The screening of immigrants who hold "anti-Canadian values" has been the subject of much debate in the Conservative leadership race lately, as Kellie Leitch burnishes her credentials as watchdog against "barbaric cultural practices."
While many have criticized Ms. Leitch, accusing her of stoking intolerance and religious bigotry, her goal, on its face, is a noble one. After all, one definition of barbaric is "possessing or characteristic of a cultural level more complex than primitive savagery but less sophisticated than advanced civilization."
Surely, Canadians can exceed this standard.
Luckily for Ms. Leitch she need not look far in her battle against barbarism. Canada currently requires new Canadians, Members of Parliament, and members of the Armed Forces to swear to "bear true allegiance, To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors."
As any King or Queen must also be Supreme Governor of the Church of England, any new citizen, soldier, or parliamentarian must swear a personal oath of allegiance to a foreign religious figure and her heirs, which in this case means one must promise eternal fidelity to a toddler named George.
Catholics are specifically forbidden from succeeding to the throne but the link to the Church of England means any Muslim, Jew, atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, or Sikh is also ineligible, as are the 94% of Canadians who are not Anglican, and thus legally deemed unsuitable to assume the position of Head of Sate of Canada.
Though this vulgar, patriarchal relic is deeply offensive to modern Canadian values of equality and tolerance, it persists in law as a disgraceful reminder of our more primitive past.
Thoughtful prospective Canadians have attempted to drag Canada into the Enlightenment by unsuccessfully challenging the constitutionality of the oath. Amazingly, one judge addressed the repugnance they felt about swearing an oath to "hierarchical authority and privileged status" by asserting the monarchy actually represented "egalitarian governance and the rule of law."
The Crown's commitment to egalitarianism will come as a shock to citizens of countries across the world and First Nations people in Canada who suffered unspeakable brutality committed in its name. Perhaps if they're lucky, some learned jurist will redefine "racist, oppressive, colonialism" to mean "just and equitable treatment", thereby remedying the enduring legacy of Crown inhumanity to its subjects.
Believing the term "egalitarian" accurately describes an institution with such a well-documented history of racism, snobbery, sexism, and Nazi sympathies, demonstrates a primitive and unsophisticated understanding of the word.
While the level of inbreeding in the royal family tree may explain, or even excuse, some of their crude attitudes, coarse behaviour, as well as the scarcity of accomplishments they can claim, it also provides strong arguments against demanding oaths be sworn to the offspring of a couple who are both second and third cousins, as Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth are.
In the final judgement at the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Court rejected a "plain meaning" approach to the oath, informing the appellants that by believing an oath naming a specific individual was, in fact, an oath to an individual, they did not understand the "nature of the oath." One can only imagine the reaction of said judges if a witness in their court engaged in such sophistry to justify lying under oath.
As the Canadian legal system demands expressions of eternal loyalty to a bigoted, foreign, misogynistic, symbol of hereditary privilege and injustice, Kellie Leitch is right to foster a discussion of "Canadian values."
Fortunately for Canadians who believe in legitimately egalitarian government, judges do not have the final say on the matter and parliament can amend the Citizenship Act to remove the oath or at least make it optional for those more comfortable expressing loyalty through an oath to Canada. While some Canadians are undoubtedly eager to swear eternal devotion to a toddler, advanced civilizations do not make such demands of their citizens.
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