Common Ground in Canada

Today I put the question to our Caribbean community: Do we have ” Common Ground”?

If we do, where were our Caribbean community  media representatives when Ontario’s Ombudsman  Paul Dube released his historic report titled “A Matter of Life and Death” at Queen’s Park last Friday?

Yes, the Eyes Guy was the only community media representative there to cover this important event.

And as  we celebrated Canada Day at Scarborough Civic Centre on Saturday, just a handful of Caribbean people showed up. What? No “Common Ground”?

In Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s book , “Common Ground,” he reminds us that ”   we are bound together by shared values that define the Canadian identity.”

” I have a deep-seated love and respect for Canada and recognize that we have extraordinary potential,” he writes.

In his book, published by Harper Collins, he writes about his childhood at 24 Sussex, growing up in Montreal, his  life as a rookie MP, the  path to leadership and hope and hard work.

Common Ground? It’s where every Canadian finds his or her own place within a strong and fair country.

So as a Caribbean people in Canada what do we have in common? We certainly have The Charter of Rights and Freedoms- thanks to the late, great Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s dad and former Prime Minister.

Justin Trudeau recalls the time, his dad visited the school at which he was teaching  and a student called out to “Mr. Trudeau.”

The student was addressing the son, with a message. This time it was not just another Trudueamania fan.

“I felt a little embarrassed by the encounter. This student was the child of immigrants, part of the wave of newcomers who had come to this country and made a success of themselves thanks in part to the open-minded policies my father had introduced as prime minister. Now, he had been treated like some anonymous bystander, and I cringed a little before turning to Dad, unsure what to say,” Justin Trudeau recalls.

He says his dad was wearing a broad smile.” He had taken a fatherly pride in seeing his son maintaining our family’s legacy of service to Canada, this time as a teacher  of young people. Now I,  not Pierre Trudeau, was ‘Mr. Trudeau’ to a new generation of kids, and he was proud of me for that. It was a lovely warm moment for both of us to share.”

According to Justin Trudeau, “Liberalism is the idea that private belief, while it ought to be valued and respected, is fundamentally different from the public duty. My idea of freedom is that we should protect the rights of people to believe what their conscience dictates, but fight equally hard to protect people from having the beliefs of others imposed upon them.”

On multiculturalism,  he says:  “The best way to think of multiculturalism is to picture it as a sort of social contract. Under the contract, newcomers to Canada promise to abide by our laws, teach their children the skills and language fluency necessary to integrate into our society ; and respect if not immediately, adopt, the social norms that govern the relationship between Canadian individuals and groups. In return, we respect aspects of their culture that may be precious to them and harmful to no one else. ”

He declares that Canada is the only country on earth that is strong because of our differences, not despite them. “Diversity is core to who we are, to what makes us a successful country. We live it everywhere, in small towns and big cities, all over the country. ….that is why I am so quick to defend Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I believe that our openness is at the heart of who we are as Canadians. It has made Canada the freest, and the best, place in the world to live.

And the Eyes Guy, a Caribbean Man,  says…”True dat!”