Immigrant guide warns against bribes, smelly foods
Gatineau, Que., values guide follows Hérouxville, Que., conduct code
A Gatineau, Que., guide of values for new immigrants is raising eyebrows for including recommendations against bribing officials and honour killings, and advice on limiting the cooking of "smelly foods."
The city released its "statement of values" in French on Nov. 28, saying it hopes the 16-point guide helps newcomers integrate into local society and learn how to interact in a new environment.
The guide spells out basic information, suggesting for example that learning French would help newcomers integrate into the community. It also says "children are our most precious good" and forbids "excessive punishments, corporal and sexual abuse, confinement, neglect, forced labour, humiliation, wilful malnutrition."
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While several of the items are similar to those found in the federal government's own guide for new immigrants, other items have been raising eyebrows.
It emphasizes the importance of things such as good hygiene and avoiding smells such as cigarette smoke and "strong odours emanating from cooking." Another section highlights the value of being punctual.
One of the largest cities in Quebec, Gatineau is situated across the river from Ottawa and houses a number of federal government buildings.
On Parliament Hill, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said municipalities have a role to play in clearly communicating expectations to new immigrants, but added he was surprised that things such as "smelly food" made it into the Gatineau publication.
"We're focused on more important things," Kenney told reporters, adding that Ottawa is planning to publish a revised federal guide for new immigrants.
Gatineau is home to about 250,000 people and boasts a growing community of immigrants, where the guide has met with mixed reaction.
Alex Ibrahim, owner of "Boulangerie Beirut," said he believes the intentions of city officials were "not well-placed" in writing the guide.
"Canada's based on a lot of immigration, a lot of different immigrant groups," he said, adding that he's not offended by "smelly food."
The "statement of values" is drawing comparisons to a controversial code of conduct adopted by the small town of Hérouxville, Que., in 2007. It banned stonings in the community, which was home to only one immigrant family at the time.
With files from the CBC's Jennifer Hall