Sunday, November 26, 2006

WHO WILL SPEAK FOR CANADA?

Our prime minister has not. The members of our opposition parties have not.

There was a time when our leaders spoke of Canada as one nation - united, composed of disparate groups perhaps, but forming a common people with common bonds.

"A Canadian nationality - not French-Canadian, nor British-Canadian, nor Irish-Canadian: patriotism rejects the prefix - is, in my opinion what we should look forward to, that is what we ought to labour for, that is what we ought to be prepared to defend to the death.
[...]
"what I chiefly wanted to say in coming here is this, that if we would make Canada safe and secure, rich and renowned we must all liberalize - locally, sectionally, religiously, nationally. There is room enough in this country for one great free people; but there is not room enough, under the same flag and the same laws, for two or three angry, suspicious, obstructive 'nationalities'."
- Thomas D'Arcy McGee, future Father of Confederation and member of the 1st Parliament, speaking at Quebec City, 1862.
"The future of Canada, I believe, depends very largely upon the cultivation of a national spirit. We are engaged in a very difficult task - the task of welding together seven Provinces, which have been accustomed to regard themselves as isolated from each other, which are full of petty jealousies, their Provincial questions, their local interests. How are we to accomplish our work? How are we to effect a real union between these Provinces?"
- Edward Blake, minister of the Crown, speaking at Aurora, Ontario, 1874.
"We are here a nation, composed of the most heterogeneous elements - Protestants and Catholics, English, French, German, Irish, Scotch, every one, let it be remembered, with his traditions, with his prejudices. In each of these conflicting, antagonistic elements, however, there is a common spot of patriotism, and the only true policy is that which reaches that common patriotism and makes it vibrate in all toward common ends and common aspirations."
- Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier speaking at a Dominion Day celebration, (year not recorded).
"I am the first Prime Minister of this country of neither altogether English nor French origin. So I determined that was the thing I was going to do. I never deviated from that course, and I determined to bring about a Canadian citizenship that knew no hyphenated consideration. [...] It's the reason I went into public life. That is what I said I was going to do. I am very happy to be able to say that in the House of Commons today in my party we have members of Italian, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Chinese and Ukrainian origin - and they are all Canadians."
- Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, quoted in Maclean's, 29 March 1958.
"Canadians of Anglo-Saxon and French descent, whose two cultures will always be a source of mutual enrichment, are an inspiring example of coexistence. They go forward hand in hand to make Canada a great nation, hand in hand also with Canadians of every origin, with their heritages, irrespective of race or creed. We are all God's children. Each one of us, in his own way and place, however humble, must play his part towards the fullfilment of our national destiny."
- Georges Vanier, speaking on the occasion of his instillation as Canada's first francophone Governor General.
"History created this country from the meeting of two realities; the French and the English realities. Then these were enriched by the contributions of people from all parts of the world, but this coming together, this meeting, this encounter of realities, though at times difficult to accept, and hard to practice, this encounter has, itself, become the fabric of our life as a nation, the source of our individuality, the very cornerstone of our identity as a people. Our forefathers willed this country into being. Times, circumstance and pure will cemented us together in a unique national enterprise."
- Prime Minsters Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 17 November 1976, on the election of Rene Levesque as Premier of Quebec.

Sources:

- Desmond Morton and Morton Weinfeld. "Who Speaks for Canada? Words that shape a country." Toronto: McClelland and Steward Inc., 1998.

- Collected personal notes.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:07 AM