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OTTAWA—Arnold Chan’s final speech to the House of Commons, delivered posthumously Tuesday by fellow Liberal MP Mark Holland, offered an optimistic vision that goodwill, openness and courage can prevail against the challenges and perils of the world.
Chan, MP for the Toronto-area riding of Scarborough-Agincourt, died last week of cancer at the age of 50.
His valedictory, read by a close friend who made his emotions clear, warned that climate and technological change — along with ensuing social unrest — pose existential threats for the next generation to confront.
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“In the face of climate change, accelerating technological advancements and the disruptions that they are causing, the tendency of people and communities is to ‘circle the wagons’ and, even worse, to ‘fear the other,” Chan wrote.
“We have already seen evidence of this around the world: increasing nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and isolationism. Rising sectarian violence in many countries. Distrust of elites, and strife based on economic class.”
But the challenge can be met, he continued.
“We must remember that our greatest strengths lie in our civility with each other, our humility in the face of our own limitations and our willingness to serve,” Holland quoted his friend as saying.
“We can adapt to change, and we can respond to challenges, but we adapt and respond best when we do so after reasoned debate with an open mind, and through listening carefully to the needs of the people we serve.”
Diversity, he continued, can be a source of strength.
“It is up to us to be braver, to go beyond our comfort zones and engage with people of other backgrounds, to diversify and broaden our relationships, and to seek the betterment of all. We have to take a chance, to engage and to participate. That will help to strengthen the institutions that serve us all.”
Chan urged MPs and all Canadians to take the steps necessary to meet the challenges of the future.
“While I wish I could be there for you and with you to contribute more to the great work of our Parliament and to better the world for my children and yours, I will have to leave this to you, my colleagues. I wish you all well.”
Chan’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto.