I love this country and am proud to be a Canadian.

I was born in the Netherlands, and like many Canadians before and after us, my family’s path to this country was paved by war. We came here shortly after World War II, to a country that has always welcomed refugees fleeing devastation and conflict – offering them the promise of opportunity in exchange for hard work and commitment.

As a large family, we struggled in the early years, and when our rented home burned down, I witnessed the power of community. The help we received from friends and neighbours provided lessons I will never forget.

I have seen this same collective spirit as we face COVID-19. Despite the financial and social hardships, it created, we’ve set aside many of our personal conveniences. We have come together to help fellow Canadians and support local businesses – and have adapted to our new circumstances with determined ingenuity. Governments have also stepped forward with unprecedented care and cooperation, and despite the economic challenges that lie ahead, we remain well positioned to recover and prosper.

For many, this has been a year of tragedy and loss, and for all of us, a year of unrelenting concern. Our world has become a very different place in a few, short months. But as we begin to celebrate Canada Day, let us remember that we live in a wonderful country. We’ve often heard that Canada is the envy of the world, and a quick Google search will show that we rank near the top in a variety of indices that look at quality of life, freedom, and other meaningful measures.

That being said, the events of the last six months have laid bare some of our failings, and we must collectively learn from these. And take action. A great nation must be ‘great’ for all of its people, and a symbol of hope for the world. I know we can move forward and build such a nation, a nation where our children and our grandchildren can inherit a future of true equality.

Happy Canada Day everybody!

Tony Van Bynen

Member of Parliament

Newmarket—Aurora