A strange thing happened as I sat in the House of Commons on Wednesday of this past week.
No, it wasn’t the buzz about elbow-gate. It certainly wasn’t the loud cheering of the Prime Minister’s speech from a packed audience in the four galleries…
It was none of these – no matter how entertaining, interesting, or heart-warming they were.
The Parliamentary oddity I witnessed may well have slipped by all the talking heads. With all the focus on elbow-gate, and the resultant hubbub, something everyone in the house was listening to (with the exception of Jason Kenney, and a few other Conservative MPs who left early) seemed to slide by completely unnoticed:
A Bloc Quebecois MP replying to the Prime Minister’s apology stated that he wants to “build Canada and Quebec”, then repeated “build Canada together”.
I’m not sure if anyone else caught this – in all the day’s excitement – but it had to be another historic moment for a day full of historic moments.
I encourage you to read the transcripts of the Bloc statement, just in case you can’t fathom this. It is good news for a Canada where we are often debating our future. Where there is often the underlying threat of separatism.
Here are excerpts from Mr. Fortin’s speech:
…That is why it is so important that we revisit this dark episode in Canada’s history here today……Those 376 people were made to suffer solely because of our ignorance and racism. Their removal was justified by the regulations of the day, which had one simple objective: to turn away any newcomers who came from Asia. As we all know, immigrants from Europe were welcomed with open arms…History has shown that Canada has not always been known for its openness. The Government of Canada’s apology to the Sikh community involves a duty to remember. Each and every one of us has a duty to remember all those who have made Quebec and Canada what they are today…May this reminder impel us to make room for everyone who will join us in building the future of this country.”
Right there, at the end of his statement, Mr. Fortin speaks of “building the future of this country”.
On a ‘nationalistic’ note, it appears the Bloc realizes being a part of the miracle of Canada is far more valuable than being apart. Perhaps it’s simply due to a new federal government, and new national tone. Canada’s shift to the centre – after years of neoConservative dictates from the top – is creating a renewed sense of national unity.
For all the posturing about ‘separatism’ (or ‘sovereignty’, or whatever you want to call it this week), this Bloc MP’s possible freudian slip shows that a good news story and celebration of our multi-ethnic national identity, can bring together even disparate regions of this dynamic multicultural land.