By Darren Lum
Once upon a time I grew up in a country and a province that prided itself on not being American.
It was nothing to brag about. And, yet, it was a belief we all seemed to share generally. We were similar to our American neighbours, but never the same as our bigger brother we share a land border with on this continent.
And, yet, here we are with a provincial election coming up when the division between people and the political parties that will lead us to (hopefully) a post-pandemic world has never been greater than I can remember. And some of that division is correlated to the American misgivings about the role of government and the opposition to being “woke” to sensitivities.
There is a splintering of the left and the right. My editorial’s opening is a deliberate recognition of a past that is more fairy tale than reality now. Yes, there were problems before the start of this century, this millennium for women, visible minorities, including a void of sensitivities to people’s sexual orientation and mental health challenges. I’m not seeing the past with rose-coloured glasses at all. I had my share of racist taunts tossed my way with the grace and disregard to me, which were delivered by a proverbial shovel full of manure. And yet, I remember when politicians of different stripes stood and worked together when an idea for the betterment of a community was sound, regardless of who brought it forward. This may still happen, but it seems far more of a rarity than the many headline grabbing sound bytes from polarizing politicians. Is it the media? Is it the public’s desire for this kind of nonsense? Is it the politicians drawing this attention? It doesn’t matter because it is tearing at the rich tapestry of what bound our country and our provinces.
Say what you will about Canadians, or even political leaders lending support to politicians south of the border, but it’s troubling when that support manifests itself into mimicry with the same hate-filled rhetoric heard from American politicians, and then is repeated up here.
What happened to respectful discourse? There is an aggression exhibited by people toward others who don’t share the same ideals, whether political or lifestyle in nature. Understanding has been replaced by anger and frustration. Why hear a differing opinion when you can find like-minded people on social media platforms that reinforce beliefs, which would have otherwise been questioned, and potentially lead to more discussion.
These are signs we’re moving towards becoming more and more like the Americans.
Thus far, our attitude to firearms is different, with our regulations and how it is unusual to see anyone walking the streets with a rifle slung on the shoulder. Please, note I am in favour of hunting, particularly when it comes to harvesting the meat. It is far more sustainable than commercial farming will ever be and is part of our culture as a nation, particularly the First Nations and Indigenous people. I just don’t want to ever see open-carry of firearms here, nor do I want to worry about the mental psyche of those that do own them for the safety of the public or even law enforcement. Will mistakes happen with how gun is implemented? Of course. Like anything, nothing is infallible.
We are an independent country with our own history and beliefs. Let’s not lose sight of that and we’ll be fine, as long as we remember who we are – we can still make a claim we are not American. I believe there is enough Canadians that still are holding true to the ideals that make me proud to be born in the country.