What makes a nation a great nation? Military strength is not a criteria for greatness, all too often brute strength transforms into brutality. Economic power, on the one hand can provide stability and on the other a weapon no less intimidating than brute strength. People are a nation's greatness, it is its people who guide a nation on its journey through history.
Canada has stood as a beacon drawing millions of people from every corner of the globe with a promise of a better life. Some have come to Canada to escape horrific turmoil in their land of birth. Others come simply looking for something better than what they had. Canada has always opened its arms in welcome and it is the diversity in its people that provides the richness to this nation.
Together we have built a nation where basic human freedoms are guaranteed to all. Our right to freely worship or believe in our chosen ideology protected from persecution. Freedom of speech has been the cornerstone of Canada's foundation, whether that of the individual or our media. Government in Canada, on all levels, is elected by the people to be governed without threat or manipulation.
As a nation there is a great deal to be proud of and yet we face stresses on our unity that in
time can rip apart even our national foundation. It is easy to point only one finger at the separatist movement in French speaking Canada, and blame them alone. Yet that would be simply the easy way out.
True our freedom rests in our democracy. Though democracy, real democracy comes with a price. Brave Canadian young men and women have put on our military uniforms and paid the ultimate price in an attempt to bring democracy and freedom in foreign lands. Here at home we seem to sit back and expect that our rights and freedoms are guaranteed.
We do have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we have laws and legislation that are designed to protect our equality. Expecting that those laws jump into automatic mode when needed is a dangerous fallacy.
Recent events in Laval, Quebec shocked many when corruption was identified to have spread its tentacles deep into municipal government. Trust and equality simply became commodities sold to the highest bidder. To think of this as an oddity would be equivalent to burying one's head in denial. Today St. Catharines, Ontario faces serious questions surrounding the actions of elected and non-elected public officials not unlike that of Laval. Human nature guarantees that temptation to abuse power on any level will always be a possibility. Still it's the willingness to raise our combined voices and stand up against such actions that strengthens our society.
Canadians are not known to be confrontational, it has been their quiet strength that has built a nation to be proud of. Many who hear the words of John F. Kennedy when he said, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” would shrug their shoulders in puzzlement. After all what can an individual do for a country? Yet it is the collection of all Canadians working to build a home for themselves and their families that made Canada the nation it is.
Celebrating Canada Day is celebrating Canadians from all corners of this land. Together we can build a future for the next generation as sound and strong as our past. Our nation was carved out of the wilderness, cities and towns built, land developed and its people coming together, resolving differences to form a country. It's these echoes from the past we need today as a guide to our future.
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