Statement on International Day for Tolerance

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today, November 16, marks International Day for Tolerance. Fourteen years ago today, UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] member states, of which Canada is one, adopted the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance.

This declaration provides for the meaning and the practice of tolerance and lays out the following ideas. Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression, and our ways of being human. At one time, tolerance used to refer mainly to ethnic and religious differences, but it can also be applied to gender, sexual orientation, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and other differences too.

As the UN [United Nations] quite simply puts it, tolerance is harmony in difference. This declaration makes it clear that practicing tolerance does not mean that we tolerate social injustice, nor does it mean we need to abandon or weaken our own convictions. Rather it means we are free to adhere to our own convictions and need to accept that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting the fact that we humans, who are naturally diverse in all kinds of ways, have the right to live in peace and to be as we are. One might say tolerance means treating others the way we would like to be treated.
Intolerance comes in many forms and includes outright injustice and violence. But discrimination and marginalization of vulnerable groups are also common forms of intolerance. This declaration points out — with globalization, increasing mobility and communication, large-scale migration, and displacement of populations among other things — practising tolerance today is more important than ever.

In our role as elected members, how can we practice and promote tolerance? We need to think about our words, our actions, and sometimes our inactions, and the legislation we propose.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members today to join with me in celebrating International Day for Tolerance and to consider the role we play as elected members in enhancing tolerance in our province. Thank you.

<< Prev   |   Next >>