I'm not sure which Canada to celebrate this year. In the past I celebrated John Diefenbaker's Canada, the one that introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights, Pierre Elliot Trudeau's Canada, that birthed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Mulroney's Canada that fought to end Apartheid. But in Stephen Harper's Canada, what is there to celebrate? In Harper's Canada, citizenship, now considered a privilege, has two tiers.
Actions matter more than words, but in his speech to Americans, Obama's words overshadowed his actions. He spoke to hearts and minds, outlining an aspirational set of shared values on immigration. His subtext was 'we're not there yet,' but speaking ten steps ahead of hearts and minds is how to get there.
I heard a story this week about a civics lesson. It did not take place in a high school. It was a lesson both learned and taught by some elderly newcomers who were participants in a civic awareness project. Along with learning to speak English and finding out about the systems and the laws of Canada, these folks are being challenged to engage with their new communities.
In case those of you who are Canadian-born and not just naturalized citizens are wiping your brow in relief and resting on your laurels, think again. Canadian-born and raised Deepan Budlakoti is facing deportation under the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act because of drug and gun offenses. It is not clear to where Mr. Budlakoti will be deported to since he was born here and has no ties to any other country.
Poet, Anatole France, once observed that, "it is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel." He could just as easily be commenting on two recent actions of our present federal government that fly directly in the face of what is supposed to be good politics: giving the people what they want. How else to explain the undue harshness against this country's veterans, or the outright attack and manipulation in the Harper government's attempts to revamp Elections Canada to its own purposes? What makes both of these instances so remarkable is the sheer arrogance of a government acting against the best interests of its own people.
Bob Cratchit comes out as the true hero of Dicken's novel A Christmas Carol -- a worker, a family man, a believer in the goodness of people. London, Ontario just witnessed a similar example yesterday, as Kellogg's employees, despite the devastating news of the impending shutdown, raised $10,000 and purchased quality foodstuffs for the local food bank. If we are ever to find a reason for believing in Christmas, this is it.
I don't like when tax dollars are wasted -- whether at the provincial level by relocating gas plants, or at City Hall by tearing up LRT contracts willy-nilly, or even by the federal government straight up losing $3.1 billion (whatever happened to that scandal, by the way?). And I get that times are tough. Saving pennies matters to a lot of people these days, and it should to our governments, too.
Since 2006, when the residing Kenyan government signed an economic cooperative agreement with China and partnering Asia-Pacific countries, there has been a concurrent influx of 'yellow faces'. The relatively new entrants are professionals and labourers contracted to bolster the two nations' budding alignment on various aspects of development. Most visible is the construction of infrastructure, such as buildings, energy sources and roads
Before we left Kampala, Uganda's capital, it was a daily occurrence for me as a young child to see dead bodies in the street and to fall asleep to the sounds of machine guns and screams. And when my father failed to come home, I always thought that his voice was one of those screams I heard in the night.
What is happening in both the House of Commons and the Senate at the moment represents a serious enough threat to our democracy that we require remedial efforts in real time, far in advance of whatever constitutional refinements to these institutions that might lie in the future. Our focus should be upon the selection process for Senators, at least in the interim.
At present, Canadians are of the belief that the political class has sunk so far beyond redemption that little of importance remains in the Senate. That's an illusion, and deserves some further thought and reflection. While there are non-trivial problems within the Canadian senate, it still serves a purpose.