Canada Day Reflections

While participating in the Canada Day parades, I had a great time with my family, riding in our Conservative float, as well as enjoying many of the other fun things that our community has to offer on such a special day. I have been thinking over the last couple days about what Canada Day means to me personally, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few thoughts with you.

A person can sometimes come to most appreciate the place they are from by spending time abroad. I had particular cause to think about what being a Canadian meant when I was living in England 5 years ago, doing a 12-month Masters program at the London School of Economics. I was able to identify some key ways in which the experience of my fellow Canadians and I was distinct from that of our peers from other places.

Almost every society, and particularly Great Britain, has sharply defined social hierarchies. These hierarchies make it difficult for people from certain 'classes' to achieve opportunity, and also makes integration more difficult for immigrants and their children, who struggle and often fail to break into the middle and upper levels of a class system. These limits to class and ethnic integration can create some really significant social problems, as we've seen.

Most Canadians, by contrast, can have a real sense of limitless possibility. What you think and your willingness to work hard matter more than where you come from and who your parents are. Our systems of universal healthcare and education, the high level of economic freedom we enjoy, the absence of a system of social class, and the increasing efforts of our national government to put value on citizenship and encourage integration combine to make Canada a place where anything is possible. We're not perfect in this regard, but we have a lot to be proud of all the same.

When I reflect on Canada Day, I think about the experience of my ancestors. As a 3rd generation Canadian, I am not far removed from the sacrifices they made to provide a better life for their children and grandchildren. My maternal grandfather's family came here during the Irish potato famine and his wife’s family fled Germany in the wake of persecution during the Holocaust. My father's parents came from Malta to pursue economic opportunities here, which were not available back home. While none of my ancestors came to Canada with much, they all shared a similar hope for better opportunity and a strong work ethic.

Although both my parents were able to receive good educations and develop good careers, neither of them became particularly well-connected, at least not in the sense that usually facilitates a run for public office. Like many recent-immigrant families in Canada, my parents and grandparents passed on to us a 'moral' inheritance, teaching us the importance of education, family, and hard-work. And, this is something ultimately more valuable than money or connections.

Still, the fact that a person like me, with the kind of background I have, could work for the Prime Minister, and then ultimately run for office, speaks to the kind of country we are. I know many of our Conservative candidates across the country - most are, like me, very ordinary folks. People who love this country and care about their families, but not people with particular connections or interests behind them. The political success of such people would not be possible in most other places.

I am so blessed to be a part of this country that my grandparents chose to call home. In light of this day, it is also worth remembering those who have made it possible - those who serve in our military and fought to defend our freedom. I hope that you and your family had a great Canada Day as well. Very warm wishes to you and yours.