Counting our Blessings

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I think we are all drawn toward the counting of blessings. As my new book tries to set out, I think of “who we are” as a people and as a nation. And as both, we have much to be thankful for.

Counting our BlessingsWe are blessed with a peaceful country. We are not at war, although we are now engaged in a worrying mission that may do more harm than good. In bellicose moments, it is likely we will hear politicians claim we are “at war.” But that term is really only appropriate for a conflict between states that have declared war. We can be thankful that we are in peace-time. And we should work to ensure that more countries can enjoy peace.

We are a country of enormous natural beauty and with thousands upon thousands of square kilometres of untouched wilderness. We have pockets of wild places within reach of most urban centres. This weekend finds me and my two step-daughters, their husbands and children who live in Toronto and Haliburton and my youngest daughter who is doing her Masters degree in Halifax, sharing a rental house on the shores of the Bay of Quinte in Prince Edward County, Ontario. As much as I miss my view of the Salish Sea and the Gulf Islands at home in Sidney-by-the-Sea, this is yet another place of enormous beauty.

We are blessed to have a health care system that ensures that no one is turned away for lack of finances (although this pledge is fraying around the edges). We are, for the most part, economically secure, especially compared to those in the world who lack for food, safe drinking water and a roof over their heads. We think particularly of the desperate plight in Liberia where Ebola appears entrenched to claim many more lives. I would wish we had sent whatever resources will be deployed for dubious value in our airports in screening to go to West Africa to help there. Still, in Canada, we do have unacceptable levels of poverty, especially on First Nations reserves. There is much more to be done.

I am grateful that my private members bill for a National Lyme Disease strategy is now making its way through the Senate, co sponsored by Senator Janis Johnson and Larry Campbell. So far every Senator with whom I speak is committed to its speedy passage.

I am grateful for the friendship and affection I have with most members of parliament, regardless of their political stripe. If only I could translate their private civility into the public sphere!

I am grateful for the 400,000 people with whom I marched in the streets of New York on September 21 – and the tens of thousands more in 2600 demonstrations around the world — all calling for real climate action.

I am grateful for all the members, volunteers, donors and staff of the Green Party of Canada – and for the wonderful provincial Greens across Canada. I am particularly grateful that one of the finest people I know, a friend for over 30 years, David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Greens, now has a seat in the NB legislature.

Since 2011, we have gone from not having a single seat in any legislature or parliament in Canada to having two federal MPs (with a huge thank you to Bruce Hyer, Green MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North), and Green MLAs in two provincial legislatures – Dr. Andrew Weaver B.C. MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and David Coon for N.B. MLA for Fredericton South. With the upcoming Vancouver municipal vote, we are hoping to have two new Green council members, Pete Fry and Cleta Brown joining Adriane Carr.

So we should be thankful, but not complacent. We have a lot of work to do.

Thank you for being a big part of why I do my work – for a more secure world, for a Canada that knows who we are as a nation. That we should stand for something in the world community. As a country that leads in the fight against global warming, poverty and that sets its sights on dismantling the military industrial complex. We know who we are. And we have to work very hard to become that country once again.

With my warmest wishes for a lovely Thanksgiving among family and friends,