A judgment that a matter concerning about 2% of the population is not among the important things that one need to know about Canada would seem defensible
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney blocked any reference to gay rights in a new study guide for immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship, The Canadian Press has learned. Internal documents show an early draft of the guide contained sections noting that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation; and that same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005.
But Mr. Kenney, who fought same-sex marriage when it was debated in Parliament, ordered those key sections removed when his office sent its comments to the department last June. Senior department officials duly cut out the material – but made a last-ditch plea with Mr. Kenney in early August to have it reinstated.
“Recommend the re-insertion of the text boxes related to … the decriminalization of homosexual sex/recognition of same-sex marriage,” says a memorandum to Mr. Kenney from deputy minister Neil Yeates. “Recommend the addition of ‘equality rights’ under list of rights. Had noted earlier that this bullet should be reinserted into the list as a means of noting the equality of all based on race, gender, sexual orientation etc …”
In the end, however, Mr. Kenney’s view trumped that of the bureaucrats. The 63-page guide, released with fanfare last November, contains no mention of gay and lesbian rights. About 500,000 copies were printed and citizenship applicants will start being tested on its contents March 15.
The $400,000 project substantially updated an earlier edition of the guide created in 1995. The new version significantly expands sections on Canada’s military past and on aboriginals, drawing on the views of a panel of prominent Canadians. The new guide got generally positive reviews when it was launched, though some immediately noted the absence of gay rights, including same-sex marriage.
The publication does include a picture of Olympic gold medal swimmer Mark Tewksbury, however, with a caption saying he is a “prominent activist for gay and lesbian Canadians.”