The events of the past couple of weeks here in Canada have me really thinking hard about some of the core things that make us Canadian. The acts of terror against soldiers both at Saint Jean Sur Richelieu and at the National War Monument in Ottawa have me really thinking hard about the fact that we welcome all ideas, peoples and beliefs with open arms. The changes that are happening to the very culture that makes us Canadian is truly at risk, not because we could potentially be allowing terrorists into our country…that is not the problem and that is what really kind of scares me.
I proudly hold true to the very same beliefs that I had as a youth, the belief that Canada is worth defending, and the Canada that I committed to protecting at the young age of 17 is in many ways the exact same country today (despite the passage of time). I am sure that Cpl. Nathan Cirillo (the soldier so cowardly slain at the base of the National War Memorial in Ottawa on October 22) held many of those same beliefs that I had.
But at the same time, the passage of time has transformed old enemies into allies and then back into enemies again and now…as the war on terror takes root in this peaceful country…I wonder is it time to change some policies related to just how Open and Free we should be?
I took a moment and looked through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms last night…just to bring back the core foundations that makes Canada the greatest country on the planet and thought long and hard about some of the text contained, there are 4 fundamental freedoms that define us as Canadian:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association
Freedom of Conscience and Religion to me truly allows each of us to not be condemned or persecuted for the religious beliefs that we hold to be true. This is a good thing, and while both of the terror attacks have been blamed on Radicalized Muslim converts…I do not hold the religion or the culture of all Muslims at fault…but I do have a problem with the actions of Extremists. For those who think they can hide behind religion as a justification for acts of violence…I say not in my back yard!
The Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression is what allows me to put these words out onto the web. We are all allowed to think and present ideas that are different from each other. This is a good thing for everyone, and I try very hard to not only have strong convictions on what I believe…but also be open enough to hear, listen and allow the influence of others to help shape my beliefs into something that is more than I am today. This freedom does have limitations though…and when your beliefs promote or prepare for the removal of the core freedoms of any other person or persons…that becomes not ok and should be dealt with…swiftly and without prejudice.
The freedom of peaceful assembly is key for one group to get together and share their collective beliefs…but this can not impede on the rights of others. I have no problem with protests or demonstrations of solidarity but if you block my way, impede my passage or prevent me from going about my business…this is no longer a peaceful assembly.
Freedom of association is fine…but there are groups, classes and organizations that are, will be and should be on watch lists. The fact that this fundamental right exists is not meant as a green light for radical groups to get together and plot the overthrow or destruction of what it is meant to be Canadian…and for that reason…if you associate with groups that condone, promote or commit violent actions…you should not be protected under the rights provided for you by the Charter.
All these Freedoms that we take for granted are not available to all peoples of the world and I truly believe that we should have open borders for those seeking to build a new and better life…and allowing the free exchange of ideas, people and cultures makes Canada far stronger than if we forced everyone to be the same…but both in my life and my profession I do have another opinion…you see Canada is what it is because of men and women like Corporal Nathan Cirillo who freely stood at on the front line to defend each and everyone of us and these core freedoms. These acts and actions by those who have defended the freedoms of others can not be taken for granted.
If you want to maintain your culture…great, Canada will be better for it…but at the same time I truly think that everyone who comes to Canada must first become Canadian which does mean taking the Oath of Citizenship…something that each of us should actually remember:
That I will be faithful
And bear true allegiance
To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
the Second Queen of Canada
Her Heirs and Successors
And that I will faithfully observe
the laws of Canada
And full my duties
as a Canadian citizen.
I am Canadian…and the Genetic Lottery that placed me here instead of anywhere else is not lost on me. To all those who think they can take that away from us I say this: