TORONTO, CANADA —The 145th anniversary of the Canadian
Confederation formed in 1867 falls on July 1, 2012. This anniversary
has traditionally been celebrated as “Dominion Day,” since
Canada was officially called “the Dominion of Canada” —
a term that has fallen into disuse. Today the holiday is called “Canada
Day,” and on nearly all state documents, the Canadian state is
identified as “The Government of Canada.”
It is rare for a country not to be officially identified as a distinct “realm” —
whether a kingdom or republic — apart from its government. Indeed,
this identification provides some indication of the current situation,
in which the power of the entrenched state-bureaucracies and juridical
apparatus rivals that of the elected government.
Confederation was the culmination of a long history of the British
and the French — traditionally considered the founding nations
in Canada. The Aboriginal peoples were included insofar as they were
under the special protection of the monarchy. The Act of Confederation
was called the British North America (BNA) Act, and many Canadians
have viewed themselves as “British North Americans.”
Yet today, these origins of the Canadian state have been largely forgotten.
Canada’s traditional flag, the Red Ensign — with the Union
Jack in the upper-left corner — was replaced in 1965 by the Liberal-led
federal Parliament, driven by Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s
strenuous personal efforts. In the intervening decades, the awareness
of Canada's British past has been largely eradicated and even repudiated.
A key element of this assault was the undermining of its armed forces,
which had been a common locus for national tradition. The armed forces
were decimated through punitive budget cuts, the unification of the
separate services that undermined military pride and morale, and the
fostering of progressive agendas in the military.
Prime Minister Pearson (1963-1968) began the process of the social
and cultural transformation of Canada. Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime
Minister for most of the period from 1968 to 1984) carried it forward
with great enthusiasm and alacrity. Joe Clark (1979-1980) and Brian
Mulroney (1984-1993) failed to reverse it; and Jean Chretien (1993-2003)
continued in the footsteps of his mentor, Trudeau. A traditionalist
cultural critic could say that the creation of the current-day Canada
is analogous to the demolition of a well-built, established neighborhood,
and its replacement with modern gleaming skyscrapers, condo towers,
and ugly housing projects. It is akin to a huge gleaming spaceship
crash-landing on top of a small town.
Part of the transformation process was the new immigration from non-traditional
sources, which Liberal Party adviser Tom Kent has admitted was calculated
to strengthen the Liberal Party and to annihilate what had been called “Tory
Toronto.” In 1987, in an artless attempt to mimic the Liberal
strategy of bringing in immigrants who would gratefully vote for the
Liberal Party, Progressive Conservative Brian Mulroney raised immigration
to a quarter of a million persons a year, where it has remained. In
Trudeau’s last year in office, this number had fallen to around
54,000 — since 1965, it had averaged 100,000 a year. The immigration
rate, now among the highest in the world, is about twice as large per
capita as that of the United States.
At the same time, various elements of the social liberal agenda have
been precipitously advanced, such as the federal Parliament’s
embrace of same-sex marriage in 2005. This move followed on the heels
of the decisions of two provincial courts in 2003, which the federal
government had chosen not to appeal.
The situation is indeed dire for “small-c conservatives” in
Canada. It often happens that persons of unquestionable decency and
culture, who might have been able in different circumstances to give
a clear voice to true Canadian patriotism, are frequently relegated
to oblivion, often eking out a hardscrabble existence — while various
mediocrities, parvenues, dissimulators, and radical agitators rule
Traditionalist critics suggest that the current-day Canada, arguably
a welfare-state, has consumed for little good reason — and with manifest,
widespread detriment to society, social ethos and cohesion, and authentic
culture — vast resources that could have sustained earlier societies
in relative comfort and stability for centuries.
French Quebec may have better assured the prospects of its future flourishing
than has what is called TROC (“The Rest of Canada”). The
rapid increase of Quebec’s French-speaking population in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had resulted in increasing
political and cultural clout for the French-Canadians. However, in
the past few years, Quebec has seen a decline of its nationalist passions,
especially since its low birth rate and high abortion rate have ended “the
revenge of the cradle” that had allowed it to wield increasing
power in Canadian Confederation.
Now, observers note developments as the collapse of the centre-right
Action democratique du Quebec (ADQ) in the 2008 Quebec provincial election;
the emergence of the very left-wing Quebec solidaire (which was able
to win one seat in the Quebec legislature); and the latest turning
of many Quebec voters in the 2011 federal election toward the New Democratic
Party (giving it 59 of the 75 seats available).
Especially surprising was the collapse of the Bloc Quebecois, the
separatist party in the federal Parliament, which had held a majority
of seats in Quebec across the federal elections from 1993 to 2008.
The party won only four seats in 2011.
The general condition of Canada today may be pointedly summarized
by regional chasms; ecological disasters such as the near-disappearance
of the cod fishery; an engorged federal bureaucracy largely unaccountable
to the elected government; an unwillingness to effectively control
the borders; and underfunded armed forces.
Whether the results of the 2011 federal election — that is, the Conservative
majority government — can possibly lead to any salutary changes in
the condition of Canada remains to be seen.
View From The North is copyright © 2012
by Mark Wegierski and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
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Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer, social critic, and historical
researcher and is published in major Canadian newspapers, as well as
in U.S. scholarly journals such as Humanitas,
Review of Metaphysics, and Telos, and in U.S. magazines such as Chronicles
and The World & I. His writing has also appeared in Polish, British, and German publications.
See author's bio and other articles.
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