THUNDER BAY – On July 1st 1867 Canada became a country with the union of three British colonies through Confederation. The Statute of Westminster in 1931 allowed us to establish legislative equality and distance ourselves from the British Monarchy. The Canada Act in 1982 gave complete and independent national sovereignty to our country, Canada.
Canada is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Canada is made up of a proud multicultural society where we celebrate our differences side by side. Canada has always stood for freedom, individual rights and compassion.
Canada is recognized by the international community for our commitment towards peacekeeping, our national healthcare system, human rights and our attitude towards embracing differences in such a proud and Canadian way. Canadians invented basketball, the electric streetcar, film colorization, the Imax movie system, insulin, the jetliner, the snowmobile, the telephone, and the zipper to name just a few.
In Canada we have gay marriage, gender equality laws, and the rights to be the person you want to be, free from persecution and injustice. We celebrate our natural beauty from the slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the beaches of our east coast provinces. We cherish our freedom of speech laws, our democratic process and our ability for free independent thought.
We should be working towards a future Canada where the socio-economic betterment of Aboriginal peoples is our primary focus for the achievement of social justice. Aboriginal peoples are one of Canada’s fastest growing populations. The success of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples is critical to our country’s economic well being. We should be committed to investing in aboriginal education in order to close the learning gap. To start, we should remove the cap on funding growth for aboriginal post-secondary education and reverse the cuts to First Nations University.
We should be working towards a future Canada where transparency and accountability are keys to our political process. Governments can become stronger through the enhanced relationship that openness fosters with citizens. After over four years of witnessing the most secretive government in Canadian history, a government that has twice shut Parliament down altogether, Canadians have understandably become increasingly disenchanted with our political system. We should fully comply with the Access to Information Act and Conflict of Interest Act. We should take advantage of the latest technological tools to increase accountability.
Arts and Culture
We should be working towards a future Canada that believes in a thriving cultural sector that enriches our identity, and with $85 billion of economic activity, is vital to our well-being. Fostering Canadian culture creates innovative, creative jobs, and enhances the quality of life of all Canadians. The Cultural sector is at the very heart of country. We should work with the Canada Council for the Arts by restoring and increasing funding to the trade routes and prom art programs that showcase Canadian culture on the world stage.
We should be working towards a future Canada with job creation and fiscal responsibility as our solid base for which to build upon. We should focus our energy on balanced budgets, debt repayment, and critical investments in learning, innovation, and infrastructure. We need a fiscally responsible approach to national finances. Rather than continuing to cut corporate taxes, we should focus on deficit reduction and three critical economic priorities:
• A pan-Canadian learning and innovation strategy, as Canadian jobs and prosperity depend on having the most educated, most skilled, most innovative workforce in the world.
• Investing in the Care Agenda, to ensure that middle-class families receive support for the cost of care-giving.
• Global leadership, so that our export industries can create the jobs of tomorrow, in clean tech, or life sciences right here in Canada.
Environment and Energy
We should be working towards a future Canada where we don’t have to choose between environmental sustainability and economic growth. Through investments in the environment and clean energy, Canada is able to create jobs and develop cutting edge industries that will export high-tech products to growing markets such as China and India. Canada should be a global leader in the fight against climate change and environmental sustainability. We should make an historic investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, quadrupling Canada’s production of renewable energy, and creating a cap and trade system with hard caps leading to absolute reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This strategy, combined with a commitment to protect our air, oceans, waterways, forests and Arctic, will restore Canada’s place as an environmental leader.
We should be working towards a future Canada where international leadership is at the core of the traditions of our Country. I believe that through positive engagement with the world, Canada can secure our economic future and contribute to the cause of global peace. We should focus on the Global Networks Strategy as it is an ambitious, 21st-Century plan that will help to secure our economic prosperity and make the world a safer place. As part of this plan, we could establish next-generation Global Network Agreements with China and India that go beyond trade and investment. The combat mission in Afghanistan ends in 2011, we should re-direct the incremental costs of the mission towards achieving a better balance between defence, diplomacy and development. This will include putting Africa back at the top of Canada’s international aid priorities.
Health and Family Care
We should work towards a future Canada where the promise of universal, publicly funded health care is at the core of what it means to be a Canadian. We face many challenges; one of these is the challenge of providing care for sick loved ones at home. Canadians want to shoulder the responsibility of caring for their ill parent, grandparent, spouse or young child. Millions of Canadians already do, providing over $9-billion in unpaid work each year. Yet over 40 percent of family caregivers use personal savings to survive, many miss one or more months of work to provide care, and 65 percent have household incomes under $45,000. Like the loved ones they are caring for, many of these care givers are in the fight of their lives.
Canadians want choices when it comes to caring for their loved ones, and need help to ease the challenges of family care.
We should institute new policy similar to the EI parental leave benefit, so that more Canadians can care for gravely ill family members at home without having to quit their jobs; and create a new Family Care Tax Benefit, modeled on the Child Tax Benefit, to help low- and middle-income family caregivers who provide essential care to a family member at home. Canadians are committed to our public health care system and will work to enhance its quality and financial sustainability. This begins with investments in health promotion and in homecare. Immediate steps should include supporting caregivers at home, introducing measures to attract doctors and nurses to rural Canada, and introducing Canada’s first-ever National Food Policy, which will promote healthy eating to reduce illness and prevent disease.
Learning and Innovation
We should be working towards a future Canada where Canadian jobs and prosperity depend on having the most educated, most skilled, and most innovative workforce in the world. While other developed countries have invested heavily in learning and innovation, Canada has fallen behind. We need to reverse cuts to science, research and higher learning which have harmed Canadian opportunities to create the highest-quality jobs of tomorrow. We need a vision to create jobs and a highly skilled workforce through a pan-Canadian learning strategy. Working with the provinces and territories, we could invest in early childhood education and care, improvements in Aboriginal education, 100% high-speed internet connectivity for distance learning, workforce literacy, language training for New Canadians, and access to skills training. We should be committed to ensuring that when it comes to higher education for all Canadians, if you get the grades, you get to go.
Multiculturalism and Diversity
We should be working towards a future where Canada is much more than the sum of its parts, and that we are stronger not despite our differences, but because of them. We should be proud of our official multiculturalism, a concept that is enshrined in Canada’s Constitution. We should not form political wedges by dividing Canadians based on race, religion, language or national origin for partisan advantage. We should never pick and choose which groups are entitled to receive respect and fair treatment. We should work to bring all Canadians together with the same message in every region, in every place of worship and in every language. We should focus on facilitating the civic engagement of all Canadians by building networks between communities to create opportunities for success that will help move Canada forward.
Retirement and Security
We should be working towards a future Canada where the government has a critical role to play in helping Canadians save for their retirement security. Through the strengthening of the Canada Pension Plan, we consistently have worked to support fellow Canadians who wish to retire in dignity and economic security.
There is more that must be done. Canadians aren’t saving enough for retirement, and three-quarters of Canadians in the private sector have no registered pension plan. With growing household debt, increasing financial burdens from school-aged children, and the cost of caring for our aging parents, saving for retirement has become even more of a challenge. We should put forward a credible plan to protect the pension savings of Canadians whose companies have gone bankrupt, and should establish a voluntary Supplementary Canada Pension Plan to help more Canadians use our trusted national pension plan to save for their retirement.
We should be working towards a future where Rural Canada puts food on our tables and drives the resource wealth of our country. Too many Canadians are leaving rural communities, in part because they can’t access to healthcare, emergency fire services, education, internet connectivity, and mail service. To ensure all Canadians have the same opportunities, we should attract more doctors and nurses to rural communities, achieve 100% high-speed internet coverage, reward volunteer firefighters, restore rural mail service cuts and build farm programs from the farm-up, not Ottawa-down.
We should be working towards a future Canada which believes that the strength of Canadian society is dependent on the full participation of women in our economy, our government and all the country’s decision making processes. As progressive, Canadians have never wavered from this cause and acknowledge there is more work to do to strengthen women’s place in Canadian life.
There are still far too many women struggling with poverty and violence. While Canada’s government should be leading by example through policies that help more women and girls participate in all levels of society. We should create a Canada which reaffirms that our country has a strong voice for women, with our focus on women in the economy, equal pay for work of equal value, women’s health and safety, and more female representation in government.
The Canada we Can be
We should be working towards a future Canada where people of any minority are free to be who they want to be without prejudice. Canada should not only stand up for LGBT rights in our country as it has done in the past, but take a firm stance internationally by saying we will not accept any notions of inequality for anyone, by anyone.
We should be working on a future Canada where what is listed above is not the future, but today’s reality. Canada is in my opinion the best darn county in the world because of our proud traditions of the past and our progressive policies of our future. We are the envy of many countries around the world including fully industrialized western nations. We need to move forward as a country all while building on our proud traditions of yesterday.
We can do amazing things if we work to unite our Country and move forward as one. French Canada, English Canada, Indigenous Canada, Northern Canada, Southern Canada, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Rural Canada and Urban Canada are what makes Canada, Canada.
Lets get Canada back on the right track.