Let’s imagine a new Canada.
Let’s imagine a Canada where a strengthened, inclusive economy builds a bridge to new educational and job opportunities for all Canadians. Imagine what we could do with an invigorated, empowered, inclusive middle class that welcomes First Nations, new Canadians, GLBT folks and those recently freed from poverty. Imagine the hopes and ambitions and creativity of the next generation of Canadians harnessed for the greater good: opening businesses, inventing cutting-edge technologies and tackling the problems of crime, environmental devastation and social inequality in new and innovative ways. I can imagine a revitalized Canada driven by opportunity and education. I can see a Canada filled with people clamoring to step forward with great ideas and innovative solutions. I can see some of the brightest minds in the world emerging from that kind of Canada.
Let’s imagine a Canada with a renewed focus on environmental protection. Imagine a government that courts scientists and activists instead of punishing them for seeking to protect our lakes and rivers and natural ecosystems. Imagine what a coalition of researchers, conservation experts and scientists could achieve if we funded and encouraged them, then unleashed them on the environmental blight of Fort Mac and the natural disaster that is Harper’s Canada. I can imagine new industries and technologies emerging from that effort. I can imagine a new scientific elite solving environmental problems and providing a beacon of hope for a world struggling with pollution and global warming. I can see that Canada guiding the international community in environmental clean-up and reclamation and leading the way to a newer, more prosperous and greener world.
Let’s imagine a Canada wherein reconciliation with First Nations people assumes its proper place as an urgent national priority. Let’s imagine a government that engages in meaningful, sustained and respectful dialogue with First Nations leadership and actively works to strengthen and raise the profile and authority of First Nations people and governments within our existing federal framework. Let’s imagine that same patience, forethought and imagination which led to the most complex and extensive treaty negotiations in human history here in BC applied nationally: to the task of creating a Canada where First Nations people are celebrated and encouraged to take an active role in setting the national agenda. I can see our revitalized reserves becoming models for indigenous communities worldwide. I can see the languages and songs and cultures of our First Nations assuming an ever-greater share of the tapestry of our national lives. I can imagine Canada setting a new standard for reconciliation with indigenous peoples worldwide and helping to transform our national identity within a framework of true equality and mutual respect. All my relations. Hysh’k’uh!
Let’s imagine a Canada that reclaims its historic role as a peacekeeping nation – a haven of reason and champion of mediation and negotiation around the world. Let’s imagine a Canada where our national priorities mirror our fundamental decency and historic commitment to human rights. I can see that Canada rising to assume a role of leadership within an evolving international community less interested in the vulgar accumulation of wealth than in fairness and sustainability. I can see Canadian values becoming global values and our nation once again becoming a force for good in a troubled world.
That’s the Canada I’m imagining. That’s the Canada I want to pass on to the next generation. Building such a Canada requires courage to see beyond the fear with which the Conservatives and the elite classes seem intent on saddling us. I must admit it has been a winning strategy these past nine years because fear is a powerful thing.
But so is hope.