10/13/2011 03:59 EDT | Updated 12/13/2011 05:12 EST

Stephen Harper's Government For the Few Paid For By the Many


The shore of a lake, deep in the woods of Quebec, was my birthplace and my first classroom. Growing up in the bush, what I knew about life I learned mostly from my family, my parents, 13 siblings, the Elders and our small community. I also learned from my environment: the moose, beaver, fish, birds, trees, plants and the very rock and soil that supported us all.

What I learned above all else was that each of us is connected. I learned that, by virtue of our connection we are interdependent. And I learned that our mutual reliance -- our community -- demands that we make the effort to understand and respect each other and the role each of us plays.

Reflecting on these fundamental truths, I found myself deeply concerned about our country, about the direction in which we are headed, and about our leadership. That is a major reason why I decided to take the plunge and run for the New Democrats this spring.

I am troubled by the divisions that are being sown between us as people and between all of us who form part of the environment. Dividing people through fear and mistrust is a familiar tactic. As a child, I was one of those taken from home to a residential school where the purpose was to divide Aboriginal children from our roots, our families and communities. We were taught fear and mistrust. I have seen the damage this does to people and to communities at home and in my work around the world. This is how people are set against one other and it weakens a country.

I am dismayed at how easily we dismiss the needs of others. There are some among the privileged few who deliberately undervalue the contributions of the rest of Canadians, who believe that they are entitled to use what has been created by and belongs to us all in order to profit themselves alone. The growing gap between the rich and the rest of us is the result of this belief and it is in the process of sinking economies around the world.

I am appalled at how Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are eroding respect for Canada's own laws and the very idea of governance itself. They ignore our international commitments, they undermine respect for our courts here at home, and they refuse to enforce or even accept their own legal obligations to Canadians. Then they call this "strong leadership." This is how we lost our bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. This is why Canadians are disaffected, distanced from their own government and from their own role in civil society.

These actions are the manifestation of an ideology that is at fundamental odds with what we know to be our best interest as a country. These are the actions of a government that ignores the social, environmental and economic bottom lines. Simply put, these are the actions of a government of and for the few, paid for by the honest, hard work of the many.

There is a better way. We can do much better as a nation. We can work to create a better Canada, for all of us. Here at Huffington Post in the weeks and months to come, I will tell you more about my thoughts on how we can -- as Ghandi said -- be the change that we wish to see in the world. I invite you to share your thoughts with me and start the dialogue.

Until next time, thanks for reading.