Today, on the 151st anniversary of the founding of the Dominion of Canada, let us take a look at the state of the Dominion. We will start on a positive note – contrary to what liberals would like us to believe Canada still is the Dominion of Canada. This is because the Fathers of Confederation gave our country the title of Dominion – as a substitute for their original choice of Kingdom – and the name Canada. This happened decades before the word Dominion became a more general description of self-governing bodies within the Empire as it evolved into the Commonwealth. When the Liberals repatriated the British North America Act in 1982 and renamed it the Constitution Act they did not excise the section and article that titles our country Dominion (II.1) and so we remain the Dominion of Canada. The late, great, Canadian constitutional expert, the Honourable Eugene A. Forsey, was fond of pointing this out as one of the inadvertently positive results of the repatriation process of which he was overall, and quite rightly, critical. Another observation of Forsey’s is worth mentioning at this point – that the BNAA, albeit under a new name and with some bells and whistles added –remains our constitution. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not itself our constitution but a set of amendments to it. The common liberal notion that Pierre Trudeau gave us a “new constitution” in 1982 is a myth. Last, but not least, among the positives, Queen Elizabeth II does indeed still reign over our country as Head of State. It speaks very poorly of the intelligence of Justin Trudeau’s supporters that one of them chose to deride me for saying this in a recent essay even though it is an easily demonstrated statement of fact. Perhaps this liberal does not understand the difference between “reign” and “rule.”
Now we must turn to the negative side of the leger. Sadly, there is much more to be found here than on the positive side. There has been a growing tendency among true Canadian conservatives, i.e., those who wish to conserve the legacy of Confederation and the Loyalist tradition behind it, since the end of the Second World War to focus on the negative. This tendency stands in marked contrast to the more optimistic tone in the writings of the leading such Canadian conservative man of letters from the era that ended with the War, economist, political scientist, and humourist, Stephen Leacock. This is because the post-War conservatives have had much that is negative to focus on due to the success of a series of “revolutions within the form” that have been perpetrated by the Liberal Party. The first such revolution took place in the 1920s during the premiership of William Lyon Mackenzie King. John Farthing, in his posthumously published (1957) Freedom Wears a Crown, noted how this revolution seriously undermined Parliament’s ability to hold the government accountable leaving the Prime Minister and Cabinet with the near-dictatorial powers with which they have plagued Canada ever since. The book for which George Grant will forever be remembered, his Lament for a Nation, was published in 1965, two-years in to the second “revolution within the form” (1) that took place during the premierships of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. Lament was a jeremiad based upon the author’s conviction that the fall of the Diefenbaker premiership two years previously, due to its insistence on not allowing Canadian policy to be dictated by Washington D.C., spelled the failure of the Confederation Project of building a conservative country that could withstand the continental gravity pulling it towards the orbit of American liberalism. Diefenbaker himself sounded the alarm about the radical changes being introduced in the early years of the Pierre Trudeau premiership in his Those Things We Treasure: A Selection of Speeches on Freedom and Defence of Our Parliamentary Heritage published in 1972. The same year, historian Donald Creighton’s collection of essays – in many cases originally lectures – Towards the Discovery of Canada, was, if anything, more pessimistic in tone than Lament. Creighton, although the son of a Methodist minister, did not allow Christianity’s optimistic view of history as ultimately culminating in the Kingdom of God to moderate his nationalist pessimism in the way Grant did. Towards the end of the Trudeau premiership and the completion of the second revolution, Winnett Boyd, Kenneth McDonald, and Orville Gaines published a series of books under their BMG label demonstrating how Trudeau’s policies were further subverting Canada’s parliamentary form of government and Common Law rights and freedoms, moving us closer to Soviet Communism, and, in the final book in the series, Doug Collins’ Immigration: The Destruction of English Canada, deliberately engineering radical changes to the demographic makeup of English Canada and in the process unnecessarily importing racial strife that would make it impossible to maintain order without a more authoritarian, if not totalitarian, style of governing.
The fact that all of the above books, with the exception of Grant’s, have been allowed to go out of print and that the leadership of the present Conservative Party shows little to no interest in their contents is itself a good reason for negativity and pessimism among traditional Canadian conservatives.
Today, we are in the midst of the third “revolution within the form”, being carried out under the leadership of the son of the architect of the second, a man operating without the benefit of either brains or a brain trust, even as we continue to be hit with the repercussions of the second revolution. As an example of the latter, consider the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling in the Trinity Western University case. Trinity Western University is a conservative, evangelical, Christian university in British Columbia. It requires, as schools of this nature generally do, that its students agree to a Christian lifestyle covenant for the duration of their study. For some time now TWU has been working towards establishing a law school. While the law societies of most provinces have agreed to accredit the school and admit its graduates to the bar, the law societies of Ontario and BC have refused to do so. They consider TWU’s covenant to be discriminatory towards the alphabet soup gang, apparently holding the position that members of that group are incapable, unlike heterosexual singles who are also required to practice chastity by the same covenant, of refraining from acting upon their desires for the number of years it takes to get a law degree. The law societies’ decision has nothing to do with the quality of the legal education that would be available at the proposed school. What the law societies are doing is, ironically, exactly what they are complaining that TWU is doing – making their religious ethical convictions, in this case “thou shalt not discriminate”, into a standard that excludes others from membership in their community. There is a huge difference, however, in that the law societies are not the same kind of organization as TWU. TWU is a self-confessed, faith-based institution and the right of such institutions to require their members to adhere to the standards of their faith is well-established and time-honoured. The law societies are not institutions of that kind and have no such well-established and time-honoured right. The Supreme Court ought to have ruled in favour of TWU and prior to 1982 would have done so. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, however, transformed the Court into an agent of moral, social, and cultural revolution, which agrees with the law societies' efforts to force TWU to abandon either its Christian principles or its efforts to establish a nationally-accredited law school, because it ultimately shares their Cultural Marxist agenda of replacing the Christian principles of the old Canada with the modern, secular, pluralistic ideals of the new.
To many liberals today it would come as news that Canada ever had Christian principles to begin with. Former Liberal Party strategist Warren Kinsella and Mike Harris – the journalist not the 22nd premier of Ontario – are among the liberals that I have seen claim that Canada is a secular country that believes in separation of church and state. This absurd claim confuses the Canadian political tradition with its American counterpart but Kinsella and Harris are hardly the first liberals to be so confused. The Liberal Interpretation of Canadian History – what Donald Creighton mockingly called “the Authorized Version” – has always been based upon the false notion that Canada’s story is a repeat of America’s story – a former colony struggling to gain independence from the British Empire – rather than the truth that the those who built our country deliberately chose not to go down that path but to build our country within the evolving Commonwealth on a foundation of loyalty and continuity. This truth does not sit well with liberals – but then no truth ever has.
It is not just the Supreme Court. Justin Trudeau, who duped the Canadian electorate into voting his party a majority government in 2015, has been another aggressive promoter of the Cultural Marxist agenda. Not that he possesses the intelligence to actually understand the theories of Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Theodore Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Jacques Derrida or Michel Foucault. Cultural Marxism seems to be instinctual with him. He has made it a policy, starting this year, that employers receiving grants to hire student workers under the government’s Summer Jobs program must attest to their agreement with Liberal Party ideals including his crackpot notion that women have a right to murder their unborn babies. In other words “orthodox Christians need not apply.” The best that can be said about this is that it is merely an attempt to use the taxpayers’ money to bribe the faithful into giving up their convictions rather than dragging them before Human Rights tribunals and fining them or forcing them to attend the re-education camps euphemistically known as “sensitivity training classes” if they refuse to do so. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this means that Trudeau is less of a soft-totalitarian than his father. It just means that these other methods of cramming far-left views down Canadians throats are being reserved for new battles, like his war against “transphobia” and “Islamophobia”, rather than ones seen by the Liberals as having been won long ago.
It is, of course, only orthodox believers in the religion of the old Canada that the Liberals intend to press to give up their traditional beliefs. Neo-conservatives have recently called attention to the fact that the Islamic Humanitarian Service of Kitchener, Ontario, whose Sheikh Shafiq Huda was recorded calling for violent action against Israel at a recent al-Quds day march in Toronto, has been approved for a grant under the Summer Jobs program despite its leader’s conduct being as out of sync with the ideals employers are expected to sign on to as the pro-life views of Christians. When the neo-conservatives accuse the Liberal government of hypocrisy, however, they miss the point altogether. The Liberal Party’s Cultural Marxist agenda is one of replacing the old Canada with the new. Christianity, the faith of the old Canada, has to be forced to bow the knee to the idols of the new. Practitioners of other religions do not have to because they are part of the “diversity” that is one of the chief of those idols. In the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau campaigned against the previous neo-conservative government’s use of the expression “barbaric cultural practices.” The practices in question – forced marriages, female genital mutilation, and the like – are in fundamental conflict with the feminism that Trudeau espouses but to call anything that people from other cultures do “barbaric” is to sin against diversity. While Trudeau wastes millions of our tax-dollars on schemes for promoting “gender equality” around the world, at home the only throats he will shove it down are those of orthodox Protestants and Catholics and traditional English and French Canadians. The neo-conservatives, since they share most of the same ideals as the liberals – their objection to “barbaric cultural practices” was based upon the inconsistency of those practices with egalitarian liberalism – are reduced to pointing out the inconsistencies in Liberal practice, having no resources with which to resist and combat the Liberals’ increasingly radical left-wing agenda.
A large part of Canada’s trade has always been with the United States. For decades, however, the old Canada resisted the Liberal Party’s call for free trade with the United States. There were several reasons for that. Confederation took place only a few years after the Republican Party had come to power in the United States and put into place Alexander Hamilton’s “American system” of growing a strong manufacturing base through tariff protectionism and internal infrastructure improvements. Sir John A. MacDonald’s Conservatives knew better than to waste their time trying to negotiate reciprocity with a country that was not interested in it and furthermore recognized that due to the larger population and economy of the United States a free trade arrangement would lead to the subjugation of Canada – economically, culturally, and perhaps eventually politically. Goldwin Smith, the nineteenth century Manchester School free-trader and Liberal intellectual, made no effort to hide the fact that this was exactly what he desired for Canada in his Canada and the Canadian Question (1891). Confederation, Smith maintained, was a mistake - the formation of an unnatural country against the natural north-south trade flow of the continent, an argument which was amply refuted by Harold Innis in The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History (1930) and Donald Creighton in The Commercial Empire of the St. Lawrence 1760-1850 (1937). Canada, Smith argued, should apply for entry into the United States. To allow this to happen would go against the very purpose of Confederation – uniting the provinces of British North America into a single country that could resist the expansionism of a United States that was preaching its “Manifest Destiny” to rule all of North America and which had threatened Canada with annexation more than once. The Tories introduced, therefore, their National Policy, which was a similar sort of protectionist nation-building to what the Republicans were engaged in south of the border at the time. In 1891 and again in 1911 Sir Wilfred Laurier sought election with promises of free trade – and both times he was soundly defeated. Sir John A. MacDonald, denouncing the "veiled treason" of reciprocity, defeated him in 1891 despite the collapse of his health that led to his death shortly after the election. In 1911 the poet Rudyard Kipling, in a front page editorial against reciprocity for the Montreal Daily Star that was reprinted across the Dominion wrote: "It is her own soul that Canada risks today. Once that soul is pawned for any consideration, Canada must inevitably conform to the commercial, legal, financial, social, and ethical standards which will be imposed on her by the sheer admitted weight of the United States" and the Canadian voting public evidently agreed. By 1988, however, Canada had already undergone the first two “revolutions within the form” and the objections to free trade were largely forgotten or regarded as having no abiding relevance in the late twentieth century. When the Free Trade Agreement was negotiated between Canada and the United States it was Brian Mulroney, the leader of what had been Sir John A. MacDonald’s party, that did the negotiating and signed the treaty into law. The Liberals were forced into temporarily disavowing their historic pro-free trade position in 1988, but they quickly resumed it when they returned to power led by Jean Chretien in time to oversee the evolution of the Free Trade Agreement into NAFTA. In the decades that followed, as free-trade opponents predicted, Canadian businesses were bought up by American ones and Canadians increasingly came to resemble Americans in the places they worked, shopped, and ate at. Many Canadians, however, seemed to think this was a small price to pay for cheap consumer goods and economic growth - a further indication of the Americanization of our culture feared by the Fathers of Confederation. Twenty-five years after the initial Free Trade Agreement, American-born Diane Francis of the Financial Post revived Goldwin Smith’s arguments with her Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country, demonstrating that the kind of annexionist thinking that had led the old Canada to fear free trade was not quite dead after all. For the history of the resistance against just such an outcome see David Orchard, The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. (1993, 1998)
We have just been reminded of another reason why free trade was considered unwise - that we would be that much worse off if free trade were entered into and then rescinded than if we never agreed to it and became dependent upon it to begin with. In 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States on a populist platform that included, among other things, a revival of the Republican Party’s old economic nationalism. Trump vowed to put the interests of his own country ahead of international and global concerns, promising that if he could not renegotiate NAFTA to his liking he would "scrap it." The attitude Trudeau and his Trade Minister took, in entering into the renegotiation talks, was clearly not that of leaders who cared a fig about the interests and well-being of their country. They insisted on bringing into the talks all sorts of trendy, left-wing, nonsense that had no relevance to trade whatsoever but appealed to Trudeau's international liberal fan base. Trump, evidently sick of having to put up with this, has begun slapping tariffs on Canada. Things were made much worse when, after the G7 Summit in which the leaders, including Trump, had agreed to a united communication, Trudeau seized the opportunity to gloat, provoking a barrage of insults from the American President and a hardening of his trade policies. In response, the Liberal government has declared that it will impose retaliatory tariffs against the United States, but this is not the same thing as protective tariffs incorporated into a larger National Policy as MacDonald had put in place. It amounts to a trade war being fought against a country with a much larger economy than ours by people who are fundamentally emotionally and intellectually incapable of placing what is best or even good for their own country ahead of their global, international, popularity. That is a recipe for disaster.
The Laurentian political class behind Trudeau has, behind its mask of indignation, been rejoicing over Trump's verbal assaults on Trudeau because they have been bolstering up his support which had been declining drastically due to his own incompetence and egotism. The greatest fear of said political class, however, is of a populist revolt similar to the one that put Trump in power. That such is possible in Canada was demonstrated at the provincial level in Ontario with the election of Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives and the decimation of Wynne's Grits. The political class has every reason to fear because the arrogance and contempt they have displayed to ordinary Canadians has long exceeded even that with which Hillary Clinton dismissed ordinary Americans as a "basketful of deplorables." In Canada, as in the United States, the most important issue over which the political class and the average citizen are at odds is immigration. In the 1960s the political classes of every nation within Western civilization adopted liberal views of immigration - that border laws should be lightly enforced, if at all, that immigrants should be accepted in larger numbers than ever before, and that restrictions based on race, religion, and ethnicity were not acceptable. Dissent from these views was condescendingly taken as evidence of irrational racial and cultural prejudices that would have to be eliminated through education. In Canada, the Diefenbaker Conservatives had removed racial and cultural restrictions on admission in the early 1960s, but the Liberals in the late 1960s gave the immigration system a complete overhaul. They introduced the points system of evaluating individual immigrant applications, a fair and ethnically neutral system, that nevertheless contained a large backdoor in the "family reunification" policy that allowed them to operate an ethnically biased policy under the guise of an ethnically neutral one. This policy, which Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau seemed to believe to be the solution to the existing tension between English and French Canada, was to make the country as diverse as possible as fast as possible. This was never a popular policy, as polling has always shown, and they took a particularly heavy-handed approach to dealing with dissent. (2) Laws which severely limited what could be said publicly in criticism of this were added to both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Twice, to my knowledge, government agents actually helped found and lead neo-Nazi groups (the Canadian Nazi Party of the 1970s and the Heritage Front of the 1980s and 1990s) for the purpose of creating a public fear of resurgent Nazism that could be used to tar all criticism of unpopular liberal immigration with the Nazi brush. Under Brian Mulroney's leadership the Conservatives refused to criticize any of this and indeed embraced it all. The result was that by the end of the 1980s anyone who expressed the same restrictionist views of immigration that Conservative Stephen Leacock had expressed in his final book While There is Time (1945), that Liberal leader William Lyon McKenzie King, who led the Dominion in World War II, had held, and that the Rev. J. S. Woodsworth, first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation had defended in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of his Strangers Within Our Gates (1909) was suspected of Hitlerist sympathies. Even Preston Manning's neo-conservative/right-populist Reform Party refused to challenge the Laurentian class's manufactured and imposed consensus.
Skip ahead to the present day. In the United States, Donald Trump, fighting against the political establishments of both American parties, has been trying to stop the flood of illegal immigrants into the United States across the Rio Grande. Justin Trudeau, however, last year tweeted an open invitation to all those rejected by the United States. Surely it does not require more than a modicum of intelligence to see that those rejected by another country are not the ideal pool from which to draw your own country's immigrants? That thought appears never to have crossed Trudeau's mind, however, obsessed as he is with his image as the "compassionate" anti-Trump. This is an image he has been cultivating since the election that brought him to power which happened to coincide with the year in which the plot of Jean Raspail's 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints came true and Europe was swamped with an invasion of those whose most effective weapon was Europe's own liberal humanitarianism. Trudeau promised to bring thousands of these over here, which he did upon winning the election, after which he had his picture taken with them, and then promptly forgot about them as they were now the problem of ordinary tax-paying Canadians. After Trudeau's ill-conceived open invitation tweet Canada suddenly found herself with her own brand new border crisis just like the American one. Trudeau and his Laurentian backers are deceiving themselves if they think the average Canadian is any more pleased with this than the average American.
Our political, academic, and media elite classes, fearing that they have built up a massive reservoir of resentment against their arrogantly imposed consensus which a populist reformer could easily tap into if he were willing to defy all their rules, have been going bananas with a Trump Derangement Syndrome that exceeds that of the American Left. Luckily for them no such reformer has yet appeared on the federal horizon. Unluckily for Canada, even if one were to appear, the best we could hope for would be that he would stop the third revolution dead in its tracks. What we really need is for the previous two revolutions to be rolled back and our country put back on the course set for it by the Fathers of Confederation.
Much as I would like it to, I am not going to be holding my breath waiting for that to happen. So, to avoid ending on a negative note, I will quote the thought with which George Grant ended his Lament fifty three years ago:
Beyond courage, it is also possible to live in the ancient faith, which asserts that changes in the world, even if they be recognized more as a loss than a gain, take place within an eternal order that is not affected by their taking place. Whatever the difficulty of philosophy, the religious man has been told that process is not all. “Tendabantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.” (3)
Happy Dominion Day,
God Save the Queen
(1) I have borrowed this expression from Garet Garrett’s essay “The Revolution Was.” Garrett used it to describe the American New Deal in the 1930s.
(2) Not coincidentally, the men who dreamed up this draconian scheme of silencing their opponents were admirers of the totalitarian police state of the Soviet Union. According to Elizabeth Bentley’s testimony to an American Congressional Subcommittee about the Soviet spy ring she had operated in the United States during the Second World War, Lester Pearson, who was attached to the Canadian embassy in Washington at the time, was one of her informers. This part of his ignoble career is often overlooked because of his toadyish attitude towards the Soviets’ rivals, the Americans, as when he engineered Diefenbaker’s downfall to please Kennedy, but when the man won his Nobel Peace Prize in the 1950s for selling out Britain, whose side Canada had traditionally always taken as a family matter, along with France and Israel, it was to both the United States and the Soviet Union that he had prostituted himself. Pierre Trudeau’s sympathies with Communism were well known. He led the Canadian delegation to a Communist conference in Moscow back during Stalin’s dictatorship, prior to his disastrous entry into Canadian federal politics as editor of the far left Cité Libre he engineered the Marxist revolt against the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec known as the Quiet Revolution for which, for some reason, he was never excommunicated, and while in power federally made no attempt to hide his admiration for Mao and Castro. Since Pearson and Trudeau’s leadership of the Liberal Party took place smack in the middle of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union both men were able to fend off criticism over all of this by writing off anti-Communism as a kind of “American paranoia” as if the old Canada had not been solidly anti-Bolshevik long before the Cold War, and indeed, before the period just prior to the Cold War, when the American President whose policies ensured that the Second World War would end with the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe, was kissing Stalin’s backside.
(3) The Latin quotation is from the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid. The English translation given by Grant in a footnote is “They were holding their arms outstretched in love toward the further shore.”
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