Former prime minister Kim Campbell told a University of Alberta audience that the equality of women is a Canadian value that has found little purpose in a “society of immigration.”
Some individuals in Canadian society she said, come from cultures that don’t believe in gender equality.
“I’m always very concerned about cultural practices which suggest that women bear responsibility for the sexual behavior of men,” she said, referring to cover-up garments like the burka. A naked woman standing on the corner may get arrested for public nudity, but she is not fair game for physical assault.”
She also commented on the use of the niqab, a veil that covers women’s hair and faces at citizenship ceremonies.
She said one of Canada’s challenges is to guide the integration of cultures that don’t share this value. Better education of Canadian residents is the key she said, adding if Canadians don’t understand their own history and values, people new to the country will find them difficult to learn.
Canada needs to address its changing values in the run-up to the country’s 150th anniversary, the audience was told as part of a panel discussion that included former Liberal foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy and that was held by the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. Panellists talked about determining what Canadian values are and how to transform them for a globalized world.
Axworthy also talked about the indignities committed against Canada’s aboriginal population as an impediment to the Canadian value of inclusion adding that Canada can’t represent itself as a “civil society” to the world until those wrongs are redressed.