Sunday, 4 June 2017

Immigrants Must Integrate, But Not Under the Threat of Bigotry

I just saw a video someone took on his phone that was shown on a CTV News Toronto broadcast. In the video, which you can view here, a woman is seen berating Chinese employees at a food market because they didn't speak English, telling them, "Go back to China!" My stance has always been that any immigrants who come to Canada and want to live here need to do their best to integrate into Canadian society. Part of that integration means learning to speak English or French, depending on where in the country you live. I really resent the fact that there are some people who come to this country, live here for years, and still can't communicate effectively in either official language. That being said, what this woman in the video did was way out of line.

For one thing, she appears to have been looking for a confrontation, assuming witnesses to the whole thing gave an accurate account of how everything transpired. Still, the video itself doesn't lie, and judging by that alone, what she did was unbecoming of a Canadian, at least in my opinion. Telling people who don't speak your language to go back to their country of origin doesn't help anyone. If anything, it makes things worse for people who are trying to integrate into Canada, because a new immigrant who encounters racism may become discouraged from taking steps to integrate and retreat into isolation within his or her own community.

There are a lot more constructive ways of promoting the successful integration of immigrants into Canadian society and they certainly don't involve berating people for not speaking English. For example, instead of yelling at employees in a grocery store and telling them to "go back to China," perhaps the woman in video should instead protest our federal government's easing of language requirements for potential new citizens. Whereas the old rules required people aged 14 to 64 wanting to become Canadian citizens to demonstrate language proficiency, the Trudeau Liberals have shrunk that group to people aged 18 to 54. This recent change means that more immigrants to Canada are going to become citizens without even being able to speak either of the country's official languages effectively. Now how can we blame immigrants for not integrating when we have a government that discourages them from integrating in the first place?

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