Life In Canada Is Better Now Than 50 Years Ago
The first criterion for which Canada would be considered a better country are the voting rights. It allows the country to be better represented, as everyone eligible has the opportunity to vote. In the past, certain races, as well as women, were discriminated against, and were denied the right to vote. In 1918, women were given the right to vote, however, certain races were still discriminated against, such as Japanese Canadians. It was only in 1960 when all races had the ability to vote. The exception to this was the Aboriginal people, as they had the ability to vote, but had to lose their status as an Aboriginal person, and any rights associated with their status. In 1962, they were given the rights to vote while still maintaining their identity, although this discrimination hadn’t occurred in Nova Scotia, however, issues with the status of an Aboriginal person is that very few are considered property owners, possibly decreasing their importance to the government. Additional aids with voting rights are accommodations for those that may have difficulties in getting to a polling station, such as workers that have long hours, patients in long term care or in hospitals, and those with disabilities. The accommodations that have been made are more accessible polling stations, and having them open for longer hours, to ensure that every eligible citizen that wishes to vote has the opportunity to do so. Any immigrants that would receive a citizenship would receive the same voting rights, despite having come from a different country. This would greatly benefit those in events similar to that of the MV Sun Sea, as if they decide to stay, they would have equal rights to those that are already living in Canada, and have their input heard by the government.
The changes to the Immigration Act is another criterion for which Canada has become a better country. Racism contributed to the many changes made to the Immigration Act. In the early 1900s, a large amount of changes were made to the Immigration Act, to prevent certain races from entering and settling in Canada, such as Asians and African Americans. Asians were denied entry, specifically Asian females, as the government was concerned that they would encourage the settlement of temporary foreign workers. The immigration of African Americans was denied, primarily due to racism. Canadian authorities were instructed to prevent their entry, and were given orders to base their refusal on medical reasons, although the immigrants may have been perfectly healthy. In 1962, immigrants were granted entry to Canada, given that they had the qualifications to do so, and it wasn’t influenced by their race. In 1971, multiculturalism became a government policy, implemented by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act was put in place in 1988, which was a framework for the focus being put on multiculturalism due to the diversifying population. This acceptability with refugees and immigrants is helpful, as anyone seeking asylum or better opportunities has the ability to do so. This relates to the event with the MV Sun Sea, as the refugees are able to enter the country without being discriminated against due to their race.
In the past, people of colour in Canada have suffered inequalities that have affected their way of life, but as time progressed, their rights were fought for, and they now have the same rights as everyone else. This demonstrates how Canada has become a better country. Discrimination takes place in many ways, it can be due to race, gender, religion, and other factors. This can be observed by looking at the history of Aboriginal people, and racism as well as religious intolerance taking place in immigration. Aboriginal people had certain rights affiliated with their status, such as having access to ancestral lands, and having the right to self-government. Before 1962, if Aboriginal people were to vote, they would have to surrender their status, as well as any rights they may have because of it. This was put in place to slowly transition Aboriginal people into “proper” citizens, according to the government officials at the time. In 1876, a law was put in place that required Aboriginals to give up their status if they met certain requirements, such as receiving a university degree, or if they became workers in tertiary industries, as a doctor, lawyer, or other professional employment. In 1885, Sir John A. MacDonald attempted to introduce an act that allowed all Aboriginals to vote, however it ended up excluding those in Manitoba, British Columbia, and those on land that isn’t in the government’s possession. Aboriginals were finally able to vote in 1950, however polling stations weren’t accessible to most, therefore making it difficult for them to vote. In 1962, the stations became more abundant, allowing more Aboriginals to cast their vote, making that the year that most recognize as the year Aboriginals gained the right to vote. In the time that Aboriginals were given the rights to vote, the first Aboriginal member of parliament was introduced, James Gladstone, to the senate.
Inequalities in immigration in the past have been prevalent due to racism and religious intolerance. As previously mentioned, Asians and African Americans were almost completely denied access to Canada, solely because of their race. During the Great Depression, there were many Jewish Europeans seeking refuge in Canada, however the majority of those migrants were denied entry, as their religion prevented the government from allowing them into the country. Canada accepted the least Jewish refugees during that time than any other western country, despite having 17 000 Jewish Canadians serving in the army during the Second World War. After the war, Canada was in need of more workers as the economy was growing, and allowed about 40 000 Holocaust survivors immigrated in order to rebuild their lives or to join their relatives. Most of these immigrants settled in french-speaking cities, such as Montreal, as their ability to speak the language was an asset.
As seen in Figure 1, the vast majority of immigrants to Canada are from European countries, whereas immigrants from Asian and African countries are just a small percentage of migrants. It can be deduced from this graph that Canadian authorities prioritize European countries over others, which shows the inequalities between certain races and religions. In the later years, starting in 1971, it can be seen that more immigrants from other countries are being let into Canada, confirming that the government is becoming more progressive with their acceptance of other countries.
Canada has become a far better country than before, and this is evident in the changes of their laws, such as allowing all citizens to vote, granting access to immigrants that are eligible to enter, and reducing the inequalities between gender, race, and religion. All of these factors prove that Canada has progressed in such a way that every Canadian has the same rights and freedoms. This helps in situations like that of the MV Sun Sea, as the refugees aren’t turned away due to prejudice and discrimination, and are given the opportunity to rebuild their lives in a country that gives them the freedom they need in order to succeed.
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