The lost Dominion
By Mark Wegierski
The 144th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation (1867) falls on July 1, 2011. That anniversary was traditionally celebrated as "Dominion Day" – as Canada was officially called "the Dominion of Canada" – a term which has now fallen into disuse. Indeed, the holiday is today called Canada Day, and on nearly all state documents, the Canadian State is identified as "The Government of Canada." It is exceedingly rare for a country not to be officially identified as a distinct "realm" – whether a kingdom or republic -- apart from its government. Indeed, it does give some indication of the current Canadian situation where the entrenched state-bureaucracies are probably more powerful than the elected government.
Confederation may be seen as the culmination of a long history of the British and the French in Canada – who were traditionally called the founding nations. The Aboriginal peoples were included insofar as they were considered under the special protection of the Crown. The Act of Confederation was called the British North America (BNA) Act, and many Canadians have considered themselves as "British North Americans." These origins of the Canadian State have now been mostly forgotten.
It could be argued that over the last four and a half decades – beginning with the replacement of the Canada's traditional flag, the Red Ensign, in 1965 (which, like Australia's flag today, had the Union Jack in the upper-left corner) – the memory of Canada's British past was mostly eradicated and repudiated. Part of this assault against traditional Canada was the undermining of its armed forces (a common locus for national tradition) which were virtually destroyed through punitive budget cuts, the ridiculous "unification" of the separate services, and the fostering of various "progressive" agendas in the military.
It could be said that Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson (1963-1968) began the process of the social and cultural transformation of Canada; Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984, except for nine months in 1979-1980), carried it forward with the greatest 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 demolishing a well-built, long-standing neighbourhood, and replacing it with modern gleaming skyscrapers, condo-towers, and ugly housing projects. It could be seen as artificial as a huge gleaming spaceship crash-landing on top of some small town.
Part of the process was the new immigration from non-traditional sources, which Liberal Party adviser Tom Kent has virtually admitted was calculated to strengthen the Liberal Party, and to annihilate what had been, up until that time, often 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 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney raised immigration to a quarter-million persons a year, where it has remained ever since. In Trudeau's last year in office (1983-1984), it had fallen to around 54,000 persons – and, indeed, in the whole period from 1965 forward it had been on average about 130,000 persons a year. The immigration rate is now among the highest in the world, and 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 (following 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 so-called "small-c conservatives" in Canada. It often happens in Canada 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 obscure oblivion, often eking out a hardscrabble existence -- while various mediocrities, parvenues, dissimulators and radical agitators rule the roost.
Traditionalist critics would suggest that the current-day Canada, which could be characterized as a consumptionist welfare-state, has consumed for little good reason, and with obvious, manifest, widespread detriment to society, social ethos and cohesion, and authentic culture, vast resources which could have probably sustained earlier societies in relative comfort and stability for centuries.
Until a few years ago, it might have appeared that French Quebec may have better assured the prospects of its future flourishing, than what is sometimes ironically called TROC ("The Rest of Canada"). However, Quebec has in the last few years seen a real trailing off of its nationalist passions, especially when one considers that its low birthrate and high abortion rate has ended "the revenge of the cradle" which had earlier allowed it to wield increasing power in Canadian Confederation. And now, one must look at such 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 towards the New Democratic Party (giving the NDP 59 of the 75 seats available). It was especially surprising to see 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 of 1993 to 2008. They won only four seats in 2011.
And the general condition of the Canadian State today may be pointedly summarized by such aspects as regional chasms; ecological disasters (such as the near-disappearance of the cod-fishery); the presence of an engorged federal bureaucracy mostly unaccountable to the current elected government; an unwillingness to control its borders effectively; and armed forces that are still (comparatively speaking) quite poorly funded.
Whether the results of the 2011 federal election can possibly lead to any salutary changes in the parlous condition of Canada, with its various current-day syndromes, remains to be seen.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.