The Canadian Red Ensign
Friday, July 1, 2022
New Day? No Thanks, I’ll Take the Old(er)!– Dominion Day
Over the past couple of weeks there has been a great deal of talk here in Winnipeg about the announcement that today’s big party at the Forks would be called “New Day” instead of “Canada Day”, would be a whole bunch of pissing and moaning about wrongs real and imagined inflicted upon the Indians instead of a celebration of our country, and would not include the usual fireworks celebration. Interestingly, Sunday evening, while enjoying a coffee at Tim Horton’s and trying to read a chapter out of the book of Isaiah, I overheard snatches of conversation from a couple at a nearby table with regards to all of this. The man was boisterously objecting to all of these changes, especially the cancelling of the fireworks. The woman was defending the changes, toeing the progressive party line on the subject. For what it’s worth, the man was an Indian and the woman was lily white.
Among the more prominent of the local critics of these changes – I add the modifier “local” because it has attracted commentary from across the Dominion, including Toronto’s Anthony Furey and Edmonton’s Lorne Gunter – are Lloyd Axworthy and Jenny Motkaluk. The former, who from 1979 to 2000 was the MP for Winnipeg – Fort Garry then Winnipeg South Centre when the former was dissolved and the latter reconstituted in 1988, during which time he served as Minister for various portfolios in Liberal governments under Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien, and later became president of the University of Winnipeg, the furthest to the left of the city’s academic institutions, expressed his criticism in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press, a Liberal party propaganda rag that likes to think of itself as a newspaper. The latter is one of the candidates for the office about to be vacated by Mayor Duckie whom she had previously but sadly unsuccessfully attempted to unseat in the 2018 mayoral election. Ryan Stelter responded to Motkaluk with a column that appeared in the Winnipeg Sun – the local neoconservative tabloid – in which he defended the decision by the powers that be at the Forks, their reasons for the change, and basically argued that while the biggest party in the city has been re-named and re-imagined this does not prevent anyone else from celebrating the holiday as they like.
While I suspect Stelter of disingenuity – his argument is technically correct but does not address the real problems with the thinking behind the changes likely because he doesn’t want to be seen as dissenting from that thinking – I shall, nevertheless, be doing as he suggests and celebrating the holiday the way I like. This means that like the crowd at the Forks, I will not be celebrating “Canada Day”. Unlike the crowd at the Forks, however, I shall not be celebrating the atrociously progressive “New Day” either – perhaps they should have called it “New DIE” from the appropriate acronym for Diversity, Inclusivity, Equity – but shall be celebrating, as I do every first of July, Dominion Day. This is Canada’s true national holiday and the first of July bore this name until the Liberals changed it in 1982. Since the Liberals did not do so honestly and constitutionally – only thirteen members, less than a quorum, were sitting at the time that the private member’s bill changing the name was rushed through all the readings without debate in less than five minutes, hence the Honourable Eugene Forsey’s description of this as “something very close to sneak-thievery” – I think that continuing to celebrate Dominion Day rather than Canada Day is appropriate. I am in good company in this. The great Canadian man of letters Robertson Davies called Dominion Day “splendid” and Canada Day “wet” in reference to its being “only one letter removed from the name of a soft drink”.
I will say this about Canada Day, however. Like Dominion Day it is a celebration of our country as a whole. Indeed, Dominion Day and Canada Day, are two different celebrations of Canada based on two different visions of what ought to celebrated about the country. I will elaborate on that momentarily. First I will point out the contrast. Attempts at a post-Canada Day holiday, as this New Day would appear to be, seem to be attempts at having a celebration on the country’s anniversary without celebrating the country at all but rather celebrating progressive ideals and the group identities of groups within Canada who are favoured by the left while allotting shame and dishonour to the country (and to groups within it who are not favoured by the left). Ironically, considering that the sort of people who think up this sort of thing are always going on about “inclusivity”, this is incredibly divisive. It is also insane.
Canada Day is a celebration of the Canada of the Liberal vision. That Canada is best described by the title of a 1935 history by John Wesley Dafoe, the Liberal Party promoter who edited the Winnipeg Free Press for the first half of the twentieth century, Canada: An American Nation. By deliberately omitting the word “North” Dafoe expressed his idea that Canada is essentially American – possessing the same culture and values as the United States, and on the same political trajectory historically, away from the British Empire and towards democratic republican nationalism, albeit pursuing that path through means other than war. Those who share this vision of Canada have historically regarded the Liberal Party as the guardians of Canada’s journey down this path or, as it has often been stated, “the natural ruling party of Canada”. This is what the great Canadian historian Donald Creighton derisively called the “Authorized Version”, the Liberal Interpretation of Canadian History that was, before the Cultural Marxist version in which the history of Canada, the United, States, and Western Civilization is treated as nothing but racism, sexism, and other such isms, permeated academe, authoritatively taught in Liberal-leaning history classrooms, which were most of them. What critics of the left-wing of the Liberal Party – the branch of the party most associated with the two Trudeaus and Jean Chretien – and particularly the neoconservatives who look for inspiration and ideas primarily if not solely to the American “conservative” movement, often fail to grasp is that this is the Liberal vision of Canada even when the party’s left-wing, which spouts the same sort of anti-American rhetoric as the American Cold War era New Left, is controlling the party, and perhaps especially so. The symbols associated with Canada Day, such as the flag introduced by Lester Pearson in 1965, like the name of the holiday itself, are symbols that point to Canada while saying nothing about her history and traditions, symbols that were introduced by Liberals to replace older ones that also pointed to Canada but did speak about her history and traditions. The historical events highlighted in this vision of Canada are events in which the Liberal Party led the country. In recent decades the main one of these was the repatriation of the British North America Act of 1867 in 1982 and the addition to it of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In repatriating the British North America Act, it was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867. Everything asserted a few sentences earlier about the symbols associated with Canada Day is true of this change as well and the new name reflects the American understanding of the word “constitution”, i.e., a piece of paper telling the government what to do, rather than the traditional British-Canadian understanding of the word as meaning the institutions of the state as they actually exist and operate in a living tradition that is largely unwritten. Similarly, it was the American Bill of Rights that the authors of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had in mind when they added this to the repatriated BNA, although, many of us have been warning for years and as is painfully obvious after the medical tyranny of the last two and a half years, and especially the harsh fascist crackdown on those peacefully protesting against this tyranny in Ottawa earlier this year, the Charter simply does not provide the same level of protection as the American Bill. The Charter did not provide us with anything worth having that we did not already have by right of the Common Law and the long tradition of protected rights and freedoms associated with it including such highlights as the Magna Carta. Furthermore, it weakened the most important rights and freedoms mentioned in it – the fundamental freedoms of Section 2 and the legal rights of Sections 7 to 14, institutionalized the injustice of reverse de jure discrimination – Section 15 b), and provided no protection whatsoever to property rights which in the older tradition which both we and the Americans inherited occupy the spot where the Americans put “the pursuit of happiness” in one of the founding documents of their tradition as it branched off from the older. Perhaps the most significant single effect of the Charter was to transform our Supreme Court into an American-style activist Court which it had not been up unto that point. The American Supreme Court has been activist so long that now, when it has finally reversed one of its most notorious activist rulings – Roe v Wade – and returned the right to legislate protection for the lives of the unborn to the lawmaking assemblies from which it stole it in 1973, the American progressives whose causes have benefited from the vast majority of judicial activism have seen this as illegitimate judicial activism and have been behaving like extremely spoiled children who have finally received long-overdue discipline. The point, however, is that these changes, arguably the most Americanizing of any the Liberal Party has ever made, were introduced by a Liberal government when the party was controlled by its left-wing, despite that left-wing’s Communist-sympathizing anti-American rhetoric.
Dominion Day is a celebration of the Canada that was formally established as a country when the British North America Act came into effect on 1 July, 1867. The country was given the name Canada, which name, originally the Iroquois word for “village”, was mistaken by Jacques Cartier for the St. Lawrence region, then applied to the society of French settlers established there, then, after this French society and its territory were ceded to the British Crown by the French Crown after the Seven Years War, and the Americans seceded from the British Crown to establish their Modern, liberal, republic, became the name of two provinces of the British Empire, one French Catholic and the other English Protestant, located in this territory, the latter populated by the Loyalists who had fled persecution in the American republic. These provinces were united into one in 1841, which proved almost immediately to be a mistake, and the search for a solution to the problems this fusion generated was one of the main reasons for Confederation in which the two provinces were separated once again, but made part of a larger federation of British North American provinces that was given the name common to both. Dominion was the title the Fathers of Confederation gave the country that would bear the name country. The title of a country, as distinct from its name, is supposed to tell you what kind of a country it is, that is to say, the nature of the constitution of the state. If a country has “People’s Republic” as its title, for example, that tells us that it is a Communist, totalitarian, hellhole. The “Dominion” in Canada’s title tells us that she is a parliamentary monarchy, a kingdom or realm under the reign of the monarch we share with the United Kingdom, governed by her own Parliament. When the Liberals were waging war against the title “Dominion” from the 1960s to the 1980s, they maintained that it was a synonym for “colony” and was imposed upon Canada from London in the nineteenth century, but none of that was true. The most charitable interpretation of the Liberals making these claims is that they were ignorant of history, an interpretation that would seem to be supported by the Honourable Eugene Forsey’s account, in his memoirs, of his attempts to educate his Liberal colleagues in the Senate about these things during this period, although a less charitable interpretation might be more appropriate for the top leaders of the party. The reality is that the Fathers of Confederation had “Kingdom of Canada” as their first choice, were advised by London to pick something less provocative to our neighbours to the South, and chose “Dominion” as a synonym for “Kingdom” from Psalm 72:8.
Dominion Day, as a celebration of this Canada, is a celebration of a vision of Canada that is pretty much the opposite of the Liberal vision of Canada, and an interpretation of her history that is the opposite of the “Authorized Version”. To call it the Conservative vision and interpretation of Canada would be very misleading, I am afraid, because, those who currently use the moniker Conservative are generally light years removed from Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier Whatever you want to call it, however, it is the truer vision and interpretation of Canada. The Confederation Project was not an attempt to do what the Americans had done in 1776 albeit without bloodshed. It was an attempt to do the opposite of what the Americans had done – to take the provinces of the British Empire in North America, and build out of them a new country without severing ties with the United Kingdom and the Empire, using the Westminster Parliament as its model rather than devising a new constitution from scratch. For the Fathers of Confederation in 1864 to 1867, as with the English and French Canadians who fought alongside the British Imperial army and its Indian allies from 1812 to 1815, and the ancestors of the same during the American Revolution four decades earlier, the threat to their freedom came from the American Republic, with its “Manifest Destiny”, cloaking its dreams of conquest in the rhetoric of “liberation”. The British Crown and Empire were not tyrannical forces from which the Canadians needed to be “liberated” (1) but the guardian forces that protected Canadian freedom from American conquest. The threat of American conquest did not just magically go away on 1 July, 1867. The efforts of Sir John’s government in the decades that followed, to bring the rest of British North America into Confederation, to settle the prairies, and to build the transcontinental railroad that would unite the country economically, were all carried out with the threat of a United States hoping and wishing for him to fail so that they might swoop in and gobble up Canada looming over head. Aiding and abetting the would-be American conquerors were their fifth column in Canada, the Liberals. In Sir John’s last Dominion election, held in March 1891 only a couple of months prior to the stroke that incapacitated him shortly before his death, he faced a Liberal opponent, Sir Wilfred Laurier, who campaigned on a platform of “unrestricted reciprocity”, which is more commonly called “free trade”, with the United States. Sir John called this treason, pointing out that free trade would create an economic union that would be the wedge in the door for cultural and political union with the United Sates. That very year Liberal intellectual Goldwin Smith published a book, Canada and the Canada Question, that argued that Confederation was a mistake, that economics is everything, that trade in North America is naturally north-south rather than east-west – this was effectively rebutted by Harold Innis in The Fur Trade in Canada (1930) and Donald Creighton in The Commercial Empire of the St. Lawrence (1937) – and that union with the United States was both desirable and inevitable. Sir John won another majority government in his last Dominion election by vigorously opposing all of this.
Sir John’s victory over Laurier in 1891 demonstrated that his vision of Canada, rather than the Liberal vision, was shared not just by the other Fathers of Confederation but by most Canadians. That this remained true well into the Twentieth Century was evident in how the Liberals were the most likely to lose elections in which they most stressed the free trade plank of their platform and in the Loyalist spirit demonstrated by the Canadians who rallied to the call of King, Country, and Empire in two World Wars. Even the Grit Prime Minister during the Second World War, who had mocked the Imperial war effort during the First World War, who was the very embodiment of the Liberal continentalist free trader, and who was actually an admirer of the dictator who led the other side – following his brief interview with Hitler in 1937, Mackenzie King wrote a gushing entry about him in his diary, in which he described the German tyrant in almost Messianic terms, comparing him to Joan of Arc, and employing language that would have sounded just as creepy had Hitler turned out to be the man of peace he thought him to be – had enough of that spirit to do his duty and lead Canada into the war alongside Britain and the rest of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of that conflict was that the United States became the leading power in Western Civilization and immediately began to reshape the West into its own image. To make matters worse around this same time mass communications technology, especially the television, became ubiquitous both a) facilitating the permeation of English Canadian culture with the mass pop culture produced in the culture factories of Los Angeles, and b) greatly increasing the influence of the newsmedia, which had been heavily slanted towards the Liberals since even before Confederation when George Brown edited the Globe, which evolved into today’s Globe and Mail. These are among the foremost of the factors which produced the shift in popular thinking away from the truer, founding, vision of Canada celebrated in Dominion Day to the Liberal vision celebrated in Canada Day. They are also among the factors that led George Grant, Canada’s greatest philosopher, traditionalist, and critic of technology, to pen his jeremiad for our country, Lament for a Nation, in 1965.
If the exponential growth in media power due to the development of mass communications technology and the post-World War II Americanization of Western Civilization as a whole are responsible for the shift in popular thought to the Liberal vision, how then do we explain this subsequent shift to the new, “woke” Left view, in which Canada, and everything that traditional Canadians celebrated about her in Dominion Day and Liberals in Canada Day, are regarded as cause for weeping and gnashing of teeth rather than celebration?
While the media certainly had a role in this as well – they were the ones, last year, remember, who, when various Indian bands began announcing that they had found ground disturbances – and this is all that they have found, to this date – on the grounds of former residential schools or in unmarked sections of cemeteries, irresponsibly reported this as “proof” of a conspiracy theory about the residential schools having been death camps where priests murdered kids by the thousands – it is our educational system that must bear the blame for the fact that so many people were stupid and ignorant enough to believe this stercus tauri. It has been sixty-nine years since Hilda Neatby wrote and published So Little for the Mind: An Indictment of Canadian Education in which she lambasted the education bureaucrats who in most if not all Canadian provinces had decided in the decade or so prior to her writing to impose the educational “reforms” proposed by wacko, environmentalist (in the sense of taking the nurture side in the nature/nurture debate rather than the sense of being a tree-hugging, save-the-planet, do-gooder, although he may have been that too), atheist, secular humanist, Yankee philosopher John Dewey upon Canadian public schools. This meant out with a curriculum focused on giving children facts to learn, expecting them to learn them, and acquainting them with the literary canon of the Great Conversation so that by exposing them to the Swiftian “sweetness and light” of Matthew Arnold’s “best which has been thought and said” they might be inspired to rise above their natural barbarism or philistinism and learn to think and ask questions and strive for the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. It meant in with a curriculum that was “child-centred”, which in practice meant dumbed down so as to minimize or eliminate content of which the child cannot immediately recognize its pragmatic utility to himself, although Dewey and his followers, who were decades ahead of everyone else in terms of solipsistic, narcissistic, psycho-babble, dressed it up in terms of helping the child maximize his potential. Those sympathetic to the methods of Dewey et al. thought of these reforms as a positive shift from a passive education in which the teacher gives the student the content to be learned and the student receives it to an active education in which the student is trained to learn by self-discovery. Neatby recognized these methods for what they really were – the means of transforming schools from institutions that provide their students with the intellectual tools necessary to live in control of their own lives as free people into institutions that train people to be docile, unquestioning, members of a more planned, more controlled, and more collectivist sort of society. Her warnings largely went ignored, although she was commemorated with a stamp twenty-two years ago. Even though the environmentalist presuppositions underlying Dewey’s system have been thoroughly debunked in the intervening decades, his theories survive as the dominant educational philosophy, albeit having been periodically translated into the latest forms of newspeak. Meanwhile university level academics have mostly stopped criticizing the way the schools under the new system are failing to prepare students for a university education, but have instead accommodated the universities to the situation by transforming them into indoctrination centres in which their unquestioning and docile but also navel-gazingly narcissistic “student” bodies have their heads stuffed with every conceivable form of left-wing group identity politics – there are entire divisions of universities now dedicated to specific forms of this – and the deranged post-Marxist crackpot left-wing theories – intersectionality, Critical Theory (Race and otherwise), etc. – that support them. The subversion and perversion of our educational system just described is the reason so many were quick to unthinkingly and unquestioningly accept the media’s irresponsible claims that the discovery of soil disturbances by ground-penetrating radar constitutes proof of the conspiracy theory that government-funded, church-operated, schools were murdering their students in some giant plot involving the highest officials of church, state, and a host of other institutions, that a defrocked United Church minister (2) pulled out of his rear end decades ago. It is the reason so many were willing to commit the chronological snobbery of judging ex post facto our country’s past leaders by the left-wing standards of today’s progressives, the injustice of accepting a condemnation of our country in which only the accuser has been allowed to be heard and the defence has been denied the right of cross-examination and of making a defence by the mob shouting “disrespect” and “denial” every time anyone raised a question or pointed out contra-narrative facts, and the impiety of thinking the worst of the generations that went before us. Note how the words “colonialism” and “imperialism” are constantly on the lips of such people, being used negatively in precisely the manner described by Robert Conquest in Reflections on a Ravaged Century in which he concluded that this usage, so different from how these terms are used by real historians, has reduced these words to “mind-blockers and thought-extinguishers”. This bespeaks the failure of the educational system.
So no, I will not be participating in any “New Day” that is the product of what passes for thinking in the minds of those whose acceptance of the left-wing narrative that our country is something to be mourned rather than celebrated testifies to the ruin of our educational system. Nor, as an unreconstructed old Tory, will I be celebrating the Liberal vision for our country on “Canada Day”. I shall once again raise my glass – or rather cup of coffee – to Sir John A. Macdonald and celebrate Canada’s true holiday, Dominion Day. — Gerry T. Neal
Happy Dominion Day!
God Save the Queen!
(1) For all of Jefferson’s Lockean rhetoric about natural law, unalienable rights, and the consent of the governed his 1776 accusations of “absolute tyranny” against George III and Parliament were nonsensical propaganda of the most risible sort, considering that the British government was one of the least intrusive governments in the world both at that time and in all of history up to that point.
(2) This is actually, in a twisted way, rather impressive. It is far easier to be ordained in the United Church of Canada than to be defrocked.