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Why Our Heroes are Usually Called ‘Idealists’ or ‘Dreamers’

By Catherine Whelan Costen
July 26,2005
Why do we call those people with vision, or hope or optimists, ‘dreamers,’ with a determined negative connotation to the word? Would not those who saw a transportation vehicle that could unite a great country from east to west, be called ‘dreamers’? Once the railroad was built, goods and people began to find their way from city to rural landscape and back again, businesses boomed, trade increased and our national security became strong, the dreamer became the hero! Those who created the Avro Arrow, the zipper, the cure for Diphtheria, or TB, sewage systems, and water purification systems, would all be described as ‘dreamers’ until their dreams became reality.

What do you call those who dismantle dreams? Those who destroy railroads, publicly owned power plants, hospitals and schools, those who erode education systems, and rewrite history to suit themselves, are they called ‘nightmarers’? It seems to me that Canada had a great many dreamers in the past, and has too many ‘nightmarers’ in our present! We need to recoup the art of dreaming, and work towards realizing those dreams, instead of enduring the nightmares of someone else’s making. The populations of the world end up living someone else’s dreams or nightmares, and we owe it to ourselves to be part of the dreaming.

I have just had the privilege of watching the video ‘A Passion for Canada’ featuring a real Canadian legend, a hero for our time. A quiet Canadian, who received few accolades or applause though he trudged along to fight for the Canadian dream. His name is Paul Hellyer – The Hon. Paul Hellyer, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada in the Trudeau government, and founder of CAP in 1997. No, it isn’t a ‘shock and awe’ kind of video, nor a sci-fi or action film. Although I saw no evidence of blood or men leaping over buildings, or stopping bullets with their bare hands, what I heard and felt was somehow more gripping. Mr.Hellyer is now in his eighties and still holds onto the dream, to a feeling in the pit of his being for what Canada could be, with a little bit of effort and the will to breathe life into those dreams of days gone by.

Sure it sounds romantic and optimistic and maybe even dreamy! I ask you why not? If we are to live in a world as citizens of it, then we ought to expand our minds to incorporate dreams. If you listen to the words of this video, as he takes us back to Toronto with an old shack building for an airport terminal, or landscape without the 401 running through it, you cannot help but realize someone dreamt it before it became reality! There are many great Canadians who are now living in the age of wisdom, they have worked tirelessly to be heard, they cried out for the public to hear their warnings, ‘the dream is vanishing’ and we refused to hear. Canada’s Native peoples have a great tradition of honouring and respecting the wisdom of their elders. We could learn a lot from those traditions.

Some people are suggesting it is too late to save our country Canada, the once proud nation, hardly even past infancy, yet still a threat on the world stage. We were a threat to the status quo, we were a threat to a world of violence, we were hope for the future, and we still have much to do, if we don’t give up on the dream. John Riddell, has produced many videos, under the production name, ‘’ and introduced me, or further informed me, about some great Canadians like, Paul Hellyer, Connie Fogal, Mel Hurtig and William Krehm. He has attempted to enlighten people on the origins of Canada’s Debt, the very real solutions to overcome it, and made me realize that the only one that can kill a dream is the dreamer. If we don’t give up on the dream, it will become a reality.

Mr. Mel Hurtig and are featured on one of the videos, called ‘Canada: Yes or No’; and Mr. Hurtig quoted several prominent Canadians who declare, ‘it is already too late for Canada.’ Perhaps I am an eternal optimistic, because I vehemently disagree! Certainly there has been much damage; to our military because of under-funding; our social systems, again because of under-funding and poor management. Of course it seems impossible to ever get out from under over $500 billion in national debt, created by some of our new age economists. The truth is stranger than fiction, in this case and if we played out Canada’s real history in a full length feature film, it would surely be of the ‘horror, or thriller’ genre. Yet, if we learn anything from history, we know that people, and only people, can take back their country!

No politician can do it without the will of the masses, and so I urge all people of Canada to recognize that the dream is not dead; that it only lingers in the fog of sleep; but that once it is re-awakened, we will know no limits, and the dream of today will be the reality of future generations. They will look back on history, if it is told with truth, and see the determination of several generations of Canadians. From our Confederation of 1867 we have endured and suffered through many destructive forces that threatened Canada’s ability to realize our full potential, but we have also seen many great inventions, ideals realized and incorporated as we overcame the hurdles! I urge you to order these videos,(get a couple of copies if you can, you’ll want to share them) and once you understand what has happened to this country, the solutions are clear. We can do it, we need to be enlightened to proceed. When I was a schoolgirl they used to say there was no such thing as ‘can’t,’ and even declared that ‘if it was a word, it would be in the dictionary.’ In those days, it was not in the dictionary, but it is today. Regardless of the status of the word, the concept is the same – ‘can’t’ is another word for ‘won’t.’ People can overcome that negative ideology if they chose to! Canada does not have to become a colony so long as we stand for her, so long as we make the promise each time we sing our anthem! Call me a dreamer, and the idea nothing but a dream, if you like. I’d rather work towards the dream than contribute towards the nightmare that some have intended for us.

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Filed under: Social/Political/Human Issues

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