The Tewksbury clause

Dale Smith, who noted the lack of reference to gay rights in the citizenship guide when the guide was released, rounds up reaction to yesterday’s revelation.

“It’s becoming more and more clear that the Conservatives did not intend this to be a Canadian citizenship guide, but instead a Conservative citizenship guide,” says gay Liberal MP Scott Brison. “Canada’s Charter of Rights has helped make Canada one of the most progressive societies in the world and a magnet for those seeking equality. The Charter is not a buffet. You can’t take from it the rights you like and ignore the rest.”

For the record, the portion of the citizenship guide that covers the Charter reads as follows.

The Constitution of Canada was amended in 1982 to entrench the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which begins with the words, “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.” This phrase underlines the importance of religious traditions to Canadian society and the dignity and worth of the human person.

The Charter attempts to summarize fundamental freedoms while also setting out additional rights. The most important of these include:

• Mobility Rights – Canadians can live and work anywhere they choose in Canada, enter and leave the country freely, and apply for a passport.

• Aboriginal Peoples’ Rights – The rights guaranteed in the Charter will not adversely affect any treaty or other rights or freedoms of Aboriginal peoples.

• Official Language Rights and Minority Language Educational Rights – French and English have equal status in Parliament and throughout the government.

• Multiculturalism – A fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity. Canadians celebrate the gift of one another’s presence and work hard to respect pluralism and live in harmony.

This is followed by a subsection on “the equality of women and men” that reads as so.

In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.

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