July 17th, 2018

Report from Ottawa: Let’s promote responsible citizenship

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on July 6, 2018.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to contribute a regular column in the Medicine Hat News. I considered a number of options for my introductory remarks: Should I discuss the details of the new firearms legislation? Would it be worth writing again about the incoming legalization of marijuana? Do the changes to the Canada Summer Jobs attestation warrant further attention? Are the proposed modifications to the Election Act worth elaborating on?

Rather than focusing on the many Trudeau government failures, I thought it would be more important to examine a broader, underlying theme that I have found is constantly at play — not only in politics on Parliament Hill, but in our everyday interactions. One of the fundamental features of our life in public, which is eroding daily, is our willingness to treat each other with dignity and respect, despite our differences.

While we are all Canadians, many of us have different backgrounds: Religious, political, ethnic and even behavioural. These differences come with a variety of morals, customs and standards that are sometimes at odds. I am the first to admit it can be difficult to bring these differences to the surface to discuss openly, while maintaining a healthy and respectful dialogue. It is difficult to do in communities around this riding, let alone in the House of Commons.

However, it is becoming more important than ever that we engage each other, identifying our differences and addressing those issues that we may disagree on, while maintaining civility, determination, and good will. How do we work toward building healthy communities and a strong country? As members of the greatest country on earth and inheritors of a rich tradition of dialogue and compromise, each of us has a responsibility in our daily living to act in a way that promotes careful stewardship and responsible citizenship.

We must practice speech and demonstrate behaviour that encourages mutual respect and mutual responsibility based on human dignity and equal justice for all. We should not be afraid to disagree; but in our disagreements, we must demonstrate a willingness to recognize and reinforce the shared humanity of our neighbours.

The late Jim Flaherty, a conservative minister of finance and Canadian public servant, once delivered the following remarks to a group of students at the University of Western Ontario: “While we value individual liberty and protect it, as Canadians we also maintain a strong tradition of the public good — that is, what is good for society as a whole, on balance, taking into account disparate interests and adopting the longer view. In public service you will participate in advancing this public good.”

As Canadians, the constant recognition and reconciliation of our differences can be an onerous, but necessary process. In promoting the public good, we all share the responsibilities and privileges of being a public servant; in promoting the public good — individuals, families, communities and our country can thrive and succeed.

Glen Motz is Member of Parliament (CPC) for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner constituency.

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