Most Canadians understand the word character. It is a player in a movie or a video game. That aside, it has a more important meaning.

Webster’s defines ‘character’ as a noun; moral excellence and firmness.

What exactly does it mean to be moral, and can we expect to place our version of morality on the rest of the country? Let’s look at the definition of ‘moral’: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior. Also: conforming to a standard of right behavior

Let’s go a step further. Who decides what is right and wrong? That is where the ethical and moral debate in this country comes to the fork. It seems that nobody can agree on where our ethics should come from. We have an elected body called parliament, which is supposed to legislate, that is, pass laws that are for the good of the country and must be within the confines and restrictions of the Charter of Rights.

While many other factors affect the outcome of our legislation, they may have too much influence. These are the media, special interest groups, lobby groups, and unions. We all hear that Canadians don’t want to be told how to live, and that some have no business placing their morality on the rest of the country.

This is a nonsensical argument and I’ll show you why.

We have seen that morality is defined as an absolute right and wrong. Most people today frown when they are told that they are not living right, or what they are doing is wrong. They resent being judged by others. Unfortunately, that is how living amongst others works. The community sets a standard for behavior and we are all expected to live within it, no matter who decides what those standards will be. When I am at work, there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct myself. When I walk down the street, I can’t do as I wish, I am bound by a set of standards.

Our society already has a moral code, like it or not. It is wrong to murder, wrong to steal, wrong to hurt others. The list used to be longer, but it seems that the list of acceptable behaviors is expanding. Whether one side is wrong or not is not the point I am getting to. The point is that for someone to say that they are their own boss is silly. As part of society, we have an acceptable set of standards and behaviors, and none of us are exempt from it.

The battle between the left wing ideologues and the right wing is not whether we need a moral code, as some would have us believe, but it is what this code will encompass that brings them to differing opinions.

No one group should have a monopoly on what acceptable behavior should be, but as the men who wrote our constitution were aware, we do need a set of guidelines, and they need to be agreed upon. If they cannot be agreed to, we must hold a debate. That is democracy in action. People today seem to want the debate to end. God forbid, as this is what has gotten Canada to be what it is.

When debate ends, so does freedom.

As we speak, there is heated debate happening in Parliament. It is democracy in action. Neither group is despicable, as some would suggest. The process is quite simple. One group of people wants to move the guidelines of our standards to the left. All the others wish to do is to hold the line where it is. Whether we agree on which side is the right side doesn’t matter. What is important is that we stop trying to vilify the other side as illegitimate. That does our country a great disservice, and not something that one would expect to see in a civilized democracy, where all should have a voice, homosexual or straight, atheist or Christian.

We live together. We must form our laws together. We must set our standards together. If you think that the other side is wrong, win them over with the truth as you see it. But respect them. Reinstate the dignity in our country and stop the scare tactics, the labeling, and the name calling. Canadians want decorum in their decision makers.

And remember, morality will always be where there is a civilized nation. It is not a bad thing, but all must be able to determine where the guidelines sit, and we won’t always agree. There’s that debate thing again.

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