As Canadians, we know that even though we look and sound like many other cultures, we are not. We have a unique identity that may only be understood by getting close to it. What is it that sets us apart? What makes us “kinder and gentler” than our southern neighbours? What’s that thing in the Canadian psyche that makes us so darn friendly and Canadian?
As we move toward an historical election – and I say that because there is every indication that we will see record numbers of voters, including young voters who so often fail to mobilize or see their power and value at the polls- we are confronted with the changing face of the Canadian reputation and many of us don’t like it one little bit. Remember Canada the good? The peacekeepers? The leaders in health care and education? The nation who accept immigrants, because all but our First Nations people ARE immigrants? We aren’t those people anymore. It’s true. We aren’t.
We’ve been riding the coattails of our former reputation for some time and less and less people are buying it. Including us. We’ve always had a slightly insecure image of ourselves, but that seemed to keep us humble. We have repeatedly elected government that does not reflect the identity of the average Canadian. As we reflect on the record of our current Prime Minister, coupled with the drastic slide from “one of the greatest countries in the world” to our new place at the bottom of all the big lists… we have to admit that our own government has used our humility and compassion against us. We have stood by and smiled and stayed polite while these scoundrels have raped our economy in favour of the privatization of our valued institutions. We wring our hands nervously as we watch the slow deterioration of our valued government services and we have been cordial while watching our employment opportunities cross borders and seas, not wanting to make a fuss.
My hope is that on October 19th, we all make a fuss. So buried are we in our need to placate that we have cried foul about the changes all around us while doing absolutely nothing to stop it. If you don’t like hearing “Canada used to be number three, now it’s number 28” then commit to doing something different. If you want to see our peacekeeping reputation restored, quit electing those who give it no value. If you want to see your door to door mail service continue as it always has, at no cost to you, don’t buy the snow job the Conservative government is trying to sell you about costs. That’s right, postal service not only doesn’t cost you a penny of your precious tax dollars, it was dumping millions of dollars back into our economy each year and paying for other valued services. If this is dismantled and privatized, we will not only lose that service, but some of the other services that depend on Canada Posts profits in order to perpetuate. The fact that this issue has polarized Canadians, caused protests across this nation and is an election issue for three of the four well known parties (not for the one who intends to destroy it) and all the while, Canada Post is purchasing community mailboxes from American companies and laughing at our Canadian niceness while they plump up their non-Canadian business associates, I think it’s time to stop being so damn nice. It’s time to take a stand and be the people we used to be. The people who earned a reputation that was lauded and respected. If we have no respect for ourselves and our principles, our elected representatives never will. Quit worrying about the 2 women who wanted to take an oath in a Niqab and start concentrating on the 1200+ Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in this country. Our deteriorating reputation can be easily understood by looking at the blind eye we turn on our indigenous people. The people who cared for this land and set the tone for understanding that became the Canadian spirit, long before the rest of us got here. If we can’t resolve the sins we’ve committed against our own people, we will never be able to regain our international reputation. Prime Minister Harper has shown nothing but utter disdain for First Nations issues (including reconciliation and MMAW). The fact that he shrugs his shoulders knowing that children on reservations are exposed to poisoned water supplies speaks volumes.That our protected lakes and rivers are nothing but a resource to be auctioned off to industry.The fact that our Senate has become a mockery and stain on our reputation. He had a hand in that, too. Repeated charges of election fraud….Well we don’t want to be rude. We will let them stay in office and do better next time.
This is next time.
Vote for change.
Let’s recapture the glory days of the Canadian spirit. Let’s remember why we earned it in the first place. It’s time to pick up our shattered dignity and show some true Canadian spirit.