Friday, June 03, 2016
The Fort McMurray Fire and Mandela's Children
I must admit when I first saw that 300 South African firefighters had arrived to help battle the Fort McMurray wildfire I was a bit shocked.
I wondered didn't we have enough firefighters in this country to finish the job ourselves?
But then I saw them singing and dancing at the airport, and I thought oh never mind.
Who could complain about such a fabulous group of young men and women?
But I didn't realize what a truly great story it was until I learned this.
They are the children of my hero Nelson Mandela's South Africa.
And they are also here to thank us for our support in the struggle against apartheid.
“As South Africans we feel indebted to the Canadian people,” a senior South African official said at the departure ceremony. “Remember that these are the people who stood on our side in our times of trouble, so today we are paying back.”
And yes, our support for that struggle is the legacy of Brian Mulroney.
Brian Mulroney read the article in his Montreal office on Monday. “I’m looking at a picture of (Nelson) Mandela and saying, ‘Thank you, Nelson,'” the former prime minister said. “‘We were there for your people, now you’re there for us.’”
Who might have been an old scoundrel, but was Canadian enough to uphold our values.
As prime minister, Mulroney put Canada’s money behind his anti-apartheid rhetoric, imposing economic sanctions against South Africa’s segregationist regime. He was stridently opposed in his efforts by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, normally staunch conservative allies on the international stage.
And to stand up to both Ronald Reagan and the ghastly Margaret Thatcher
Watching this upstairs in his suite at the Pan Pacific Hotel, Mulroney obviously had had enough of the Brits undermining him as conference host.
“I’m going downstairs in 20 minutes to meet Margaret Thatcher,” he said, “and she’s not going to like what I’m going to tell her.”
Lewis was the only other person in the room for that; he later described it as “a tongue lashing.”
“Now that you’ve hoisted your colours, Margaret, you better look out for me,” Mulroney told her. “You’re on the wrong side of history.”
Which couldn't have been easy...
But was the right and Canadian thing to do.
You know, as I've mentioned before few things make me more proud to be a Canadian, than knowing that our soldiers helped liberate the Netherlands...
And few things move me more than the 20,000 tulips the Dutch send us every year, to thank us for that, and for sheltering their royal family.
Because it couldn't be a more beautiful present.
Or a more beautiful love story between two countries.
But then so is this one.
Gosh. Isn't it wonderful what beautiful gifts we receive?
How much love we get to share.
When we do the right thing.
And just act like Canadians...
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