Monday, October 20, 2008

Standing on guard for the True North, strong, and free

I'm sorry, readers. I really don't mean to bore you with politics again, even now that the election is over... but there are so many things on my mind. Our Confederation is a proud nation with an impressive history of contributions on the world stage in its short life. Yet Canadians remain ignorant and apathetic, and in doing so they undermine the very spirit of this great country.

Let me begin with some points about Canadians. I firmly believe in Canada and its inclusive nature. But I also love Canada and its heritage. It burns me up inside to realize that citizens of this country, young and old, immigrant and Canadian-born alike, cannot find it in themselves to care about their adopted homeland - its history, its culture, its triumphs and failures. Despite teaching about Canada's role in the World Wars in high school, Canadians know shockingly little.

A poll administered by the Dominion Institute which coincided with the Canadian war epic "Passchendaele" found that less than 16% of Canadians could pick out Germany and Austria as our enemies during WWI from a laundry list of 5 nations. Even worse, 50% of people aged 18-34 were ignorant of the fact that Canada entered the war before the United States, and 25% of Canadians didn't know that we had a greater proportion of our population serve in the war than our neighbours to the south. We have a proud history as a nation, but our citizens know precious little about it.

But the release, along with the news that fewer Canadians took the time to vote in Tuesday's federal election than any time in history, does summon other spirits to the table. We don't mean to nag, but could it be barely possible that what seems to be a growing indifference to Canadian current affairs and citizen engagement might just have something to do with our shameful lack of grounding in our own history?


Today, Stephane Dion agreed to step down as leader of the Liberal party, leaving the subtly backstabbing, divisive, and generally undeserving Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff as the front runners once again. My friend "Pomme" left a comment on the previous entry where I lamented the recent federal election results expressing similar disappointment but predicting another election in the near future.

Sadly, this is unlikely to be the case. The political pundits have predicted that an election is unlikely to take place for at least another two years. The Liberal seats have been so depleted that even in a coalition with the NDP they would be unable to wrestle power from the Conservatives. It would take a coalition government of the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc united to do so... and who knows if these three very different parties could ever do that.

One day when we are able to look back at this election with some perspective, we may realize that the big loss in this election was not the millions of dollars spent in administering it nor the result of a second minority Conservative government, but the loss of Stephane Dion within a party that never fully supported him to begin with.

He also lamented the fact that Dion is not likely to get another shot at an election to prove himself, noting that other party leaders – notably Lester Pearson and Wilfrid Laurier – did and succeeded.

"If this advice had been given to Laurier or Pearson, we never would have had two great prime ministers because they lost the first time out," Wilfert [MP Richmond Hill] said.


Numerous Ontarians have spoken out in writing against the treatment of Stephane Dion by his own party. Sadly, it does seem as though the Liberals are destined to remain the kind of party that caused them to be ousted in the first place. A party that sees itself as entitled to be the "natural governing party" of Canada without the solidarity and responsibility that it could have had under Stephane Dion's leadership had they embraced it. In the next federal election, I fear I will be hard pressed to locate a political party that I believe can represent my interests with both integrity and competence.

If Mr. Dion departs now, it will demonstrate that there is no room in Canadian politics or the Liberal party for honest, decent people, a suspicion that the Liberals have tried to dismiss since the Sponsorship Scandal. Secondly, it will reinforce the notion that the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the grassroots, and young Canadians in particular (who strongly supported Dion), are not important to the Liberal party. Rather than improving the fortunes of the party, Dion leaving will lead to more internal divisions, alienate more Canadians and prolong the Liberals' time in the political wilderness.

Roy Coulthard, Edmonton

As I pondered these things - Dion's ouster, Liberal party's backroom politicking, and Canada's lack of national pride - I swelled with a sense of Canada, and what it ought to be. I thought back to Canada's national anthem... when was the last time I had heard it? I sang it out a few times, just to get a feel for it again, and I realized what a beautiful testament it really is.

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

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

I ask myself... what happened to this country's ambition? When did we stop caring about it? And when did tax breaks become more important than being something to this world? What happened to our "true patriot love" and why, O Canada, are we no longer standing on guard for thee?

1 comment:

sandlot said...

I skim through your politics posts. But even through skimming, I feel as if I've become more cultured in current events - or at least events that occurred two years ago.