TORONTO — Canada’s Walk of Fame adds environmentalist David Suzuki, sprinter Donovan Bailey, and actress Anna Paquin to its ranks tonight with a splashy gala.
The annual bash will also posthumously induct civil-rights pioneer Viola Desmond, business leader Ted Rogers, and country crooner Stompin’ Tom Connors.
Suzuki says he’ll be thinking of his late parents as he accepts the honour, which recognizes his efforts to champion the environment while making science accessible to average Canadians.
The 81-year-old says the issues facing the planet are as urgent as ever, and he urges Canadians to embrace sustainable living.
This year’s gala is expected to be broadcast next year, but a spokesman says no date has yet been set.
Global will air a one-hour retrospective special Dec. 3, hosted by “Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack.
“I wish my mom and dad were here. They were Canadian born-and-raised all their lives and yet when (the Second World War) came they lost all rights of citizenship and were shipped out of Vancouver and kept in camps for three years,” says Suzuki, whose family later moved to Ontario.
“I wish they were alive to see what Canada has become in that time.”
Suzuki is an outspoken activist for numerous causes including his Vancouver-based research and advocacy group, the David Suzuki Foundation. But the longtime host of CBC-TV’s “The Nature of Things” says he’s proudest of making science appealing and accessible to average people.
“I tried to make it as popular as possible,” he says.
“My father was my biggest fan but also my biggest critic and he watched all the stuff I did and he would call me and say, ‘Look, I’m your father, I love you, but I have to tell you I didn’t understand that at all and if I can’t understand it, how do you expect Joe Blow to understand? You’ve got to do better.’ I always think of my father when I’m looking at that camera.”
Suzuki says the current state of the environment is “very sad and depressing.”
“For over 40 years, the leading scientists have been telling us we’re heading on a dangerous path, we’ve got to change direction. But now, politics and economics interfere and we’re not paying attention to what was the survival strategy of our species, which was foresight. Now we say, ‘No, no, no, we can’t afford that, it’ll cost too much,’” says Suzuki.
“We don’t have much time and we can’t wait for everybody to buy an electric car and take public transit. We’ve all got to do those things but we also need politicians to make big decisions now.”
This year’s Canada’s Walk of Fame additions bring the number of inductees to 173.