Barbaric practices mirrored


Timing and wording is everything in identity politics.

To help enforce Canada’s Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, the Conservatives have proposed an RCMP tip line for reporting incidences of “barbaric cultural practices.”

This Act establishes legal protection for non-consenting adults or child who might be exploited or forced into marriages, a mandatory minimum age of marriage, prevents polygamists from entering the country and reduces the defenses used in cases of spousal homicide or honour killings.

Despite the tip line’s Salem-ish echoes and inefficient case-by-case methodology, the Act itself isn’t at all a bad thing. 

But the disturbing part of the proposed tip line has less to do with what it intends to prevent, and far more to do with the way in which it’s stated. 

There’s a superiority complex deeply embedded in the labeling of other cultures as “barbaric” for the purpose of expelling them. 

And politicizing the issue by identifying a distinct “us” versus “them” is ultimately counter-productive.

It also misleadingly suggests that Canadian “culture” isn’t equally guilty of failing to protect vulnerable members of the population from what could be considered “barbaric.” 

When an Aboriginal woman goes missing or is murdered and no one does anything about it, can I call this tip line?

If a woman wearing a niqab is attacked, will the RCMP leap into action? 

Do we have zero tolerance for people who attack members of the LGBTQ community?

The Conservatives might have the right nail this time, but they still can’t quite seem to hit it on the head. 

— Journal Editorial Board


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