There is an election buzz in the air. The dates are approaching and the buzz is getting louder. Much is sound and fury signifying very little! The significance of the American elections is that they are geopolitical. More than many want to recognize, they will affect the whole world. They have affected us as Canadians in the past, and, perhaps, will affect us much more in the near and long-term future. In the almost immortal words of Pierre Elliott Trudeau on March 25, 1969, “Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We’re different people from you and we’re different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.”
We as Canadians are not a mirror image of the United States and we need to remind ourselves and the world just how great we are. As a judge at the Citizenship Ceremony I recently witnessed the welcome of three hundred and ten new Canadians who arrived on our shores from fifty-four different countries. We are a mirror of the new world that once was distant and foreign but today lives and thrives on our streets.
It is through our diversity that all Canadians are offered countless opportunities to be enriched linguistically, culturally and for many religiously. In comparing a variety of languages we grow to appreciate our own languages and deepen our understanding of the power of words. We need to preserve the languages of our Native peoples. Words matter. Deep thinking arises when a variety of different cultural exchanges delve into the reasons that cultures hold certain values that are inalienable and those that are secondary.
As Canadians, we must learn which of our values are primary and to defend them, but we are obliged to also distinguish primary values from secondary values. Canada has grown into a country that shares faith from the perspective of various religious communities and we are enriched by the encounters with these communities. Faith always seeks understanding. There is no greater way to understand one’s own faith than to think about faith in the One and the Same God from very different perspectives. God is ineffable and inexhaustible and no one religion has a monopoly on God. We are challenged to move from confrontation to conversation.
We have the privilege of a free vote for those who will represent us because we have made a personal choice. Personal choices are personal when each of us places the horizon of our reach to be as inclusive as possible and to study the political platform of each party to be reassured that no Canadian is a second-class citizen. Our strength as Canadians is to uphold our pledge of allegiance to Canada within the framework of being world-minded and respectful of how the global village of Marshall McLuhan is now within our reach. To vote is not an option; to vote is a privilege. To vote for the good of Canada is to vote for the best Canada we can become in a challenging world that needs each voice to be heard.