Celebrating the little victories
I am now more than four months into the job of being your Member of Parliament. It has been a real privilege so far, serving in this role and advancing your values and interests in Ottawa.
On a personal level, the work has a lot of ups and downs. There are plenty of “little victories” — moments where I am able to help someone with a personal situation, convince a colleague on some issue, or put ideas on the public record. For example, I’ve had a chance to speak a number of times about the importance of our local energy sector and the need to address Alberta’s economic challenges.
On the other hand, working in a role like this can be frustrating, especially given the scale of the problems being confronted. The “little victories” don’t seem to come close to the broader scope of the challenges we face.
This past weekend, I flew to Ontario a little bit early to get some extra meetings in, and spent Sunday afternoon in Toronto visiting with cultural communities affected by human rights abuses. I met with representatives of the Yazidi, Kurdish, and Uyghur communities, all in the same afternoon. In each case, there is horrific persecution, and not enough is being done about it.
In the case of the Yazidi people, we have genocide in progress, and yet Canada is pulling out of the fight against the perpetrators. Our government won’t even use the word genocide. Despite “little victories,” it is incredibly frustrating to be sitting in Parliament as our leaders again commemorate the genocides of the past, while refusing to call out and respond to genocide in the present.
Following a Sunday afternoon packed with tough meetings, I headed to my final engagement of the day, an interview with TAG TV. TAG is a small Mississauga-based, family-run TV station, operated by a Muslim couple who are working hard to promote understanding and tolerance within their community. They are at the forefront, for example, of the fight against Anti-Semitism and for gender equality.
My take-away from the day was that, while things always change slowly, they do change for the better when everyone does their part. Rather than allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed, we can respond to difficult situations in the world by zeroing in on the things for which we are responsible, and doing them well.
The couple I met at the end of the day are not solving every problem all at once, but they are making a difference in their community. I cannot solve every problem all at once either. But the “little victories” I referred to at the beginning of this column are quite consequential for those affected. Our community as a whole is strengthened when all of us focus on the “little” that we can do to make the world around us a better place.
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published: Thursday, March 10, 2016