Showing how Canadians’ freedom of conscience and speech has been eroded under Trudeau’s Liberals, David M. Haskell discusses the People’s Party’s plan for restoring those fundamental freedoms. The Liberals’ abortion attestation, Bill C-16, M -103, and other issues are also highlighted as is Andrew Scheer’s refusal to stand up for conservatives’ right to free expression.
It’s the July 1st Canada Day weekend. It should be a great time.
I presume our government is agreeable to the idea of celebrating the country it heads. That caution springs from the tepid and uninspiring performance it gave on the landmark occasion of our 150th anniversary. Any other nation, at peace, prosperous, with an earned reputation for good will in foreign relations and moderation at home, would have put on a show to shame Olympic spectacles and blasted Hosannas to the globe.
But either through a kind of careless meekness or perhaps a vague fear of being too showily patriotic (an emotion many shun as unenlightened these days) the government turned what should have been a birthday party for the ages into a frigid pantomime, something with less buzz than an after-party for the Geminis or (shudder) the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner. Hardly a few have noted the Raptors’ (a team staffed by Americans, winning an American title) recent victory party as the “real” celebration we didn’t have two years back. A columnist in “the other place” put it very finely: “Everyone was feeling part of something big. Canada’s 150th birthday was a church tea compared with this blowout.”
Will it be better this time? We’ll see.
The official celebrations are announced as revolving around the now familiar — or too familiar — triune of “multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion.” Which is fine as far as it goes, though a careful reading of these three rhetorical epaulets will reveal each is a function of the other and the three are conceptually but one. A deeper consideration might suggest that to locate or identify these particular three attitudes or virtues as synonymous with Canada, or the central feature of Canadian identity, is a self-regarding delusion. Is Toronto meaningfully more diverse than London or New York?
A high-sounding regard for diversity and inclusion is now the banner boast of most Western countries, and some not of the West. The same is true of every bland corporate mission statement, and virtually every muttering from our universities is crowded with numb prose professing their unshakeable devotion to “a diverse environment” and an “inclusive approach” to whatever it is they are misteaching these days. In other words, far from “owning” diversity and inclusion and their parent multiculturalism, or from all three being distinctly and exclusively Canadian, they have become more or less virtue sign-posts in everything from advertising and social media to institutions of every pretentious stripe over half the globe.
So if we are going to celebrate Canada’s birthday, let’s consider grounding the celebrations in the present actualities of the country, of the land, people and common culture, and, even more, in the labours and love of all those preceding generations that brought us to Canada 2019.
We’re only in a position where we can effuse about our superior virtues, because absent our comforts, absent our wealth, absent our security, earlier Canadians offered their “blood, toil, tears and sweat” to labours beyond our capacity, and in conditions we will (hopefully) never taste, in fashioning this country. They were as much the artisans of our present good fortune as those craftsmen who worked in stone, ages before there was a Canada, to give Europe its cathedrals.
They were as much the artisans of our present good fortune as those craftsmen who worked in stone
It was they who delivered the heritage of accomplishment for which on every July 1st we give thanks for, they who evolved the civil code, that manner we have in dealing with and thinking of our fellow Canadians, that we take such pride in. The latter-day penchant for frequent historical apologies is troublesome, especially if it is not at least occasionally played against the recognition of how much of the mixed past was right and honourable. In fact, we might ask how much of this apologetic streak is built on the arrogant presumption that if it had been “us” back then — us being the tolerant and inclusive and enlightened Canadians of 2019 — we could never have acted like “them.” Here’s a thought: them are us.
We could do with a dose of modesty about our current progressive moment, and a little more reverence, or at least respect, to the many, many moments that preceded it.
A Canada Day celebration, thoughtfully conceived, would be something of a festival of thanksgiving for all the good things, brave actions and enduring fortitude it took to bring Canada to its 21st-century heights. It would, naturally, count our heroes, but fix equally on the nameless labourers, farmers, loggers, traders, fishermen, and emphatically the mothers of our pioneers. How greatly the women of early Canada, with all the challenges and deprivations of their time, helped knit our common values and inspirited our civic ethos, is beyond measurement, but it is not therefore beyond present day regard and celebration.
We could do with a dose of modesty about our current progressive moment
Diversity is a fine thing in itself, but it is nothing without a precedent commonality — what some might call a core identity. Canada Day is a day for the all of us, for the elements we share in common, for the endeavours and themes that bind us as a country. Our current fixation on groups and sub-groups, on sexual and political and ethnic divisions and subdivisions, on portioning out rights based on various and multiplying identity factions (a product of multiculturalism that is ironically the very contradiction of it) weakens and is even hostile to genuine commonality. What unites a citizenry is all the more important for a country when its constituent elements are so various and disparate.
Nothing comes from nothing, as Lear, trembling toward dotage, remarked. Twenty-first-century Canada did not just fall from the air. It did not arrive out of a void. It was built, built over time, with millions of unrecorded transactions and interactions, conscious and unconscious, from farm to Parliament. The nation is a sum product of all that went before the present moment, or, as we should say more elegantly, an inheritance. And it is the inheritance we celebrate on Canada Day.
All of our celebrated national composure, the tolerance and regard for our neighbours, the ambition to set an example to the world, that is an inheritance, too, a moral inheritance that constitutes — there is no need to fear the phrase — the soul of this country. Canada is, despite all flaws and faults, more bent towards good than its opposite, more given to generosity than meanness, capable of a fitting remorse for sins past, but mindful that the larger entries in the ledger go to the finer side of things. Happy Canada Day.