectively some abstract or obscure thought in the depths of my mind I get the biggest natural high. It’s my joy. So I cannot imagine choosing to live in a place where even the simplest interaction becomes impaired.
The progression of permits and visas which Citizenship and Immigration Canada currently has in place do a remarkably good job at giving applicants a chance at building a life with us. Healthy, law abiding persons have a clear path to joining our ranks! For those who are coming to our country to contribute – clearly language is an essential part of the equation.
So Trudeau and McCallum what sort of scheme do you have up your sleeves? How does this serve Canada? Justin, why do you continue to threaten our ability to thrive as a nation? You owe us an explanation! Any decision that fundamentally threatens the prosperity of Canada is a categorical betrayal of all true Canadians who yearn to make this country the very best it can be.