The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice of them. Socrates, philosopher

My parents taught me respect for myself and for others. It wasn’t a difficult lesson to learn. I can say this in hindsight. My parents may have a different version of events.

This lesson of respect was drilled into me, not just in words, but also in action. They walked the talk. And I learned by example. Anytime then and now, when I don’t know what to do, I think about what they would do and act accordingly.

As a result I am fiercely independent, do not allow others to push me around and I make time for everyone. We are all worthy of effort. Plain and simple.

I’ve been tested many times by those who like to think they are better than others. Whether it was in the prison environment I worked in long ago or the boardroom of my more recent experiences, there has always been one person who has wanted to put me in my place, show how big and powerful they are.

I don’t put up with this behaviour despite my soft exterior (and I’m not talking my flabby arms here). I stand my ground. No need to raise my voice. And no need to put anyone down either. I articulate my boundaries and remain firm.

My parents were immigrants who came to Canada with three small children, a little bit of money, rudimentary command of the English language and a dream for a better life. They didn’t have family here and didn’t know a soul. They didn’t have much going for them when you think about it. And yet, they knew something that seems to continually escape our current conservative government.

They had pride and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong.

In the last several weeks, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), among others, has chastised Prime Minister Stephen Harper for comments he made against Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. Both Mr. Harper and Justice Minister, Peter MacKay have been told to publicly apologize to the Chief Justice.

The ICJ concluded: “The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice could best remedy their encroachment upon the independence and integrity of the judiciary by publicly withdrawing or apologizing for their public criticism of the Chief Justice.”

But Mr. Harper’s arrogance won’t let him do what every toddler knows he has to do when he has wronged another.

And Mr. Harper’s blatant conceit does not stop there. His government has also quietly (read surreptitiously) replaced an award named to honour famous Canadian feminist icon Thérèse Casgrain and renamed it the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award. No one was consulted. It was just done.

Casgrain’s and her namesake volunteer-award medal disappeared from Canada's $50 bank note in 2012 as well, replaced by the image of an icebreaker. Now, that’s inspirational. Not.

Ms. Casgrain’s family wasn’t consulted. This is incompressible to me, except I know this government has continually treated its constituency with nothing more than condescension and disrespect.

I shouldn’t be stunned by their actions. This Conservative government has not exactly been the beacon of light for women and women’s issues.

And yet I am surprised. This is another trait of those of us who see the best in others. We forget trespasses; are startled each and every time.

For all the power this government has, it has never learned the simple lessons my parents taught us. If they can’t understand the concept of respect for others I doubt they will be able to comprehend Socrates’ lesson about human virtues strengthening with practice.


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