Last week the City of Gatineau in Canada released an offensive welcome guide for immigrants to inform them of the city’s values. When Moroccan immigrant and Gatineau resident Kamal Maghri heard about the brochure, he contacted the City of Gatineau to complain about the guide and to let them know that he would be filing a formal complaint. Two days later, he was mistakenly included in an e-mail chain that disclosed personal and financial information about him.
Condescending E-mail Addressed to Mayor and Other Senior Officials
On December 12th, two days after he filed his complaint, Maghri was mistakenly copied on an e-mail from Diversity Coordinator Annie-Claude Scholtès. Scholtès’s e-mail, addressed to Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau and other senior city officials, included personal information and disparaging remarks. According to the CBC:
Her email details how Maghri was probably a man of Moroccan origin who came to Canada about ten years ago, just before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The email from Scholtès also described how Maghri accumulated more than $40,000 in debt and had trouble finding a job in Montreal and Calgary before moving to Gatineau.
As if the patronizing immigrant guide wasn’t enough; Gatineau city officials charged with diversity just further proved their ignorance and prejudice. Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, told the CBC:
The intention of the [values guide] was to inform new Canadians that we live in a democracy. But I think they should be handing out copies to the bureaucrats at city hall because I think they think we live in a country like Iran, to be doing this kind of thing.
Gatineau Mayor apologized on Wednesday for the e-mail.
Reminiscent of Veterans Affairs Privacy Breaches
Maghri’s situation is reminiscent of privacy breaches that occurred in the Department of Veterans Affairs in Canada. In 2010, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart found that the medical records of a Veteran were shared around the department after he began criticizing the compensation package for wounded vets.
What Are Canadian Values?
The guide released by the City of Gatineau and the recent decision by the federal government to require Muslim women to uncover their face when taking the Citizenship Oath are indicators of increased intolerance in Canadian society. Instead of valuing multiculturalism, there appears to be a push towards forced assimilation. The invasion of Maghri’s privacy, the privacy breaches against Veteran Sean Bruyea, and the screening of people who wanted to attend Harper campaign stops in the Spring election are indicators of the government’s increased interest in controlling its citizens instead of working with them.
It isn’t 1984 in Canada, but it is starting to feel that way.
Image credit: dougtone on flickr