One of my favourite times of the year has always been Canada Day. Since becoming a Member of Parliament I have found new meaning to the celebration for all that is great about our amazing nation. As Canadians we have a sincere love for our country and the values that we share that makes this special place we live in like no other in the world. We may not always agree, but we disagree respectfully and show tolerance, compassion and understanding for those around us. Collectively the hard work and sacrifice that came before us shaped a nation that we continue to build upon today. Yesterday visiting communities such as West Kelowna, Peachland, Penticton and Okanagan Falls proved that in spite of what the weather brings, Canadians will not be denied an opportunity to share in the enjoyment of one of our most special days of the year. Over the past twelve months I’ve encountered a few noteworthy events that I believe illustrate the values that are unique to the special quality of life we enjoy as Canadians. I would like to share a few of them with you.
Several months ago a Priest in the community of Merritt was ordered to be deported from Canada within 48 hours. The outcry from the citizens within Merritt was loud and broad reaching, coming from many different segments of the region. Community leaders, including the Mayor and MLA spoke passionately of the importance of this priest to the citizens in Merritt and the great injustice in being ordered to be deported in such an aggressive manner. The community came together to show support and to help find a solution. To attempt to engage in political intervention with only 48 hours on the clock, and even less time once the issue became widely known, seemed an impossible task to overcome. However if we are to have laws and bureaucracy where we cannot undo those mistakes that have been made, we are beholden to an entirely different set of problems that are against our very democratic principles. In this case with the support of democratically elected representatives such as Merritt Mayor Susan Roline and NDP MLA Harry Lali, we were able to have the deportation order resolved, and a Priest can now continue to serve his temple. I often wonder, how many countries aside from Canada, could have a deportation order set aside with less than 48 hours, in large part because community leaders came forward to lend support to a member of a community?
I am also mindful of the 158 Canadians we have lost in service while in Afghanistan. In many of our communities the cenotaphs serve us reminders of those brave Canadians who have given the supreme sacrifice of service to our great nation. To the friends and families who lost loved ones, we will never forget your loss nor the values that we continue to defend against those who would do us harm. During my time in Ottawa I have had a chance to meet some of those who have served in Afghanistan. It is a life changing experience for many of them. To serve in an environment where there is so little when in Canada we are fortunate to have so much, is often a difficult transition when returning back home. Even seeing the green grass, forests in the mountains and the hills is something that citizens in other parts of the world may never see in a lifetime. Although Canada Day may come only once a year, I believe that we should always be mindful to make the most of each and every day we enjoy as Canadians living in this blessed and beautiful country we all call home.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached by e-mail.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.