Given the cynicism about politics today, I shouldn't be surprised that some people ask me why I would want to be a Member of Parliament at all. It's a fair question.
You see, I wasn't anxiously waiting for a chance to get involved in federal politics. I was happy in my role with the Grand Council of the Crees. We had accomplished a lot in the past 30 years and there remains a lot more to do that is worth doing.
I had been asked to run many times, but the time was never right. When Jack Layton asked me again this past February, I realized that my children were now old enough -- the youngest of the three is 16-- and I was ready to make the move to Ottawa. We agreed to begin a journey together, along with 306 other candidates, all those staff and volunteers and, as it turned out, a whole lot of Canadians. That journey is not complete, but the path we started on is clear.
That path leads to reconciliation.
I don't just mean reconciling Indigenous peoples with the rest of Canada, although we can start there.
Whether you live on reserve, in the remote north, or in the heart of a city, there is much healing -- much teaching and learning -- that needs to be done. I carry that responsibility deep in my heart.
It is also about reconciling rural Canada with urban Canada, east with west, Francophones with Anglophones, and both of those groups with all of us who have another mother tongue, whether we are new Canadians or indigenous peoples.
It is about reconciling the need for economic development with protecting the environment so that our children and their children will have a future; one that allows them to prosper physically and spiritually as well as materially.
It is about Canada's role in protecting human rights at home and abroad, ensuring that full respect for the rule of law by those in authority promotes peace and lawfulness by everyone and is never replaced by the raw application of power.
It is about reconciling the obligations that people owe to society with what they take in benefits from society. When I look at the Occupy Wall Street -- and now Occupy Everywhere -- protests that are going on, I see the urgent need to reconcile the growing gap between the privileged few and the many of us who pay for those privileges.
Reconciliation is the path to prosperity. Canada prospers when we strengthen our common bonds.
We prosper when we invest in young people, providing the best education in the world without the crushing burden of enormous student debt.
Canada prospers when we are healthy: seniors, those living with disabilities, all of us regardless of income, receiving the best care in the world.
We all prosper when community infrastructure anywhere in Canada is as strong as everywhere else.
Canada prospers when immigrants and new Canadians receive the help they need to integrate -- language training and credentials recognition -- to contribute to their fullest ability.
We all prosper when we treat each other with fairness, when we share in supporting others as our society supports each of us.
Canada prospers when we respect all of our relations -- each element of our environment, human and otherwise -- in the certainty that we must act to sustain what sustains us.
We prosper when governments keep their promises, to everyone. When every commitment is honoured and when that is demonstrated, transparently and accountably.
Canada prospers when we share in a vision for a strong and fair country. It prospers when we share in the making that vision a reality, and it prospers when we share in the benefits of our accomplishment.
I am in Parliament because I believe that, together, we can make this vision a reality. We can pull together to create a better Canada.
We have already begun our journey on this path. We have a long way to go. We can help each other get there.