From the Calgary Herald ...
Mahfooz Kanwar, PHD, is a Sociologist and an Instructor Emeritus at Mount
Royal College. This very wise, educated gentleman is a first generation
Canadian whose parents immigrated from Pakistan. He is also Muslim, but
truly understands what it is to be Canadian first, even though he and his
parents are from another country.
What is Canada becoming? Canada's tolerance misplaced?
By Mahfooz Kanwar, For The Calgary Herald, March 30, 2009
C Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is getting flak from the usual
suspects, but he deserves praise instead.
Recently, Kenney pointed that out while at a meeting in Toronto. Members of
Canada's Pakistani community called on him to make Punjabi one of Canada's
official languages. It makes me angry that such an idea would enter the
minds of my fellow and former countrymen, let alone express them to a
Minister of the Crown.
A few months ago, I was dismayed to learn that Erik Millett, the principal
of Belleisle School in Springfield, N.B., limited playing our national
Anthem because the families of a couple of his students objected to it.
As a social scientist, I oppose this kind of political correctness, lack of
assimilation of new immigrants to mainstream Canada, hyphenated-Canadian
identity, and the lack of patriotism in our great nation.
Increasingly, Canadians feel restricted in doing things the Canadian way
lest we offend minorities. We cannot even say Merry Christmas without fear
of causing offence. It is amazing that 77 per cent of the Canadian majority
are scared of offending 23 per cent of minorities. We have become so timid
that the majority cannot assert its own freedom of expression. We cannot
publicly question certain foreign social customs, traditions and values that
do not fit into the Canadian ethos of equality. Rather than encouraging new
immigrants to adjust to Canada, we tolerate peculiar ways of doing things.
We do not remind them that they are in Canada, not in their original
In a multicultural society, it is the responsibility of minorities to adjust
to the majority. It does not mean that minorities have to totally
amalgamate with the majority. They can practice some of their cultural
traditions within their homes -- their backstage behavior. However, when
outside of their homes, their front stage behavior should resemble
mainstream Canadian behavior. Whoever comes to Canada must learn the limits
of our system. We do not kill our daughters or other female members of our
families who refuse to wear hijab, niqab or burka which are not mandated by
the Qur'an anyway. We do not kill our daughters if they date the "wrong"
men. A 17-year-old Sikh girl should not have been killed in British
Columbia by her father because she was caught dating a Caucasian man.
We do not practice the dowry system in Canada, and do not kill our brides
because they did not bring enough dowry. Millions of female fetuses are
aborted every year in India, and millions of female infants have been killed
by their parents in India and China. Thousands of brides in India are
burned to death in their kitchens because they did not bring enough dowry
into a marriage. Some 30,000 Sikhs living abroad took the dowries but
abandoned their brides in India in 2005. This is not accepted in Canada.
In some countries, thousands of women are murdered every year for family or
religious honour. We should not hide behind political correctness and we
should expose the cultural and religious background of these heinous crimes,
especially if it happens in Canada. We should also expose those who bring
their cultural baggage containing the social custom of female circumcision.
I was shocked when I learned about two cases of this barbaric custom
practiced in St. Catharines, Ont. a few years ago.
I have said it on radio and television, have written in my columns in The
Calgary Herald, and I have written in my latest book, Journey to Success,
that I do not agree with the hyphenated identity in Canada because it
divides our loyalties. My argument is that people are not forced to come to
Canada and they are not forced to stay here. Those who come here of their
own volition and stay here must be truly patriotic Canadians or go back.
I am a first-generation Canadian from Pakistan. I left Pakistan 45 years
ago. I cannot ignore Pakistan, because it is the homeland of my folks, but
my first loyalty should be and is to Canada. I am, therefore, a proud
Canadian, no longer a Pakistani-Canadian. I am a Canadian Muslim, not a
I do not agree with those Canadians who engage in their fight against the
system in their original countries on Canadian soil. They should go back
and fight from within. For example, some of the Sikhs, Tamil Tigers,
Armenians and others have disturbed the peace in Canada because of their
problems back home. Recently, a low-level leader of MQM, the Mafia of
Pakistan, came to Canada as a refugee and started to organize public rallies
to collect funds for their cause in Pakistan. On July 18, 2007, the Federal
Court of Canada ruled that MQM is a terrorist group led by London-based
Altaf Hussain, their godfather. As a member in the coalition government of
Pakistan, this terrorist group is currently collaborating with the Taliban
in Pakistan. That refugee was deported back to Pakistan.
Similarly, I disagree with newcomers who bring their religious baggage here.
For example, Muslims are less than two per cent of the Canadian population,
yet in 2004 and 2005, a fraction of them, the fundamentalists, wanted to
bring Sharia law to Canada. If they really want to live under Sharia, they
should go to the prison-like countries where Sharia is practiced.
I once supported multiculturalism in Canada because I believed it gave us a
sense of pluralism and diversity. However, I have observed and experienced
that official multiculturalism has encouraged convolution of the values that
make Canada the kind of place people want to immigrate to in the first place
Here, we stand on guard for Canada, not for countries we came from. Like it
or not, take it or leave it, standing on guard only for Canada is our
national maxim. Remember, O Canada is our national anthem which must not be
disregarded by anybody, including the teacher in Springfield, N. B.
Mahfooz Kanwar, PHD, Is A Sociologist and an Instructor Emeritus at Mount
C Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald