Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Ceremonial Guard drum, Ottawa

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Honourable senators, this month, we mark various occasions: Pride Month, National Indigenous History Month and, in the days ahead, la Fête nationale du Québec, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Canadian Multiculturalism Day and, of course, Canada Day. Perhaps a theme that unifies all of these days is the great Canadian value of respect. Day after day, we see Canadians calling on political leaders to avoid rancour and toxicity, and instead lead with respect and by finding common ground — fewer false accusations and more real solutions, less partisanship and more cooperation.

As we speak about the major social and economic issues, there are at least two truths in Canada today. The first one — the difficult one — which exists in many countries in this post‑COVID era, is that life has become extremely tough for many people. The cost of living has risen sharply, housing has become scarce, the environment is becoming worse, intolerance and division are growing and people are concerned about the future.

There is a second, more hopeful truth: Inflation has dropped as precipitously as it rose just a couple of years ago. The Bank of Canada is the first in the G7 to reduce interest rates, as they did two weeks ago. Unemployment is low and more or less steady, and although skills shortages remain, this gives us reason to be hopeful about the future of workers in all sectors.

The historic deficit exists because the federal and provincial governments opened the coffers to save people’s lives during the COVID pandemic and provide essential subsidies in order to save small and big businesses and prevent people from being thrown out of their homes as their incomes disappeared overnight.

As our society works through these challenges, there is, unfortunately, a growing polarization in our midst that goes beyond the two houses of Parliament and sees a backlash in many fora. The latest version is the frontal attack on diversity, equity and inclusion. Make no mistake, this is not accidental or limited.

Certain forces are trying to find pressure points in the broad progressive agenda of recent decades and attack them one by one. This is what appears to be happening in the political arena in the United States.

As we celebrate key aspects of our diversity this month — LGBTQ rights, Indigenous rights, Quebec, multiculturalism and Canada — yes, it is a time to celebrate, but also be vigilant to protect these Canadian values more now than ever before.

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