Marie-Danielle Smith’s Canadian Press report carried in the National Post is subtly alarming. That some people who claim about “religious freedom” are not concerned with that concept in general so much as with maximizing their favourite religion’s standing is is a sad thing.
Canada’s former ambassador for religious freedom is warning conservatives about the pitfalls of “Canadian values” talk.
At the annual Manning Centre Conference in Ottawa Saturday, Andrew Bennett said “values” language — like that cropping up in the Conservative party leadership race — must be debunked.
“When people bandy about an expression like ‘Canadian values,’ they will ascribe all kinds of different things to that, things that can be contested,” he said.
Elaborating on that idea in an interview, Bennett told the National Post Canadians should focus on universal concepts: rule of law, human rights and freedoms. “When you get into the ‘values’ language, it’s fraught with a lot of pitfalls,” he said, and specific “values” beyond those all Canadians can accept shouldn’t be prescribed.
Bennett said his views aren’t political and he hasn’t followed the Conservative leadership race closely, but the “values” debate has permeated the contest.
Kellie Leitch’s opponents have largely rejected her rhetoric around immigration interviews, and the idea all immigrants should be tested for “Canadian values,” with some accusing her of sowing division and inciting hatred.