Today marks the one-year anniversary of Nelson Mandela's death at the age of 95. The anti-apartheid freedom-fighter is widely admired for his steadfast ideals of equality and his commitment to peaceful reconciliation even in the face of all the injustice he experienced throughout his life and 27 years in jail.
His quotes will live on forever and much like MLK and Ghandi before him, he will continue to inspire people who champion human rights and work towards a more fair and free world.
Elected President of South Africa in 1994, Mandela became a symbol of redemption not only for South Africa but also for the entire continent that was still reeling from centuries of colonial rule.
With this backdrop, in 2001, the Canadian Parliament looked to make Nelson Mandela an honorary Canadian citizen because he dedicated his life to creating a multicultural "Rainbow country" in South Africa.
This required a unanimous vote. One conservative (Alliance) MP, Rob Anders, yelled, "No!", when the Speaker asked for unanimous consent. Anders went on to call the South African President, "a Communist and a terrorist." The motion was later reintroduced by PM Chretien and Mandela was made an honorary Canadian citizen on June 7, 2001 - he was the first living person to be bestowed with this honour.
Anders is still an MP and is now sitting in the Conservative government's caucus. The fact that he would be accepted by this major political party in Canada tells me all I need to know about the Conservative Party of Canada.
Nelson Mandela faced down oppression and won. The old saying, "One man's freedom-fighter is another man's terrorist," comes to mind. Mandela is my kind of freedom-fighter. Some conservatives would rather justify the colonial Dutch powers and call Mandela a terrorist. Those same conservatives also continue to celebrate Canada's own colonial past.