Trudeau doesn’t think that our Canadian Citizenship Guide should use the word “barbaric” to describe “honour killings, female genital mutilations, forced marriages, and other gender based violence.” I agree with him.
Trudeau abhors these cultural practices as do we all; that isn’t the point. His point is that official Canadian government communication should not use value-laden, subjective rhetoric to describe the political or cultural practices of other countries.
Trudeau has been vilified, forced to equivocate by a political media which more and more seeks a Trump- like, name- calling approach to international discourse.
For the Canadian Citizenship Guide to delineate the cultural practices and beliefs we Canadians embrace is appropriate, but to rhetorically denounce other cultures, erodes long-standing, respected, Canadian moral authority.
Canada’s action in not joining the U.S. “coalition of the willing” in Iraq was an exquisite, strong statement of Canadian moral perspective, accomplished without a subjective denunciation of American foreign policy or other tempting but disrespectful rhetoric. The point was made more strongly by principled action rather than by editorial condemnation. Canada remained above the fray.
If we describe the cultural practices of other countries as “barbaric” in documents we present to the world, what might we next include as barbaric, cruel, or racist?
I humbly suggest the following for inclusion in Canada’s Citzenship Guide:
“Canada’s openness and generosity does not extend to people from countries which allow the barbaric practice of encouraging its citizenry to carry assault, automatic, and concealed weapons wherever they go, or from countries which continually and amorally prop up dictatorial regimes around the world for their own gain, or from countries which allow the immoral practice of capital punishment or encourage the brutal practice of bull fighting. “
Are these generally accepted Canadian judgements? Yes. Are they appropriate for inclusion in an official Canadian document? No.
Justin Trudeau is right. We should not use subjective, value- laden rhetoric in official government communication with the world. Nor should we reduce ourselves to the level of some leaders and politicians, who routinely and publicly use pejorative terms such as “axes of evil”, “madman”, “exporters of terrorism” , or “murderous thugs.”