Stella Leventoyannis Harvey


When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. Dorothy Thompson

Of all forms of government and society, those of free men and women are in many respects the most brittle. Dorothy Thompson

“Just look at those tiny, fragile bones,” the radiographer said, and I knew, before my arm was placed gingerly in the x-ray machine, my elbow was broken. My bones break easily, as does my heart.

I take vitamins, eat well and exercise to keep my crumbly bones as strong as they can be. In terms of my heart, well I can’t out run my nature. “She plays well with others, likes to get along.” That’s a direct quote from one of my old report cards.  Some things never change, despite age and experience.

My problem in a nutshell: I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes, try to understand them despite the behaviour (good or bad) they are displaying. Even when my heart is broken, I give second and third chances. I’m taken by surprise each and every time someone hurts me.

You’d think I’d protect myself a little better, learn from experience, but this blind naiveté is something I’ve never been able to outgrow.

I’m like this with everyone, from friends to strangers to our politicians. Yes, I know I’ve been hard on our Prime Minister of late. But, honestly, I have tried to understand his motives and told myself on countless occasions that his actions come with the best intentions. After all, he’s a family man. He’s made a commitment to public life, something not easy to do. He must want what’s best for our country.

But really, it’s becoming harder to believe this or excuse his behaviour and look the other way. In the past week, he has picked fights with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and weighed in with his opinions and rhetoric about the Ontario election. Both actions are unprecedented in Canadian history.

What’s the man doing? Running scared, playing to his increasingly smaller base or being the bully I always knew he was. Yes, I’ve tried to ignore the obvious, but it’s hard to lie to myself about our Prime Minister’s actions when time and time again his actions come down to the pettiness of your every day garden-variety goon.

Whatever, the reasons for his conduct, it is now evident (not only to me, but to the world) that so many years of Conservative rule has changed this country, and not for the better. We have slipped in governance rankings and according to Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation we have fallen behind other countries in three major categories: policy, democracy and governance. This is a nice way of saying our government is making decisions willy-nilly, not based on sound advice or research. Case in point, our environmental policies and our new tough-on-crime legislation.

I’m great at making excuses for the behaviour of others. But, this is becoming increasingly difficult to do in respect to our Prime Minister. As with my bones, this free society of ours, the one we call Canada, the one we know and love, is becoming increasingly brittle. Before it breaks beyond anything we might recognize, perhaps it’s time we shored up the little we have left.

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