The Open Diplomacy Institute was new to me, and the invitation to participate in this initiative presented a great challenge – as a Canadian, what does “peace” meant to me? How could a group of parliamentarians from 10 different countries – elected to represent a community to be the voice of our respective electorates – come together find common ground and develop a policy for peace platform? The answer seemed unclear at the beginning, but after 2 months of honest and truthful conversation with knowledgeable colleagues, it became clear to me: the only way we can protect the wellbeing of each and everyone is by working together, and all of us have a responsibility to each of us.
We have a responsibility as elected official to raise issues and concerns in our legislative bodies. We must do everything that we can to better our communities, provinces, and countries.
Working with this amazing group of parliamentarians made it clear to me that our similarities far outweigh our differences. Despite coming from different professional backgrounds, we were united in our commitment to universal access to an education, for example, and to fighting climate change and mitigating its impact on poverty and on human and animal population migration.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of global health care infrastructure and cooperation, and I was proud to bring the Canadian perspective on the importance information-sharing during these unprecedent times. The impact of misinformation and of opinion manipulation on social media networks was also top of mind during our discussion and workshops.
This is an exceedingly difficult period in the history of our world, and it has been made more difficult because of our collective lack of preparation for a pandemic. Our discussions touched on the absence of a global emergency preparedness plan, the role organizations like the WHO and NATO can and should play in such a plan, and the need to support and ensure the well being of our populations.
Despite the virtual nature of our meetings, working with the Parliamentarians for Peace was a moving and productive experience, and I consider my colleagues to be friends. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to the team at the Open Diplomacy Institute for bringing parliamentarians from 10 countries together to work on making peace in the world.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It was an honour to work alongside all of you.
Marie-France Lalonde was elected as the Member of Parliament for Orléans in October 2019. She joined the House of Commons after 5 years in the Ontario legislature, where she served in Cabinet. She currently serves as a member on both the standing committees for Official Languages and Veterans Affairs , as well as the Chair of the Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary Association. With a degree in social work and as a former business owner of a retirement residence, she has dedicated more than a decade in the care sector with a focus on seniors.