Tuesday, 18 July 2017 03:15

We Need more Pride as Canadians

Commentary by: Mike Stackhouse in Yorkton, Saskatchewan

Celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday should be cause for celebration, but every single media article that cropped up on my social media feed last week had something to do with how racist we are, how intolerant we are, and how much more we need to improve in order to be a welcoming country that we can be proud of. You know, by the time I was done reading all the articles I had to ask myself, “Why do immigrants even want to come to such a shameful, disgusting country like Canada?” I think we can all say we don’t like associating with people who, needlessly, put themselves down. Well, that’s what we do as a collective group in Canada. It seems that if you are of European descent, you need to feel shame and embarrassment to be Canadian and your citizenship is less valuable than someone else’s. 

Not to my surprise, even Justin Trudeau got in on the act. In an interview, he said he wished he was an immigrant because people who have lived here since birth don’t appreciate being Canadian. So, add unpatriotic to the list of bad things about Canadian people. What I’d like to have happen for Trudeau is that we should fly him first class to Syria and then drop him in the middle of a war torn city and wish him all the best as he begins his journey to Canada. I’m betting within his first day, he will take back that desire to be an immigrant. 

Trudeau also delivered a passionate speech on Canada Day, where he rattled off all the names of the provinces and territories. The only problem is that he forgot Alberta. It’s an honest mistake, Trudeau apologists have been telling me all week. I get it. I mean we have 10 provinces and 3 territories. How can anyone, let alone a Prime Minister, be expected to recall them all? It’s tough! You try it! I bet you forget Ontario. 

On America’s birthday, the Canadian government felt that would be the right time to announce they would be giving Omar Khadr $10.5 million as compensation for… well… Depends on your opinion on this whole matter. I feel they are using some legalese to allow Khadr to profit from crime, which is illegal, actually. But the bleeding hearts will tell you he was tortured as a teenager, his rights were violated, and we should pay him an obscene amount of money to make it better. I don’t think he’s owed a penny for killing a decorated US soldier. Khadr was 15. I have a 15 year old son. He doesn’t need me to teach him anything with regards to knowing whether or not killing another human being is a good or bad thing. We are so stupid in this country. I just find it incredible that we have native communities with no drinking water and we can’t afford to rectify that situation, yet we can just write a cheque for $10.5 million to Khadr and put it in his hands instantly. I’d like to know how we arrived at $10.5 million as opposed to $1 million. Or $100 000. Or $1. This doesn’t pass the sniff test to me at all. Canada is so far in debt we will never see the light at the end of the tunnel in any of our lifetimes. So, ‘sorry’ and ‘hey, we’d give you $10 million if we had the dough, but we don’t; have a nice life’ would work for me. 

Now for the real rub on this. There is a hearing in Ontario on Wednesday to see if the American soldiers’ families involved in the Khadr incident can go after his Canadian money. Why was the government in a hurry to get this deal finished and completed before Wednesday? Khadr owes the American families $134 million, so he really should turn over all $10.5 million to them. Yet, it appears to me that there has been some corrupt legal work done behind the scenes where the Canadian government has done Khadr a favor so that, just in case he loses Wednesday’s hearing, the $10.5 million can’t be touched by the Americans because it was given to Khadr before the hearing and any money he gets before that hearing would be off limits. Sneaky. Dirty. Wrong. And, if Khadr has turned into a ‘good guy’ why isn’t he, voluntarily, giving some (or all) of this payment to the Americans who it has been determined he owes? 

This is as underhanded as it gets. Forget the whole ‘giving millions to a terrorist’ argument. There are left wing whackos out there who will say he wasn’t a terrorist at all, but rather a ‘child soldier’ who was clueless as to what he was doing. I’m just not that gullible. I also feel that when it comes to war, there are no rules. So if you want to waterboard or deprive sleep to a 15 year old terrorist in order to get crucial information, you do it. I recognize a lot of you won’t share that opinion and that’s fine. But forget all this. The seedy method of rushing this before Wednesday’s hearing can’t be argued by anyone. It’s Canada siding with Khadr and against the United States and our feelings on that decision need to be made clear when we vote in 2019.

Republished with permission.

Published in Commentary

by Ranjit Bhaskar (@ranjit17) in Mississauga, Ontario

If a beer company can harness the power of Canada’s diverse languages to open a fridge full of its wares as a marketing stunt, why not use that same force for civic engagement? 

In time for this year’s Canada Day and the upcoming federal elections, the Canadian Arab Institute (CAI) has released an Arabic version of “O Canada” to open the hearts and minds of its cultural community. 

[youtube height="315" width="560"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33oWbDJAamw[/youtube] 

Part of the CAI’s Your Voice campaign, “Ya Canada” is performed by soprano Miriam Khalil, and hits all the right notes, including the replacement of the contentious, “in all thy sons command” phrase with the gender-inclusive “in all of us command.” 

This unofficial translation of the national anthem is “one of the tricks up our sleeve” to roll out the non-partisan voter engagement campaign, said Raja Khouri, president of the CAI during a recent panel discussion titled “From Marginalization to Integration” it hosted in Mississauga, Ontario. 

The panelists included Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University; Cathy Winter, Manager of DiverseCity onBoard; Crystal Greer, Director of Legislative Services & City Clerk with the City of Mississauga and Mohamad Fakih, the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods. 

Bemoaning that voting was becoming more transactional in nature and not part of nation building, Omidvar emphasized the need to shift away from this trend. “Democracy belongs to all of us only when we actually start participating.” 

[quote align="center" color="#999999"][Mohamad]Fakih shared his experiences in civic engagement at the local level. Fakih stressed that, “Change is a belief that you can make a difference even if it takes time and hard work,” and it starts with voting to ensure the right to have a say isn’t lost.[/quote]

Omidvar said there are all kinds of opportunities, including small daily acts as well as sitting on the boards of various public and non-profit institutions that lead to participation. “It is all about taking ownership and paying it forward.” 

She said it is not an anomaly for people to have split national loyalties in an increasingly globalized world where multiple identities are a fact of life. “As long as we wear our various hats properly, it is the values we uphold that matter.” 

‘Don’t have to Keep Heads Low’

Picking up on the importance of being involved in the community, Winter highlighted the work of DiverseCity onBoard. The program enables visible minorities to find a place on non-profit and charitable boards. Winter said it is imperative that the face of leadership reflects the new Canada and all communities need to stretch their social capital.

Greer showcased the City of Mississauga’s efforts in engaging citizens and making sure city council utilizes its skills and knowledge while developing policy. Greer said this is mostly done by including citizen advisers on the different committees of the municipal council and making sure their input and feedback is heard.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“[W]e must all become members of one political party or the other. We must infiltrate the system by not just sitting aside – when we move, we make change.” - Ratna Omidvar[/quote]

With the self-deprecating claim that, “I am a shawarma man, not a politician,” Fakih shared his experiences in civic engagement at the local level. Fakih stressed that, “Change is a belief that you can make a difference even if it takes time and hard work,” and it starts with voting to ensure the right to have a say isn’t lost.

Apart from merely voting, Omidvar wanted the level of involvement in the political process to be a notch higher. She suggested that, “We must all become members of one political party or the other. We must infiltrate the system by not just sitting aside – when we move, we make change.”

All the panellists were of the opinion that new citizens coming from repressive societies must be made aware that it is possible to make change happen here in Canada and they have nothing to fear. “You need to unlearn repressions and know that you don’t have to keep heads low to stay out of trouble,” was the collective message from panellists to new Canadians to elevate their involvement in nation building.

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Published in Arab World

by Our Staff Correspondent

It’s a pass to discover Canada you get on becoming a citizen and 1,500 people did just that last year using VIA Rail’s half price fares.

The discounted train tickets are part of the Cultural Access Pass(CAP) program initiated by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), a national, non-profit charity that promotes active citizenship.

“I cannot think of a better way to spend Canada Day than on the Canadian, travelling across Canada’s beautiful and varied landscapes on a train line steeped in Canadian history. Canada inspires and surprises and we would never have done anything like this were it not for the CAP offer,” said Andrew S as he rode VIA’s iconic Canadian with his wife on Canada Day.
Since the offer’s launch on July 1, 2012, new citizens have travelled on every main route VIA Rail offers, visiting almost all of the 450 Canadian communities aboard one of the 500 trains departing each week. Most chose to travel within the Quebec City – Windsor corridor, but many – nearly 20 per cent – chose to journey on the Canadian, an incredible voyage that runs between Toronto and Vancouver.

"VIA Rail is proud to contribute to new citizens’ discovery of our beautiful country," said Marc Laliberté, Chief Executive Officer of VIA Rail. "We are pleased with the popularity of this initiative and hope that even more new citizens will continue to take advantage of this truly Canadian experience and increase their sense of belonging to their new country."
Apart from discounted rail fares, the CAP program provides a year of free access to galleries, museums, historic sites, national and provincial parks and performing arts organizations across the country. Since its inception a mere five years ago, more than 70,000 new citizens have participated in the program.
“With more than 1,200 participating attractions across the country, collaborating with VIA Rail has helped make exploring Canada’s cultural places and spaces a real possibility for new citizens,” said Leith Bishop, ICC’s Acting Executive Director & CEO.
To learn more about CAP, its participating attractions, and VIA Rail Canada's offer, visit culturalaccesspass.ca. – New Canadian Media
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Published in National

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