THE BLOG

Toronto Star's Canada Day Edition Newspaper Was Inspiring

07/02/2014 01:08 EDT | Updated 09/01/2014 05:59 EDT

To those who may have given up on the wisdom of newspapers to be agents of change for good in Canada and the world, please read Toronto Star's Canada Day newspaper edition from yesterday. Once you have finished reading, please distribute it to your friends. Edited by Ken Dryden, it's a rare gift from Canada's biggest newspaper to Canadians. I will cherish my copies for many years to come and will share it with many as I navigate my own place in my beautiful adopted citizenship.

Described by the Toronto Star as "an icon of the highest order", Dryden is a rare Canadian that is respected and admired by all Canadians. As a new immigrant to Canada in the 1990s, his books -- The Moved and the Shaken and The Story of One Man's Life and In School: Our Kids, Our Teachers, Our Classrooms were some of the earliest English books I read along with Bob Rae's From Protest To Power.

In this historic edition, Dryden interviewed the most inspiring citizens from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, family doctor Ritika Goel and former President of Doctors Without Border Canada's Dr. James Orbinski.

Dr. Goel, whom I interviewed previously and who works with the most marginalized, reflected how "family medicine is part of a wellness system, not just an illness system" and explains how her working life consists of "a family health team that includes a neuropsychologist, a psychiatrist, nurses, nurse practitioners and assistants, and social workers to deal with people with health and social issues in a way the old, solo family doctor model can't."

She added, "This allows us to take a holistic view of a person -- not just their bodily illness but also their issues of income, housing, immigration status and how these impact their health -- to see how best to intervene."

Mayor Nenshi reflected on the wealth of his province and how "the oil in the ground certainly helps" and that "there are lots of places with lots of oil that have not managed to create a successful, resilient society, and I think that's the missing ingredient, that generosity, that willingness to share prosperity."

Dr. Orbinksi reflected on how he does not "see things as Canada and the world." For him, "It's Canada in the world." Indeed.

Then, Dryden asked ordinary Canadians -- "In what kind of Canada do you want to live?"

I want to live in a Canada that is generous and shares its wealth accordingly. Like former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, I dream of a Canada that knows the existence of government is to provide safety nets for the needy rather than the super rich. I want a society that ensures Toronto Mayor Rob Ford understands that we are not just a society of taxpayers but citizens. I envision a country that understands diversity is indeed our strength and that we should be more open to helping our newest immigrants attain their potential. I want a country that realizes that there is a fundamental wrong when we let immigrants with an MD degree drive our taxis or immigrant nurses clean our office buildings.

Abroad, I want a Canada that is a middle power that celebrates the legacies of Lester B. Pearson and Brian Mulroney. I want to see a Canada that is engaged in nation building around the world even when it's not in our business interest. I want a country that celebrates our citizens when we are engaged in helping the vulnerable in peace and war -- at home and abroad.

This is the ultimate Canada I want to pass to my future children. I have the urge to do my part to ensure we are a better and dignified country for all generations.

I hope the wonderful Canada Day edition is distributed to new and old Canadians alike so that it can inspire them as much as it inspired me. I am well aware of the contributions of our newspapers to the fabric of our citizenship. Toronto's Star's Atkinson principle has made us a more tolerable and progressive nation while history notes how The Globe and Mail eloquently articulated the ills of slavery in the southern United States some 160 years ago.

At the end, the editors at the Toronto Star hope their special edition inspires us "to get involved in a discussion about what we can become" as Canadians. I hope we do that.

Thank you Ken Dryden and the Toronto Star for the wonderful read. Happy (belated) Canada Day.