Thursday, July 2, 2009

The "Human Right" to a Free Meal at Mandarin

"In a wonton display of patriotism," (to borrow the delicious turn of phrase of Spectator staff writer Mary K. Nolan) Mandarin Restaurants offered a free meal to all Canadian citizens for Canada Day. This was an enormously generous promotion, to say the least, on the part of the buffet restaurant chain.

While the city of Toronto regarded Canada Day as disposable, even though the city's trash isn't, Mandarin Restaurants chose to celebrate citizenship on the day that Canadians celebrate Confederation. Never mind the fact that more than half of Canadians could not name the date of Confederation nor identify the principals (or even the the principles) involved. We celebrate anyway, even if it means dumbing it down as a lame national birthday party. But Mandarin Restaurants tacitly acknowledged -- on that day of all days, when many new Canadians are formally sworn in as citizens in media-op mass ceremonies -- that citizenship matters.

At Mandarin restaurants across Ontario, people queued up in long lines that typically snaked around the block -- hundreds of them at each location. The only 'catch' was that people had to show proof of citizenship to be entitled to the free meal. That's the same 'catch' that the government requires before it issues a passport, although this 'catch' doesn't seem to apply at the voting booth. (As an aside, is it not odd that the rules for getting a free meal at Mandarin on Canada Day are more stringent than the enforcement of the law at voting stations? Never mind. Nothing to see here.)

Well, of course, whenever you try to do something nice for the public, there's bound to be a backlash. You can't please everyone. In this case, Mandarin seems to have committed the appalling offense of actually meaning it when they said that the free meal was for Canadian citizens. And as a result, a lot of Canadians-in-training got a terrific opportunity to practice being Canadian. They got to practice the language of human rights grievance mongering.

To wit -- Being denied a free meal at Mandarin Restaurants is a violation of fundamental human rights.

As Katherine Laidlaw writes, in the National Post:

Commenters on the online forum complained the meal, offered only to those who could produce proof of citizenship, is exclusionary. "A violation of human rights is not justified just because it happens one day a year, or just because it benefits Canadians, or just because the company has good intentions," one commentor wrote.

Of course, I remember reading this in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I believe it's in Article 31 -- "(1) It is a fundamental human right that no person be denied a free meal at Mandarin on Canada Day regardless Canadian citizenship status; (2) Mandarin restaurants is in violation of fundamental human rights if it offers a promotion that celebrates Canadian citizenship ahead of any or all other allegiances on the anniversary of the nation's formation, or on any other day not so designated; (3) The terms of this Article shall be deemed to apply to all other restaurant chains on a ad hoc basis only." Hey, if it's in a United Nations document it must be binding, right?

Well, I was curious. So I checked out the website for myself. Here's a sampling of one exchange, in back-to-back comments.

123Mike wrote:

That’s *DISCRIMINATING* ! ! ! !

There are plenty of immigrants that have been paying taxes in Canada for many many years on end.

Plenty of immigrants will retire in Canada and draw pensions, and live out their lives for years to come without being actual citizens.

Just because someone hasn’t had the need to actually change citizenship, or has reasons to not lose their original citizenship, doesn’t mean it’s ok to consider them “less Canadian”.

It’s *** Canada Day***, not *** Canadian Citizen Day ***.


They should have said Canadian ***RESIDENTS***, not ***CITIZENS***.

Screw Mandarin, it’s too crowded and too expensive anyway.

123Mike's 'progressive' mentors must be so proud.

But Cheap Cat couldn't let this go without a reply:

Guess what 123Mike, you are not “less Canadian” if you don’t have Canadian citizenship, you are not Canadian. There is nothing rude or inconsiderate or disrespectful about that. The owners of Mandarin came to this country and want to thank Canadians for welcoming them. If you cared so much about this country, then maybe you would take citizenship. You state you didn’t have “the need to actually change citizenship”, obviously you don’t care enough to vote or participate in the democratic process. There are plenty of immigrants here that took the time to become citizens. They will be enjoying their free meal and you won’t. Just another benefit of citizenship.

Cheap Cat, I'm afraid to say, may be guilty of a thought crime. I'll await Barbara Hall's 'drive-by' verdict.

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