Don’t Complain Or Your Privacy Will Be Invaded

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.

Related stories

Police Shoot and Kill Escaped Cows in Gatineau, Quebec

Canada Bans Niqab and Burka at Citizenship Oath

City of Gatineau “Welcome” Brochure Insults Immigrants

Image credit: dougtone on flickr


Ivy Taylor
Yvonne Taylor5 years ago

Annmari L., to answer your question, yes I have, in Jordan and in Egypt before the riots, I was there and felt they embraced multiculturalism more than we do in the USA, yes hard to believe, and I was surprised after reading and listening to people in USA's, like you, version of multiculturalism and prejudices. Not all Muslims are of the extremes, just like, thankfully, not all Americans are of extreme views. My question to you, have you ever been to any Muslim countries?

Robby C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Damn, Patrick, for once, I completely agree w/you. LOL. Well put!

Scott Habowski
Scott H6 years ago

@ Annmari L. - Canada isn't a Christian country, so your comparison is inapt. Also, Saying that another country does things that are wrong is not justification for doing something equally wrong.

I hope you're from the US, because you sound an awful lot like my compatriots. If not, that means that we're exporting our hate, and I was really hoping Canada could rub off on us, not the other way around.

Kellie N.
Kellie N6 years ago

If your case rests on that one question then you Ma'am have a weak and very poorly investigated one!

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

Have any of you ever seen any multiculturalism in the muslim countries? I rest my case!

Diane F.
Diane F6 years ago

Thanks to the Patriot Act we already lost all of our privacy. On second thought, we most likely lost it way before then. The Patriot Act just made it *legal* for big (telecommunications & other) corporations to do what they've been bribed, by Mr. Moneybags Big Shot, to do all along.

About a year ago, while opening a small IRA at my bank, they asked for my son's SS#, which I didn't know, so he could be a beneficiary. The guy at the bank got on the computer & got his SS#. Now I know that anybody in any bank can get any info they want.

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

What makes you think you have any rights at all? You don't, it's called "manipulation" and the government who disagrees with your viewpoint will use this tool any chance they can to label you and throw you in jail. What Canada and the U.S. needs is responsible governments, not the jokes that we have now. It's been a very long time since we have seen humble leaders, I sure do miss them.

Anne F.
Anne Foss6 years ago

I agree that Diversity Coordinator Annie-Claude Scholtès should be removed from her job. Especially, if she had any hand in drafting the so called "Welcome guide".
And I thought my country Canada was bi-lingual????
In British Columbia many of the brochures are also printed in other languages to make sure that most immigrants can understand them.
Certainly, "smelly food" can be offensive, what about Norwegian gammalost or Swedish surstromming, however, who are we to determine what is offensive to whom? Apparently, to people who don't eat any dairy, we are stinky foreigners if we are in their country.

CynThia M.
CynThia M6 years ago

Gee, it's good to know that the US is not the only country that treats immigrants like crap.
*would that be sarcasm or merely drollness?*

Carol P.
Carol P6 years ago

I agree that the officials had their priorities all screwed up on this one.

But I also see the contradictions. If you want to retain the cultural identity of your country of origin, why move? I know - lots of answers to that question, but there are many ways to be an individual while adopting the customs of your new country.

Another article on care2 mentions some of the things immigrants have found offensive in the manual.

Don’t willfully malnourish your children
Don’t flaunt your religion
Don’t cook smelly food
Don’t offer bribes
Don’t use violence to preserve honor
Don’t use child labor or force your child to perform sexual acts

I agree that the smelly food and the flaunting of religion can cross a line, but if I were making recommendations to a friend as to how to avoid angering your new neighbors, I might mention these too. To find any of the others offensive simply means that you aren't aware of some of the horrible practices that are regularly practiced in some parts of the world.