Canadian Values Test

There has been some discussion about the need for prospective immigrants to understand Canadian values before deciding to come here. Transparency is always a good thing, so herewith is a proposed disclosure for one particular group—although it might work equally well with others.

To: Americans upset with the election result

Re: Moving to Canada

Hello, neighbours. Canada is a big country—a bit larger than the United States—but with 11% of the population. Like you, more than 80% of us live in urban areas.

Obviously, there is room for a lot more people, and we are enthusiastic receivers of newcomers.

We have heard that some discouraged Americans may want to come to Canada. If you are one of them, you may want to do a self-audit on Canadian Values:

  1. Canada has no constitutional right to bear arms. You can’t possess automatic weapons, handguns with a barrel shorter than 10.5 cm, or any modified handgun, rifle or shotgun. Most semi-automatic assault weapons are also banned. To bring a permitted weapon into the country you need advance written permission. You can’t carry a concealed weapon.
  2. We believe in a well-funded public health care system where the best resources are provided to the sickest people, not the richest. If you have money and don’t like the wait times, you can always visit the USA for treatment. If you are here but still an American citizen, you can buy it in Canada. Yes, that is just as weird as it sounds.
  3. In the United States many congressional districts have bizarre boundaries, explicitly designed to protect the interests of the party controlling that state’s legislature. In Canada, voters get to choose their representatives rather than the other way around.
  4. We welcome refugees. So far, we have taken in 34,000 Syrians and another 25,000 are on the waiting list. We also accept refugees from many other countries. Americans will not qualify for refugee status unless your cities start looking like Aleppo. Not likely.
  5. We are selfish about the other immigrants we accept. There is a long line-up of qualified applicants, but speaking English (or French) is a big advantage. You can jump the queue if you have needed skills, especially if you have a job offer. We love the presence of many different cultures. Toronto may be the most ethnically diverse city in the world.
  6. Canada has two official languages, as you will be reminded every time you take a plane or read the ingredients on a cereal box. Hundreds of thousands of students are enrolled in French immersion programs.
  7. Canadians do not think the right to free speech should be amplified by the size of their bank accounts. Personal donations to political parties are severely limited. Unions and corporations are not allowed to give at all.
  8. Canadians don’t hold elections for judges, prosecutors, insurance commissioners, or the many other positions that appear on American ballots. We do elect school boards, but if they get out of line ministers can and do fire them. Our 2016 election took 78 days, which we found far too long.
  9. In the United States, the President, Senate, and House of Representatives often disagree with each other, even when they are from the same party. This results in various forms of paralysis which Canadians find puzzling. In Canada, we elect governments—usually majority—which can pretty well have their way for the ensuing four years. At the next election, we know who to blame if things have not gone well.
  10. We are pretty relaxed about things like women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage. All three federal party leaders marched in pride parades this year.

There is more, but this gives you the general idea. Of course, not every one of these is agreed upon by every Canadian and those who disagree are free to say so, as long as it is not a message of hate toward persons. But do have a good look at the list.

These values are materially different from your experience as an American. If you are seriously unhappy with more than two or three of them, you probably won’t like it here and it probably won’t end well.

We will, of course, be delighted if you find yourself generally comfortable with them and will join the millions of people around the world aspiring to become Canadians.


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