Canadians are accustomed to hearing raucous, sometimes even vicious, debate between party members in the House of Commons. What they are not so used to is hearing earnest words, spoken from the heart.
On Monday, liberal MP Arnold Chan, who is battling cancer, took an opportunity to do just that when he addressed his fellow MPs during a discussion over a Conservative motion.
Rising to his feet, Chan began by noting that due to his cancer, he wasn’t sure “how many more times” he would have the strength to speak at length.
He first thanked his parents, his brother, and his wife, who were also gathered in parliament, for the many life lessons they had taught him, as well as for their love and loyalty to him.
He went on to raise two issues that were most on his mind. He wished to impart his concern about how MPs “comport” themselves within their political careers; and he asked Canadians to value their democracy.
To his fellow politicians, Chan observed that “the challenge that is going on around the world right now, is that no one is listening. Everyone is just talking at once.”
“We have to listen to each other,” he reminded them.
And to his fellow citizens, Chan implored that they “give heart to their democracy”.
He asked Canadians to “display their civic engagement, regardless of what it actually may mean…whether it is going out and coaching a soccer team, whether it is helping someone at a food bank.”
“It is the small things that we collectively do,” he said, “that make a great society, and…that is ultimately what it means to be a Canadian.”
For speaking up with strength while under adversity, we chose The Honourable Arnold Chan as our Speak of the Week.