August 20th, 2018

Local woman’s petition prods Liberals to restore FGM clause in citizenship guide

By Gillian Slade on February 8, 2018.

Michaela Glasgo of Medicine Hat poses with MP Glen Motz in Ottawa on Tuesday. A petition Glasgo initiated about keeping a clause regarding female genital mutilation in the Canadian citizenship guide was presented in the House of Commons. 

A petition to have a clause about female genital mutilation (FGM) remain in Canada’s citizenship guide was initiated by a local resident.

“According to a report leaked to media the Liberals were planning to take FGM out of Canada’s (new) citizenship guide,” said Michaela Glasgo between flights on her way home from Ottawa on Wednesday. “It was put in there under the Harper government.”

Removing the clause made no sense to Glasgo.

“We have a government that claims to be all about … they’re feminists, they’re gender balanced … whatever, and always talking about how to make life better for women in Canada and I just found that to be blatant hypocrisy.”

The citizenship guide tells newcomers to Canada what values are important to us, she explained.

The idea of a petition started through connections of “really strong women” Glasgo has established through a blog she started — The Story of a Tory.

It was a collective decision to champion this cause, said Glasgo.

Michelle Rempel, MP for Nose-Hill, was contacted and she sponsored the petition. It also garnered international attention by organizations who promote the ending of FGM.

The online petition, registered with the House of Commons website on Oct. 6, 2017, garnered more than 25,000 signatures.

“We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to ensure that the final draft of the new citizenship guide includes the condemnation of female genital mutilation,” the petition stated.

Support of the petition speaks to how big the issue is and how out of touch the Liberals were with trying to take it out, said Glasgo. It is a matter of safety for girls, she said.

Canada’s citizenship guide is used by newcomers to Canada to learn about our country and prepare for the citizenship test. Canada is a welcoming and tolerant society that promotes gender equality and that performing or assisting in FGM is a crime in Canada.

Because of the petition and pressure from the opposition the Liberal government has committed to ensuring that FGM will be included in the citizenship guide, said Glasgo.

Media reports indicate FGM practices are affecting Canadians with some young girls being sent back to their home country for the procedure and then returning to Canada, Glasgo explained.

Although the practice is illegal in Canada there have not been any prosecutions. Glasgo says the petition was the first step in a campaign to address the issue fully.

Note: This story has been updated to correct the first reference to FGM to female genital mutilation, rather that feminine genital mutilation as was originally stated.

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