Jason Kenney: ‘I still wonder how I got here’ – remarks on Canada

In addition to the obligatory thanks to all, and his plea for civility and thoughtful deliberations, Kenney’s remarks on Canada worth noting, and consistent with his time in office:

As a last word about this country, which we all serve—this magnificent country with limitless potential—as I worked as minister of immigration, citizenship, and multiculturalism and welcomed refugees to this country, I was reminded of the words of Desmond Morton, a great Canadian historian and a former NDP candidate. He said that Canada is made up of people who have been on the wrong side of history. That includes our first nations at the time of European contact.

That also includes French Canadians at the time of the conquest and Acadians, with the great upheaval and the tragedy of what happened to them.

It includes the United Empire Loyalists; English Canada was founded by refugees, including some of my ancestors, who came here from the American Revolution. It includes those who saw Canada as the North Star through the Underground Railroad, who escaped slavery in the United States to achieve freedom in this country, sometimes with the scars of slavery on their backs. There were the Highland clearance Scots, who founded Cape Breton. There were the famine Irish, including some of my ancestors—and members can see that the Kenneys have recovered from the famine. There were Jewish victims of the pogroms before the Second World War, in the early 20th century, and the victims of the Shoah, who came after the Second World War. There were the eastern Europeans, the men in sheepskin coats who fled political oppression to pursue new opportunities in settling the Canadian Prairies; the Hungarians of 1958; the Czechs of 1968; and the Vietnamese of 1979. With the Chinese premier here today, we should also remember the Uyghurs and Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners and those who stood at Tiananmen Square. There are so many others right to this day: the Syrian refugees whom we welcome; the 25,000 Iraqi refugees who came through a program that I established; the gay Iranians and men and women of all backgrounds. All of them in their own way were losers of history, yet by becoming Canadian they have become winners of history.

All of those people would have cause to live in a spirit of bitterness and recrimination but, instead, have decided not to forget their tragic past, to remember and memorialize it but move forward with hope in the future, as Canadians with a common sense of responsibility for one another.

I close my two decades in this place by quoting the words of former prime minister Diefenbaker, when he introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights. In expressing a sentiment that applies to all of those losers of history who have built one of the greatest countries of history, he stated:

“I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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