And so we come to the obvious question in my last column on this topic – Canadian Identity, and what it ought to look like after 150 years on earth.
I’ve made it abundantly clear that I am not satisfied with the usual clichs of our times; but what answer have I to the seemingly infinite questions, problems and tensions that surround “our home and native land?”
Although I’m arrogant enough to attempt a Summa Canadianna According to Me, I’ll leave the bait and simply make a few suggestions.
I should begin by reiterating that for all the faults of our country – the most obvious of which is still that silly flag that replaced the beautiful Ensign – I am proud that we are not a fundamentalist state of religion or ideology, that we have peaceful coexistence between most citizens, and that even our nagging czars on Wellington Street, Government Street, and Patricia Boulevard are so pathetic they can barely dream of conquering their own files, let alone the world or even the country.
Handwringing has its positives.
Our country is large and full of potential, and we do in fact attempt to unleash that energy in a responsible and tree-hugging manner, despite the fact that our carbon footprint is probably negative thanks to said trees.
From the ineffectiveness of our governments, the relative disinterestedness of our populations and the vast beauty of our land, we should indeed be grateful.
It could be so much worse – I acknowledge that and confess that I could stand to drop the negativity and appreciate our blessings.
But that is precisely the point. I believe we actually inhibit our blessings by letting mostly obvious or innocuous do-goodery – healthcare, conservation, equality and civil rights – turn into hideous, mob-powered beasts of tokenism, managerial overreach and unethical pragmatism.
I would also posit that Canada stopped progressing precisely when the progressives, as a force within a formerly much bigger Liberal tent (look it up), took over our Parliament and rewrote all our laws into nonsense.
Our country isn’t done developing.
In fact, the one good thing from all these Supreme Court rulings giving tiny aboriginal populations effective veto power over national projects is that it rejigs our thinking from a rather narrow view of law and authority.
I’d much rather live in a dysfunctional, puny fiefdom than in the back pages of some distant power’s file on “Northern B.C.” which is three times the size of France.
I would also rather live under a bad chief than under a bureaucrat compelled by bad data.
For concrete suggestions, here are a smattering of brilliant ideas.
First, bring back land grants for homesteading and a newfangled grant that encourages exploration for mining, oil, and gas by sole proprietors or small-time prospectors.
We don’t need another housing initiative to get people off the streets or more money being forwarded to consultants to tell us about how to help people get back to work.
Tell people they will have land, tools and a home – that spells purpose and they will show up.
Start seriously discussing a redistribution of everything from constitutional responsibilities to provincial boundaries.
Let the people be frank and honest about how they would like their country to be set up; five bucks says that they will argue for the Canada we already have but properly administered so the redundancy and bad management stops.
The metros, the hinterland and the frontier are all realities in Canada – they just need to be reconstituted so taxes and even voting power make sense.
If there ought to be any imposition of the kind pan-national dreamers salivate over, I will concede that some kind of universal enlistment, before the age of majority, ought to take place to help create a concrete web of experience for Canadians of all walks of life.
I would propose a blending of both the traditional military focus of conscription combined with learning how to fight fires, sandbag for floods, etc.
To know how to defend one another and our country in all respects – that’s citizenship.
Ultimately, I would suggest that we open our minds to the possibilities of our nation, which we sing should be kept “glorious and free,” by God himself at every event we have. After 150 years, we are not so much a failure as a disappointment – we could be so much more if we dared to dream.