Clark­son links at­tack to ‘ug­li­ness’ in U.S.

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - TERRY PEDWELL OT­TAWA —

The deadly weekend mas­sacre in Que­bec City il­lus­trates how Canada is in dan­ger of be­ing “smoth­ered” by the “ug­li­ness” south of the bor­der, for­mer gov­er­nor gen­eral Adri­enne Clark­son told a cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony Tues­day.

Clark­son, who ar­rived in Canada with her fam­ily in 1942 when she was barely three years old, spoke about the mosque shoot­ing ram­page as she helped welcome 37 peo­ple from 17 dif­fer­ent coun­tries to the Cana­dian fam­ily.

She re­called how for­mer prime min­is­ter Pierre El­liott Trudeau once re­marked that liv­ing next to the United States was “like sleep­ing with an ele­phant.”

But the shadow of that pachy­der­mal neigh­bour looms even larger now, she said, thanks largely to the In­ter­net.

“We have been hear­ing the rhetoric of such hor­ror, ig­no­rance and ha­tred that we are in dan­ger of be­ing smoth­ered,” Clark­son told the gath­er­ing at Rideau Hall.

“With the lack of fron­tiers to so­cial me­dia, to tele­vi­sion, we are bom­barded with it.”

And even though Canada has its own be­liefs, goals and his­tory, its peo­ple can­not help but be im­pacted by the mes­sages they’re hear­ing, she said.

“We are not im­mune to see­ing the ug­li­ness and to hear­ing the ap­palling mes­sages.”

Tues­day’s was the first such cer­e­mony since the at­tack Sun­day in Que­bec, in which six men pray­ing in a mosque were shot and killed, and at least a dozen oth­ers were hurt.

The mosque at­tack also re­minded Clark­son of Canada’s check­ered past when it comes to wel­com­ing would-be im­mi­grants, or deal­ing with its abo­rig­i­nal pop­u­la­tion.

She re­called how more than 900 Jews aboard an ocean liner called the St. Louis, look­ing for sanc­tu­ary from Nazi Ger­many, were turned away to al­most cer­tain death on the eve of the Sec­ond World War and when Ja­panese Cana­di­ans — born in Canada — had their rights and many of their be­long­ings taken away from them as they were placed in in­tern­ment camps.

Clark­son also noted that Canada has yet to deal with the re­sults of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion, which laid out a road map for com­ing to terms with how past gov­ern­ments treated the coun­try’s in­dige­nous peo­ples.

But the man­tle is now turned over to the Cana­di­ans of to­day — par­tic­u­larly the new­est ones — to stand up against prej­u­dice and short-sight­ed­ness, said Clark­son.

“The health of our so­ci­ety means that we have to con­tinue to do so,” Clark­son said as she wel­comed Canada’s new­est cit­i­zens.

“Now that you are Cana­di­ans, we all be­long together. We are one fam­ily.”


Gov­er­nor Gen­eral David John­ston, right, looks on as for­mer gov­er­nor gen­eral Adri­enne Clark­son speaks with Ger­vais Man­fouo Paguem Tues­day in Ot­tawa.

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