A working copy of Canada’s citizenship test has been released and featuring prominently is respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples, paying taxes and filling out the census are listed as mandatory obligations of Canadian citizenship in a draft version of a new study guide for the citizenship exam.
The federal government has completely overhauled the book used by prospective Canadians to prepare for the test.
The current “Discover Canada” guide dates back to 2011 when the previous Conservative government did its own overhaul designed to provide more information on Canadian values and history.
Some of the Conservatives’ insertions attracted controversy, including increased detail about the War of 1812 and a warning that certain “barbaric cultural practices,” such as honour killings and female genital mutilation, are crimes in Canada.
Getting rid of both those elements was what former Liberal Immigration Minister John McCallum had in mind when he said early in 2016 that the book was up for a rewrite. But although work has been underway for over a year, there’s no date set for publication of a final version.
In the draft version, the reference to barbaric cultural practices is gone, as is the inclusion of getting a job as one of the responsibilities of citizenship.
Instead, the proposed new guide breaks down the responsibilities of citizenship into two categories: voluntary and mandatory.
Voluntary responsibilities are listed as respecting the human rights of others, understanding official bilingualism and participating in the political process.
Obeying the law, serving on a jury, paying taxes, filling out the census and respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples are mandatory.
The draft also devotes substantive sections to sad chapters of Canadian history when the Chinese, South Asians, Jews and disabled Canadians were discriminated against, references that were absent or exceptionally limited previously.
The new version also documents the evolution of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups, as well as other sexual minorities. Bureaucrats had sought to include similar themes in the 2011 book but were overruled by then-immigration minister Jason Kenney, with their efforts reduced to a single line on gay marriage.
A new section “Quality of Life in Canada” deals with the education system, the history of medicare, descriptions of family life, leisure time, effects of the environment on Canadian arts and culture.
On a lighter note, there is a reference drawing attention to a real or imagined fact that Canadians like to make fun of themselves. That’s true depending who you ask.
While it is mandatory for new Canadians to pay their taxes, many of the other issues are voluntary. The voluntary part leaves too much to chance, perhaps instead of voluntary, the term ‘strongly advised’ could be more effective when dealing with things like respecting human rights of others. – CINEWS