06/24/2015 08:43 EDT | Updated 06/24/2016 05:59 EDT

What Immigrants Should Know Before Coming to Canada

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Canada is a dream come true for those who immigrate here. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the envy of the world. Its multiculturalism welcomes new immigrants with open arms, open hearts and open minds. I came here 45 years ago, for just one year. I still live here.

Our Canadian multicultural policies have an impact on all ethnic and faith groups, on rich and poor, on old and young, men, women and transgender people. These policies are equalizers. Nevertheless, they have legal and budgetary restraints. Keeping this in mind, I would like to offer the federal government a few suggestions to share with new comers before it rolls out the welcome mat for them.

All applicants seeking immigration should be informed about Canada's brand of multiculturalism when they file their applications. This background information will assist them in making up their mind as to whether they should leave their motherland for an unknown, untested and untried country. By explaining what multiculturalism means in Canada, applicants will be better able to set their level of expectations -- and sort out what they can't and can't do, and what they should not even dream of doing when they come here.

I call Canada a functioning democracy, meaning it respects the rule of law, has an independent judiciary, a free press, it respects human rights, gender equality and all levels of free elections. We are governed by election victories, not by ballot box stuffing.

Canada screens every individual, at the port of entry, irrespective of his faith, culture, colour and ethnicity. The officers have an obligation to compare his/her face against the photo on his passport.

Canada does not give in to the demands of visitors to be processed only by a male or a female immigration officer at the point of entry, unless there are compelling reasons to do so. (Re: Canada Border Services Agency managers at Toronto's Pearson airport allowed a small group of Hindu priests to avoid screening by female border guards...; July 28, 2014).

An immigrant should never expect Canada to sacrifice or weaken its democratic laws to accommodate cultural practices incompatible with its values such as, the practice of the Islamic Sharia Law, female genital mutilation, child and forced marriages, the use of the niqab during public ceremonies or at work, polygamy and honour killings. (Re: The Shafia Family murders; June 30, 2009).

Some cultures allow the physical punishment of children as a form of discipline. In Canada it is deemed child abuse and illegal and could result into his removal from the custody and guardianship of his parents.

Even though Canada is liberally democratic and blessed with rich resources it cannot accommodate demands to teach every ethnic language in public schools. Such demands are not only a fiscal burden on the tax payers, but are socially isolating also. Coming together in English and French in school and at the workplace is one of the great benefits of multiculturalism. It is how we learn about each other.

New Immigrants should be expected to come equipped with a basic proficiency in English or French, the two national languages, before leaving their country of birth.

If new immigrants are to become a part of the Canadian multicultural fabric they must know what their obligations as Canadian resident/citizen would be. They must understand and accept that they would be expected to contribute to national safety, stability and social harmony, and not conflict.

I suggest Citizenship and Immigration Canada develop a handbook of activities and practices legally and culturally unacceptable in Canada, along with the contents of Bill C-51 as a part of the standard immigration application.

Canada began the process of collecting biometric data in 2008. Since then it has joined other countries, which are doing the same. Soon it will become an administrative ritual that every applicant will have to go through. As I am for national safety and security, I am for it.

I, as a citizen of a democratic country, appreciate that some of my readers might not agree with what I have said above. However, if Charles Vincent Massey, the late Governor General of Canada were alive today, he would agree with me, as he too fostered similar views: "The conditions have always been difficult. We must pass through the barriers of languages and race, of geography and religion, of custom and tradition and we must build on a common foundation, without jealousy or hatred, with tolerance and sympathy."

Besides, my current status affords me the best gift of being retired -- the freedom to share my thoughts no matter how politically incorrect they might be.


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