Pride and Prejudice
On a steamy hot day last Sunday in downtown Toronto, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined thousands of others and marched — well, more like strolled and danced — in the annual Pride parade. It was a historic moment, the first time a sitting Prime Minister joined in the parade.
The location and timing of this could not have been better. The city of Toronto is an underrated success story; while being one of the safest cities in North America, it is also the only city in which most of the population is foreign born. Ergo, it is a city that showcases what a positive attitude to immigration can bring. Alongside Trudeau last Sunday were people from all over the world, each one with the same message — you are welcome here.
The contrast with Trudeau’s peers abroad could not be starker, particularly when you look at Canada’s traditional allies, Britain and the United States. In the former, leading Conservative Party members are tripping over themselves in a race to see who can keep the most immigrants out of the country soonest. This comes in the wake of David Cameron’s resignation following the extraordinary decision of the British electorate to leave the European Union, a decision that forced the relatively unpopular Cameron to fall on his sword.
Meanwhile in the US, it is likely that whoever becomes the next President will take the oath of office with one of the most unfavourable approval ratings of all time, even before he or she begins the job. Much of the rhetoric in the US electoral campaign has been about building walls, both physical and metaphorical.
Britain and the US are currently divided nations. That, nobody can deny. Canada, on the other hand, is heading deeper into the twenty-first century united and with gusto.
While Republican candidates for the US Presidency were reaffirming their support for “traditional marriage”, Trudeau was on hand to raise the Pride flag over Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the first time.
While Britain’s anti-immigration forces coalesce around a message of “send them back”, Canada’s leaders personally went to the airport to welcome refugees to their new home.
While Donald Trump makes a succession of remarks that showcase his misogyny (take your pick), Trudeau quips that his cabinet has equal gender representation “because it’s 2015”.
While Britain experiences constitutional crises and referendum after referendum (don’t forget Scotland last year too), Canadian unity hasn’t been this strong in decades. The federation is in good health.
Canada’s government is new and is likely to make mistakes, and Canada is not a perfect utopia, but right now it looks like a much safer bet for people looking to build a positive future for themselves and their families.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish readers a belated happy Canada Day. This special holiday, which takes places every July 1, is a celebration of all things Canadian. It is an outward-looking and inclusive holiday, in which everyone is welcome. Families and friends gather to celebrate their appreciation for Canada. I know my family had an enjoyable holiday, and I hope yours did too.