I don't consider myself a patriot in the traditional sense. Though I think Canada is the greatest country to live in, I cannot say it will always be so. I understand that things can change, and greatness can be lost. A country can maintain its name, but not its reputation. A country can stay a superpower, but lose its morality. It is because of this that I cannot be certain Canada will always be my ideal. What I do know is that those principles that we have stood for and continue to stand for today will forever be the foundations of a great nation. It is democracy, reason, and justice that make me love Canada, that make me a patriot.
On June 3rd Garth Turner, a Liberal MP for Halton Ontario made the suggestion that sovereigntists were losers, that those Canadians who did not wish to be Canadians any longer were losers. From his blog:
As for Dion, he will move from Calgary to Edmonton, where he’s to have an open, Town Hall meeting on his climate change plan. You might not agree with everything the man says, but you have to admire this about him. He stood up once to the self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing separatist losers in Quebec. I guess he can do it again in Alberta.Now some Canadians have supported his statement, echoing the sentiment that anyone who wants to divide Canada is an enemy of our country. This position is taken by those who love Canada and see sovereigntists as attacking it. Other Canadians have rebuked Garth, labeling his own comments as divisive and vulgar. This position is taken by those that see Garth as reopening wounds or attacking a large number of Quebecois. I take a different position, I see Garth's comments as a misguided attempt to protect Canada that in the end actually hurts it.
Canada is the greatest country to live in because of our democratic institutions, the reason that pervades our laws, and the justice that runs through our halls. It is on those principles that four provinces united in the effort to pursue a common desire that is Canada, six others have joined since. And it is because of those principles that we have one of the largest and most successful nations on the face of this earth.
Now sovereigntists do intend to separate from Canada, but they do so emboldened by the very Canadian principles we value. If a majority of Quebec want to separate, it is our democratic imperative to negotiate their withdrawal. If we did not, our democracy, our federation would be a sham. We would remain united but at the cost of ignoring our principles. And so the country would keep a province but it would surely lose at least one citizen.
Garth as an elected representative of the people, in labeling sovereigntists as losers, is suggesting that those Canadians who act on Canadian values are not worthy of respect. That those Canadians that act within their rights are losers. Though I disagree with sovereigntists I recognize they share the great Canadian values of democracy, reason, and justice. No one should disrespect anyone because they differ in opinion, that is democracy.
Now I do not believe Garth Turner, Member of Parliament for Halton, truly meant what he said. I feel his career as a journalist has made him prone to making sensationalist statements and those that pander to the majority. So I do not believe Garth was motivated by aggression. I do believe however that no Canadian, elected or not, should show contempt for another just because they disagree with their goals. Our principles demand that we must not.
And in the end, a united Canada is worth nothing if we abandon the very principles that make it great.