On Canada Day 2017 I am reflecting on my journey. My mind wanders to Pearson Airport 1999 when I landed in Toronto in search of a better future for my family. We rented a small one bedroom apartment in Regent Park, and welcomed our second son in first year of the new millennium.
Fast forward to my elder son going to Regent Park Duke of York and me serving as the school council chair. My first foray in politics was purely accidental. During 2002, when Ontario Government made cuts to the education budget, when I protested to school management, they pointed me towards the local MPP.
So on a frosty Canadian winter days with fresh blanket of snow I arrived pushing a double stroller at my local MPP’s office. He listened patiently to my pleas of stopping the cuts to education. I told him I am very passionate about education and will not give up without a fight. A journalist who was sitting nearby overheard me and asked me for an interview. And after the 2003 provincial elections, a new era started where the government started investing in education.
My MPP and mentor George Smitherman called me up and offered me a position in his constituency office. I replied I am an educationist and have very limited political experience. He replied all you need is passion, a desire to serve community and a cause.
In 2013, after serving for more than ten years in several ministries in the Ontario Government, I decided to enter the political arena as I was very scared of the direction my country was heading. Some people were pointing figures trying to divide the country. Scientists were ridiculed for mentioning science; we had stopped investing in our people and infrastructure. I thought it was the right time to come in from the sidelines and fight for my Canada. I wanted the same Canada that I had admired when I immigrated for my kids. My extended family in Pakistan thought I having a midlife crisis.
In the 2015 election, Canadians overwhelmingly rejected the politics of fear and division choose hope over fear and hard work over cynicism. On election night October 19, 2015, I told my volunteers, supporters and well-wishers the easy part was over and hard work starts from tomorrow. We had vowed to unite Canada, invest in our people, protect our environment, develop a fair system and lay the foundation for a great Canada for our future generations.
In 2017, on Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, I am very pleased to see Canada heading in the right direction. Diversity is not only considered a strength, we are stronger not in spite of our differences but because of them. And also what unites us is stronger than what divides us. We are investing in our people, our infrastructure, our economy and also our environment. We are again the envy of the world where the Canadian model is quoted on how to integrate and build a pluralistic society.
Our Canada is for everyone irrespective of race, colour, creed or religion. We are also reaffirming our commitment to meaningful and lasting reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples. Today I am very confident that with lots of hard work (yes, hard will not stop) we are on target to put Canada on road of great prosperity. It’s a good warm fuzzy feeling that I am a part of making a difference for this great country.
So my dear fellow Canadians, enjoy this Canada day and rest assured that we are on job and with your help and support we will achieve a great future for many generations. This is our country and our year let’s celebrate together today tomorrow and for years to come.
“The Past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not to be worshiped. It is our future in which we will find our greatness”. Hon Pierre Elliott Trudeau
What Scarborough loves about Canada
As we celebrate Canada Day and Canada 150, we asked the people of Scarborough Centre to share what they love about Canada. Happy Canada Day!