July 1st is the anniversary of the day Canada became a country in 1867. When I was born the annual commemoration of this event was still called Dominion Day. This name, steeped in Canada’s history, was much better than “Canada Day” to which it was changed in 1982, prompting Robertson Davies to write to the Globe and Mail expressing his righteous indignation at the “folly” of the “handful of parliamentarians” who so trashed the “splendid title” of Dominion Day “in favour of the wet ‘Canada Day’ – only one letter removed from the name of a soft drink” which folly he described as “one of the inexplicable lunacies of a democratic system temporarily running to seed”. The old name incorporated the title that the Fathers of Confederation had chosen themselves to designate the federation that was to be formed out of the provinces of Canada (formerly Upper and Lower Canada, which were separated again into Ontario and Quebec when the Dominion war formed), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, to which five other provinces would soon after be added (1), and governed by its own Parliament modelled after the Mother Parliament of Westminster, under the reign of our shared monarch. The new name simply adds “day” to the name of the country. This would be like the Americans renaming “Independence Day” as “United States Day” – although, admittedly, it seems to be far more often simply referred to as the Fourth of July than by its official designation – or any other country renaming its main national celebration “Italy Day”, “France Day” or the like. For this reason, and because the change was not accomplished constitutionally – the private member’s bill making the change passed all three readings on a single day in July when there were only thirteen members of the House of Commons, present, not near enough to constitute a quorum – I continue to use the older and better name.
This year, a movement to “cancel Canada Day” has arisen which has nothing to do with preference for the older name for the anniversary. It is part of the “cancel culture” phenomenon associated with the radical, cultural Maoist, Left, and it is Canada herself, the country and her institutions that these crazies are really seeking to “cancel”. It is a loony fringe movement that . It nevertheless has a powerful ally in the mainstream Canadian media, including, disgustingly, the Crown broadcaster, the CBC. The media has provided its support to these radicals, by dishonestly spinning the discovery of the locations of unmarked cemeteries on the grounds of Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan as revealing something new about these schools (that they were there to be found has been known all along) and worse than what had been alleged against them in the past (that the bodies are of mass murder victims is extremely implausible).
Mercifully, there have been plenty of voices speaking out on behalf of Canada and why she should still be celebrated. Lord Black gave us the sound advice to “ ”, meaning by “its political leaders” the current ones. Even Erin O’Toole, the leader of the Conservative Party and of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, who in neither role has done much previously to inspire respect and confidence rather than disgust, was almost impressive when he correctly pointed out to his caucus last Wednesday that these wacko activists were attacking “the very idea of Canada itself” and observed that “there is not a place on the planet whose history can stand such close scrutiny” but that “there is a difference between acknowledging where we have fallen short, a difference between legitimate criticism and tearing down the country; always being on the side of those who run Canada down, always seeing the bad and never the good” and that “it’s time to build Canada up, not tear it down”. Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party said it better when he “Every society in the world has injustices in its past and present. The strategy of the far left is to exaggerate them so as to cancel our history, destroy our identity, and weaken our institutions. They will then build their Marxist utopia on the smoking ruins.”
Sadly, among Canada’s most prominent vocal defenders, those willing to say that the Emperor has no clothes with regards to the narrative being spun against her have been much fewer in number. This would involve pointing out the difference between newly located graves and newly discovered deaths and saying that one of the great things about Canada is that traditionally we do not allow a man to be condemned after listening only to his accusers and telling his defenders to shut up, and that we are therefore no longer going to allow this to be done to the Churches, our historical figures, and the country as a whole, as has been done up until now with the Residential School narrative.
A common theme among those who have spoken and written in Canada’s defence is to praise her diversity. They are obviously seeking to counter the charges of “racism” made by her accusers who are generally people who profess a very high regard for diversity, other than diversity of thought. This is not the approach that I would take. There are a few reasons for this, among them being that while I think diversity of the type mentioned has its advantages, I recognize its disadvantages too, and do not think that it should be turned into the object of cultish veneration the way it has. The one most relevant in this context, however, is that the high degree of this type of diversity that exists in Canada today is the product of immigration policies introduced by the Liberals in the 1960s, primarily for the purpose of effecting a demographic change in the electorate that would, in their view, make it more likely to keep their party in government in perpetuity. Since the main targets of those wishing to “cancel” Canada have been the Fathers of Confederation and the men who led the country prior to this period, this is not a particularly good counter to their accusations. A better means would be to challenge the very idea that anything less than a full embrace of the widest diversity possible constitutes “racism”.
That having been said, there is an element of this appeal to diversity that can be salvaged and incorporated into a sounder defense of Canada. As already observed the high degree of diversity that can be found in Canada today has been produced by the immigration policies of the last fifty years or so. Immigration policy by itself cannot attract immigrants, however. Imagine that the most repressive Communist regime on earth also had the most open, welcoming, immigration policy. Not many people would want to take advantage of the latter. Repressive regimes of this type typically have problems with too much emigration rather than too much immigration. The Berlin Wall was there to keep East Germans in, not to keep other people out.
Therefore, the diversity that progressives have turned into a cult and which is the first thing to which most of Canada’s defenders turn, testifies to how Canada herself was attractive and appealing to a wide swathe of different people. Now the basis of this attraction was not the opening, welcoming, immigration policy, since as seen in the previous paragraph this is insufficient in itself to constitute such an attraction. Nor could it have been the diversity that is so much talked about today since this came later as a result of this immigration. What appealed to and attracted so many different people, from so many different places, was Canada herself and, since the open immigration policy was one of the earliest changes introduced in the radically transformative – mostly not for the better – two decades of Liberal misrule under Pearson and Trudeau the Elder from the mid ‘60’s to the early ‘80’s, this means that it was Canada as she was prior to all the Liberal changes that was this appealing and attractive.
Could it be that what made Canada so attractive was the high degree of individual freedom that she, like other Western and especially English-speaking countries possessed, the protection of law that is largely absent from the autocracies and kleptocracies of the world, the parliamentary government built upon the Westminster model that has proven itself time and again to be vastly superior to all the strong-man dictatorships, military juntas, and peoples’ republics of the world, all the rights and freedoms protected by prescription, tradition, and constitution long before the Liberals added the Charter such as the right alluded to above not to be condemned on the basis of non-cross-examined accusations without a fair defense, and all the opportunities to make a decent life for yourself and your family afforded by all of the above?
That question, of course, was rhetorical, of the sort where the answer is yes. It used to be that one did not have to point such things out.
Before proceeding, I must say that while all of these things are indeed what made Canada an attractive immigration destination for so many different people of so many different kinds from so many different places it is not the fact that these things were so attractive to so many that makes these things laudable. They would be worth celebrating even if the only people to ever appreciate them had been the Canadians of the Dominion’s first century. This is because these things are in themselves a blessing to the country fortunate enough to have them.
This cannot be emphasized enough, first, because all of those things were true of the Dominion of Canada from July 1st, 1867 onward and we therefore owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Fathers of Confederation for establishing the country in such a way that all of these things, mostly inherited from the older British tradition, were true of Canada, and secondly, because those who are attacking the old Canada as being “racist” today rely heavily upon rhetoric borrowed from an ideology which thinks all of those things, or any others thought of as having been normative of white, European, Christian, Western Civilization, down to and including the notion that 2+2=4, are themselves intrinsically “racist”. Anytime you hear the expression “systemic racism”, (2) or “settler” used disparagingly, or some form of “colonize” used with people rather than a place as its object, you are hearing examples of the rhetoric of this insane ideology. Perhaps the Canadian leaders of 1867 were not as “enlightened” on racial and cultural matters as today’s pampered and solipsistic generation like to think of themselves as being, but at least they were not so foolish that they could be taken in by such a vile ideological outlook, the product of decades of academic decline during which left-wing radicals took over most of our institutions of higher education and transformed them from traditional places of study and learning into mockeries of the same which more closely resemble Communist indoctrination camps.
I had intended to devote my Dominion Day essay for this year to Donald Creighton, who was, in my opinion, the greatest of Canadian historians, followed closely by W. L. Morton. Current events have pre-empted this topic yet again. I will say this about Creighton here, however, that throughout his career as a historian, he fiercely opposed what he mocked as “the Authorized Version”, that is to say, the interpretation of Canadian history associated with the Liberal Party that read Canada’s story as a version of the American story – a struggle to attain nationhood by achieving independence from the British Empire – by the boring means of diplomacy rather than the exciting means of war. The Liberal version was, of course, the opposite of the reality of the Canadian story – the choice to grow up into nationhood within the British Empire as it evolved into the Commonwealth, by rejecting the American path and choosing the old loyalties and connections as a protection against encroaching Americanism. We can only imagine what Creighton, who died in 1979, would have said could he have looked into the future and seen the day when much of the mainstream media would lend its support to a neo-Marxist re-interpretation of Canadian history which radical activists are using to trash the country and demand her “cancellation”. We can be sure that he would not see it as leading us in any direction we would like to go. His frequent warning that those who forget their past have no future applies all the more so to those who declare war on their past.
Let us not let the small minority of crazy radicals who want to cancel our country and her history win.
Happy Dominion Day!
God Save the Queen!
(1)Newfoundland, which joined Confederation as the tenth province, did so much later in 1949.
(2) “Systemic racism”, when used by neo-Marxists, especially of the Critical Race Theory type, does not mean, as many or perhaps most others think, either ideas and practices in Western institutions or attitudes on the part of those who administer them, that are to some degree or another “racist” in the meaning of the word that was conventional fifty years ago, but rather the entire Western way of doing everything conceived of as being irredeemably and wholesale “racist”.