Canadian Values – Defining Canada

Do Canadian Values Play A Role In Defining Canada?

Presenter: John Pope

September, 2016

The issue of screening immigrants for ‘anti-Canadian values’ was brought up by Conservative MP Kellie Leitch recently. This led to many articles in the Canadian media about both the idea of screening immigrants this way, and also about what actually constitutes a Canadian value. 

First of all, what are values? In ethics, value denotes the degree of importance of some thing or action, with the aim of determining what actions are best to do or what way is best to live (deontology), or to describe the significance of different actions (axiology). –Wikipedia

For Canadian values we can refer to our Charter of Rights And Freedoms which gives us our ‘rights’:

  • freedom of religion, of thought, of expression, of the press and of peaceful assembly 
  • the right to participate in political activities and the right to a democratic government 
  • the freedom to move around and live within Canada, and to leave Canada 
  • legal rights such as the right to life, liberty and security 
  • equality rights 
  • language rights

These rights are based on values such as democracy, equality and freedom. 

At the moment, there is no screening of Canadian immigrants to find out if they are willing to accept these values.  That means that even a person who disagrees with all of the things listed above is allowed to become a Canadian citizen today. This is where MP Kellie Leitch comes in…

News and Opinion:
Few notions can accurately be described as universally held Canadian values, despite what politicians tell us. -Neil MacDonald, – CBC

“Leitch may not win her leadership contest, but the fact her naked appeal to prejudice can still spur ‘debate’ in this country says it all” – Desmond Cole, Toronto Star

Support and name recognition for Tory leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has spiked on the heels of her proposing a “values” test for immigrants, according to a new poll… – Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen


Do all Canadians share the same basic values? Should they?

Will these Canadian values change over time? Should they?

Is there an social obligation for Canadian citizens to adhere to these values? Why/why not?

PM Trudeau often refers to ‘Canadian core values’. Which values are not ‘core values’?

Do Canadian values define Canada?  If not, what does?