On December 6th we marked the 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. This tragic event killed 2000, injured 9000 and left thousands more homeless. We remember those who lost their lives and acknowledge the hard work of those involved in the recovery and reconstruction efforts.
While the Explosion is remembered as a loss for all Canadians, it was the aftermath that spoke volumes. Nova Scotians, Canadians, and particularly Bostonians, joined forces and worked tirelessly to provide relief supplies and medical assistance and restore hope to Halifax.
Every year, to thank the people of Boston, Halifax gifts a Christmas tree which is installed on the Boston Common. This year, the 53 foot white spruce tree was donated by Bob and Marlon Campbell of Blues Mills, Cape Breton.
The Halifax Explosion is a reminder of the strength we have as Canadians. The victims touched by the blast were left with almost nothing, but they never gave up. It is because of their fighting spirit and willingness to persevere that the province of Nova Scotia would come back stronger than ever.
Hundreds of people attended the 100th Anniversary Halifax Explosion Memorial Service at Fort Needham Memorial Park, and similar commemorative events all over the province, to pay their respects and honour the memory of those impacted. 100 years later, Nova Scotians still carry on the legacy of those lost in the Explosion. It is important that we remember what was lost and continue to say thank you to those who helped us rebuild.
November 20 marked Universal Children’s Day and National Child Day in Canada, a recognition of the 1989 unanimous adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations.
This UN Convention provides an invaluable framework for enabling children to live and grow and flourish. Eliminating social inequities and respecting children’s rights begins with making the choice to do so. While Canada made this choice when it ratified the convention in December 1991, we are not meeting our obligations to all children of this country.
National Child Day reminds us not only of what has been accomplished, but also of the work that needs to be done, particularly for the most vulnerable, like indigenous children or those with physical or intellectual disabilities.
There are inconsistencies in health and mental health services, access to healthy food and clean water, and education services across this country. For this reason, I continue to encourage the creation of a national commissioner for children and youth in Canada. This would level the playing field for all children, so that no matter the economic or social situation they are born into, they have the chance to succeed and achieve their greatest potential.
One of the most important and greatest commitments a society can make is to its children. There is a saying: You can seek the wisdom of the ages, but always look at the world through the eyes of a child.
Last week we marked the 150th anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate, which took place on November 6, 1867.
The Canada of today is a country that knows no equal in the world. Certainly we owe that to our founders’ spirit of compromise, as well as to the Senate, which played a fundamental role in building the nation.
Canada was born not out of an ideology or a grand scheme or a war or civil strife. It was essentially the result of a pragmatic approach to resolve the unification of two linguistic communities and of different regions with various levels of wealth and aspiration to create a greater country.
It is the Senate that was entrusted with the responsibility of having regional voices heard at the centre of government and with speaking on behalf of its minorities so that they would not be swamped under the weight of the majorities. Rights and freedoms of Canadians and of Aboriginal peoples are always better guaranteed when the Senate uses its independent thinking to evaluate the impact of legislation on those who have lower voices or lower capacities to be heard by the majority.
It is in the Senate that the federal principle was enshrined, and it is for this reason that it was given legislative power equal to that of the House of Commons in the enactment of legislation. As long as the Senate fulfills its constitutional duty, Canada will continue to thrive and remain a beacon of liberty and equal dignity for all.
I encourage you to read this National Post article on the topic of priority hiring in the federal public service for qualified medically-released veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. This article not only highlights the dismal record of injured military personnel hiring within federal departments—resulting in many losing their priority status—but the potential disproportionate employment of higher ranking military members.