I dropped my wallet in Calcutta. It was returned to me.
I got lost wandering around in Istanbul. Strangers helped me get back to my hotel.
I spent Christmas in 2005 in Patna, Bihar, India, a city known for its violence and poverty. I was welcomed at Midnight Mass, where the congregation sang familiar hymns in the unfamiliar Hindi, and shook hands in peace with those around me.
I was afraid I had an infection in my foot when I lived in Kabul. My boss, an Afghan doctor, and his father and his cousin drove me, in the middle of the night, down a dangerous road, to get to the hospital for assessment.
I had a panic attack while scuba diving in a strong current in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A fellow diver, an Indian tourist, stayed with me, helped me resurface and gather the gumption to dive again.
I was accidentally in the wrong region at the wrong time in Assam. The people staying at the ashram with me put me in a jeep and drove me to the capital in the middle of the night. Local unrest hit just as we arrived.
I needed to find an apartment for 6 months when I lived in Vienna. I don't speak German and was having a hard time searching. My Moldovan colleague spent hours of her free time helping me, graciously.
There are dozens more. I've been aided and supported in innumerable ways by people all over the world who naturally exhibit kindness, generosity, patience and openness. There are good people in every corner and every pocket of this planet. They are the rule, not the exception, even when there are few resources and little trust in tomorrow.
When Kellie Leitch, a woman who would like to be the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, lept onto Donald Trump's coattails and proposed immigration screening based on "Canadian values", I laughed. What is a Canadian value? A friend at a party recently proposed "maple syrup" "donoughts" "plaid" and "Mounties" as Canadian values but those aren't so much values as symbols.
Maybe kindness, openness, generosity and patience are good candidates for Canadian values? But, like I said, I've seen these everywhere. I've seen them in people I thought weren't very good people. I've seen respect for diversity in people I thought would be intolerant of it. I've seen pluralism in the most unlikely of places. We don't have a monopoly on being good people. In fact, when push comes to shove, if we had to share a little more or work with less, we might see the rapid dissolution of our politeness. Our goodness might be a luxury permitted for now because of our riches and the wide open spaces and oceans between us and them.
The closest we have to universality in values is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms from 1982. It's an excellent version of what I wish we were and sets a global standard for equity and personhood.
But Christine Clark, daughter of former PM, Joe Clark said the other think I was thinking:
And when Kellie Leitch talked about Canadian values-based means testing for entrance into Canada, essentially playing the dorky kazoo on Trump's jalopy bandwagon of opportunistic political thugs, it was all about what she wanted to weed out: people who wear scarves on their head, people who have different family systems, people who don't look, talk or think like....like what? Like your typical Canadian? Who IS that, anyway?
An Indigenous person? From which Nation? We haven't done near enough to protect our natural resources or repair the injustices of residential schooling for the Indigenous way of life to be typical.
Is it me? White, Anglo, Catholic-conditioned but currently atheist and professionally successful? Fourth, maybe fifth, generation mixed European and Indigenous, we think, from the forests of Central Ontario? Is that white enough? Am I a colonizer or the colonized? But many of my family members rely on social assistance, and some others likely play fast and loose with income tax matters. Many didn't go to school, a few have been to jail. One or two are quite proudly racist. Something tells me a few of us may not pass this interesting Canadian values test, but we are white and christian-ish and English-speaking, and this might be more important to Kellie Leitch.
There is no standard for how to be a Canadian, aside from the Charter, and that document enshrines equality and respect under the law.
Dr. Leitch, that's good enough for most of us. I recommend you avoid stirring fear and resentment for political gain on the backs of the millions of new Canadians who have just as much right to be here as you and I. No one wins that way, not even you and your nascent political career.