My father, William (Bill) John Knight Jr, was born in his father's house on the corner of King Rd and Caribou Rd (now Earle St) in Windsor, Newfoundland June 22, 1945.
I was born in Pembroke, Ontario, the community next to CFB Petawawa, in 1968.
Dad served with the 2nd Bat. Canadian Guards (1963 - 1967), remustering to 3rd Bat. Royal Canadian Regiment, during the era of Trudeau's Tri Service defence policy, before taking his honorable discharge in 1973.
Our family, Dad, Mom, me, and my younger sister, moved back to Newfoundland where I was raised until I was 17; excepting for a year and a half in Thompson, Manitoba, where Dad worked the at the airport and later the nickel mine.
It was the Recession on the Eastern Seaboard for much of my childhood, with the '73 oil crisis leading into record inflation and a housing market crash amplified by rampant business "downsizing" into the mid-80s. Bank mortgage interest rates between 1977 (12%) and 1986 (12%) were as high as 21% in 1984.
In deeply religious and traditional communities fathers were by a far margin the primary income earners, and inflation coupled with the loss of stable employment made raising a family much more difficult. As a young teen I heard tales of families foreclosed on with no hope of finding a new home. I heard tales of vengeful fathers who, rather than let the banks take their homes, took a chainsaw to the interior, vowing that what the bank got back would be worthless.
Through it all, my father, and millions of other fathers nationwide, maintained a level head, bearing down to work long hours for low pay in industries that could lay them off without notice. It was a time when it was much more difficult to qualify for Unemployment Insurance, and those who did qualify had to house, clothe, feed and raise their families on 50% of the previous wage and for less time. Relying on Social Services (Welfare) was inevitable for many who worked in non-union jobs. The joke that "your mom wears welfare boots" was more than just a slur. It had the stench of a socially cancerous truth. And my father, like many others, made exceptional sacrifices to work with unscrupulous employers, in dangerous jobs, with no guarantee of even seeing a paycheque, so unstable were the times.
In 1985, my parents called Newfoundland quits. They sold everything and moved the family, now numbering seven (three blue ones and two pink ones), lock-stock-and-barrel to British Columbia. An exodus of sorts, as five other families to whom we had close ties, moved to the Fraser Valley in the same summer.
Almost immediately my parents were able to find some entry-level work and were able to afford to rent a townhouse in Clearbrook. My father, a carpenter by trade, found permanent employment in a local food processing plant. My mother, an LPN before my birth, re-entered the workforce as a LTCA at a local respite home. In the early 90s they bought their first home, a well-appointed condo in Chilliwack. They both finished their careers at their respective employers, terms lasting more than 20 years each.
In 2005 my father passed suddenly of a heart attack, two weeks shy of his 60th birthday. And we children were certain that Mom would die of a broken heart. But she came out of her grieving three years later, reborn, like the fabled Phoenix. And as such she is my father's legacy, a woman born into a patriarchal society who, while retaining the traditions of her faith and her culture, having been loved by one man who gave himself unconditionally and without hesitation to her and her children, became her own woman.
I share this with you to point out that your legacy as a father is born only out of family, honour, sweat, pain, and blood. There is no easy road. But we are made of tougher stuff. Fathers are built for struggle, molded for hard times, broken for the sake of our children, beaten so that the innocent may not take the blows.
We are leaders through lives of capable service, sometimes on our knees, sometimes to the willful abandonment of our own goals. We set our faces like a flint knife pressed to the sharpening wheel, intuitively separating the meat of the stag. We are the shield. And the spear. We are the builder of houses, the tiller of fields, the bulwark against cold and hunger. Our hardness is not stony. Our gaze is not fearful to those within the walls of our Keep. We have chosen to live to the fullest as fathers. Whether we lead with salty vigour into battle, raucous laughter during the cookout, loud exclamations for our favourite team, beaming cheers for our children's successes, the gentlest of caresses for our lover, or heave great tears of sorrow in deepest loss, we remain men.
The People's Party of Canada is not about governments, or platforms, or policies. It is about you, your families, your friends, your neighbours, your community, your nation, your legacy. Among the many in our lives who are worthy of salutations, we salute you fathers, especially, today.
Happy Father's Day!