Vive Le Canada

Former PM Joe Clark lectures at U of M
Date: Sunday, November 27 2005
Topic:


Former PM Joe Clark lectures at U of M
Intrigued students listened as Clark discussed his political past and Canada’s hottest topics of the day

Chelsea Moore, Staff
The Right Honourable Joe Clark flew into Winnipeg on November 15 to reminisce with a classroom of students at the University of Manitoba about his fascinating political past.

Mr. Clark openly commented on his previous relationship with ex-political rival Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and touched on current issues such as Canadian identity, Canada/U.S. relations, immigration and defence.

Among the many loaded issues facing Canadians today, Clark emphasized identity as being the most important.


“The central issue in Canada always is identity. I don’t think it’s the economy, I think it’s a sense of knowing who we are as a country,” said Clark. “We’re successful individually, we’re successful as a country, but we’re not challenged and it’s easy to take things for granted.”

At age 39, Mr. Clark led the Progressive Conservative party as Canada’s youngest prime minister, and although his party only held office for a short period between 1979 and 1980, by no means did his political career recede from there. Soon after, he became secretary of state for external affairs, minister of constitutional affairs and second-time PC leader from 1998 to 2003.

At the discussion, Clark recalled many of his political achievements and aspirations, such as his support for the freedom of information, his fight against apartheid in South Africa, and his party’s involvement in the equality section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Clark added that, whereas other countries were created by nature or because of diplomatic arrangements made by foreign countries, Canada was created by “an act of will.”

“Federation was an act of will, medicare was an act of will, free trade was an act of will, equalization was an act of will, the Charter was an act of will,” said Clark. “We have to keep proving our worth to our parts, and that is easier to do when you feel threatened than it is when you think everything is just going fine.”

“As a Canadian, I find it interesting that he talked about how the main issue in Canada that interests him is Canadian identity and it’s role with the state and . . . the international community,” said Marcie Hawranik, a third-year political studies student at the U of M.

Clark mentioned that the “changing nature of the Canadian population” is another important issue facing Canadians.

He added that different sources of immigration have now created another significant distinction between Canada and the U.S.: Canada receives about 40 to 43 per cent of immigrants from Asia, whereas the U.S. receives most of its immigrants from Hispanic countries.

“We are growing more rapidly and from a different base,” said Clark, adding that Canadians must “ensure that these changes are as positive as possible.”


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