Every so often I attend the Canada Day breakfast at the Leg – the one provided by the Muslim community. And if I stay long enough, I enjoy the swearing in ceremony of new Canadian citizens.
If you have never been, they process down to the outdoor amphitheatre from the Leg, some wearing the national dress of their birth countries, a colourful festival that ranges from kilts to jalabiyas. A few years ago we brought our newly arrived Syrian refugee family. In his weak English, Mahammad pointed to the new Canadians on the stage and turned to me and said, “Me…one day!” At a ceremony that tends to fill me with pride, that day stands out.
When I see the Hon. Maxime Bernier forming a party that in early days smells a lot like the nationalist and populist parties we see elsewhere, it makes my heart sick. The idea of claiming that there was ever some pure and unchanging Canada that needs to be reclaimed seems silly. 90 per cent of the people in this land come from settler stock. There is no pure moment of the past in this ever changing ever evolving nation.
I will grant that the government can probably do a better job of fairly managing immigration, but I don’t think that’s the issue. The real issue is fear. It’s usually the driving issue in racism and nationalism. Some people fear what they do not know. They fear the ‘other’, whether that ‘other’ looks different, dresses differently, worships differently…you get the idea.
The ‘other’ threatens our comfortable world and that makes many people afraid. Sadly, too many politicians are once again seizing on this fear of the ‘other’ – this boogeyman in order to advance agendas that close off communication, close off dialogue, close off economic and cultural growth. Look at history. Such isolationism, such nationalism has seldom worked for very long, and usually ended in sadness and even war. If it has brought short term benefit, it is usually only for those at the top of the food chain.
I will support a multicultural, welcoming, open-handed, open-hearted Canada for as long as I live. We have lots. We can share.
See you in Church, Brian