Offside calls on Jason Kenney [same-sex marriage] – The guide for immigrants didn’t have space to dwell on same-sex marriage; but thank God it covered hockey-card collecting
Published on Friday, Mar. 12, 2010. Last updated on Saturday, Mar. 13, 2010.   Tabatha Southey

For Canada’s new Citizenship and Immigration study guide to stay at its current length and include the words “Same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in 2005” – words cut, as we learned last week, under Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s watch, although not, he insists, by his authority – we would’ve had to lose the words “Canadian children have collected hockey cards for generations.”

And then where would be?

True, everything else about hockey could’ve remained in the guide. New immigrants would still have been able to learn that “many young Canadians play hockey at school, in a hockey league, or on quiet streets – road hockey or street hockey – and are taken to the hockey rink by their parents.”

Note the clarity here surrounding the definition of hockey played on the streets: This sport is known colloquially as either road or street hockey. Obviously, this exactitude is important because the whole two-words-for-a-type-of-thoroughfare-on-which-one-might-play-hockey situation that admittedly exists in this country might’ve thrown a lot of new Canadians off. That’s booklet space well used.

But I’m concerned that there’s no specific mention to “shinny” in the guide. I seek reassurances from the minister that this will be addressed in the next printing.

Obviously, had the reference to hockey cards been removed in order to accommodate an acknowledgment that Canada recognizes gay marriages, the role of parents in facilitating the playing of hockey by Canadian youngsters could still have been laid out as clearly as it has been, and must be. (Understandably, a lot of people witnessing a January-morning peewee practice believe that some sort of press-ganging is involved.)

However, if these same immigrants – aware that “hockey is Canada’s most popular spectator sport and is considered to be the national winter sport” (even though it is not) – were then later faced with an actual hockey card (an entirely foreign artifact to many people!), they might become confused. Possibly violent.

And if a new immigrant were to find, say, a 1979 O-Pee-Chee #18 Wayne Gretzky rookie card inside an old issue of Mad Magazine at a yard sale, he might not recognize its extraordinary monetary value. He might use it as a bookmark instead of buying a cottage with it, and we can’t have that.

So, good call there, Minister Kenney. And it’s great to see a shout-out, by way of the guide’s hockey-card mention, to that cottage industry that is the National Hockey League.

Returning to the road-hockey issue, I’d like the next guide to explain what it means when someone shouts “Car!” That shouldn’t be overlooked. Including “Car!” could be a lifesaver.

In fact, I predict that if Parliament continues to be prorogued with the frequency and increasing casualness it has been, two years down the road the Prime Minister will only have to rise in the House and shout “Car!” and the government will adjourn on the spot.

Canada, by the way, is one of only seven countries in the world in which same-sex and opposite-sex marriages have equal standing in law. However, we are one of only four countries in the world in which hockey cards are routinely traded. Before you judge Mr. Kenney, a long-standing opponent of same-sex marriage who is considered to be (and actually is) our Immigration Minister and who, either by inattention or design, included the hockey-card information and excluded any reference to same-sex marriage, take a moment to imagine that you come from a country in which it’s not acceptable to trade hockey cards.

Imagine you were raised somewhere you’d be discriminated against or beaten senseless or risk untimely death because of your hockey-card collection – or that you yourself, while uninterested in collecting cards, beat other people in your homeland with impunity the second you discovered that they owned a deck.

Now imagine yourself reading that statement in our immigration guide: “Canadian children have collected hockey cards for generations.” Why, that would change everything, I believe. I’m sure that there are people who’d think that alone warranted the “glorious and free” in our anthem; others, upon reading it, will have learned one of our culture’s rules.

Either way, it’s a great bonus question on the test. We should think up a few more.

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