Robert Pellerin was elected as the new President of the Gens de la Saskatchewan earlier this week and the busy head of the Group of Seven industrial countries has already made a point of addressing and praising the effect the treaty towns of Canada’s Western prairie have had on him.
Writing for Politico, Pellerin discusses how the “dreams” and “concerns” of his ancestors helped shape the battle between him and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I have always been taught that individuals can have an impact, that, no matter how humble, small, or insignificant you may feel, you can have an effect,” Pellerin writes. “I started in politics just as the dreams of my ancestors were first taking shape. At the time I felt there was no better way to represent them than to work in politics.”
When Pellerin returned to Ottawa for the first time since his 2003 election as an MP in the riding of French-speaking Prince Edward Island, he was surprised at the fact his actions had done “so much to shape the larger forces in the national narrative.”
“In the process, I have had the privilege of putting my family’s name and legacy on the map,” he writes. “It is in no small part because of my ancestral communities that I am representing, and their collective strength.
“From the minute I left behind the rigors of the school system in my early teens, I have always felt the need to pursue a career that was of personal and social significance. This urge was always felt to participate as a good person in the process of building a better world, in the freedom of that world to be one that I would personally accept into my home.”
Like the fact that he went from the small village of Fond de Lam, where his grandfather was born, to Switzerland in search of his future. Like the opening line of his 2006 book, “Cracks and Rusted Ducks: North East South, East West, North East South: A Guide to the Great Canadian Conflict and its Heritage.” Like writing a daily column on the eve of the referendum on that piece of paper which proposes that the federal government cancel the vast majority of powers the provinces have exercised in Canada since Confederation. Like the bill that needs to be passed within the next few weeks to make it possible for the next Queen’s representative in Canada to actually exercise his role.
“I often look back at the places where I grew up and I can see how they have continued to affect me and others in this great nation,” he writes. “Never has a sense of connection to our diverse land and people been more fundamental to our identity than it is today. It is because of this that my family is committed to defending our Canadian way of life and the long-term well-being of our citizens, from our grandchild to those just born here, from a place where we feel ‘home.’ ”
Like the belief that it is the act of loving the place that made the place love you. Like the fact that there’s a new federal leader right now and if Pellerin can’t move into the Canada House, it doesn’t mean he isn’t convinced of Trudeau’s belief that this country could move forward.
When I asked Pellerin what his vision for Canada’s future was, he wrote: “To conclude, I am committed to joining others to work towards the realization of the vision of the G7 for the Canadian nation, based on our shared values and commitment to the best of our nation, our regions, and our shared ideals.”
Not that he thinks so.