Reflections on Canada at the age of 148

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 2, 2015


What have we managed to do as a country in this past 148 years?  Stay together is perhaps the biggest part of our success as a country.

Getting the Maritime provinces and what was then the Province of Canada to agree to form a confederation in 1867 was propelled to a considerable degree by the Civil War the Americans were fighting at the time.

Fathers of confederation

Fathers of Confederation negotiating in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Once Confederation took place Ontario and Quebec were created and the task then was to bring in the rest of the country – everything west of Ontario
We didn’t get Newfoundland into confederation until 1948.

Then in 1995 Quebec missed leaving the confederation by less than 50,000 votes. They had failed to separate in 1980 as well. Many feel the issue of Quebec becoming a spate country is now behind us – we certainly won’t fight that battle for another twenty years. And who knows what kind of a country we will be then?

We are now an ethnically diverse country. An aggressive immigration policy has moved Canada from a French and English country to one that has people from every imaginable country.

We have in the past shown the ability to bring in tens of thousands of people who faced disasters in their own country. The “boat people” from Vietnam was perhaps one of our best moments as a compassionate caring people.

Peace keepers

United Nations Peacekeepers were the result of a Canadian resolution at the UN. Were respected leaders then.

The creation of the United Nations Peace keepers was another proud significant time for Canadians.

We have been a country that has gone to war when we felt it necessary – and came close to fracturing the country when Quebec saw both the first and the second world wards differently than the rest of the country.

We overcame those difficulties as well.

We have not become known as a country with strong environment positions. We have failed to live up to the various accords we have signed.

Alberta oil sands

Some of the dirtiest oil on the planet comes out of Alberta

We mine and ship some of the most toxic oil this planet has seen; some of that oil will in the not too distant future run through a pipeline at the top of this city.

Why Canada is not a leader in the environmentally sound refining of the tar sands oil is a national shame. It is the federal government that holds all those cards.

John Kennedy made America the world leader in space exploration when he said they would put a man on the moon in ten years. It became a mission for that country and they succeeded.

Imagine if our federal government did the same thing with the oil in Alberta? We could have billions of barrels of oil flowing out of the tar sands and into refineries and transported around the world.

There is more oil in our tar sands that there is in the ground in Saudi Arabia – we are an oil rich nation but we insist on selling dirty oil to people that need oil badly.

We have not been as judicially sound as we have been in the past. Our Supreme Court is constantly at odds with the federal government.

We have treated our aboriginal people very poorly in the past and are still doing so to this day. Changes are beginning to take place but the price aboriginal people have had to pay while the rest of us began to learn and understand how badly our governments treated these people has been very high.

Residential school

To our everlasting shame – we did this to our aboriginal people – some thought we we doing the right thing. Most people didn’t even know what was being done.

Many aboriginal communities are seriously dysfunctional and we blame that dysfunction on the racist belief that these people are not ready to govern themselves. We have been wrong in the past and we are wrong now.

Some of our police forces are beginning to look a little like those south of the border. We treat our criminals so badly that they remain criminals for as long as they live. Punishment is part of behaviour change but there are limits which our federal government doesn’t appear to understand – they just keep opening up more prisons and treating those in prison in a manner that all but guarantees they will return soon after they are released.

And we spend a princely sum to keep convicts in prisons but won’t spend an amount anywhere near on a national day care program.

As a society we have yet to realize that no one was born a murderer or a bank robber – the society we are played some part of what happened to turn an innocent into as criminal.

Vote for me - keep calmAs we move closer towards a critical election in just over 100 days this might be a good time to reflect on the Canada you want and which government you believe will get us all there.

In two years we will have been a country for 150 years – will we be different then?

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