The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cops or Robbers?

If you were to take a large group of boys and ask each of them individually what he wished to be when grew up you would be likely to receive a wide variety of answers. If you were to ask them the same question again one year later you would again likely get a wide range of answers and probably one that is very different from the one you received previously.

Nevertheless, you could probably accurately predict one or two things about the answers you would receive. You could predict that many of the boys would give their father’s occupation as their answer. Since boys, even in this age of career choice and mobility, tend to follow their fathers into their professions, this would be a fairly safe prediction. You could also predict that certain specific jobs would be likely to appear among the answers more often than others. These jobs would include soldier, fireman and policeman. These are among the things boys most commonly dream of becoming when they grow up.

What is it in these jobs that boys find so appealing?

It is the fact that they, at least in their ideal forms, exemplify every aspect of the heroic.

The word “hero”, in ancient Greek, had the root meaning of “one who protects”, i.e., the warrior who defended the Greeks from the attacks of their enemies. This would literally correspond to today’s soldier, but the roles of fireman and policeman are also roles of protection, from fire and crime respectively.

In the earliest Greek stories, the heroes were men like Heracles and Achilles, men in whose veins ran the blood of the gods. Accordingly, they were men of superior size and strength to ordinary men, and were thus able to accomplish extraordinary feats, such as the Labours of Heracles. While soldiers, firemen, and policemen are not demigods, above average size and strength are among the most important qualifications for these jobs. Or at least they were until the feminists, ever devoid of common sense, reason, and decency, insisted that such qualifications were discriminatory and therefore must go.

As the ancient Greek literature which featured the Greek heroes, developed, the earliest literary critics arose in the Athenian school of philosophers. These, for the first time conceived of the hero as an identifiable role within the literature that told his story. Since they believed that literature should serve the moral ends of the civil order – with Plato going so far as to suggest that literary works be bowdlerized – it is not surprising that they thought of the hero as a man of moral excellence. What this meant was that the hero possessed good character, consisting of the traits the ancients honoured as virtues – such as courage and justice – which he exemplified in the way he dealt with adversity – whether he overcome that adversity or not. The roles of soldier, fireman, and policeman each come with the duty to put one’s self in harm’s way, if necessary, and even to lay down one’s life, to protect those whom one is charged with protecting from invasion, fire, or crime. This requires the classical and cardinal moral virtue of fortitude – courage.

The roles of soldier, fireman, and policeman, therefore, each encompass all that has been meant by the word hero and it is this heroic dimension that causes them so frequently to pop up in the part of a young boy’s mind that considers the question “what do I want to be?”

Here in Canada, those who dream of becoming policemen usually have our federal police force in mind. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is both a national institution and a symbol of our country as widely recognized as the maple leaf and ice hockey. Those with ambitions of a career in the police dream of becoming a Mountie for “the Mounties always get their man.”

That which is real, of course, is different from that which is ideal and, in the words of T. S. Eliot, “Between the idea/ And the reality…Falls the Shadow.” (1)

This summer, we were presented with an image of RCMP reality which is a stark contrast with the ideal. In this picture, the RCMP displayed all the competence of Dudley Do-Right, the fictional Mountie who appeared in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons by Jay Ward Productions. Dudley Do-Right, if you recall, like such other notable fictional cops as Inspector Jacques Clouseau and Inspector Gadget, was an implausibly lucky moron who bumbled his way through to an undeserved success in each and every episode.

Ah, but that comparison, picturesque as it may be, simply does not do justice to the situation we are discussing. It would be more to the point to say that the RCMP were behaving, not like Dudley Do-Right, but like his arch-nemesis Snidely Whiplash. You remember Snidely Whiplash don’t you? He always wore a black top hat and frock coat, handlebar moustache, and had green skin and a fetish for tying people to railroad tracks, dropping boulders on their heads, and that sort of thing.

The incident to which I am referring took place in High River, Alberta, while the town was evacuated due to the flood that began in June.

High River, a town of about 13, 000 people, is located on the Highwood River, from which it derives its name, just south of Calgary. The Highwood is one of several rivers in southern Alberta that overflowed its banks last month, due to extremely large amounts of rain falling within a short period of time. Many communities had to be partially or totally evacuated due to the flooding. High River was given a total evacuation order on the twentieth of June. The RCMP, with the help of the Canadian Armed Forces, oversaw the evacuation and carried out the rescue work necessary.

At this point, you might be scratching your heads and wondering if I have gone stark, raving, mad. How, you might be asking, is the saving of 13, 000 lives an act that warrants comparing the rescuers to a cartoon caricature of a melodramatic stock villain?

It isn’t, obviously, and it is not the evacuating of the town or the saving of lives that I am referring to. Rather, it is the seizure of their guns while the town was evacuated. As the Mounties entered people’s homes, looking for those who had been left behind, both survivors and the perished, they searched the homes for guns and made off with those that they found.

Initially, when the RCMP reported having taken the firearms, they claimed that they were taken because they had been left unsecured and in plain sight for anyone to see and take. A plausible justification for the seizure, in that case, would be that in an evacuated town, guns left out in the open could fall into the hands of looters who might use them for nefarious purposes. Questions, however, were soon raised about just how unsecure and visible these guns were. Satisfactory answers to these questions have not been forthcoming.

For example, it appears that guns were removed from people’s closets. Perhaps these had not been locked away in full compliance with the requirements of the Firearms Act, perhaps they had. The point is that a gun in the back of a closet is hardly a gun that is left out in full sight. Furthermore, while it is reasonable that police, in an emergency like this, should be able to enter people’s homes without a warrant in a search and rescue operation it is not reasonable that they should be allowed to go snooping around in people’s closets.

Faith Goldy, a reporter with Sun News, the television affiliate of the Sun newspaper chain, raise four specific questions about the gun grab when this story originally broke. These were:

1) Did they do a search prior to entry to establish if there were firearms in the home? (i.e. were firearms specifically targeted?

2) Were any seized firearms locked/bolt removed? (i.e. were any deemed safely stored by law?)

3) Exactly how many firearms were seized? Again, a basic question.

4) What were the orders given to police? (i.e. were they told to search for firearms?)

The RCMP have only just now gotten around to answering the third question. On Thursday, July 18, Sgt. Patricia Neely announced that 300 guns, a little over half of the 560 seized, had been claimed by their owners and returned. (3) No wonder it took them so long to release that figure. Does anyone seriously believe that 560 guns had been left out sitting on the kitchen table for anyone to take?

The Sun News interviewed one resident of High River, Cam Fleury, whose house was not even affected by the flood being situated on the top of a hill. Nevertheless, the police broke down his door and went directly to the cabinet where his guns were stored. Clearly, Faith Goldy’s first and second questions are not unreasonable.

Some of you might be wondering what the big deal is about all of this. Perhaps you are thinking that because this was an emergency situation and the Mounties didn’t injure or kill anyone that we should cut them some slack as they were trying to rescue people. For the sake of those who are thinking along these lines it is important that we clarify what the issues are which are stake here.

Let us start with the fact that what the RCMP did would be considered a crime if anybody else did it. They forced their way into people’s homes. This would be considered the crime of breaking and entering on the part of an ordinary citizen. Worse, they broke into the homes of people who were vulnerable to a break-and-enter attack because they had been forced out of their homes due to the flood. They entered into people’s closets and storage cabinets, apparently, removed the guns they found there and took them with them. If anybody else did that it would be considered stealing. Indeed, if an ordinary citizen were to do that it would be considered worse than ordinary stealing because it was firearms that were taken. The police said they would give the guns back – provided the owners of the guns met all of the conditions the police set for their return. If an ordinary person were to steal a car, however, the argument “I was going to give it back” would probably not hold much water with the police or the courts.

Now someone might answer this by saying that some acts which are always a crime when committed by an individual person acting in his own right are not necessarily always a crime when committed by the lawful authorities. This is, of course, true. To kill another human being except in self-defence, is to commit the crime of murder. The civil authorities can, however, impose the death sentence as a just penalty for a capital crime. It is not murder for the civil authorities to pass and carry out the death sentence. This does not mean, however, that they have the right to arbitrarily decide who lives and dies. There are clear limitations, defining when the state can impose the death sentence and when it cannot, and for an officer of the state to kill outside of these defined limits is as much an act of murder as you or I were to do so.

There are those who would deny that there is any difference between a society’s civil authorities and the individual with regards to whether an act is criminal or not. Such would say that if it is criminal for the individual to do it then it is criminal for the state to do it and that the only exceptions that should be allowed for the state are those allowed for the individual. Some would even take this so far as to deny the legitimacy of government as an institution. The kind of ultra-libertarians who self-identify as anarchists, for example, consider the state to be a conspiracy against the public good on the part of those who claim an unjust monopoly on violence or coercive force for themselves.

I do not agree with this position, although I would acknowledge that it, like all errors, contains an element of truth. It is a sad fact of human nature, but a fact nevertheless, that sometimes violence is necessary. Our social nature compels us to live together as communities and societies but our individual natures create tension and conflict with each other. We therefore need laws for human society to function. The need for laws generates the need for civil authorities to make and enforce those laws and to administer justice. The enforcement of law and the administration of justice both involve the use of coercive force. Since he taking of the law into private hands and the pursuit of private justice, i.e., vengeance, create escalating cycles of destructive violence, to keep violence at a minimum it is necessary that kinds of force the civil authorities use to enforce the law and administer justice be forbidden, except in extraordinary circumstances, of the individual person. This is the message of Aeschylus’ Oresteia.

If, however, the limitation and minimization of violence requires that the civil authorities hold a monopoly on certain kinds of force, this creates a new danger, that those wielding this monopoly of force will turn it against the public. The authorities are, after all, human like anyone else. When government powers are turned to the abuse of the public we call this tyranny. We have developed safeguards in our tradition, to protect the public against tyranny, such as prescriptive, legal and civil rights, limitations upon the use of the powers of government. These are not foolproof, however, and, since governments, having crossed the line into tyranny, tend to go further and further, it behoves us to keep our eyes on that line to make sure they do not cross it.

Now let us think how this applies to the situation we are discussing. It is a crime to break and enter into someone’s house. About the only time it might be permitted of an ordinary person would be if loud screams calling for help were coming from the house. There are more circumstances in which it is permissible for police to forcibly enter a house – but these come with strict restrictions and limitations. They are allowed to enter a house and conduct a search as part of a criminal investigation. To do so, however, they must go to a judge and provide him with sufficient reason why they should be permitted to conduct the search. If they are able to provide such reasons they will receive a warrant which is a judicial permit to conduct a search that specifies when and where they are allowed to search, and what kind of search they are allowed to conduct.

In an emergency situation, such as a flood, police are allowed to enter homes without going through the process of obtaining a warrant. There are good reasons why this is the case. In this kind of search, the police are supposed to be looking for people who are in danger, to save their lives, not looking for evidence to use against them in a criminal case. Valuable time that could mean the difference between life or death for someone might be wasted if the police had to spend that time in court seeking a warrant.

If these are valid reasons for allowing the police to enter homes without a warrant in an emergency – and they are – they are also reasons why the police should not be searching for and removing guns while they are in those homes. If the time wasted obtaining a warrant might mean life and death for someone in an emergency so would be the time wasted searching for and removing guns. If the warrant requirement is deemed unnecessary in these circumstances because it is a search and rescue operation rather than a criminal operation then they should not be searching for guns in people’s cabinets and closets.

The RCMP in High River crossed a line. On one side of that line, they were the heroic Mounties of Canadian legend, evacuating a flooded town and saving lives. On the other side of that line, they were breakers of the very law they exist to uphold.

Why did they cross that line? Could it be that their heads were not screwed on just right? Could it be that their shoes were just a little too tight? (4)

Whatever the cause, they picked a particularly bad spot at which to cross the line. From the Thirty Tyrants of Athens who disarmed all but their own followers in preparation for their reign of terror to the gun-grabbing regimes of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, weapon seizures have been the mark of the tyrant since time immemorial. Perhaps it is not Snidely Whiplash the RCMP have been emulating in High River after all but that other Rocky and Bullwinkle archvillian, the Fearless Leader of Pottsylvania.

This is not the first time in which the RCMP has displayed gun-grabbing tendencies. Over the years they have been major advocates and supporters of the mountain of rules, restrictions and regulations the government has heaped up upon gun owners including the Firearms registry. While support for such laws does not necessarily make one an autocratic despot and it is not too difficult to see why law enforcement agencies might think that strict control over who has access to firearms might make their job of serving and protecting the public easier, the fact is that the more such laws multiply the more of an insult to and an onerous burden upon the law-abiding gun owner they become.

The more difficult the law makes it, for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to be a gun owner; the more guns become the property of just two elements – the lawless and the law enforcer. The more this happens, the less society looks like a civilization with order and peace maintained by the law enforcer, and the more it comes to resemble a battle field in which an endless war is waged between the lawless and the law enforcer. The more this happens, the less discernible is the difference between the lawless and the law enforcer.

The distinction between the lawless and the law enforcer breaks down much faster when gun seizure is not the result of legislation but of an arbitrary decision on the part of the police themselves – as in High River. When this happens, and the distinction between the lawless and the law enforcer is broken down, whatever resemblance there may have been between the reality of the policeman and his heroic ideal is also shattered.

When that happens, a society loses something that is irreplaceable.

(1) From “The Hollow Men”.



(4) Apologies to Dr. Seuss.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Why Do We Put Up With It?

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we move to Japan, loudly announce our unwillingness to live by Japan’s rules, show utter disrespect for the Tenno, and file a lawsuit against the Japanese government demanding that Japan change its ways to accommodate us. How far do you think we would be able to get with that?

The answer is that we would not get very far at all because Japan has a far more sensible attitude towards this sort of thing than we do and would simply not put up with it. We could learn a lesson or two from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Recently the Canadian news media treated us to a story of how certain immigrants who had become permanent residents in Ontario had launched a legal challenge against our country over the requirements we impose on those who have moved here and desire and seek citizenship. It is the Oath of Citizenship that they take umbrage with and specifically the part of the Oath where the new citizen is required to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors. These would-be new Canadians maintain that this is a violation of their rights and that they should be allowed to pledge their loyalty to the country without swearing fealty to its Sovereign.

It apparently did not occur to them that an oath of allegiance to the Queen would be implicit within a pledge of loyalty to the country of Canada. For Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada, Sovereign over our country through her Parliament in Ottawa. Our elected governors are her ministers, who are chosen by the people to govern in her name. That is the nature of our country and a pledge of allegiance to the Queen is therefore implicit in a pledge of loyalty to Canada. An oath of allegiance to Canada that did not imply allegiance to the Queen would be a worthless oath. The Canada that the person who swore such an oath would be pledging allegiance to, would not be the real Canada, the Canada that actually exists, but some fictional construction. What we are looking for in new Canadians, the reason we have an Oath of citizenship at all, is not loyalty to “my idea of Canada” or some such nebulous and self-referential concept but to the actual country.

Therefore, if these litigious would-be Canadians were to be allowed to swear loyalty to Canada without the explicit oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, either, a) they would not be swearing loyalty to the Queen in doing so and the oath would be worthless to us because it would not be a pledge of loyalty to the real Canada or b) they would be implicitly swearing loyalty to the Queen in swearing loyalty to Canada and would have gained nothing because the same objections they make to the explicit oath of loyalty to the Queen would apply as well to the implicit oath of loyalty to the Queen contained in the oath of loyalty to Canada.

That an oath of loyalty to the country would implicitly contain an oath of loyalty to the Queen is in a sense, even truer of Canada, than it is of the United Kingdom. The country of Canada is built upon the choice of the Loyalists to remain loyal subjects rather than join in the republican rebellion. That is our country’s history, roots, and tradition and it is a fundamental part of our collective identity. Our loyalty to the monarchy has played a significant part in the proudest moments of our country’s history, such as when the British army and the Canadians successfully fought off the American invasion together in the early 19th Century, and when Canada declared war on Nazi Germany to fight side by side with Great Britain, in the name of our common king, in the greatest armed conflict of the 20th Century.

Those who wish to eliminate the monarchy from our national identity create a vacuum which they must inevitably fill with the silliest of things. I have actually heard people say that it is our socialized health care that makes us who we are as Canadians and distinguishes us from the Americans. What a vapid and moronic thing to say! The Tommy Douglas health care system referred to, whatever else, good or bad, one might say about it, is less than one hundred years old, dating back to the 1960s. Our country was brought together in Confederation a century prior to that. One wonders what those people who think Canada’s identity is based on socialist health care are saying now that the United States has Obamacare.

But I digress. An argument one sometimes hears from those misguided souls who wish to downplay the monarchy and other institutions and symbols we have inherited from Britain is the claim that they are only of significance to Canadians descended from people from the British Isles and are therefore an insult to those whose ancestors came from other parts of the world. This argument is a non-sequitur – even if it were true, that the monarchy is only of significance to Canadians of British descent, it would not follow from this that the institution would be an insult to others. In fact, the real insult to Canadians of non-British stock is the suggestion that the monarchy should be downplayed so as not to offend them. This suggestion implies that they or their ancestors put no thought into what they were doing when they moved to Canada and came to the country in ignorance of the fact that it was a Commonwealth country, built on a history of Loyalism, with a parliamentary monarchy as its constitution. For if they or their ancestors were aware of these things about Canada when they chose to come here, then, in the act of coming here they chose to become a part of all of that and to accept the institutions of Canada, including her monarchy, as their own.

There is an important difference between traditional Canadian pluralism and the contemporary left-wing multiculturalism that is afflicting our country today. The former was all about integrating people of different backgrounds into Canada in such a way that without having to give up everything they brought with them from their ancestral lands, the British traditions of Canada, from the monarchy to the Rights of Englishmen, became their own. The latter was all about stripping Canada of as much of its British traditions as possible and downplaying the rest while encouraging newcomers not to give up anything and to keep everything they brought from their ancestral lands.

The great Canadian historian W. L. Morton, at one time head of the department of history at the University of Manitoba, and author of my favourite one-volume history of Canada, The Kingdom of Canada, explained the essential role of the monarchy in traditional Canadian pluralism:

[T]he moral core of Canadian nationhood is found in the fact that Canada is a monarchy and in the nature of monarchial allegiance. As America is united at bottom by the covenant, Canada is united at the top by allegiance. Because Canada is a nation founded on allegiance and not on compact, there is no pressure for uniformity, there is no Canadian way of life. Any one, French, Irish, Ukrainian or Eskimo, can be a subject of the Queen and a citizen of Canada without in any way changing or ceasing to be himself. (1)

When he said “there is no Canadian way of life” by “Canadian way of life” he meant a universal, cultural, homogeneity throughout the entire country. That has never existed in Canada at that level. At Confederation there were three major people groups with their own cultures and way of life – English Canadians who spoke English and were mostly Protestant, French Canadians who spoke French and were mostly Roman Catholic, and North American Indians. (2) There were varying degrees of homogeneity among these different groups, with the most homogeneity among the French Canadians who were united in religion as well as language and the most diversity among the Indians whose languages and religion varied according to their tribe, the degree to which they had adopted either the English or the French culture, and, of course, which one they had adopted. English Canadians fell in the middle. They were unified in language, but while they were mostly Protestant in religion, that included English Anglicans, Scottish Presbyterians, and any number of non-conformists sects. Allegiance to the Crown was the principle around which these vastly different groups were able to come together to build a country.

Allegiance to the monarchy meant something different to each of these groups. The people who became the English Canadians had originally been Loyalists, i.e., people who remained loyal to the British Crown when the Thirteen Colonies revolted, and fled to Canada to escape persecution for their stance, after the American Revolution. Allegiance to the monarchy defined who they were.

To the French Canadians, their decision to remain loyal to the king under whose sovereignty they had only recently come rather than to join the American revolution, had secured for them their language, religion, and culture. The American leaders had wanted to make Canada entirely English speaking and Protestant but the British government had promised the French government that French Canadians would be able to keep their language, religion, and culture when the French king ceded the sovereignty of Canada to King George III in the Treaty of Paris. This was one of the things the British government and the American leaders quarrelled over. On the eve of the American Revolution, the British Parliament passed and the king signed into law, the Quebec Act, making those same guarantees directly to the French Canadian people. Had Canada joined the American revolutionaries, or had Canada been ceded to the United States at the end of the American Revolution, the French Canadians would not have been able to retain their religion, language, and culture.

For the Indians, the Crown was and is the party with whom their tribes are in a treaty relationship. (3) This continues to be important to them to this day, a fact of which we were recently reminded. (4)

While each group had its own reasons for allegiance to the Crown, that were very different from the reasons of the other two, these reasons added up to a common allegiance as the basis upon which the three groups could come together to form a country. Loyalty to the Crown is absolutely fundamental to Canadian identity. It is entirely appropriate, therefore, that our country insist that those who wish to be integrated into Canada as citizens make a pledge of the allegiance that is the basis of Canadian unity.

In fact, most immigrants applying for citizenship have no objection to this requirement. The legal challenge to the oath requirement, which has been so widely reported, is not coming from some broadly supported movement but from three individual immigrants.

Why do these three object to swearing the oath?

One is a man of Irish origins whose father died in the republican cause and who therefore believes that it is a violation of his rights to be made to swear an oath to the Queen. Another is a woman who objects to the oath on the grounds of her Afrocentric Rastafari ideology and because of Britain’s historical involvement in the slave trade. The third is an Israeli of strong anti-monarchical, republican, sentiment.

Whether or not these are good and valid reasons for these three individuals to personally refuse to swear allegiance to the Queen, they are not, separately or collectively, valid reasons for Canada to set the oath aside as a requirement. The two men came here from countries that are republics with no crowned monarch. If republicanism is so important to them, they are welcome to return to Ireland and Israel or to move to the United States if that would suit them better.

One of the reasons they are giving for their demand that the oath to the Queen be removed is that it is “discriminatory”. They claim that it is discriminatory because it discriminates in favour of those who have no problem swearing loyalty to the Queen against those who do. They claim that it is discriminatory because only immigrants applying for citizenship are required to swear the oath, not those who are born here or are born to Canadian citizens abroad.

Since progressives, over the last sixty years or so, have successfully conditioned most of us to shut our brains down, curl up into the fetal position, and cry uncle at the sound of the word “discrimination”, some explanation will be required of what should be common sense and obvious to anybody.

In the most basic sense of the word to discriminate simply means to distinguish, to make or to observe a distinction or a difference. If you can tell the difference between apples and oranges you are, in so doing, discriminating. There is nothing wrong with discrimination in this sense of the word.

Discrimination is also used in a narrower sense to refer to the act of making a distinction which is to the advantage of one or some against others. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this kind of discrimination either. All laws are by nature discriminatory in this sense. The law that says that is a criminal act to kill your neighbour, discriminates in favour of the non-murderer against the murderer. The law that forbids theft discriminates in favour of people who don’t steal against those who do. Even scientific laws are discriminatory. The law of gravity discriminates against those who jump off a cliff and in favour of those who don’t.

When is discrimination wrong?

Discrimination is wrong when it is unjust and discrimination is only unjust when those who have a legitimate right to be regarded as and treated the same are instead regarded as and treated differently. If the law forbids littering, and prescribes a certain penalty for littering, then you, your neighbour Bob, and everybody else who lives under the authority of the law, have a legitimate right to be treated the same under that law. If you and Bob are both guilty of littering and are both caught and arrested you have the legitimate right to except that you will receive the same sentence as Bob. If, the judge slaps you with the full penalty but lets Bob off because Bob is a member of all the same clubs the judge belongs to, this is a case of unjust discrimination.

Those who do not wish to swear the oath to the queen, and who claim it is discriminatory that they be required to do so, would like us to believe that it is this last kind of discrimination. People who are born into Canadian citizenship are entitled to all the benefits of Canadian citizenship without having to swear an oath to the Queen whereas those who have moved here from elsewhere have to swear the oath to obtain the benefits. If, however, this constitutes unjust discrimination, then so would the requirement that immigrants swear an oath to Canada before becoming citizens. In fact, placing any requirement of any sort on those who apply for citizenship that is not also placed on those born into citizenship would qualify as unjust discrimination if the requirement that they swear an oath to the Queen is unjust discrimination.

If a requirement placed on those applying for citizenship in a country is unjust discrimination because it is not also placed upon those born into citizenship that means that a country has no right to place requirements on people before they become citizens, that a society has no right to set rules as to how someone coming into the society from the outside can become a full member of the society.

Clearly that cannot be the case. If a society has no right to set rules as to how someone can join it from the outside then it is not a society. A society has every right to distinguish between those who are born into it and those who enter it from the outside at least up until the point where they are granted full citizenship. Unfortunately, liberalism, which teaches that a society is an artificial construction that exists for the sole purpose of serving the personal interests of generic individuals, has clouded the minds of many in this day and age as to the true nature of a society. A society is much more than this. It is a living organism, in which its individual members are joined into an organic whole like the cells in a body, in which generation succeeds generation the way new cells replace old, dying cells. As the body produces the new cells it needs to replace its old ones from its own genetic template, so the present generation of society gives birth to the next generation and raises it to take its place in the organic whole of the society. People can join the society from the outside, just as a branch can be grafted onto a tree or an organ can be transplanted from one body into another, but the tree can also reject the graft and the body can reject the organ. The more compatible the grafted branch or transplanted organ are with the hosts into which they are placed the more likely they are to be accepted. That is the nature of things.

In this case we have an organic society which began by the grafting of three different branches – the tree metaphor works better here as the body metaphor, thanks to Mary Shelley, would produce some unfortunate associations – onto a common trunk, the trunk of the monarchy, the parliamentary system in which the monarchy is incorporated, and the Common Law and rights attached to the monarchy, and of which the monarchy is a symbol. Now we have three wild branches, asking to be grafted into the tree, but in such a way that they are connected to the other branches, but not the trunk. That does not sound like the makings of a successful graft.

The real problem here, however, is not the handful of immigrants who have demanded we change our citizenship requirements to suit them. While the current three are not the first immigrants to contest the oath requirement – they are continuing a challenge first launched by an immigrant from Trinidad who died last year and who started several such challenges beginning in the 1990s - the total number who have contested the oath is negligible. Most people have the sense to realize that if they wish to move to and become part of a society they will have to adjust to the ways, traditions, institutions and rules of that society rather than expecting it to change to accommodate them. Most people have the decency to understand that accusing the institution around which a country has been built of being a symbol of racism, tyranny, and injustice is inconsistent with a desire to become a part of that country.

No, the problem is not these immigrants themselves. The problem is with us. We are the ones who put up with this nonsense. We are the ones who are allowing a handful of malcontents to waste our courts’ time with these frivolous lawsuits. We are the ones who allow people to come here, insult the institution at the heart of our constitution, and demand that we change our country to suit them, rather than telling them that if they don’t like our country’s constitution, institutions, and rules then they didn’t have to move here, are free to go elsewhere, and are no longer wanted or welcome here.

Progressive thought is the root of the problem. A progressive or forward looking person is someone who thinks that to arrive at future happiness we must leave the road cleared, paved, and marked by the landmarks of the past and skip merrily blindfolded along down the road of social, cultural, political and technological innovation. The attitude towards the monarchy, which progressivism tends to produce in Canada, is at best one of ambivalence and indifference and at worst of outright hostility. The progressive emphasizes the democratic aspect of our constitution and tends to regard the monarchy as out-dated or irrelevant.

Ironically, in taking this position, progressives show their own thought to be outdated. An institution like the monarchy is classy, and therefore timeless, and can never be outdated. It is the championing of democracy against monarchy that is outdated. As the great Canadian humourist and political scientist Stephen Leacock put it:

Look back a little in the ages to where ragged Democracy howls around the throne of defiant Kingship. This is a problem that we have solved, joining the dignity of Kingship with the power of Democracy; (5)

The progressive view of immigration is also a problem. Progressives, whether of the liberal or the socialist variety, tend to be believers in the nonsensical and contradictory concept of universal nationalism – that their country is a “universal nation”, membership in which everyone in the world is entitled to. Whereas ordinary patriotic people regard their country and its institutions in high esteem, and except people moving into their country and joining their society to adjust to the society, progressives hold their country and its traditions in low esteem, and see large scale immigration as a means of changing their country and getting rid of its institutions and traditions. Ordinary patriotic people consider it a privilege and honour to live in their country and be a member of their society, and expect newcomers to take that same attitude. Progressives, on the other hand, think it is the highest privilege and honour for a country that even a single immigrant would deign to come to their country, and that the country should show its gratitude by bending over backwards to make whatever alterations are necessary to accommodate the immigrant. Progressives seem to believe that any disagreement with them on this matter can only come out of irrational prejudice towards and hatred of other people and do not hesitate to accuse anyone who expresses disagreement with them of the bigotry and racism. Meanwhile, they take great offence when their patriotism is called into question over their not-so-subtle contempt for their own country, its people, and its traditions.

There is a great deal of short-sightedness in the progressive position. Those who refuse to look deeply into the past will never be able to see far into the future and are oblivious to what is before them in the present. By dismissing our country’s history as our “colonial past” and our traditional institutions as “outdated relics” progressives blind themselves to both the continuing and contemporary importance and relevance of the monarchy and to the harm their approach to immigration has done, is doing, and will do to our country in the future.

The way to deal with the handful of immigrants who want us to change our citizenship laws is simple. It is to tell them that if they are not interested in joining our society on our terms, then they are no longer welcome to join our society on any terms, and we are no longer interested in having them as citizens.

Dealing with the progressive thought that has pervaded our country and which hinders us from giving the appropriate response to these immigrants will be more difficult.

(1) W. L. Morton, The Canadian Identity, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961, 1972) p. 85

(2) It is no longer fashionable to call this group of people “Indians” and many people consider the continued use of the term to be an insult to the people so termed. All other terms, especially the one currently in vogue “First Nations”, are to varying degrees politically correct. My intentional use of the term “Indians” is not based upon a desire to insult these people but rather a refusal to submit to the tyranny of political correctness.



(5) Stephen Leacock, “Greater Canada: an appeal”, in Alan Bowker, ed., The Social Criticism of Stephen Leacock (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1973), p. 9. The article first appeared in 1907 in University Magazine and was given as an address to the Empire Club of Canada in March of that year.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Free Trade Cult

I started Throne, Altar, Liberty in May of 2010, but I had been writing essays on political, theological, and cultural topics for at least a year before then. I distributed these to friends through e-mail and Facebook. Since starting Throne, Altar, Liberty I have reposted several of these earlier essays here. Last year in April and May, for example, I posted nine of them, with new introductions, as a series entitled “GTN Tory Classics”. My main reason for doing this is that I did not want Throne, Altar, Liberty to sit dormant while I researched a couple of topics that I wished to write new essays on.

Among the essays reposted last year, were several from an eight-part series on economic subjects that I had written in 2009. I had intended to include the final essay in that series, “The Free Trade Cult”, but for some reason or another neglected to so. Since I once again wish to buy myself time to complete some new essays, I will make up for that neglect by posting it now.

My argument against free trade in this essay, is built upon the fact that history has demonstrated that free trade does not work the way it is supposed to. Liberalism – and free trade is the cornerstone of economic liberalism – predicts that the more countries reduce barriers to trade the more they will prosper. History, however, shows the opposite. Countries that are industrialized or are undergoing industrialization, become economically strong under protection and decline under free trade. I pointed to two elements of liberal theory as the explanation for why free trade does not work – liberalism’s placing the individual over the family, community, and nation and placing consumption over production.

Liberalism’s exaltation of consumption over production is derived from liberalism’s desire to be fair. Protectionism is not fair. I don’t think anybody ever claimed that it was. A tariff on milk benefits domestic dairy producers at the expense of foreign dairy producers and all domestic consumers of dairy products. A tariff on grain benefits domestic grain producers at the expense of foreign grain producers and all domestic consumers of grain. The same can be said for any tariff on any product. The unfairness of this is manifest for anyone to see.

Free trade, liberalism claims, is fair. Under free trade domestic and foreign producers compete in the market, with no unfair advantage given to either. The advantage is rather to the consumer, who is able to buy goods at a lower price. Since the consumers of any particular good will always outnumber the producers of that same good, free trade is the fairest system possible.

There is a certain logic to this, and even a certain truth. No false doctrine is ever entirely false – otherwise, nobody would ever be deceived, by it. The problem is that this kind of reasoning leads inevitably to the conclusion that the economy should favour consumption over production. It is true in one sense, that the producer must be the servant of the consumer. If a producer were to decide that he was going to produce whatever he wanted regardless of whether anyone else wanted it, and so begin manufacturing such things as manure-flavoured licorice, pills that do nothing but enhance the pain from which one is already suffering, and record albums such as “Chalkboard Scratching: the Greatest Hits”, he would not remain in business very long. The only exception to this rule that comes immediately to mind is the contemporary artist, who is subsidized at the taxpayer’s expense by an arts council that believes that artists are entitled to public support and that restrictions on the artist’s output, such as that it should be something people want to see or hear, squelch creativity.

If it is true that production should and must be the servant of consumption, it is only true, as Evelyn Waugh’s Mr. Milner said to Lord Copper, “up to a point”. Looked at from a different angle, production must take precedence over consumption. Some forms of consumption, such as that of food and drink, are necessary to sustain our existence, whereas other forms of consumption, such as that of the products of the entertainment industry, are not. Whether necessary or not, however, consumption cannot take place without production. If we encounter a person who consumes without producing anything by living off of what he has previously accumulated or by borrowing from others we know that that person will not be able to do so indefinitely. Eventually, he will run out of accumulated resources, credit, or both. Then he must become productive or die.

That this is true of individual persons is not disputed. It is also true of countries. A country cannot survive long with an economy that consists primarily of moving existing wealth around and consuming goods that are produced elsewhere. Only production can increase wealth – consumption always decreases it. The liberal, who seems only the individual as being real and not the country, does not appear to recognize this. He also, and for the same reason, is blind to the fact that in practice, his doctrine, like that of the protectionist he so despises, does actually work to the benefit of one group of producers against another. Large, multinational or transnational companies, that answer to the laws of no one country in particular, are given an advantage over the smaller domestic producers of any country, by free trade.

At some point in the future I will likely compose an essay exploring the reasons why the classical liberal concept of the free market works better within the context of a national economy than when it is extended internationally. For now, I give you "The Free Trade Cult". - GTN

The Free Trade Cult

By Gerry T. Neal
June 30, 2009

Although there is much that economists disagree on, one thing that unites most if not all mainstream schools of economic thought is a belief in free trade. Free trade is one of the earliest concepts of modern economics. Adam Smith argued in the 18th Century that a country would be foolish to produce at home what it is cheaper to import from abroad. David Ricardo built on this theory in the 19th Century and Richard Cobden made it his life’s goal to see free trade implemented.

Libertarian schools of economics like the Chicago School of the late Milton Friedman and the Austrian School of Mises, Hayek and Rothbard believe devoutly in free trade. But so does Paul Krugman, the most prominent contemporary exponent of Keynesianism. Free trade, we find, gets a lot of support from people who are otherwise not big fans of laissez faire. Liberal columnist for the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman, is a noted advocate of globalization. American Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and William J. Clinton all devoutly believed in international free trade while supporting massive state intervention in the domestic economy.

Free trade’s wide, cross-spectrum support base, among political and economical theorists may suggest to many that it is a basic concept, obviously true, that only a fool would question.

But is it? What is free trade, how is it supposed to work, and where is the evidence that it does work?

Free trade is the expansion of the concept of the free market across international borders. At the time free trade was first being proposed as a theory the Western nations practiced an economic policy known as mercantilism. Mercantilism was the idea that to become wealthy a nation needed to amass gold and silver, and that the way to do so was to have a trade surplus, i.e., to have more products flowing out of your country than flow in. The powers of Europe sought to accomplish this by subsidizing exports and restricting imports by quotas, tariffs, and other measures that today are known as protectionism.

Adam Smith, in his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, challenged mercantilist thought. Wealth, he argued, was the result of production and production was enhanced by the division of labor and specialization. These, in turn, were made possible by trade, which allowed the specialist to concentrate on producing one thing and trading his surplus for everything else he needed. Trade, operates best when buyers and sellers are allowed to come to their own agreements as to price rather than having them set by government.

This was the case for the free market and Smith argued that it applied to nations as well as to individuals within a nation. Tariffs, quotas, etc., Smith argued, only prevent a country from obtaining what they need at the lowest price possible, and so rather than enriching a country, impoverished it.

The argument seems impeccable on paper. If it is true then observing the results of free trade versus protection in practice should bear the theory out. After all, all other predictions of laissez faire theory can be demonstrated to be correct. Laissez faire theory says that minimum wage laws do nothing but eliminate jobs that are not worth minimum wage to the employer, usually starter jobs. It says that price controls cause shortages. It says that rent controls lead to housing shortages and neighborhoods decaying into slums. We can point to case after case where these interventionist measures have had exactly these outcomes.

What have been the results of free trade?

The United Kingdom was the first country to put the theory into practice. This began with the repeal of the Corn Laws, which protected British agriculture from imports, in 1846. This was accomplished by the government of Sir Robert Peel after relentless campaigning by Richard Cobden, “The Apostle of Free Trade” and a league of Manchester manufacturers he led. Over the next two decades the UK would lower its tariffs to the point where the average import duty on the vast majority of goods was 0. This would remain UK policy until the first World War.

Did this help or harm Britain?

The UK was the home of the Industrial Revolution, which had started there in the late 18th Century. At the time Britain began her experiment in free trade she dominated the world of manufacturing. Her steel and textile industries were surpassed by none. By the time her long experiment in free trade came to an end she had been eclipsed by another industrial power – the United States of America.

What was America’s trade policy?

The USA had always been protectionist, but during the period when the UK was practicing unilateral free trade it was taking protectionism to an all time high. The 1860’s had seen the rise of the Republican Party, which succeeded in putting into practice the “American system” of Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay. The main feature of the “American system” was a tariff wall protecting American industry. Following the Republican institution of this system the average tariff on manufactured goods was around 45%.

Did this help or hurt America?

The century from 1870 to 1970 is often called America’s “Golden Age”. As America became the world’s leading industrial power, profits and wages rose simultaneously as did the average American standard of living. When the War came, and the UK was no longer producing enough to meet her own needs, it was to the USA that she looked for help – help the USA was able to provide.

How does the free trader explain that?

“Other factors were involved”. “That is a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument”.

Perhaps. But the USA wasn’t the only country that fared well under protection in that era. In 1879 Otto von Bismark introduced economic nationalism based upon the American system to Germany. The same year the Conservatives brought in protectionism here in Canada. Both countries did very well under high tariffs.

What happened when America abandoned protection?

FDR, the author of American socialism, obtained for the American president the right to lower tariffs in negotiating treaties with other countries. This set the stage for America’s post-WWII retreat from protectionism. During this period of increased free trade America’s GNP and GDP have continued to rise but the average real wage (wages adjusted for inflation) has gone down as America’s manufacturing base has shrunk and her domestic economy has increasingly come to be based on services.

This era has seen the rise of new industrial giants – most notably Japan. Japan practices protection.

What have the free traders missed? What is wrong with their theory? Why are the results so different from what laissez faire would predict here when elsewhere laissez faire theory is so accurate?

The basic problem with free trade is that it is derived from classical liberal ideology. To classical liberalism individuals are all that matters – families, communities, and nations don’t count. Especially nations.

With the exception of Adam Smith (who made numerous exceptions to his theory of free trade) the classical free traders were contemptuous of nations. They believed in an enlightened age to come in which international trade would foster international friendship, war would disappear, there would be world peace, and we would all be one.

In the real world, however, nations matter. And it matters very much, to a nation, who produces the goods that it consumes. Remember that production creates wealth, consumption uses it up. Consuming more than you produce is not the path to prosperity, for individuals or for nations. It is the path to bankruptcy.

Free trade ideology insists that free trade is superior because it favors the consumer with low prices, whereas protection favors the producer with high prices. Everybody is a consumer, the free trader’s argue, but not everybody is a producer, so it is best to do what is in the interests of the consumer. Free traders are nothing if they are not utilitarian.

But how is the consumer going to pay for what he consumes? The answer for the last few decades has been cheap credit. That cannot last forever, however – or much longer, for that matter, if the recent economic crisis is any indication.

A policy that favors consumption over production is a policy that will doom your country to poverty.

A country that wishes to survive, that does not want to bring its people down into poverty, must encourage production, and it must produce more than it consumes. Socialists have attempted to do this by having their government’s seize control of the economy and try to plan it from the top down to be more efficient. All such experiments have been radical failures.

Protection, on the other hand, is historically associated with high productivity.

Today our government’s have got it backwards. They are removing barriers to international trade while doing everything in their power to intervene in their domestic markets with restrictions, and legislation, and red tape. They should be doing the exact opposite – protecting domestic producers while otherwise practicing laissez faire.

But our government’s no longer care about their countries. In lowering tariffs and other protective measures so as to free up international trade, they have surrendered part of their sovereignty to international institutions. The most complete form of this surrender of national sovereignty can be seen in the European Union. But NAFTA provides the basis for a future North American equivalent. On a global basis the long series of GATT talks resulted in the creation of the World Trade Organization. The path down which the free traders are taking us is clear: one market, one currency, one government.

Libertarian free traders will argue that what we are seeing in these developments is not true “free trade” as described in theory, but governments colluding to grant special trade privileges to favored corporations. That is certainly true but it may not be relevant. A one world system – dare I say “New World Order” - is exactly what David Ricardo, Richard Cobden, and the other formulators of classical free trade theory were hoping for.

It will not be the rosy paradise they had in mind however.

Those who do not want to live under the global regime of a global government, who prefer living in their own sovereign countries, and wish to see those countries prosper, should not support a global economy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

True Patriot Love

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command

The words quoted above are the first stanza of “O Canada”, which Parliament declared to be our official national anthem, thirty-three years ago today. (1)

It had been used as an unofficial national anthem since 1927, the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation.In elementary school we began each school day with the singing of O Canada, and closed each day with the royal anthem, “God Save the Queen”. I have quoted the words as they were when I learned them as a child. Parliament may have subsequently revised them. (2)

The last five words of the third verse have been the subject of much controversy in recent decades. (3) It is the first three words of the same verse, however, that I wish to make the launching pad for our discussion today.

In these words, the “patriot love” which Canada is said to command in all her sons is described as being “true”. “True patriot love” is quite a verbal construction. It takes one of the Platonic transcendentals, (4) and a civil virtue, (5) and ascribes them to the highest of the three Christian virtues. (6) The resulting concept must surely be worthy of our contemplation.

What better way could there be, therefore, to celebrate our country on its national holiday, than by remembering examples of Canadian “true patriot love”?

For our first example, we must look back to the eighteenth century.

“How is that possible?” you might ask. “Canada was founded in the nineteenth century. How could there possible be an example of Canadian ‘true patriot love’ in the eighteenth century?”

One of the great and interesting things about our country, the Dominion of Canada, is that her roots go back further than July 1st, 1867, the day she became a country. The same thing could be said about our neighbour, the American republic. No competent American historian would claim that American history began with the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America or even with the Declaration of Independence. The period from the establishment of the Jamestown and Plymouth Bay Colonies in the seventeenth century to the Declaration of Independence in the eighteenth century is an essential part of the history of how the United States was established and founded. So the history of the settlements that were confederated into the Dominion of Canada starting with the initial four provinces in 1867 is an essential part of the history of Canada.

There is another way in which Canada’s roots go further back than Confederation. Most countries founded in the Modern Age were founded upon some kind of break with the past, some kind of revolutionary rejection of tradition. The United States, for example, was formed when liberal republicans led several colonies to secede from the British Empire. The first French Republic was born out of a violent revolution in which egalitarian radicals seized the apparatus of the modern bureaucratic state that had been built up by the Sun King in the previous century with the intention of using it to restructure French society from the top down. Later the Soviet Union would be established in a similar sort of revolution in Russia. Compared to the French and Bolshevik Revolutions, the American Revolution was rather mild and moderate. Canada, however, must be contrasted with all of these other modern countries because she was not founded upon a revolutionary break with the past. Actually, it was quite the opposite. The Dominion of Canada was consciously founded as a country within a pre-existing tradition, a country that rejected modern revolution and embraced tradition. She is arguably, the only conservative modern country.

This brings us back to the eighteenth century. In the sixth and seventh decades of that century the powers of Europe fought the Seven Years War. At the time the term Canada referred to a territory in what is now Quebec and Ontario that had been settled by the French and was under the authority of the French Crown. In 1759, British troops led by General James Wolfe defeated the French force led by General Montcalm in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City. As Alexander Muir put it, in the lyrics of a song (7) composed in the year of Confederation that would later become the main contender against “O Canada” for the role of Canada’s national anthem:

In days of yore,
From Britain’s shore,
Wolfe the dauntless hero came
And planted firm Britannia’s flag on Canada’s fair domain.

The war came to an end with the Treaty of Paris of 1763. Among the other provisions of this treaty, France ceded Canada to the British Crown. In the decade that followed a rift arose between the British government and many in her American colonies, over the Crown’s liberal, gracious, and magnanimous treatment of the French Canadians and the tribes that had been France’s allies in the war. Many of the American colonists were Puritans, i.e., followers of the form of extreme Calvinism that in the seventeenth century had sought to strip the Church of England of bishops, vestments, and liturgy, to severely persecute Roman Catholics, to rob the labouring classes of the one day of leisure that was available to them, and overthrow the British constitution by seizing the Crown’s entire prescriptive prerogative for the House of Commons.(8) At the end of the Seven Years War they hoped to be able to eliminate Catholicism in Quebec and to expand to cover the entire North American continent. The Royal Proclamation of 1763, however, which followed up on the treaty with the Iroquois Confederacy negotiated shortly after the French defeat at the Plains of Abraham, placed limitations on their expansion that they regarded as both unreasonable and as a slap in the face after their service to the Crown in the war. Then, in 1774, in the Quebec Act, the Crown guaranteed the French Canadians the right to retain their own language and religion. This was the last straw for the North American Puritans who had already begun to pour out propaganda against Parliament and, especially, the Crown, filled with all sorts of hysterical and absurd accusations of tyranny against what was the most liberal government in the world.

Now consider again, for a moment, those words from our national anthem, “true patriot love”. Do these words imply that there might be such a thing as a “false patriot love”?

No, dear reader, I have not just radically changed the subject in order to ask a ridiculously silly question. The question is actually relevant to the history we are considering. I will explain how momentarily. First, with regards to the question, allow me to point out that the opposites, “true” and “false”, have two different sets of meanings. They can refer to the difference between “genuine or real” and “fake or pretend”, or they can refer to the difference between “faithful or loyal” and “disloyal and treacherous”. When the word “true” is used of Canada later in our national anthem where it says “the true North, strong and free” it is used in the latter sense of loyalty. The other meaning simply wouldn’t make sense in the context. The “true” in “true patriot love”, on the other hand, could carry either meaning or both. The relevance of this observation will also soon be apparent

The reason all of this is relevant is because something very close to this question was being asked in London at the time. The man who asked the question about the possibility of false patriotism – and answered it with a loud, resounding, “yes”, was Samuel Johnson, the leading figure of eighteenth century English letters. Dr. Johnson, as he is universally known, the biographer of the English poets, the editor of a famous annotated edition of Shakespeare, the scourge of John Milton, the mind behind the satirical Idler and Rambler, and the lexicographer whose Dictionary was the standard of the English language until supplanted by the Oxford English Dictionary, is best remembered today as the subject of an exhaustive biography by his friend James Boswell. Boswell’s Life of Johnson includes countless examples of Dr. Johnson’s famous conversational wit – including his remark, of April 7th, 1775 that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. Boswell explains that Dr. Johnson had a false, pretended patriotism in mind when he said this

In fact, the year before he made that famous remark, Dr. Johnson, a pamphleteer of strong religious and political views, High Anglican and religion and Tory in politics, wrote a tract about the difference between true and false patriotism that was published under the title The Patriot.Addressing the electorate of Great Britain on the eve of an election, he declared that “no man can deserve a seat in parliament who is not a PATRIOT. No other man will protect our rights, no other man can merit our confidence. He then defined a patriot as “he whose public conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country”, expressed cynicism as to the possibility of finding a great number of them, and, noting that “a man may have the external appearance of a Patriot, without the constituent qualities” proceeded to distinguish the true patriot from the false.

The false patriot, according to Dr. Johnson, makes his opposition to the government the basis of his claim to patriotism. While it is “the quality of Patriotism to be jealous and watchful, to observe all secret machinations, and to see public dangers at a distance,” the false patriot rails against the government for his own self-interest rather than a sincere concern for the public good. Therefore, opposition to the government is no sure sign of true patriotism. The false patriot reveals his lack of genuine love for his country by using his accusations of corruption and tyranny to stir up the rabble, threatening the order and peace of the country. “He is no lover of his country”, Dr. Johnson wrote “that unnecessarily disturbs its peace.” He further reveals his lack of genuine love for his country when his accusations against her government are false and ridiculous. Examples of this type of accusation include “that because the French in the new conquest enjoy their own laws, there is a design at court of abolishing in England the trial by juries” and “that the Protestant religion is in danger, because Popery is established in the extensive province of Quebec”. (italics in original)

The false patriots who were the target of this pamphlet were politicians back in London who were making these kinds of accusations against the government, hoping to influence the outcome of the election. Nevertheless, Dr. Johnson’s remarks had a rather obvious application to the situation in North America at the time as well. Note that although when he described the one type of patriot as false, he used the word false in the sense of “fake”, “pretend” or “not genuine”, one of the characteristics of the false patriot that stands out the most, is his falseness in the other sense – disloyalty, and specifically to the lawfully constituted authority of the king, his ministers, and the national parliamentary assembly. It stands to reason therefore, that a trait of he whom Dr. Johnson would have considered to be a true, in the sense of genuine, patriot, would be that of loyalty.

Here at last, we can finally identify those who, almost a century prior to Confederation, displayed pre-Canadian “true patriot love” – the Loyalists.

When the leaders of the Thirteen Colonies issued their Declaration of Independence from the British Crown and Empire this did not instantly and magically convert everyone living in those Colonies into a liberal republican. Not everybody believed the propaganda that said that because Parliament had passed a bill levying duties upon the Colonies that the king was therefore trying to establish autocratic rule. Nor did all members of the American Colonies believe the Puritan logic that equated toleration of Roman Catholicism with an attempt to force Protestants back into the Roman Catholic Church. Many were conservatives who had been born British subjects, raised British subjects, were content with their citizenship and national identity, loyal to their Sovereign, and who simply had no desire to go to bed British the one day and wake up something else the next. Others were sceptics who saw no reason to believe that the new government to be formed would be in any way preferable to the old one. For these reasons, when it came to war between the seceding Colonies and the British Empire, many of the Colonists sided with the Empire. These were the Loyalists.

The leaders of the American Revolution – who called themselves Patriots - considered the Loyalists to be traitors. This was a very ironical point of view when you consider that it was the “Patriots” who were engaged in insurrection against the established order and the Loyalists who were, well, loyal to the established order. From a historical point of view, the conflict between the Patriots and the Loyalists can be seen as a struggle between two patriotisms – one directed towards the emerging, new, country that would be the American Republic, the other directed towards the established, existing, British Empire. To this day, many Americans and Canadian anti-patriots, fail to understand the Loyalist perspective – and therefore to understand Canada.

Often one will hear such people claim that Canadian identity is entirely negative; that it’s only content is a desire to “not be American”. This is the equivalent of saying that only reason the Loyalists opposed the American Revolution was because they did not want to be American. That is nonsense, however. The reason the Loyalists rejected the revolution and the new liberal republic is because they were satisfied with who they already were – subjects of the Crown and British citizens.

After the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which brought the American Revolutionary War to an end, thousands of Loyalists moved north to British territory. Some re-settled in what are now the Maritime Provinces. Others re-settled in what is now Ontario. By emigrating north the Loyalists were able both to escape persecution in the United States and to continue to be what they had been before and during the American Revolution – loyal, patriotic, subjects of the British Empire.

Some might object that what I have just described is British rather than Canadian patriotism. Those who make that objection miss the point. The American and Canadian traditions are both North American branches of the British tradition with the crucial difference between the two being that the American branch deliberately and violently lopped itself off of the tree, whereas the Canadian branch, equally deliberately, chose to grow and develop as a distinct branch, still connected to and drawing nourishment from the old, deep-rooted, tree. The British patriotism of the Loyalists cannot be separated from Canadian “true patriot love”. A “Canadian patriotism” that rejects Canada’s British roots – like the “Canadian nationalism” invented by the Liberal Party of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau in the 1960s and 1970s – is a phony and fraudulent Canadian patriotism. (9)

Loyalism is the basis of the “true patriot love” displayed by all the other examples that we will – briefly – look at. This is most obviously the case of the Canadians who fought in the war of 1812. This war, fought between the British Empire and the United States of America between 1812 and 1815, arguably bore the same relationship with the American Revolutionary War that the Second World War had to the First. It was a renewal of hostilities, between the same parties, after a brief ceasefire. It was a war of particular significance to Canadians for, although it took place five decades before our country was born, it is the war in which Canadians fought, not only for the greater Empire, but for their own homes and communities which were under attack. “Those men are most likely to fight bravely”, Dr. Johnson wrote, “or, at least, to fight, obstinately, who fight for their own houses and farms, for their own wives and children” (10) and this was exactly the position the Canadians found themselves in when the American hordes, bent on conquest, invaded, to be repelled and defeated, at such places as Queenston Heights, Chateauguay, Crysler’s Farm, and Lundy’s Lane.

Alexander Muir described their patriotic stand in this way:

At Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane,
Our brave fathers, side by side,
For freedom, homes and loved ones dear,
Firmly stood and nobly died (11)

This would not be the last time Canadians would express their “true patriot love” in combat, although it was the last time that involved a serious invasion of Canada. The threat of an American invasion persisted throughout the nineteenth century, as several American political leaders expressed their dream of America’s “Manifest Destiny” to expand throughout the entire North American continent. Confederation, which established the Dominion of Canada in 1867, was in large part a preventative measure against such an invasion. Thus, by bringing our country together with her own Parliament under Queen Victoria, the Fathers of Confederation became a sterling example of “true patriot love”.

Canadians, as subjects of the British Empire, had served in the British armed forces. After Confederation, Canada began to organize her fighting men into a distinctly Canadian force. On the thee notable occasions when the Canadian military was called upon to fight for king, country, and empire – the Second Boer War and the two World Wars - they made their country proud. Since our subject is Canadian patriotism, not Canadian military prowess, it would be distracting to give a detailed description of the battles in which Canadians proved their valour. Suffice it to say they did so at Paardeberg Drift and Leliefontein, at the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, at Normandy and in the Low Countries, as well as in the air and sea.

World War II warrants special attention here. The service of Canada and Canadians in this war is a particularly exemplary illustration of the Canadian style of Loyalist patriotism at its best. Of the three conflicts mentioned, it is the only one to take place after the Statute of Westminster of 1931. Prior to this Statute, Canada was automatically at war whenever Britain was at war. After this Statute it required an act of the Canadian Parliament to put Canada at war. When the Third Reich invaded Poland in September of 1939, the Canadian Parliament issued her first Declaration of War against Nazi Germany on September 10th – one week after the United Kingdom had issued hers. This expressed two things – that the locus of the king’s sovereignty over Canada lay in his Parliament in Ottawa rather than in Whitehall, and that Canada recognized that her place in the last great war of the British Empire was at the side of Great Britain. The support of the Canadian public, for this, her largest military undertaking ever, showed that the Canadian people and the Canadian government were of one mind on this.

Canada’s military have continued to show “true patriot love” since then, in Korea, Afghanistan, and everywhere else they have been sent to fight, but Canada’s military tradition was one of the first victims of the Liberal Party’s post-WWII assault on Canada’s heritage. The Liberals gutted our armed forces until it they were a fraction of what is needed for national security and committed what was left, not to the defence of the country or the service of the greater British family of nations, but to the disgraceful task of enforcing the whims of the United Nations.

The Liberal assault on Canada’s traditions was made possible by an unfortunate consequence of the Second World War. The British Commonwealth of Nations survived the war but it was no longer the great Empire it had been going into the war. The war had brought about a shift in global power and two superpowers had emerged, each representing a rival vision of modernity and progress, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. The United States represented the vision of progress under liberal, capitalist, democracy. The Soviet Union represented a vision of progress under socialism administered by politburos and commissars. Immediately after the war these two superpowers entered into a forty year struggle for global supremacy while the rest of the world fell into orbit around one or the other of the superpowers. The British family of nations, especially Great Britain herself and Canada, came into the American orbit.

This was both inevitable and greatly to be preferred over the alternative of coming into the Soviet orbit – although many intellectuals in Canada and Britain appeared to think otherwise, demonstrating that intelligence is not a prerequisite for being an intellectual. For traditional Canadian patriots and conservatives, however, who rightly saw our country’s possession, through her connection with Britain and the Crown, of pre-modern, pre-progress, roots as one of our country’s greatest strengths, the absorption of both Canada and Britain into the sphere of the United States of America, the symbol of modern progress, appeared the way the conquest of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires must have appeared to patriots in ancient Israel and Judah. As the prophet Jeremiah bewailed the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in the Book of Lamentations in the Bible so did George Parkin Grant, philosophy professor and Canadian nationalist, express his “true patriot love” by bewailing what he saw as the defeat of the Canadian project, of establishing a conservative country, with pre-modern roots, in the New World, in a short book, first published in 1965, entitled Lament for a Nation. (12)

The occasion which prompted the writing of this jeremiad was the defeat of the Diefenbaker government in 1963. The Conservative government of John G. Diefenbaker was brought down in a vote of no confidence by a coalition of the Liberals, the left-wing NPD and the right-wing Social Credit, over the issue of Diefenbaker’s refusal to accept American nuclear warheads for the Bomarc missiles. As Prime Minister Diefenbaker saw it, Canadian sovereignty had been at stake. He too had acted out of “true patriot love.”

As leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, he had another opportunity to express his “true patriot love”. The Liberal Party, now in power, laid waste to Canada’s traditions under the leadership of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. We have already mentioned their disgraceful treatment of our Armed Forces. They attacked Canada’s British heritage, removing as many “Royal”s from the titles of national institutions that they could get rid of and replacing our traditional national symbols. They replaced, for example, our flag the Red Ensign, which contained the Union Jack in the canton and the Canadian Coat of Arms in the fly, with the current Maple Leaf flag. They stopped referring to our country as “The Dominion of Canada”, deceitfully dismissing the full title as indicating colonial status, when it had, in fact, been chosen by our own Fathers of Confederation out of the Bible. Diefenbaker, as Opposition Leader, faithfully fought this Liberal anti-patriotism out of “true patriot love.” (13)

The Liberals, having set fire to the traditions and symbols which historically defined and expressed what it meant to be Canadian, tried to replace the old Canadian national identity that they had declared war on with a new Canadian national identity. This new, Liberal-manufactured Canadian identity consisted entirely of fatuous, left-wing drivel. There was “official bilingualism”, which referred less to the traditional co-existence of Anglo-Canadians and Franco-Canadians or even to our having two official languages, than to the Liberal dream of a Canada where everyone was equally fluent in both languages, a dream which did nothing but create mutual resentment between English and French Canadians. There was “official multiculturalism” to accompany the Liberal Party’s new policy of large-scale immigration, aggressively recruited from non-traditional source countries in the Third World. What “official multiculturalism” meant was that these new immigrants would not be presented with a Canadian identity to adjust to, but that the country would rather adjust to them, fitting them in as a new tile in the Canadian “mosaic”. There was “human rights”, which meant that if you were any race other than white, any sex other than male, any religion other than Christian, any ethnicity other than English Canadian, any sexual orientation other than straight, you were entitled to special government protection against the prejudice of your neighbours, who could now be dragged into court for mere words. There was intrusive, bureaucratic government, which micromanaged the lives of Canadians while doling out to them countless goodies which the government called “free”, even as it raised taxes through the roof to pay for them. (14)

What is the response of “true patriot love” to such inanity?

In the case of William D. Gairdner, it was to write a book entitled The Trouble With Canada. (15) First published in 1990, this book made the Globe and Mail’s Number One Bestseller list and has recently been reissued in a revised and expanded edition. In this book, Gairdner showed how these new policies, which the Liberal Party was now saying defined “Canada”, were actually harming the country.

Further harm to Canada was done by the free trade. History has shown that free trade harms the country that adopts it. It harmed Great Britain economically when she adopted it in the late 19th Century and it harmed the United States economically when she adopted it in the mid-20th Century. The countries of Western Europe entered into a free trade agreement after World War II which has gradually undermined their national sovereignty. Free trade, like the protectionism its proponents oppose, benefits some businessmen over others. The protectionism of the economic nationalist, however, benefits national producers and hence the good of a national community. The free trade of the liberal benefits large, multinational and transnational corporations, who, being responsible to the laws of no one national community, are a threat to all national communities.

Historically, free trade was favoured by the Liberals and opposed by the Conservatives who practiced economic nationalism in defence of the country’s national interests. Then, in the 1980s, Brian Mulroney, the new Conservative leader who was elected Prime Minister in 1984, flip-flopped on free trade and negotiated the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement with US President Ronald Reagan. Reagan too, was breaking with Republican Party tradition in negotiating this agreement and coming out as a free trader. (16) Within a few years the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement evolved into NAFTA and there were further talks about expanding the free trade zone even further to encompass both American continents.

Patriots on both sides of the 49th Parallel have expressed concern over how these agreements have negatively affected their respective countries. So our final example of “true patriot love” is that of those Canadian patriots, right and left, who warned against and continue to oppose, free trade. Specific examples include Saskatchewan farmer and frequent political candidate David Orchard, the author of the book The Fight For Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism, (17) and publisher Mel Hurtig.(18)

In each of the examples we have considered, the “true patriot love” that Canada commands in all her sons has been on display in one way or another. May they inspire us to follow in their footsteps and “stand on guard” for Canada.

Happy Dominion Day!
God Save the Queen!

(1) “O Canada” was originally commissioned by Théodore Robitaille, Lt. Governor of Quebec, for a celebration of St. Jean-Baptiste Day. The composer was Calixa Lavallée, who had been born in Montreal and had pursued a career in music in both Canada and the United States. The text to which Lavallée set the tune was a poem by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier, a judge in the Quebec Supreme Court. It was first performed in 1880, one hundred years before it was declared our national anthem (not to the day, but almost – St. Jean-Baptiste Day is June 24th). The English version of the anthem is not a translation of the French lyrics but an adaptation of an English poem written to the tune by Robert Stanley Weir, a judge like the author of the original French lyrics, in 1908.

(2) That is in part a facetious remark, written in mockery of the disease of political correctness that has beset our nation in recent years due to the insidious efforts of the cult of inclusivity. It not entirely facetious, however. There were many proposals in the last decade of the 20th Century and the first decade of the 21st, to revise the lyrics of “O Canada” so as to eliminate militarism, references to God, sexism, and nativism. The English lyrics that were officially adapted in 1980 are themselves the result of a number of revisions to Robert Stanley Weir’s 1908 poem, some made by the original author, others made by recommendation of a government committee. Ironically, the 1908 version was in at least one place more “politically correct” than the current version. It contained the words “thou dost in us command” where “in all thy sons’ command” are currently found. The revision that produced the current reading was made by Weir himself.

(3) See previous endnote.

(4) Truth. 

(5) Patriotism. See my essay “For Queen and Country”

6) Love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

(7) “The Maple Leaf Forever”

(8) See my essay “The Martyred King”

(9) For the difference between the older Canadian nationalism of the Loyalist Tories, and the newer “Canadian nationalism” of the Pearson-Trudeau Liberals, see my essay “Canadian Nationalism”, especially the second part:

(10) This quotation is not from The Patriot but from an essay entitled “Observations on the Treaty” that appeared in Literary Magazine in 1756.

(11) “The Maple Leaf Forever”, second stanza.

(12) George P. Grant, Lament For a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965). See also the biography of this Canadian patriot, conservative, and philosopher by William Christian George Grant: A Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993).

(13) See One Canada: Memoirs of the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker: Volume Three: The Tumultuous Years 1962-1967 (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1977).

(14) There is a kind of right-wing anti-patriotism that attributes this sort of thing to Canada’s Loyalist heritage. The way this reasoning goes, the Loyalists’ attitude was one of “submission to tyranny” that later resurfaced in Canadians’ acceptance of intrusive bureaucracy, social engineering, and heavy taxation. This is nonsense, however, of the same sort used by Nietzscheans and racial nationalists who try to pin the blame for liberalism and all the mess it has caused on Christianity. Liberalism, however, was only able to work its damage on Western Civilization, when the influence of Christianity was declining, and likewise, the Liberal Party of Canada was only able to create this new “Canadian” identity, when the foundations of the old Loyalist Canada had been shaken. Other facts which contradict this anti-patriotic point of view include the fact that neither King George III nor his Parliament were tyrants, and that the same kind of massive, intrusive, bureaucratic state developed in the United States as developed in Canada, with many important steps in the development of this kind of state actually being taken in the USA before they were taken in Canada.

(15) William D. Gairdner, The Trouble With Canada: A Citizen Speaks Out (Toronto: Stoddart, 1990). Dr. Gairdner, who gave talks on behalf of the Reform Party of Canada in its early days, has never displayed the kind of anti-patriotism referred to in the previous note. Indeed, a theme of his book is how the sort of things he is writing about display a betrayal of Canada’s founding principles. The expanded edition is entitled The Trouble With Canada…Still (Toronto: BPS, 2011)

(16) The Republican Party was built upon a foundation of economic nationalism that involved both protectionism and “internal improvements”, i.e., investment in infrastructure. Until Reagan, free trade was an idea most associated in the United States with liberal Democrats like Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.

(17) David Orchard, The Fight For Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism, (Toronto: Stoddart, 1993, Expanded Edition, Westmount: Robertson Davies Publishing, 1998).

(18) Hurtig is most often remembered as the publisher of the Canadian Encyclopedia. In the 1993 election he ran as the leader of the National Party. This was the only election this party, founded on a single issue – opposition to the threat of free trade to Canadian sovereignty – ever ran in.