FGF E-Package
View From The North
July 5, 2012

The Lost Dominion: The Social and Cultural Transformation of Canada
by Mark Wegierski
fitzgerald griffin foundation

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 Red Flag

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 the roost.

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. Please forward this copyright info and links when sending to friends and colleagues.

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.

To subscribe, renew, or contribute, please send a tax-deductible donation to the:
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
Vienna,VA 22183
or donate online.

© 2012 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation