Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The True Voice Of Canada

As we well know after enduring almost 10 years of darkness, sometimes the loudest and ugliest voices are the ones that command the most attention, thereby skewering our perceptions of reality. If the Harper government had been the true voice of Canada, we would have had to resign ourselves to being an intolerant, suspicious, mean-spirited and xenophobic people, a people who despised logic, science and any whiff of 'the other.' A very similar scenario, of course, is playing out in the United States today under the demagoguery of Donald Trump. The American people have my deepest sympathies.

No, I much prefer the voice of tolerance, moderation and compassion, the voice that is surely being cultivated by the new Trudeau government these days. And it is heartening to know that that voice is not limited to government circles, as the following letters from today's Star heartily attest to.
Canada does well by immigrants, says integration study, Dec. 27

Some Canadians say Syrian refugees are not welcome because there may be terrorists among them. They need to relax. We must never fear accepting refugees. Even if there will be problems with this newest wave of refugees, and there are bound to be some, goodwill and compassion must always triumph over fear.

Even though we presently have problems meeting the needs of many poor Canadians, our doors for refugees must remain open. The larger problems this will produce will no doubt require our larger effort but we must not be afraid of this task.

We must never fear refugees or the challenges they will bring. Our freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. Whenever we do make them, this is Canada and we will overcome them.

It would certainly be a real black mark on Canada, or any other country, that reduces or stops the process of helping refugees because of fear or a lack of compassion.

Canada is proud to be a country known for tolerance, goodwill, compassion and respect for others. Let’s hope that never changes, and let’s hope other countries will follow our lead.

Bob Hicks, St. Catharines

Love is batter than hate. How wonderful to be inclusive rather than exclusive. It’s the heart of all world religions. It’s the base to our understanding of who we are, and what our society aspires to. It’s a resolution of our conscience to accept those in need.

I’m proud that our Prime Minister welcomed Syrian refugees into Canadian society personally. Donald Trump’s rhetoric exposes his insecurity and feeds to the protectionist mindset of those with a need to hide in their homes with a gun.

Surely the citizens of the U.S. deserve the respect of a higher standard of conscience. He might note that our Prime Minister’s ratings have soared while he shot himself in the foot.

Our world society’s hope is that of acceptance, not rejection. Its populace needs to accept a basic love of each other, if we, as an international community, are to survive. A narrative of prejudice has no place in it.

Keep it up Mr. Trudeau. Make us proud to be Canadian.

John Wiggins, Collingwood

This holiday season has been eventful in its gift giving, spending quality time with family and enjoying a much needed break from our jobs, schooling and other commitments.

For myself personally, I’ve had the special privilege of enjoying dinner with a Syrian refugee family who just recently immigrated to Canada. After spending an evening learning about their experiences, I’ve realized that – despite our differences – we were all vocal in expressing our gratitude and loyalty to Canada, and shared the desire to be contributing and productive citizens in this great country.

I hold Canada’s value of freedom and liberty – irrespective of religion, culture or ethnicity – very important and ideal for any modern country. As Canadians, we must value our diversity, and realize that our differences make us unique.

Arslaan Khokhar, Brampton


  1. Canada has always been a tolerant, compassionate and moderate country (or at least the majority of Canadians are, a fact the Oct. 19 election results again reconfirmed).

    However, our antiquated and flawed electoral FPTP (first past the post) system has allowed the voices of a group of loud, intolerant, xenophobic, mean and self centred voters to gain power through vote splitting. Prime example: the Cons candidate in my riding had won the elections of 2006, 2008 and 2011 with an average of only 35% popular votes (i.e. roughly 1 out of 3 voters) because the majority non Cons votes were split among 3 parties. In contrast, in this past election, the Liberal candidate won with about 60% of the votes, or about 2 out of 3 votes. Nationally, the flawed scenario caused by the FPTP system was clearly illustrated by the fact that roughly 39% of the votes had gained 54% of the seats in Parliament and 100% of the power both in 2011 and 2015.

    Clearly, we badly need to replace the FPTP with a voting system that fairly awards the same percentage of seats as the popular votes (i.e., some form of PR, proportional representation, not AV/PB, alternate voting or proportional ballot, which some Liberals, seem to support but which would have resulted in a bigger distortion of the percentage of seats won than the already flawed FPTP).

    BTW, it is not surprising that we are already hearing the voices of opposition against electoral reform coming mainly from the Conservatives and some Liberals for apparently different reasons. The former would have difficulty working with another party to achieve the 50% level of support needed to govern under PR because of their narrow and nasty brand of politics. Some of the latter, however, would likely only want to get rid of the FPTP if they can implement AV/PB which would have further increased their number of seats won (i.e. more than the 184 seats they already won on Oct. 19 under FPTP). However. it is encouraging that the majority of Liberals actually support PR because they know that is a fairer system than AV/PB. A majority of Liberal MPs had actually supported the NDP motion in Parliament to implement PR last year but it was still defeated because of the combined majority votes of the Conservatives and some Liberals.

    We can only hope that the Liberal government will keep their promise to end the FPTP, however, it is also important that we replace it with a fairer system (i.e. some form of PR) not one such as AV/PB which would have skewed the results even further. Then and only then will we not be hijacked by the interests of a minority group of voters which had gained power only through vote splitting.

    1. Thanks for your analysis, Anon. I have to admit that I really don't know a lot about the various models of PR, but anything that enhances the voice of the people and prevents a minority from dictating the tone and terms of our country has to be preferable to the current system. I hope that the new government truly listens and does not move to go ahead with a ranked balloting system that appears to favour them alone.

    2. Sorry, just noted my oversight: PB should be "preferential", not proportional ballot.

      The "ranked" ballot some Liberals refer to is confusing as ranked ballots are used in both AV and some form of PR. The system some Liberals prefer is more accurately called AV or PB than ranked ballot. There is nothing proportional about the AV/PB they want to implement: in fact, there are 2 analyzes that estimate that the Liberals (and Harper in 2011) would have won over 60% of the seats in Parliament despite winning only about 39.5% of popular votes with AV/PB, a greater distortion than the 54% seats they had won under FPTP.

      Thanks for posting my comment. Happy New Year.

    3. Thanks for the clarification, Anon. Happy New Year.