Immigration Minister Diane Finley has just announced a new law that will make it easier for adoptive parents to obtain Canadian citizenship for their foreign-born children.Â Children adopted abroad can now become Canadian citizens as soon as the adoption is finalized rather than having to be sponsored and given permanent residence as was the case until recently. They will basically go through the same legal procedures as children born overseas to Canadian parents. In Finleyâ€™s own words, â€œCanadian families welcome foreign-born children into their homes and we want to welcome them into the country.â€
My opinion: a good move on Immigration Canadaâ€™s part. Adopted children are entitled to the same rights as their biological counterparts, so anything that eases their transition not only into their new family but into their new country as well is a step in the right direction. Something to keep in mind if I ever decide to give my daughter an adopted brother or sisterâ€¦
In other immigration news, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a speech that he believes most immigrants, including Muslim ones, are integrating successfully into Canadian society. This despite the recent murder of a young Muslim woman by her father for allegedly refusing to wear the hijab (veil) and pronouncements by communities like Herouxville, Quebec that newcomers are welcome but have to leave some of their customs from back home at the doorstep.
An apparent contradiction, the â€œscarilyâ€ right-wing Harper downplaying fears about immigration and the supposedly â€œsocialistâ€ province of Quebec playing them up? Maybe, but I view this less as a left-right issue than a French versus Anglo-Saxon debate. In the past both France and Britain had huge overseas empires. They took different approaches to the peoples over whom they ruled, however. While the French sought to assimilate their subjects, whether to the formerâ€™s religion, language, or culture (ex. Black Frenchmen of Africa), the English generally didnâ€™t try to change the habits of the natives they conquered. Hence Harperâ€™s contentment with the status quo compared to the Quebecois leadersâ€™ more urgent desire to ensure that immigrants fit into the host society.
I tend to concur more with Stephen Harper than with the councillors of Herouxville on this one. Most immigrants are integrating well into their new home. On the other hand, I understand how sometimes it might be necessary to remind some newcomers to keep their old ways in check. For example, if Aqsa Parvezâ€™s father really did kill her because she wouldnâ€™t wear a hijab, perhaps a warning that in Canada women arenâ€™t obliged to cover their head in public or even that hair doesnâ€™t constitute a sexual provocation (I can barely imagine mine being an enticement to any man when Iâ€™ve just stepped out of the local $10 a cut salon) might be appropriate. Still, I see most newcomers, Muslims among them, adapting fairly satisfactorily to Canadian life.