Glen Argan

Glen Argan

Glen Argan, former editor of Western Catholic Reporter, writes from Edmonton. See www.glenargan.com.

Several years ago, a friend who had immigrated from the former Soviet Union told me, “Canada is the greatest place on Earth. It is a paradise.” While I felt flattered on behalf of my country to hear those words, I also wondered what in our country made him so effusive.

Two hundred years ago, a trio of missionaries were sent westward to bring peace and stability to an untamed colony.

Words are rarely enough. Actions speak louder than words. When we want to restore a broken relationship, a simple “I’m sorry” or even a long, detailed apology may not suffice. More is required. 

Since 2009, Edmonton, along with 12 other Canadian cities, has been implementing a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. Unlike other “plans,” this one does not merely set a target and hope it comes true; solid work is being done to provide housing and prevent future homelessness.

Indian residential schools were established by Canada’s federal government, but Christian churches, including the Catholic Church, bought into the plan with enthusiasm.

“Was this story about love, money, conquest or disaster?” That was the question Gordon Sinclair asked week after week on CBC-TV’s long-running Front Page Challenge. If a news story did not have at least one of those four elements, Sinclair surmised, it might be a story, but it wasn’t news.

Forty years ago, I moved to Alberta from Saskatchewan imbued with the stereotype that my new province was full of cowboys, fundamentalists and wealthy oil barons who cared nothing about the environment. It didn’t take me long to realize that while there was truth in the stereotype, Alberta had numerous people who fell outside this cartoonish caricature.

Pope Francis has long held in esteem the late Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen van Thuan, the archbishop of Saigon who spent 13 years in a communist prison camp, including nine years in solitary confinement.

Nicodemus is the organization man who realizes his organization does not have the answers. So, he looks further afield. You are not supposed to do that, but he does it anyway. His heart hungers for more than arid policies, and what do you know, but he finds that something more.

Perhaps the notion of the common good will soon have its day in the sun.
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