Canada is a proud and beautiful country, full of massive human potential, natural resources and industry. We are diverse, we are collaborative, and we care for one another. Over the last few years, we have overcome significant challenges. We’ve witnessed incredible acts of kindness between neighbours and strangers. We came together in support of each other even as we were forced apart. This is something to be proud of.

Throughout the same time period, however, we have seen an increase in division and polarization. Anti-semitism, intolerance to those who do not share our opinions and calls to curb the freedom of expression are on the rise.

Making matters worse, is recent federal legislation, namely Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 that are making it more expensive for social media companies and streaming services to carry Canadian content. This will undoubtedly lead to the crowding out of moderate content steeped in Canadian context, in favour of content from other countries, like America or worse, state-sponsored sources like RT in Russia or Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia – something that is happening already. In response to this Legislation, Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, will be banning the sharing of Canadian news on its platforms. Given that more and more Canadians are turning to social media to get their news, this is a dangerous development.

La liberté de s’exprimer et la liberté d’accéder à l’information, aux idées, aux opinions et à un journalisme de qualité sont au cœur d’une démocratie saine. La capacité de prendre des décisions en connaissance de cause et de contester les idées et les décisions du gouvernement est essentielle au maintien des libertés et des droits que nous partageons en tant que Canadiens.

Luckily, here in the City Of Ottawa, we have a strong library system with a solid intellectual freedom policy. This is something that I have championed as chair for the last four years. In the face of this current situation, I would encourage everyone to become a client of the library so that you can continue to access journals, news sources, and longform journalism that would typically remain behind a pay wall for most users. It is as easy as signing up online at biblioottawalibrary.ca and visiting the PressReader page.

Today, we must recommit to the principles that have made our beautiful country the most sought after home for newcomers around the globe. With every single one of the rights and freedoms that we enjoy in the Charter comes a corresponding and even more important responsibility. If we fail to take those responsibilities, seriously, we will continue to see the erosion of these rights and freedoms. So stay informed, do not fear to speak your mind, and commit to re-engaging in our democracy. Because when everyone gets involved, we achieve better outcomes.

Les élections ne devraient pas être une question de savoir quel individu ou quel groupe peut contraindre le plus grand nombre de ses partisans à se rendre aux bureaux de vote. Elles devraient permettre à un public bien informé de choisir les dirigeants les plus compétents et les plus brillants que notre pays puisse offrir.

The tools for building a better Canada, while maintaining the solid foundation our ancestors have left us, are laid at your feet. It is difficult work, and we need all hands on deck. All of your talent and experience, no matter whether you have been a Canadian your entire life, or just for one day, is so valuable to building the Canada of the future. Our diversity is our greatest strength, so let’s put that strength to work.

Today, I am full of optimism for the bright, prosperous future of our abundant and brilliant country.

Happy birthday Canada. And I wish all of you in Orléans East Cumberland a wonderful Canada Day.

Joyeux anniversaire Canada. Et je souhaite à tous les habitants d’Orléans Est-Cumberland une merveilleuse fête du Canada.

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