Are Canadians tolerant?
The reaction to Don Cherry’s “You People” rant to buy and wear poppies in support of veterans or the need for Jason and Pamela Buffone to file an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario so their six year old daughter can self-identify as a girl, suggests Canadians are not.
According to Oxford Dictionary, tolerance means the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
Anyone who has ever tuned in to Hockey Night in Canada and Coach’s Corner knows Don Cherry for his brash and opinionated statements. He’s legendary for it. So, it’s not surprising that even though he never used the words “visible minority immigrants” many assumed he meant them, when he said,
You people that come here … whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.
On the one hand, the outcry of support by and for visible minority groups is great. On the other hand, the assumption about what Don Cherry meant, the focus on the poor choice of words even after he explained that he should have said “everybody” rather than “you people”, the near blindness to the positive message he conveyed to support veterans, and the public calls for his firing, show incredible intolerance.
If Don Cherry had said “You white men, come here …” et cetera, would anyone even notice, never mind call for his firing? Unlikely.
Similarly, why can’t a child or anyone who has always thought of herself as a girl self-identify as such? It’s terrific that the Ottawa school the Buffones’ daughter attended teaches children that they can choose to identify as male, female or something in between. This shows tolerance for those who are confused or undecided with what gender they choose to associate. However, the Buffones’ six-year-old always thought of herself as a girl. Based on her teacher’s lessons the little girl was now confused because the lessons taught her, “girls are not real, and boys are not real.”
The principal offered only to exclude the Buffones’ daughter from such lessons. There was no effort made to support and allow the child to self-identify as a girl. Instead, the Superintendent, the principal and the teacher seem to stand behind the idea that teaching gender fluidity means one cannot acknowledge the existence of boys and girls. This is intolerance.
The Legatum Prosperity Index has almost always ranked Canada as one of the most tolerant nations. The Index assesses the wealth and well-being of well over 100+ countries based on nine factors. Personal Freedom is the factor that measures national progress towards basic legal rights, individual freedoms and social tolerance. This year, Canada ranked number 7 which is the lowest placement it has ever earned in at least 10 years.
Even though 7 out of 169 countries is respectable, is Canada becoming a less tolerant nation?
Canada officially supports the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the United Nations. One of the rights is,
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This right is a part of our Constitution, the supreme law in Canada. Not all countries protect this right. Canadians are lucky.
While the law protects the right of people to express minority opinions, the law cannot monitor and dictate the behaviour of all its people all the time. To be truly tolerant, Canadians must allow those expressing minority or unpopular views to be heard and to co-exist with those who support popular opinions.
Canadians need to live up to their reputation as being tolerant.