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Statement by Councillor Steve Streatch District 1 (Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Valley)
(Friday, December 3/04)--
Media reports and comments by others during the past few days have
been a cause of great concern to me and members of my family. The
issue, of course, has been over remarks attributed to me and unfairly
included by some under the general topic of immigration.
By issuing this statement today, I want to clarify and explain for members of the media and the general public my feelings and beliefs regarding immigration, family values and our great region, province and country.
Let me start by saying that it was not my intention to cause any discomfort or to offend anyone by my unfortunate choice of words in my remarks during a presentation on economic development at a Committee of the Whole meeting last Tuesday.
Like most of us, if I had to do it over again, I would express my views in a different manner, using a better choice of words. As a Nova Scotian-- and in the Nova Scotian way-- I want to apologize to anyone who might have been offended by those words. I want to assure them it was not my intention to offend, to hurt or to embarrass anyone.
It is unfortunate that my remarks were interpreted by some to mean that I believe it is an “either/or situation--immigration versus procreation”-- when it comes to ensuring the future population and growth of Nova Scotia.
It is far from an “either/or” choice. There are many initiatives that we must take to ensure there is natural population growth; to ensure that Nova Scotians no longer have “to go down the road” to find job opportunities in other parts of the country or the world; and to ensure that others from beyond our shores continue to have opportunities to come to our great nation, to work or start businesses here, to raise their families here and to become a part of the Canadian mosaic.
There is enough room in Canada and Nova Scotia for all who were born here, or will be born here, as well as for all those who choose to come and settle here. As citizens of a relatively young country, we are all really from somewhere else ( with the exception of the aboriginal or First Nations peoples). My ancestors immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom eight generations ago. On the other hand, my wife’s parents are relatively newcomers, because they immigrated to Canada about 40 years ago.
But we are all Nova Scotians now.
As a Nova Scotian, I am proud of my heritage. As a family man, I am proud of my five children. To encourage other Nova Scotians to have families-- even larger ones like mine-- is not wrong to me.
Last Tuesday, I was not saying as some may claim, “Let’s have lots of children, so we won’t need as many immigrants.” What I was saying was, that as a family man, I don’t want Nova Scotians to stop having children just because they think there are fewer opportunities for them to be able to stay and work here in Nova Scotia.
It’s our responsibilities as Nova Scotians to ensure those opportunities will be there-- and not just for those born in Nova Scotia-- but for anyone who wants to settle here and help contribute to making our community the best it can be.
As a Nova Scotian, I apologize. As Nova Scotians, I ask you to forgive my unfortunate choice of words. Let’s not dwell on the things that can tear us apart-- let’s work on the things that can draw us closer together.
Councillor Steve Streatch