On being a responsible Canadian


I had great plans to reveal to you the solution to President Trump’s quest to Make America Great Again. During the 20th century, on every continent, the world saw the emergence of nation states and an end to colonization. We have generally recognized that no country on this earth can live for itself alone. President Trump, whose professional life to date has been a one-man show, is learning that lesson, but the process is painfully slow.

As a start, if President Trump is to achieve his goal, he should follow the advice of British Prime Minister Sir Harold MacMillan more than half a century ago. He stated that the solutions are to be found in ”pushing forward of the frontiers of knowledge, in the applying of science in the service of human needs, in the expanding of food production, in speeding and multiplying the means of communication and perhaps, above all, the spread of education.” These ends cannot be met by bombastic isolationism.

Such thoughts were giving me inner comfort and a feeling of Canadian superiority, when I got a sharp reminder that I have failed in some of my responsibilities in my own profession. I was reminded of it when CBC Go Public shamed us all about a serious lack of action on keeping our children safe.

In 2012, six-month-old Andy Appaqaq was flying on a small airplane to Sanikiluaq, located on the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay. Andy’s mother and the pilot followed Transport Canada’s rules for flying with an infant. The rule states “ Although children who have not yet reached their second birthday may be held in an adult’s arms during a flight, Transport Canada highly recommends the use of an approved child restraint system (car seat) for all phases of the flight.” She held Andy on her lap during a rough landing. The plane missed the runway and crashed. Everyone survived unhurt – except Andy. He was found under the captain’s rudder pedals.

The Transportation Safety Board report on the tragedy recommended that child safety restraints be mandatory for infants and children. Transport Canada is still ‘studying’ the matter. Canadian passenger airlines complain that the conversion would cost $10 million and have done nothing. They have tossed the ball back in Transport Canada’s so-called lap. And my own Canadian Paediatric Society has limited its comments on children’s safety during flying to concerns about transmissible infectious diseases and children with cardiopulmonary problems.

As for myself, like everyone who flies, I haven’t given child safety on airlines much thought. I think about head protection for children in cars, on bicycles, skateboards, ATVs and more recently in St. Albert, scooters. But during air flights, I am busy taking care of my own comforts – even when there is a baby sitting beside me on a parent’s lap.

So as we sit in our comfortable pews north of the U.S.A. border, we need to remind ourselves about the importance of keeping vigilant about our own children and their future.

Give it some thought. Maybe our prime minister might even consider the issue sometime as he reaches for his B.C. bud at 4:20.

Alan Murdock is a local pediatrician.




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Alan Murdock