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December 26, 2002 Halifax Herald

Looking back, and ahead

ON OCT. 2, I and nine other Nova Scotians were awarded the Order of Nova Scotia. The reason I mention this is that I want to laud the good work of the dedicated, patriotic Nova Scotians who made it possible, the Lunenburg Unity Group. The group's members are elderly white people. I don't believe any people of colour are members at this time; however, they would be welcome to join. They organized to find ways to help Nova Scotia's diverse citizens be more knowledgeable about each other's cultural differences, and thus more tolerant.

Initially, they directed their efforts towards promoting a better understanding between the descendants of English and French immigrants. Then they decided, because we are the original inhabitants who were left on the sidelines, to bring the Mi'kmaq into the picture. To this end, they invited Noel Knockwood and me, on separate occasions, to Lunenburg to speak at a couple of their monthly luncheon sessions, listened to what we had to say, and sympathized.

This occurred at the same time the province was inviting the public to recommend public-spirited individuals, from among whom it would select 10 to receive its new Order of Nova Scotia. The group decided, to assure that we were not left out of contention for Nova Scotia's highest honour, to recommend me and another Mi'kmaq.

After I was selected and received the Order, I was invited back to Lunenburg for a replay. It was a most pleasant experience, except that one member stated the group might be in the process of becoming irrelevant. This is definitely not the case. I urge members to keep the faith because the organization is a role model for others to copy. I salute your good work and successes, and may you move forward with gusto!

The next item is the intent of a column I had published on Sept. 19, entitled "White supremacist? Pro-white? No difference." It appears that some readers put blinders on when reading it, took it out of context, and viewed it as a jab at all white people.

This conclusion has no basis in fact. The cutting comments were directed at far-right groups of whites who organize to keep people of colour excluded from the economy, thus marginalized. Yet they deny being white supremacist, just pro-white. I would hope that any right-thinking white person would agree that in the case of these people, "White supremacist? Pro-white? No difference" aptly describes them. If you want to reread the column, or if you missed it and would like to read it, send me an e-mail to the address at the end of this column and I'll forward a copy.

Over time, all columnists receive letters that laud their efforts or question their sanity. Instead of quoting from the hate mail I've received in 2002, I want to quote from one that made my day: "I want you to know that I have great admiration for your ability to express your views in an intelligent, thoughtful, and balanced manner. Regardless of the topic of any specific article, you find the right words to present an easily understood, fair, and common-sense perspective. Your sense of equity, compassion, and respect for others comes through clearly, even when you challenge commonly held (conscious or unconscious) societal views.

"There might be a minor point that I would want to clarify, but . . . More important, while I sit and merely observe the world, you express yourself in a public forum and influence the world. And I believe you do exert an influence for good. I'm convinced that honest people, after reading and understanding your perspective, see and approach the world differently. . . ."

I don't believe that any award bestowed by society can ever come close to touching a person as such words do!

Looking ahead, let's consider government's conflict of interest when taxing essentials. With both federal and provincial governments taxing home-heating oil and gas, which encourages them not to demand reasonable prices for these essentials, who is looking after the interests of the consumer, especially the low-income earner and the poor?

It is especially without compassion for governments to be driving up the cost of home-heating oil to unaffordable levels, by taxation, for these people in a cold country like ours.

With taxes raised again in 2002 on both items, prices have stayed high, in spite of a glut on the market. Is this partially due to the fact that the present pricing is in the best interest of government? It enables them to continue to be irresponsible and fund archaic programs.

Only a person who believes that the world is flat could believe that the present situation protects the consumer. We need an independent, effective board to review the cost of home-heating oil and keep it affordable. And governments should start working towards eliminating taxes on such an essential item, not increasing them.

Daniel N. Paul

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