Cathay Wagantall – Member of Parliament Yorkton-Melville Greetings for 150th Anniversary celebration Calder, July 22, 2017


Cathay Wagantall – Member of Parliament
Yorkton-Melville

Greetings for 150th Anniversary celebration
Calder, July 22, 2017 
 
Good evening,  and thank you for inviting me to participate in your Celebrations celebrating Canada’s 150th. 

These celebrations reflect people, past and present who contributed here in significant ways. People who, by small acts and large, helped forge a strong network of roots to make Calder the welcoming and vibrant community it is today.  Your gathering today demonstrates those roots of our home-places that bring us together because of shared history, relationships and values.  

As much as I thoroughly enjoy the privilege of seeing and experiencing many different aspects of Canada I am more convinced than ever that there is no better place for families and communities to plant deep roots than in rich Saskatchewan soil, in the prairie heart of the country we all celebrate. 
 
As nations go, Canada is still a youngster, born, as it were on July 1, 1867 when the British Parliament passed the British North America Act. 
 
One hundred and fifty years after Confederation, we are one of the richest, most envied nations in the world. If given a choice, statistics reveal that people from almost any other country you could name, would choose Canada as their new or second home.  
 
Like any birthday girl, Canada has its quirks, its startling facts, and interesting trivia. Did you know, for instance, that:

Canada is home to approximately 55,000 different species of insects - and I'm pretty sure they all reside in Saskatchewan! 
Canada is the world’s most educated country –over half the residents have college degrees
We have more lakes than the rest of the world’s lakes combined
We consume more macaroni and cheese than any other nation in the world
Canada is an Iroquoian word meaning “village.”
Canada consumes the most donuts and has the most donut shops per capita than any country in the world.
We have the second coldest capital city in the world.
For every 1,000 people, we have 459 cars.
Our very own beaver is the second largest rodent in the world.
We have the world’s longest skating rink in winter  - the Rideau Canal

The eldest resident in a care facility was being interviewed by reporters on her birthday. "What do you think is the reason you have lived for one hundred and ten years?" one asked. 

"Oh," she replied, "I suppose it's because I was born such a long time ago!"
 
If we could personify Canada, we could ask the same thing. “What has kept you so strong, majestic, beautiful, so united, for this century and a half?”
 
Twenty seven years ago, on Canada's123rd birthday, Queen Elizabeth, speaking at Parliament Hill, suggested that it is the will of her citizens that keeps Canada together:
 
“Canada is a country that has been blessed beyond most countries in the world. It is a country worth working for….  The unity of the Canadian people was the paramount issue in 1867, as it is today. There is no force except the force of will to keep Canadians together…”
 
Indeed, in spite of threats and a referendum to separate, in spite of deep issues that could divide us, when push came to shove, Canadians have so far chosen to remain united - because the will of the people is to do so.

But there’s another reason we’ve survived as long as we have as a nation. John Diefenbaker, Canada’s 13th Prime Minister referred to it this way:

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, and free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”

He also said that, “There can be no dedication to Canada’s future without a knowledge of its past.”

As we celebrate Canada, I encourage you to remember that we are who we are today, 'the true North strong and free'  because of who we have been in the past.

The forces and the people who shaped us, protected us, lived and died for us did so to protect those freedoms that identify us as a nation, and a nation united. 
 
Serving you as your MP in Ottawa, I can say that our Canada of today must stay vigilant to protect our way of life – our  freedoms – from challenges without and from people, movements and legislators within Canada.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker also said that “Freedom includes the right to say what others may object to and resent. The essence of citizenship is to be tolerant of strong and provocative words.”

A more recent Prime Minister, Steven Harper, added another aspect to the concept of freedom. “Faith," he said, "teaches that there is a right and wrong beyond mere opinion or desire. Most importantly, it teaches us that freedom is not an end in itself, that how freedom is exercised matters as much as freedom itself.”

If our nation could speak on her 150th birthday, I think she would encourage us to remain united, not only as a country, but in our resolve to stand up and speak up in defence of the freedoms that have enabled her to remain for the past century and a half, strong and healthy, generous and welcoming.
 
I think she would also urge us to continue to acknowledge that as a nation we did not arrive here on our own. Our national anthem refers to a collective faith in a Ruler Supreme who, hears our humble prayers and holds our dominion with loving care. My own Christian faith reminds me that God is our source of blessing and to Him we owe unending and ongoing gratitude.
 
Friends, have a wonderful time as you celebrate this special birthday. Enjoy each other, and together enjoy our country – its breathtaking, incomparable bounty and beauty, its odd and funny facets, its privileged status in the world, and the many freedoms it affords 

But alongside that, for those who come behind us, embrace the responsibility of standing up for true freedom. Stay politically informed, get involved where you can, and make your opinions known to me and legislators at every level of government. For as history has repeatedly shown, only as we perform the one, can we have the other.

Thank you for the privilege of enjoying your Pig Roast Supper & Dance  and - Happy Birthday, Canada!