Thankfully, 2022 has come to a close and we begin 2023 with some renewed hope. As I pointed out in my last few op-eds, 2022 was a year I would definitely like to forget, bringing with it no small amount of stress, challenge, anger, sadness and frustration. I sincerely hope that this new year makes up for the trials and tribulations of 2022. In that spirit, I present my list of things I would dearly like to see in 2023.
First and foremost, like most Ukrainians, I would like to see the end of Russia’s genocidal and criminal war on Ukraine. It has become obvious in recent months that Russia cannot win this war, and has been exposed as a fraud in claiming it had the second most powerful army in the world. The Ukrainian armed forces have decimated the best of the military forces that Russia threw at them, and has destroyed most of their combat equipment and effectiveness. Russia is now on the defensive, and Ukraine has gone on the offense after reclaiming a good chunk of the territories that Russia had initially occupied.
Not only do I wish that Ukraine chase all the Russians out of Ukraine, but I would also like to see Putin disappear into the dustbin of history, and the Russian “empire” as it stands now, disintegrate and shrink to a rump Russian state west of the Volga. Russia can never again be allowed to threaten its neighbours and the security of Europe and the rest of the world. If Russians wish to live in a civilized world, they need to prove that they are civilized first.
My second big wish is that the COVID virus mutates itself out of existence and allows the world to resume a normal life. Either that or the development of a one-time vaccine that gives life-long immunity, or a treatment that effectively and quickly destroys the virus if you become infected. This virus has disrupted normal life on this planet for too long.
Thirdly, I would really like to see Donald Trump prosecuted and imprisoned for the damage he has caused to not only American democracy but that of the whole planet. His toxic politics has set back progress on human rights, equality, freedom, diversity, tolerance and social justice many decades. His incompetence, scientific illiteracy and corruption should not be allowed to continue polluting American politics. He has deliberately sought to polarize the American public and turn America into a fascist tyranny controlled by himself and his fundamentalist, reactionary supporters.
Fourthly, I would like for the Ontario electorate to finally recognize the damage being wrought by Premier Doug Ford to Ontario’s health care, educational, environmental and social welfare systems. His brand of populist, right-wing politics marks him as not a man “of the people” as he likes to claim, but a shill for big corporations, wealthy developers, and those that seek to privatize all the services that a responsible government is obligated to provide. His attempt to transform Ontario into a destructive imitation of right-wing, Darwinian American forms of government, will only make rich Canadians richer, and everyone else poorer.
Fifth on my wish list is for civil politics and elections to return to Canada’s political scene. Political campaigns for the past decade have become a toxic mix of character assassination, vitriolic personal attacks, negative campaign ads, deliberate polarization and outright lies and disinformation. We really need to return to civilized and respectful debates on issues, programs and policies, and eschew this tendency of recent decades to wage vicious personal attacks on candidates and parties, rather than engage in legitimate political dialogue.
Sixth, I would like to see the Ukrainian community in the diaspora become less fragmented and more co-operative, particularly at this time when Ukraine is facing such an existential challenge. Regrettably, I still continue to see instances of the fragmentation and internal conflicts that have characterized Ukrainian diasporan organizational politics since Ukrainians first started coming to Canada. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has made great strides as an umbrella organization that represents all Ukrainian organizations, and yet there are still people and groups that either because of a “hetman” complex, political immaturity, or because they are under the influence of Russian agitation and subversion, continue to create dissension and disunity within the Ukrainian “hromada”.
The dawning of a new year always brings with it a hope for a better future. Although I am realistic enough to know that not all of my wishes will not come true, I would at least hope that there is some concrete positive progress in all these areas, so that my wish list a year form now is much smaller.