Unicorns and rainbows


I wrote a piece today, a nostalgia piece about the time I spent in Pierre Trudeau’s PMO and the positive thoughts I had about the experience. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that I got some pushback from an angry reader who accused me of being full of “rainbows and unicorns”.

I was about to go to bed when I got one of those God thoughts I get once in a while. If you are a person of faith, you sometimes get them, those nagging thoughts that don’t go away. So it’s past my bedtime, and if I don’t get this off my chest, I won’t be able to sleep.

So.

I am a Liberal because I was raised by a mother whose husband died after he came home from the war. He had PTSD and killed himself in a car crash leaving her and her children with nothing. We lived beside my grandparents in a house with no indoor plumbing until I was a teenager. My mother had to rely on mother’s allowance to get her through. When I was 16, after my grandparents died, my mother went to work in a back breaking job in a sweater factory where sometimes the heat was over 40 degrees. She was 50 and it was terrible work. She did that job until she could barely walk and had to rely on disability payments. My mom died when she was 67 years old, a broken woman. She spent her last year in Toronto Hospital with a wasting disease that left her so small I had to buy her new clothes that fit her for her funeral.

My brothers and I were fortunate to live in a country that believed that families that were less fortunate should be given a “leg up”.  It was called a social safety net. Thanks to progressive government including the one overseen by Conservative Premier Bill Davis, and the federal party under Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau,  all of our family were able to go to university. Both of my brothers have been very successful and it was because of the loans and grants we all received that we were able to dream the dreams that children in other countries rarely get to experience.

My story is not quite as good. I went to university, landed myself some pretty good jobs but fell into the perennial trap that women do. I fell in love with the wrong man, and he left me with three children under six. I realized soon afterwards that with all my skills and training, I was no better off than my mother. He went on to make millions while my children had to live in a rented townhouse with snow drifts coming in the windows.

Life has been hard for me, living a lower class life working part-time for the past two decades to support my children.

In the process, I have lost nearly everything: my career, my dignity, my future.

It’s too late for me. I know well the life of a pension-less woman. I saw my mother go through it, watched her kill cockroaches in her high rise apartment and clean bird shit off her balcony. I am better off. I can still make a white collar living, and that is thanks to a government which gave me an education –at the very least.

The last ten years have been hard and all I have is hope.

What I hope is that I can count on a better life for my children and grandchildren, the kind of future that was promised to me so long ago. I want for my grandchildren a promise of a clean environment, with water as clear as crystal, and a climate that is friendly and unthreatening. I want for them a world where they can share our boundless resources with others especially immigrants who have much to offer this country but who have had the misfortune to be born in hell on Earth.

For me, I only ask one thing: that my life is full of kindness, and warmth and caring for my fellow travelers.

That’s what I hope to see.

Maybe I’m all full of rainbows and unicorns.

But remember. At the end of every rainbow is a pot of gold, and on the face of every unicorn is a horn that’s meant to protect the pot of gold — our children.

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