Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
The Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
A Pledge of Principles
|Beryl P. Wajsman,Esq.||Montreal|
“…to stand with those whose trust in the people is qualified only by prudence and not with those whose mistrust of the people is qualified only by fear…”
We believe in this country. We feel pride in her past, confidence in her present and have faith in her future. We believe in the quality of Canadian life and in the character of Canadian institutions. We believe in an abiding friendship with our nearest neighbour based upon on honest relationship, without subservience, in the confidence of a mutual understanding that civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof. We believe in a Canada of an engaged citizenry who seek out what we have in common and in that quest succeed in solidarity. We believe that the courage of our character and the compulsion of our conscience can propel us towards the perfection of our unique social contract and make of this land the most civil society on earth.
We place the highest value on the respect for, and freedom of, the individual. We are not partisans of the status quo. We seek to move our people towards compassion and our institutions towards inclusion to assure the survival and success of liberty. We see society as capable of moral progress but, being by nature neither essentially good nor perverse, requiring the cultivation and support of the more positive inclinations of man. While understanding the limits of legislation and law, we do not hesitate advocacy of the uses of the levers of power for the expansion of equity and equality.
While loyal to the principle that the rights of the individual are paramount to those of the state and that all must be accorded an opportunity to fashion their own lives and grow to the limit of their potential, we believe that responsibilities go with those rights. As citizens we have a duty of public vigilance to insure the preservation and progress of the commonweal through an eloquent and enlightened governance of the nation.
We are angry at the ingratitude shown to our workingmen and women who built this land and are cast off in their senior years to survive on substandard services and incomes. We are angry at the false piety of political leadership whether of the left or the right. We are angry at the lack of courage in our national vision that compromises our policies and purposes in our relations with our sister democracies, and paralyses our ability to live up to the responsibilities of a free and democratic nation in an increasingly dangerous and threatening world.
Though none of us are products of extreme preference or poverty, we have all sworn unending vigilance against the arrogance and abuse of privilege.
We believe that our nation must guard against the smugness and complacency that too often manifest themselves as symptoms of a preoccupation with parochial interests alone. We believe the lessons of our legacy are unselfish ones, imbued with an understanding that, with grace and dignity, we must involve ourselves in the struggles for social justice, at home and abroad, and not hide behind a curtain of self-satisfaction resting snugly at harbor, for we will assuredly be buffeted by the continuing tides of the challenges of our complex time and our responses will be muted and impotent rather than prideful and purposeful.
On the visceral issues of the public agenda we will make no claim to objectivity. As a people we must seek to raise the poor from poverty. To reconcile private interests with public rights. To attack monopoly. To guard against rewarding private enterprise with untrammeled public spoils. And above all to exalt the individual rights of each citizen over the corporate demands of the state. For what affects one affects all. In this modern age of instant communication, and instant destruction, all have come to the realization that we are truly a family of man. We are all mortal. We all cherish our future. And pain caused to the least amongst us diminishes us all.
We believe these to be the common threads of the social contract we have created in this land. These are the qualities of our experiment in civilized nation building. Though government intervention is certainly not the solution to all problems and we need to guard against the excess of legislative license, certain attitudes are clear. Canadians do not believe in bankrupting families who seek to educate their children or ignore those who need to protect the health of their loved ones. We do not pander to popular bloodlust on issues such as capital punishment. We give succor to the most helpless refugees in the world. And when called upon to serve overseas for the defense and dignity of democracy, this good and gentle land has sacrificed more sons and daughters than even the United States as a proportion of population. These values should never be compromised through the indulgence of excuse.
One should not ascribe to us any notions of secular saintliness. It is simply our firm belief that the highest and best use of our time, treasure and talent is to advocate for a society where instead of looking over our shoulder at whether the other guy has a knife at our back, we are actually looking out for the other guy. To advance an agenda that allows for the realization that we can turn this “vale of tears” of a world into a “valley of tenderness”. That we can move our society to value co-operation over competition and compassion over contempt. It is a saner way to live.
We, as a people, have always lionized the nobility of courage and conscience because we understood that they are our sole weapons to repel the decay of hatred, jealousy and greed. The struggle is never for the sake of philosophical notions of an idealized humanity but for the very pragmatic and immediate relief of the human being.
Even the privileged seek to live in a world where they are judged not by the contents of their pocketbooks but by the quality of their character. Even the powerful are pained by the suffering around them. For we are all human. All of us at one time, in the deepest recesses of our hearts have felt the dark mists of despair. We have all looked into the abyss and hoped for courage. We have all learned the lesson that justice is not in heaven nor beyond the sea but in our hearts to dream and in our hands to forge. We have all understood, viscerally, the words of the poet Aeschylus who wrote so long ago of,
“…pain which falls drop by drop upon the heart until through the awful grace of God we attain wisdom…”
We seek to help chart a course that will lead to the expanded enfranchisement and empowerment of those too weak to fight for themselves because we share a common humanity and are repulsed by the hypocrisy and mendacity masquerading as diplomacy and objectivity that leads to so much pain.
Our views are predicated on a recognition of an equal claim on the stock of welfare of the land by all, and that this recognition has not yet found full expression in the social contract between the government and the people. In our land today there are too many of shrivelled spirit and hostile heart that fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past, which, in fact, never existed, and use these as excuses for inaction. These we shall always oppose and condemn.
We stand with those who have faith in the people’s ability, tempered through the experiences of reason and judgment, to increase for all the amount of justice and freedom and opportunity, which all human life deserves.
We stand with those who believe that our progress as a people is predicated on the notion that we have a sovereignty over our democratically elected government unencumbered by any conditions of special considerations to property or power, privilege or preference.
We stand with those who believe that all people, no matter how unempowered, can, through the exercise of their suffrage, exact their full share from the bounty of society’s wealth to which their labour has so much contributed, so that they will have a flow of well being from the state to allow for their fullest expression as human beings.
And finally, we stand with those who are committed to the expansion of the freedoms we enjoy as Canadians to all parts of the world and who would readily and courageously support our sister democracies, as we have always done in our history, and not with those who hide as cowards behind diplomatic curtains of moral objectivity. Social justice is not a game for salon liberals. It does not stop at Canada’s borders. We need to bring pride back to our country. For this pride will give us the necessary courage of character to allow our inherent generosity of spirit to bloom. There can be no better vehicle than the strengthening of our international prestige. And no better policy than the pledge of faithful friendship to those allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share and who would join us in active advocacy for, and dedicated defence of, democracy and liberty for all.
For we seek nothing less than a revival of militancy in our political life. A renewal of the conscience of our nation that will rouse our land toward the ardent advocacy of a national culture of purpose and passion. With this commitment we will strive to assure the triumphant expansion and entrenchment of the dynamic humanism of our Canadian experiment so that,
“…the people will always feel the warm gentle breeze of compassion that is prelude to the renewal of a bright spring, rather than the cold stinging frost of complacency that signals entry into a long night of winter…”
Beryl P. Wajsman
Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal