I believe it would have been even if we had only had 50 people in attendance, but I think we had almost 400! The reason it was a success was simple: it happened and I believe it needed to happen.
In order to understand One Nation, you have to understand the reasons it exists and the stories of some of the people behind it.
On July 18th, a family was attacked in downtown Calgary. The police, rather than step up and admit culpability, released a Facebook statement (True story. Not a press release but a Facebook statement) that the group attacked was somehow at fault for being attacked. Completely ignoring that in Canada we have the right for free assembly and the right of freedom of expression without fear of harm for expressing those rights. Basically a family and a couple of non-related protesters were attacked while at a rally.
My friend Jim is a tough little guy. He has built an oilfield company from the ground up, has a reputation as a straight shooter, and works a ridiculous amount because he is driven to be successful. But if you ask him what he is proudest of , it’s his family. Rightfully so; he has a pair of awesome kids. His son is a funny and intelligent young man who is extremely involved in his community,his daughter is a beautiful young lady who is extremely intelligent, witty and also very involved in the community. His wife, is one of the kindest most genuine people I have ever met, so I am not really surprised that their kids turned out the way they have. They had good material to start with. Their nephew was there and was attacked as well. He is my friend and a teammate on my football team, a solid kid, who is active in the community and is someone I respect. All I could think about was how my friend, who had always been able to be there for his family, must have felt when they were swarmed, how my friends must have felt being attacked and I was at home having a BBQ with some other good friends, including an IDF soldier who was home on leave and his family.
I am telling you this because I want you to understand, no, I need you to understand, these are good people. These people are what Canada is all about. These people are Canadian to the core. They love this country but they also want to make it better, something I believe of most Canadians.I guess I should also mention that Jim’s family is Jewish and that we met because I was helping his son and daughter start a pro-Israel group on Campus.
After the attack I remember being very angry, and trying not to show it because I felt like my friends were already dealing with some serious trauma. It was hard to consider how much worse it could have been when it felt like it was already so bad. Seeing how it affected all of my friends was very difficult for me.
That’s when we went for dinner one night and started talking about what happened and the idea came about to start a foundation or society to prevent something like this from happening again. It morphed into something even bigger. We started speaking to other people and the group got a little bit bigger, and suddenly we had a decent sized group of people who wanted to start making a difference. We organised, and had some meetings, and got yet more people involved, drafted a mission statement, and then made a decision: We would have a launch event.
We decided on bringing in speakers who shared our values and who could speak to the issues we face, and we chose Father Ray deSouza and Melanie Philips. At one of the first meetings, one of our founding members wrote a check and the rest quickly followed. They were not small checks. We used personal contacts and started telling people, and quickly built a website and got things rolling. We built a board and away we went.
I am not doing a service to the people who drove this event and who worked incredibly hard because I only have so much room, but the amount of work that went into the event was staggering. One of my good friends lost a lot of sleep because he was really driving the event. He is a lawyer here in Calgary and he used a lot of personal contacts to get this off the ground. Without him, we wouldn’t exist the way we do as an organisation.
Father Ray and Melanie got here and the events both went very well, My friend Jim’s son and daughter, founding members of Canadians for Israel, organised a university event with Father Ray and Melanie and it was awesome. No pro-Israel event like this had been on campus in a long time. I think doing it was cathartic and the smiles on their faces was worth every minute of work we put in, so even before the launch of One Nation, to me it was a success.
We got to the metropolitan conference center and from the outset it was clear the event was going to be a success. People were filing in and the room filled very quickly. Our MC Rob Breakenridge was very good, humorous and set everything up well; the conference room was perfect, and everything went very well. I managed to get through my speech about why we started without tearing up. That led to Father Ray speaking and then Jim gave a short talk about what happened to his family.
That was when Melanie Philips took the stage and she nailed it.
I should admit, I watch her videos quite often, we share a lot of common beliefs about Israel and she elucidates everything I believe in a way that I can’t match. She is clear ,concise and makes airtight arguments. Plus she just sounds smart with her English accent. I think she did a wonderful job. Her speech was a bit long, but it was incredibly important that people hear what she had to say. I don’t want to sound like a fanboy, but I am a fanboy when it comes to her. She not only said everything that needed to be said but she gave us a blueprint to fight back. .
“Don’t allow them to set the argument, fight back on your front foot, go on the offensive, and remember that the alternative to fighting is giving up.”
We are not giving up. We have built a group, comprising of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and some Indians. It almost sounds like a “walked into a bar” joke, but I assure you we are no joke. We are Canadians who want to change things and to protect our country and make it the place it was meant to be. We will make common cause with groups who share our values and love of freedom and we will take on those who do not.