What's Tony Thinking

O Canada!


The final rest stop on the RSVP (Ride Seattle to Vancouver Party) nearly 200 mile, two-day ride was in Port Moody.

The stop was at a park on the Burrard Inlet, fifteen miles east of the finish line in downtown Vancouver.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the park was just packed with folks. Kids in the “water feature.” Kids on the climbing structures. Families with day shelter tents pitched along the Inlet. People of every hue, race, attire and religion.

Taking it all in I thought, “This is what Donald Trump is afraid of — a multi-cultural society.” On second thought, I’m not sure Trump himself fears it all that much. He lives his life in walled enclaves, Trump Towers and Mar-Lago’s.

But he understands that his base fears what one sees in a suburb in Canada. Children of all sorts playing together. Families of all types doing what families do, i.e. trying to get junior to eat his sandwich, picking up a little gal who has toppled from a swing, assuaging the feelings of a sister outraged that her brother opened the water sprayer on her, pushing kids on the swing, trying to get a picture for the grands.

Pretty threatening stuff, don’t you think?

Canada has embraced “multiculturalism” and “pluralism” eagerly. I’m sure that our neighbor to the north has its share of problems — who doesn’t? But fear of “the Other” seems, at least in Port Moody and Vancouver, not to be one of them.

We finished the ride on the waterfront in Vancouver, where again every race, age, shade and language group seem to be co-existing rather well.

I understand that big numbers of high-need immigrants coming in to a society in too short a time (e.g. Germany) is a real challenge and not wise social policy. Open borders isn’t the answer.

But a pluralistic culture seems to me less something to fear than something that is — at least potentially — enriching for everyone.

Vancouver is such a lovely city. Joe, Nick and I met our families, spouses and children, there. We all stayed at our favorite old hotel, “The Sylvia” on English Bay. All the old-time photos on the walls of the hotel do show a very English, and very white Vancouver. But somehow Vancouver has changed without losing either its charm or best qualities. Perhaps it has even gained some new “best qualities.”

The Sylvia is a short walk from Stanley Park (see photo), such a jewel. Last evening Linda and I walked the seawall that surrounds the park, from Lionsgate Bridge back to English Bay. Beautiful sunset, starting pink, growing orange. Whoever saved the land and water of Stanley Park from “development” (such an interesting word for more McMansions and more private property) should be knighted. Do they do that in Canada?

So many people use and share the park. And again, a veritable United Nations of folks. It appears to be working.

How sad that in the U.S. we do not, at least at this time, see cultural and racial diversity as a strength rather a weakness, a blessing rather than a curse.

Hats off to our neighbor to the north. In a time of fear down here, you shine a light for a different prospect.



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