I grew up in a household where the Christmas holidays were celebrated with great enthusiasm. From the massive tree that occupied a corner of the room to the assortment of wreaths, bows and snow frosted pine cones festooned around the home to the blinding light display out on the front lawn, the decorative spirit of the season was in full effect. My mother would even save every Christmas card we had ever received throughout the years and would use them to decorate the wall behind the tree. After a few years, there were more cards than wall.
Christmas was my parents’ favourite holiday. With five children, they strived to make it as memorable as they could. Christmas, as my parents felt, was for the kids. To that extent, no matter their financial situation, they not only made sure there were gifts under the tree for us, but always gave a donation of toys to the local Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
As we grew older, into adulthood and away from home during the holidays, my parents, along with other members of their community church, would spend the holiday season serving Christmas dinner to the less fortunate, and with no more children living at home, the donation of toys grew larger as well.
It is this spirit of giving that has infused my own character, my own worldview of what humanity truly means and the driving impetus behind my thirty years of volunteerism. Thus it was with great dismay that I, along with countless others, reacted to Conservative MP James Moore’s comments about child poverty on a Sunday news radio show, “Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.”
As the murmurings of outrage began on social media, Moore tried to blunt it claiming he’d been misquoted and even that he’d been lied about. Unfortunately, the real liar was the dis-Honourable MP James Moore as the audio version of his comments that were posted online proved. By the end of the weekend, the outrage was deafening and by Monday, there was an apology on his website, as impersonal and insincere as you can get with a website posting and only there for a couple of days. Apology done, time to move on.
But the damage has been done. The collective feeling among many Canadians was that his comments were indicative of the current Conservative mindset. We had elected a mean, petty, hateful government devoid of compassion, kindness, and care. From their war on social programs that help the most marginalized in our society, to the gutting of ethics and advisory boards that regulate business practices in order to protect not just consumers but Canadians as a whole, to the demonizing of environment groups, we are becoming, as Stephen Harper promised, a Canada we no longer recognize.
Gandhi once said that the true measure of a society can be found in how it treats its weakest members, and as Hubert Humphrey, Former Vice-President of the United States, stated “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada have failed the moral test of government.
With a child poverty rate of 18.5% in many parts of Canada, it may not be your job to feed your neighbour’s children, Mr. Moore, but it is your government’s moral imperative to do so.