The second of our three ancient elm trees is dying from Dutch elm disease. It is fighting to live, but as with all of us, death is inevitable. This tree has stood for around 150 years. It has watched as the farm changed hands, as babies have arrived, grown old and died themselves. There is dignity and courage in its fight that is not to be dismissed. As Canada was being born, the tree was there, a seedling filled with tomorrow. Now it is being eaten away by beetles, working out of sight in their inexorable way.
The horseradish growing beside our house was brought here from England about the time the elm tree was planted. They were both pledges of faith to the future. They represented a continuity between then and now, a single unbroken promise. What will our grandchildren say of us in a hundred years? What continuity of life are we planting to leave to them? Our moment to speak for our children is now. A quarter of our children live in poverty. Every day more species of birds, fish, animals, frogs, plants and trees lose their battle to survive in this greed driven world of our creation. Who speaks for them? The climate of our world is changing at such an alarming rate that almost daily scientists are forced to speed up the timetable from what had been called the worst case scenario. Yet the only issue that seem to dominate this election is the economy. All other issues are either ignored by the news media or crushed to fit the ten second news clip.
Over the past two decades, while many European countries have engaged in building cleaner, safer healthier societies, North America has used NAFTA to elevate corporate profits over all other concerns. Resulting from this philosophy thousands of people found themselves buried in the debt that has begun the process of bringing down the American banks and unwravelling stock markets all over the world. The goal of short term profits that downloaded their true costs onto our children has failed even us.A hundred and fifty years ago the people who planted the seeds that became our giant elms made a pledge to a future that they would never live to see, one that would belong to us. Now it is our turn.
I know that people all around me care about the safety of the water their children drink, the food they eat, the world they will inherit. They tell me so. Now, it’s time to tell our candidates that there is more at stake in this election than the Wall St. Meltdown. It wasn’t even a surprise. We have fine candidates running for office in this riding, people who have crossed the city meeting people and learning about their hopes and dreams. They have sacrificed their privacy and their time to serve their country. Give them the chance to show that they also care about our children’s future, about the social fabric that binds us together as Canadians, about protecting this beautiful planet. Ask them what their parties will do to protect the environment and our children’s future so together we can look ahead with hope as Canadians once did. Let’s challenge the parties that want our votes to earn them by building a dream that we can all share of Canada as a supportive and sustainable society. See you next time.