"A strong and dominant national feeling is not a luxury in Canada, it is a necessity."
Rosemary Calvert via Getty Images
Today Canadians celebrate Lester Pearson's birthday. Even as we reflect back on the kind of leader he was and the growing capacities of Canada that he helped to create, we become aware that somewhere between then and now we lost our edge, our diversified global influence, and, sadly, our belief in the public good.
This week, the legislation that originally created the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will turn 50 years old. The stated purpose of the Canada Pension Plan was to ensure all working Canadians have an opportunity to retire in dignity. It builds on basic Old Age Security to achieve greater social justice linked to progress in the economy. But Canada has big challenges to face in the immediate future if we're to honour Lester Pearson's ambition of a fair, efficient, adequate system of retirement income for all Canadians.
In the space of a few years, the world's perception of Canada has changed dramatically. Under the Harper Conservatives, this country has become a climate change pariah and lost its reputation as a peace-keeper and honest broker. We need to return to an international role that emphasizes humanitarianism.
The historic Christmas adage "peace to those of goodwill" takes on an attractive ring for a country that once built its international reputation on fighting to preserve peace in troubled regions. It's time for the military thinkers to come to terms with the reality that Canadians will remain a peaceful people who desire that same blessing for people around the world.