Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, said Friday that there should be a new requirement for those wishing to acquire the citizenship of their country of residence. From now on, the government wishes that immigrants will have to speak either French or English to receive a Canadian passport.
In some people's minds, this policy may present a certain level of bigotry, an intolerance wholly un-Canadian. But let us consider what exactly it means to be Canadian, or for that matter a citizen of any nation.
Nationality springs forth as an expression of a shared identity belonging to a group of people. One of the clearest components of such an identity is language. If people don't share a language, then what else do they share that makes them a nation. A nation, after all, is not a country. Otherwise we would all be citizens by virtue of where we live, automatically. A farcical nationalism that would be.
It may be difficult to accept, but if you don't know the basic traits of our national character, then how can you maintain that you should be a Canadian citizen. Citizenship by naturalization is not a right, it's a privilege, and as such, if someone holds to obtaining it, then they should be ready to learn one of the official languages, and a bit of Canadian culture while they're at it, too.
At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, living in Canada simply is not a good enough reason to be awarded Canadian citizenship. There is a lot more to being a Canadian than living here. It is such policies that will make sure that being a Canadian does not degenerate into a meaningless badge.
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