Canada’s image may be at risk

At our editorial office, we have been receiving reports in our communities of the need for more hampers, more donations for more families at a time when budgets are getting tighter and tighter, families facing difficulties in making ends meet let alone being able to afford even the small Christmas gifts for kids and loved ones.

This is proving to be a difficult Christmas.

At our editorial office, we have been receiving reports in our communities of the need for more hampers, more donations for more families at a time when budgets are getting tighter and tighter, families facing difficulties in making ends meet let alone being able to afford even the small Christmas gifts for kids and loved ones.

That the gloom dominating the season is being significantly exasperated by continuing funding cuts to social services, thanks to our provincial government, is not even worth mentioning, because it is almost universally acknowledged by now.

What does deserve a mention is why families and communities have to go through these ups and downs even at festive times as Christmas.

Canada, alongside with Nordic countries like Sweden, Finland and Denmark, has had a reputation of being a very successful example of a welfare state with a strong government playing a vitally important role in ensuring a balanced distribution of wealth among the various sections of the population using financial and administrative tools at its disposal as prescribed in its constitution.

Maybe one should have used “had” instead of “has had” in the above sentence.

Because this country appears to be rapidly moving away from the image it has had in the international scene for decades, an image of a caring, humane and liberal society dedicated to its responsibilities.

Having lived in several countries on three continents over a period exceeding 20 years working for assignments for international organizations, I have had the chance to closely observe how Canada was always mentioned with respect and affection, even in countries where our southern neighbour was traditionally a subject of hate.

I always thought that the image of Canada at the international scene was best exemplified by the truly humane effort by a young Canadian girl and her widowed father to fly a flock of geese to a wildlife reserve in the United States.

In the 1996 production called “Fly Away Home”, based on real life events involving Canadian inventor Bill Lishman, the selfless dedication to do good for the geese, just because it is the right thing to do, is a genuine demonstration of the true Canadian spirit.

But looking at how Canada has been treated and criticized at international fora these days -just reading the stories of the recent Copenhagen climate summit will suffice- it seems we have much to do to restore what has been lost over the last few years, thanks to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

– Mustafa Eric