The Great Canadian Hope

It isn’t often that I get up early to write a blog about politics.  Okay, it’s true, I don’t ever do that.  I have never done that.  But today…today, I did.

On October 19th, we elected a new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. The interesting thing about that event is what came before it.  When this election began, it began like every other.  A bunch of folks deemed leaders began to tell a narrative about what was good, or bad, or ugly about our perceived world and why their party might be the solution.  It was like every other election, and my PVR earned its keep as the noise got louder.  Then, a new energy emerged in the midst of the usual rhetoric.  There was suddenly a newfound hope.  I started to see it in the news, in the political banter, and in the various feeds and conversations around me.  People wanted change and they could suddenly imagine some.

As a nation, we might not always agree with how things are being managed in our country.  I’m sure there are many who will read this and disagree with me now.  I believe that’s what freedom means – to agree to disagree, and to be vocal with our leaders about what we like or don’t like through our vote, our protests, our petitions, and our dollar.

You see, I have had the privilege of being Canadian all my life, and coming from a long line of Canadians.  My ancestors came to Canada long enough ago that I’m sure there are apologies that could and should be made for the choices they made along the way.  I have had the privilege of marrying into a family of new immigrants and learning what it means to make this place that can be a little cold and unforgiving outside at times into the warm hearth of a new home.  I have also the misfortune of seeing and hearing so many people suffer in our nation while people like me, and admittedly me too, forget what a privilege it is to live here.

When I set out to cast my ballot, I, like so many Canadians, only knew which box I wasn’t checking.  I knew that the Canada we had become was not the Canada in which I believe.  So, when I cast my ballot, I chose to leave that Canada behind.  I know that solutions to the world’s problems aren’t that simple, but I also know that we cannot solve the problem by telling the world we won’t participate, we won’t help, and heck, we’ll just think about ourselves.  Many Canadians must have felt the same because a new leader was elected.  And with that election came the Great Canadian Hope – and here I don’t mean Mr. Trudeau, I mean Our Hope.  Our True North Strong and Free.  The tone of the dialogue shifted, ever so slightly.

I am not a political writer.  I am not here to write about Mr. Trudeau’s election tactics, his promises, his faults, any of that.  I’m here to talk about Canada since October 19th and there can be no denying that our Prime Minister elected is getting a lot of press.  He made gender parity a reality in his cabinet.  He committed to an inquiry on murdered and missing aboriginal women.  He invited all of the Premiers to the climate change conference.  He invited Syrians to call Canada home.  And whether you like him or not, whether you believe these are the right things for Canada or not, is irrelevant.  He didn’t just make a few election promises and then keep them.  He made big promises about values that maybe we, as Canadians, forgot mattered to us.  Promises about rights, and freedoms, and frankly, about being Canadian as I was taught my whole life.  The value of caring.

You see, what woke me up early this morning was a pretty simple thought.  It was that, despite the fact that Canadian stereotypes make me grit my teeth a little bit, there is one stereotype about Canada that I have seen hold true everywhere I’ve visited.  We say “sorry” a lot.  We apologize to the people who bump us, we apologize to chairs we trip over, and we apologize for apologizing so much (sorry, Canadians).  And I woke up this morning wanting to say thank you to Mr. Trudeau for doing just one thing.  For metaphorically saying “sorry” for the last 9 years through his actions so far.  Because those years never represented the Canadian I wanted to be, and my protests weren’t loud enough on their own for the world to hear me.

Canada has started to feel a little bit more like home again.  It has given me hope to see us open our hearts and our doors to people who were without hope just a few days ago.  We won’t be perfect, but that’s okay.  We can still say sorry tomorrow.  We only have to try to be a little bit better than we were yesterday.  To quote Mahatma Ghandi, we have to be the change we wish to see in the world.

So, sorry everyone.  We are a young country, and we’re still learning.

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