Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ole Days

The good ole days! 

Back when times were simpler.

Back when the lines between right and wrong seemed so clear.

Back when people were better.

Back when Canada was a Christian nation and all political and economic decisions were made by men.

Back when Canada was "discovered" by those who ignored that aboriginal people were already here and subsequently denied them a voice in government until 1960.

Our Canada, where women could not vote until 1919.

Our Canada, whose own Supreme Court ruled that women were not, in fact, persons, until 1929 when the British Privy Council said they were.

Our Canada, where Chinese immigrants entering the nation to build the railroad paid millions in "head tax." 

Our Canada, where Japanese immigrants were stripped of their property and sent to live in internment camps.

Well, those good ole days are gone. Generations of Canadians of many backgrounds have worked tirelessly to create a tolerant nation based on individual rights and freedoms. Our country was ranked #1 on the UN Human Development Index from 1993-2000. Unfortunately though, our current government seems to want us to slide backwards into the good ole days when an elite group made decisions for the masses and individual rights and freedoms were limited.

In a recent widely shared Facebook post, originally published as a letter to the editor in the Ottawa Sun, Kanata's Bill MacCallum derided Canadians for wanting change. According to MacCallum Canada is perfect just the way it is.

Sorry, I don't think so. Change is needed.

Uphold Charter Rights

  • Protect my freedom of speech, my privacy and my mobility rights. Repeal Bill C-51. We already have many protections in place to prevent terrorism. Why should my civil liberties be curtailed? 
  • Uphold religious freedoms. Canada is a multicultural nation. Stop promoting the idea of "the other". A Muslim woman has a right to wear a niqab. I don't understand it but if she has made the choice of her own free will, leave it be. And Zero Tolerance for "Barbaric" Cultural Practices? Come on. Why call polygamy, under age and forced marriage and honour killings "cultural practices"? Those acts are already against the law. Now the whole world is calling us xenophobic!
  • Uphold freedom of speech for science. Funding for scientific research has been cut by millions under the Harper government, and federal scientists have been repeatedly silenced when they try to speak about what they have learned if it goes against the message of the ruling party. We need to hear from these dedicated intelligent people who were hired to find things out. And the public deserves to know what they have learned, even if they are ugly truths. Especially if they are ugly truths.

  • Restore democratic rights. My daughter is a researcher in the UK. Under the current law, this is the last election in which she will be allowed to cast a Canadian vote, despite the fact she has not renounced citizenship, pays Canadian taxes, donates to Canadian charities and loves her country. Is she somehow no longer a citizen?

Aboriginal Issues

Harper says the concerns with murdered and missing aboriginal women has been studied to death and all the cases have been solved. But he is missing the point entirely. Why are these women being killed? What conditions lead them to live such high risk lifestyles? 

Youth suicide in aboriginal communities has skyrocketed, with a suicide rate that is 5-6 times higher than the national average. Incarceration rates are 40% higher. While we hear about terrible racism in the U.S., the chart from Maclean's shows aboriginal people in Canada fare worse than African Americans in every way. We have our racial issues here in Canada.

What is our government doing to deal with the fact that by virtually every single indicator, Aboriginal people fare worse than any other identifiable group?

Give us back our place on the world stage

Canada, once renowned on the world stage for its tolerance and peacekeeping, has lost it's way. We currently are ranked at # 8 on the UN Human Development Index. Shameful.

Conservatives reject change by definition. They hearken back to the traditions of the past. We need a sense of our past as individuals and as a nation, otherwise how do we learn and grow? I'm a proud Canadian. I love my country. I am proud of many of the actions of my ancestors and those who worked to build our nation. I also believe mistakes were made and we need to move forward. 

The good ole days might have been simpler. Maybe right and wrong were easier to determine when it was just white men acting in self interest. Now there are so many factors to consider. Science, for example. And the perspectives of the many, with all their different beliefs and values and genders and colours and income levels and job descriptions. 

We need to move forward with respect for the dignity of all human beings towards greater equality and justice. 

We need change.