We are entering week NINE of the eleven week long (the longest in Canadian history) 42nd General Federal Election in Canada. I feel like the longer the election campaigning is going on, the higher the levels of fear-mongering are, especially from the political party seeking re-election. The post below is an important message to ALL Canadians and I'd like to thank Kathleen for letting me share her words (originally posted on Facebook). I am a proud first generation Canadian, raising bi-racial kids, and contributing to the beautiful mosaic of this land. I refuse to let fear rule me, the way that I vote, or the country that I love.
These two words - above all else - are unique to Canada. Our world counts a number of great democratic nations; countries of freedom, lands that recognize and honour human rights, nations that are shining examples of equality and inclusion and personal liberty.
But of all these nations, only Canada is a cultural mosaic - a nation made more beautiful not by being a "melting pot" that stews every human down to a homogenous sludge, but a nation in which every individual can contribute to the vibrancy and diversity that truly reflects who we are as a collective, while maintaining our singular individuality.
It's not only what makes us unique, it's what has always made us a beacon of light glimpsed from far away lands by those seeking refuge, those seeking equality, those dreaming of a better life for themselves and for their children. It's not that it's made us enviable or "better than", it's that the cultural mosaic has contributed to the life of every individual Canadian, whether they recognize that influence or not. It's made us better neighbours. As the American news anchor legend Tom Brokaw said, "if you're ever in a fight, you want Canada on your side." Not because of our military power, but because Canada has always been on the right side. The side of humanity, not ideology.
It's definitely improved our take out options. It's created vibrant communities of wonder and celebration. It's provided us with countless leaders in every field of study, every political party, enumerable medical discoveries and scientific advancements and inventions and just oh so many wondrous things. All the wondrous things that make this nation something to behold.
The ideal of a cultural mosaic spawned generations of Canadians who went off to explore the marvels and mysteries of worlds they have only heard of from their immigrant neighbours, or the homeland tales of their immigrant parents, or their inclusive school curriculum, and returned to their own doorsteps filled with knowledge, and experience, and an acceptance that benefits every one of us, and turned those generations into leaders. It's what has inspired every human who ever donned a blue beret intent on keeping the peace: Canada recognizes the equality and worth of every human being. We were a leader on LGBTQ equality more than a decade prior to our southern neighbours. We have been a leader on women's rights, on immigrant rights, on workers rights, on HUMAN RIGHTS.
My father - a southern Ontario rural boy - wore that blue beret, not only with pride as a military man but with a love for his home that ran so thick in his blood he would wipe away tears as he saluted our flag; not out of some arrogant sense of nationalism, but out of true love for a nation his grandparents immigrated to, and he had the honour of serving.
"Canada", he would say to me with tears in his eyes, "this is my home." My father's tile in the mosaic was Scottish haggis and German schnitzel. He loved his food. And his Canadian pride.
My mother's family are southern Alberta Mormons, original settlers to Raymond, handcart pioneers of the late 1800's. My grandfather was a proud, conservative, southern Alberta cowboy who would say to me "we are all immigrants. Our family has been here a long time, but we are immigrants."
My grandfather fought front line Italy WW II for this country. Watched the boys he grew up with die in front of him. Grampa signed up before they could draft him. The son of an immigrant, willing to lay down his life.
My grandfather's mosaic tile is the Union Jack, and the Utah Beehive, and a wild rose on a cowboy hat. My family's tiny spot in the mosaic would include Ukrainian perogies, an Irish four leaf clover, a proud Cree heritage, the beautiful calligraphy of Chinese characters, a Scottish Coat of Arms ...
We are a family of immigrants mixed with the original Canadians that are First Nations.
And my First Nations family accept me as an immigrant to their land.
But now I am told by many that to accept immigrants from a land torn and decimated by a war they had no part in is wrong, even though members of my own family came here as refugees escaping unfathomable horrors, immigrants escaping economic atrocities and lives of demeaning poverty. I am told that I should fear these humans who have nothing, who have seen their brothers murdered and their sisters raped and their children left orphans, who have fled their homes in terror and fear, who are starving, who have left their loved ones behind because that was their only path to survival and the safest choice for the family they have been forced to say good bye to, who have been hunted by the extremists my government tells me they are protecting me from a world away but these humans are running from every moment of their waking hours.
My Prime Minister tells me I must fear these refugees. My Prime Minister tells me they are dangerous and only by voting for his party will my children be safe. My Prime Minister feeds me hatred, uses my children to terrify me, insists that a head scarf is a threat to my safety and puts the lives of my children at risk. My Prime Minister tells me that Muslims aren't like the rest of us. My Prime Minister tells me that Muslims are the enemy.
Because my Prime Minister knows that if he can instil in me an irrational fear of those who seem different from me and make me believe he is my only shield, his team can get my vote.
My Prime Minister is willing to make me hate and dehumanize other humans so he can have my vote. He is willing to turn Canadian against Canadian, brother against brother, daughter against mother, to retain power.
We are all immigrants.
My Prime Minister wants me to believe that the number of years my family has been here and the colour of my skin makes me superior. He wants me to feel special based on nothing more than these inconsequential things so that I will feel a singular allegiance to him.
We are all immigrants.
My Prime Minister wants me to believe that any Canadian who doesn't ingest this fear, this hatred, this false sense of superiority, is my enemy.
We are all immigrants.
My Prime Minister is unfit to lead the nation my grandfather fought frontline World War II for. He is unfit to lead the nation my father served as a peacekeeper in the Middle East for. He is unfit to lead a Canada that has always been about inclusivity and diversity and acceptance.
Stephen Harper wants me to hate and be fearful and dehumanize other human beings just so he can retain power.
And to that I say NO.
A very wise man once said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Roosevelt's words have never rang more true than they do right now, in this moment. Because if you have chosen fear, you have made the decision to be controlled by lies spewed by those who have absolutely no interest or concern for anything but their own power. You have chosen hatred based on nothing. You have chosen to believe that other humans love their children less than you love yours, that they hurt less when their children die, that they are less human than you are.
My Prime Minister is attempting to terrify you into voting for him. You have the choice to say 'no' to fear.
No person who would instil fear in the hearts of Canadians, who would turn brother against brother, who would encourage a neighbour to hate a neighbour, who would divide a nation, who would dehumanize other human beings, who would shatter the cultural mosaic with the hammer of ideology, and do this all to retain his own position of power, is fit to be leader of Canada.
No person who would ever try to convince you that Muslims love their children less than you love yours is a decent human being. But Stephen Harper wants you to believe that. He needs you to believe that.
I will not hate. I will not dehumanize. My vote will not be purchased by my Prime Minister turning me against my immigrant neighbour, my refugee sister, my basic human decency.
Mr. Harper, you will never buy my vote with hatred.
How dare you even try.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Stop eating the fear, Canada.
We are worth so much more than the price Stephen Harper wants us to pay. Canada is worth so much more. And Harper is writing cheques his hatred can't cash.
To paraphrase a pop song of three decades ago, we share the same biology, regardless of ideology. Believe me when I say to you I know the Muslims love their children, too.
"All tyranny needs to maintain a foothold is for men of conscience to remain silent."
Do not be silenced by fear. On October 19th, say no to hatred.