Many of us believe that a “true north strong and free” includes the ability to speak freely and listen carefully to others. I want to be one who listens to other voices, other perspectives, and other world-views. I want to understand what others see as the future of Canada and work together for a great country. This can be challenging when we will most certainly disagree on major issues and it is challenging in a climate of rhetoric which generates strong emotions.
I appreciate an article written by Don Hutchinson on the Activate CFPL blog site. He quotes government house leader John Baird who says that
We think it is tremendously important in a pluralistic society like Canada to always reach out to people of different backgrounds, and we make no apologies for it.
It is a good reminder that we all need to take seriously our responsibility to speak to the issues of our country. Religious, atheistic, and agnostic viewpoints should be spoken and heard.
The article goes on to speak of another occurence in Ottawa last week. Mr. Hutchinson calls it a “wacky week” in Ottawa but that is perhaps just an unfortunate choice of words. He goes on to speak of Liberal Member of Parliament Carolyn Bennett who has chosen to sing her own version of the national anthem. I will leave it to others to decide if this is an appropriate way to make her position known or if it is impolite to sing different words when we have all previously agreed on the way we will sing a song together. It does bring to mind questions of unity and manners.
What I will say is this MP deserves to have her opinion heard. She would like to suggest that our national anthem should be free of gender and religious bias. I am also free to disagree with her but I want to listen to her concerns. It is important to have rational debate and rational debate requires listening as well as talking.
Oh Canada, our home and native land, may you truly be our true north, strong and free. We stand on guard for thee.