Food for thought: “Happy Canada Day, “Settlers” written by Dr. Gábor Lukács, mathematician and air passenger rights advocate

From the bottom of her heart, Bambi thanks Dr. Gábor Lukács for giving her the permission to share with you all his very thoughtful article, which was published today on LinkedIn ( July 1st is not over yet :). Happy Canada Day again and enjoy the rest of the week everyone ❤️!

A plea for restoring tolerance and ending division

For the past sixteen years, I have been fortunate to be able to keep my advocacy work and personal political views separate, and have deluded myself that I can keep doing so. 

My wake-up call came on Canada Day 2024 in the seemingly benign signature line of an interview request, identifying the reporter as a “settler” in Canada. The reporter, whose work and intellect I greatly respect, seemed utterly oblivious that some people may find this terminology and the related identity politics offensive and divisive, and that it may make others feel unwelcome in Canada.

Perhaps it is my fault and the fault of other like-minded Canadians that we have remained silent for too long, and have allowed a vocal ideological fringe group to create the illusion that they are the majority and their views are what average Canadians believe. It is time to speak up.

I am an immigrant to Canada. I was born in Hungary, lived in Israel from age 8 to 16, and came to Canada by myself before my 17th birthday as an international student to do my PhD in mathematics at York University in Toronto. Back in 1999, York University was an amazing place that truly celebrated multiculturalism and diversity, provided spaces and venues for a wide range of political views, and had a large variety of student groups and clubs reflecting these values. In those days, students’ racial, ethnic, cultural, or national origins just did not matter at York. The unwritten rule was not to bring “political baggage” from our “old home” but to debate every topic, including sensitive ones, as academics.

Typical of those times, one of my non-academic mentors turned out to be the late Father Massey Lombardi, a Roman Catholic priest who kindly allowed me to practice my meager keyboard skills on the organ at his church. Father Lombardi’s best friend was a Jewish rabbi, and both of them accepted me as an atheist. 

It was this culture of tolerance and acceptance, the urging of my amazing professors at York and of Father Lombardi, that persuaded me to apply for permanent residence in Canada. It is thanks to them that in 2005 I became a permanent resident, choosing Canada as my home, and that in 2009 I became a Canadian citizen. My intent was to be an equal among equals, nothing more and nothing less.

It is this culture of tolerance, acceptance, and equality that I am being robbed of gradually, over the past few years, and I am feeling increasingly unwelcome in Canada.

The reporter’s signature as a “settler” was the last straw. How ironic that it came on Canada Day.

If a person born and raised in Canada is a “settler,” a kind of second-class citizen,  then what am I in Canada? A “newcomer”? A “hunky”? A third-class citizen? What happened to “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”?

Like any other country, Canada too is built on the ruins of injustices; but two wrongs do not make a right. Turning one group of Canadians into scapegoats and unwelcome second-class citizens is not the cure for the countless historic injustices committed against other groups; rather, it is bound to alienate allies, and ultimately members of marginalized groups will end up paying the price for being used as pawns on the political chessboard.

It is high time to restore the culture of tolerance, acceptance, and equality that used to nourish Canada, and to end the division and the pitting of Canadians against each other under the guise of identity politics.

Those who seek to “decolonize” Canada may wish to consider exercising their right under s. 6(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with particular emphasis on its last two words.

We, the silent majority, however, prefer to live in peace with our fellow Canadians, and have no interest in importing any culture war into our lives, workplaces, and cities.”

6 thoughts on “Food for thought: “Happy Canada Day, “Settlers” written by Dr. Gábor Lukács, mathematician and air passenger rights advocate”

  1. This is a great article. I think most Canadians are getting tired of the identity politics that keeps dividing us. They may be afraid to speak up but that is changing more are thanks to great articles like this.

  2. s. 6(1) “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.”
    Love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *