Shortly after he was sworn in as prime minister, Justin Trudeau granted the New York Times Magazine an interview.
The result was the article ‘Trudeau’s Canada, Again’. Its subtitle reads, ‘With support from President Obama and the legacy of his father on his side, Justin Trudeau sets out to redefine what it means to be Canadian’.
In the piece, Trudeau makes this declaration: “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.”
According to the Liberal prime minister, Canada is the “first postnational state”.
The article caught the attention of Candice Malcolm, a columnist with the Toronto Sun and a former press secretary to then Conservative immigration minister Jason Kenney.
“I thought that was just an egregious statement,” Malcolm said in an interview at the Georgia Straight offices about Trudeau’s version of what it means to be a Canadian.
For Malcolm, Canada isn’t just a bunch of people from all over the world, who happen to live side by side, with nothing that holds them together.
“It’s a dangerous sort of path of modern multiculturalism, where you don’t stand for anything,” Malcolm said.
According to Malcolm, Trudeau’s sketch of Canadian identity was one of the reasons she set out to write a book that examines the prime minister’s immigration policies.
In Losing True North: Justin Trudeau’s Assault on Canadian Citizenship, the author asserted: “There is a core Canadian identity.”
“Canada is an incredibly proud nation – with plenty to be proud of – and holds a deeply ingrained set of shared values and commitments,” Malcolm wrote in her book. “From these values, Canadians derive a distinct identity, defined not by how we look, but by how we live. Our core identity is defined by the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship.”
According to Malcolm, Canada’s character as a nation is “distinct”, one that is “often at odds with its political class”.
“I believe we can more readily define this great country by the kids playing hockey on a frozen pond in Timmins, Ontario, the curious and free-loving 20-somethings backpacking across Southeast Asia or volunteering in Africa, or family barbeques on the beach in Campbell River, B.C., than by examining the privileged upbringing of our prime minister,” the Vancouver-born and –raised author wrote.
In Losing True North, Malcolm warned about the pitfalls of Bill C-6, a measure pending approval in the House of Common, which amends the Citizenship Act.
Malcolm noted in her book that the proposed legislation contains “radical changes”, which include removing the government’s ability to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason, and espionage.
The measure also seeks to eliminate a requirement asking applicants for Canadian citizenship to pledge that they want to live in Canada. In addition, the measure reduces the amount of time an immigrant has to live in Canada before qualifying for citizenship.
Through the proposed legislation, the Liberal government will also return to the previous 18-54 age range for those needing to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. The previous Conservative government expanded the age range of applicants who must meet these requirements to those aged 14-64.
In Losing True North, Malcolm also warned about the serious security implications of the Trudeau government’s fast track approach in accepting refugees displaced by the civil war in Syria.
In the interview at the Straight offices, Malcolm said that Canada has prospered and enjoyed peace as a nation because it has existed as a pluralist society.
“With pluralism, there’s a set of defining characteristics and values that everyone subscribes to. Everyone agrees to the basic Canadian law,” Malcolm explained. “And then on top of that, you can have all the cultural diversity and tolerance that society loves.”