1. August 2007
Rede in Green Lake,
Whistler, Canada BC
Let us form the 27th canton
of the Confederation!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends of Switzerland,
Dear Swiss fellow countrymen,
We are grateful to Peter and Trudy Alder that we have been invited to think about Switzerland and our relation to it looking on it from a Canadian perspective at such a wonderful place.
From this place on the shore of the Green-Lake you nearly have the same romantic view on mountains and woods and mountain-railways as from the Rütli meadow at the Lake of Lucerne in heartlands of Switzerland where three rich farmers stood together some 716 years ago and promised to each-other mutual support in the case some European big powers should question their autonomy.
As one year ago in Pemperton I am grateful to you that I can share some thoughts about the political situation of Switzerland two and a half month before the federal elections with you, a community who knows another national anthem better then the Swiss one.
When I mention a Canadian perspective on Switzerland I think both people in both countries share a common perception how they would like to be seen by others. «Canada is perhaps the country where human beings, no matter where they come from, have the best chance of being treated as human beings», a Canadian politician said ten years ago.
The economic and political success of Switzerland in the last 120 years is based on the fact that between 1830 and 1880 the Swiss not only thought about themselves like this but also realized such a human approach to other human beings who had to flee from their homes because of political persecution or economic problems.
Today many Swiss still think like this about themselves, but I am not sure that they still act in this way. Perhaps you remember that I asked you one year ago in Pemperton you take a wider view on the Swiss federal legislation concerning foreigners and not to let happen, that the Swiss doors to foreigners and asylum seekers in need and in existential troubles are closed even harder then before. The majority of the Swiss voters did not follow this advice. As one of the richest countries in Europe we have now one of the most selfish and non empathic laws towards other human beings in need of the World.
A half a year later another majority of Swiss voters showed the same hardship to all the fellow countrymen who are handicapped or have cronical health problems so they can't make a living anymore on their own. Why did the Swiss become so hard towards others in need although the majority of us are well of and can make a living without pain? Why can't we share more with others what we have enough?
Why you can not say about Switzerland today, what a Canadian politician said ten years ago about Canada, that «Canada is a land of promise and Canadians are people of hope»?
Why so many Swiss privatized their promises and hopes and have lost them for their country and their fellow countrymen? Could it be that there is a link and that by the hard way you meet others you hurt yourself first or at least as much as the others? By these questions I would like to illustrate to you that the Swiss society needs some change and some stimulation pushes from outside from people who don't loose their perspective and are able to see the woods and not only some trees. And from outside you see Switzerland often better than when you have your nose to close to the window.
That's why I think it would be useful for the future of Switzerland if some Swiss Canadians make use of their double citizenship and get involved in the Swiss election debate and the elections themselves.
That's why I also think it would be useful that all the Swiss who live outside Switzerland think about how to make their voice more heard and listened to at home more effectively? You may know that about 600'000 Swiss live outside Switzerland and 150'000 of them make use of their double citizenship by participating directly from abroad in the Swiss votes and elections.
And there are propositions on the agenda in the Swiss Parliament that this Swiss community outside Switzerland should be allowed to form the 27th canton of the Confederation in order to get their own Representatives in the National Council and 2 Senators as all the other Cantons. This would increase the influence of the Swiss citizens living abroad considerably and would enlarge the voices the Swiss public would have to listen to dramatically!
What do you think about these ideas? Are you interested in them and would like this to happen?
Those who would like to discuss these ideas or would like to share their views about them with me and others, are invited to come afterwards to this table where we can go on with the discussion.
To all the others I would like to remember the song Bill Clinton prefers from Fleetwood Mac with the line «Don't stop thinking about tomorrow» and I would like to add: Do what you think in the future has to be done and don't forget the old Indian wisdom, that when one person has a idea it's just an idea, but when several share the same idea and start acting together in order to realize it, it might make a difference and the beginning of a other better future.
Thank you for your attention and have a nice evening.