‘Why I’m Wildly Enthusiastic About Canada’s Future’
WHEN Maclean’s announced a contest last October for the best essays on the subject of Canada’s political future, we were embarking on something of a talent hunt. Did a mute, inglorious Addison lurk in the Canadian woods? Was there a new Dorothy Parker slaving over some suburban stove? Evidently not. Although we received more than 300 entries (in both languages), the judges were distressed to discover there was no single essay displaying the originality of content and style that would merit the $500 prize we offered. The best contenders were sober, well-wrought pieces, concentrating on the theme of nationalism and offering various solutions to the Quebec problem. Too many of these writers, however, merely thought of Canada in terms of what the United States isn’t. Therefore, since we ourselves are optimistic about Canada’s future (see Canada Report), we decided to divide the $500 with three awards to writers who share our optimism and one for a contribution that was not optimistic but was strikingly original. Each of these winners receives $125:
The Orchestra That Is Canada_
I FOR ONE am wildly enthusiastic about the political future of Canada. This future is bound to be exciting because of the intense nature of the maturing forces at work. One of the keys to this drive for maturity is Quebec. Quebec is forcing us to grow up in a hurry because Quebec is controversy. Controversy in politics is creative maturity hastened through forced growth. This forced growth is the same as effected in plants in a hothouse in comparison with the natural growth of plants outdoors. Our hothouse is the worry, furor and tempest created by the uncertainty of Quebec. The problem of whether Quebec stays or leaves continually draws national attention from all levels of society and government. This factor involves dynamic forces, not the least of which is the volatile nature of French-Canadian politics on both the provincial and federal levels.
But while Quebec appears to be kicking over the traces, Premier Bennett of British Columbia is anxious to annex the Yukon. The three Prairie provinces, tiring of the continuing threat to their economic lifeline by longshoremen in Vancouver, are wistfully thinking of expansion at Fort Churchill and of
all-weather ports in the Arctic. The three small Maritime provinces are openly talking of union in order to create a bigger economic bloc. In the midst of all this upheaval, Quebec, the arch - conspirator of it all, seems not to know what she really does want. The only people in Canada who do know what they want are the Newfoundlanders, who have never had it so good. They want more of the same and, as a guarantee, are going to hang on to Labrador. The anchor and sobering factor in our political growth is conservative Ontario. Ontario, more than satisfied to keep what she has, is willing to go on contributing far more in federal taxes than any other province in order to help the country stay together.
The Canada of the past can be likened to a second-rate orchestra, whose musicians (the 10 provinces) were invariably led by anaemic conductors (prime ministers) unable to evoke a response. Now the tempo has quickened and the orchestra has come to life. All 10 musicians (provinces) are demanding attention and, if anything, are overresponding to the conductor (Prime Minister Trudeau). The Canada of the future, by exposure through television, can be built on truth, justice and honesty, welded together by the nuts and bolts of its collective faults.
instead of the sugar-sweetness of false piety.
Trudeau is a tough, competent man who knows what he wants, means what he says and is unlikely to be swayed by unrealistic, regional demands on the public purse. Being a pragmatic realist, he most likely realizes that, as in any true marriage, it is more often than not the sour notes of disharmony that provide the very necessities for survival. What we can really expect, once he gets going, is a polished performance by an accomplished virtuoso. We will indeed make music together before many years pass.
HAROLD C. CRAVEN, BURNABY, BC
Editorial, The Gazette, Montreal, Tuesday, May 24, 1977
IT IS INDEED ironic that the first issue of the Gazette to be published in nearly seven months should be on a day upon which many of us, in our almost forgotten youth, demanded a holiday to celebrate the birthday of the Queen who was on the throne at the time of the greatest expansion of the British Empire. Added to this irony is the fact that we are today welcoming to our city, in the name of freedom, the troops of the United States Fourth and Seventh Divisions. Welcome them we must for we know that, although the end of our beloved Canada is near, only the co-operation and friendship of our neighbors to the south can rescue us from the terrorism and chaos of the past five years.
We are going to have to make a new start, probably very soon, as a state within the American Union, and, at this time, it may be useful to review the events that have led up to this sad state of affairs. Nobody who voted for the Parti Québécois in 1974, hoping to bring an end to violence, could have foreseen that in three short years the Quebec republic would be an occupied territory. That election was rapidly followed by negotiations with Ottawa, which, had there been any other government but the minority NDP one that existed at that time, might have failed. That government, too concerned with Americanization of industry and it’s own shaky position, gave in on every point, and on July 14, 1975, the republic was born. Two months later, in September 1975, that moderate, intelligent man, leader of the Parti Québécois and President of the Republic, was dead.
The events that led up to today’s occupation occurred with breathless rapidity during the fall of 1975 and last year. The take-over of the government in Quebec by the Marxist-anarchist wing of the Parti Québécois; the flight of American and Canadian capital together with many French Canadians themselves from Quebec; the defeat of the Ottawa government after the decision of the ►
ESSAY CONTEST continued
Maritime provinces to become part of the United States; the arrival of Russian and Chinese technicians; the nationalization of the petroleum and the pulpand-paper industries; the U.S. elections, which saw the election of a president strongly committed to law and order at home and a protection of the Western Hemisphere from further Russian encroachment as a foreign policy; the purchase of Russian warplanes by the Quebec government; the negotiations between the Liberal-Conservative coalition in Ottawa and Washington; the great United Nations debate in January of this year, followed by the invasion in February and the armistice just two weeks ago — these are the events.
Today marks the return of English newspapers to a great city now partially demolished. In a few months we can expect to see the end of Canada as a country and Quebec as a state. As Canadians and Quebeckers we are saddened by this thought, but we believe that the last few years have proven, beyond any doubt, the inability of Canadians or Quebeckers to exist as independent nations. We are indeed fortunate that it appears we will be accepted as part of a great democracy with a history of freedom — the United States of America. (NOTE: The word Quebeckers used in the last paragraph of this editorial had originally been written Québécois but was changed at the request of the Military Office for Press Control, U.S. Army of Occupation.) — w. A. EDMISTON,
Federalism, Non. Nationalism, Oui.
CANADA TODAY is a country in search of a future. Emphasis on provincial interests and the absence of leadership from the central government risk the future of our country.
In the present context of Canadian politics — and to ensure that Canada has a political future — it is necessary above all else to reaffirm the importance of the nation above ethnic, geographic and cultural differences. The cornerstone of the social and political order must be the national community we hold in common, not the differences that divide us. We must feel ourselves to be an integral part of Canada and determine to continue to build a great and prosperous country. We must all feel united and involved in the common effort to build a great Canada. This aim should test all Canadians and inspire each with a larger and nobler vision of a great Canada.
Therefore, it is necessary that an order of priorities in political and social matters should be founded on the development of the nation as a whole, not on its racial, religious or geographical parts. Canadians must affirm their faith in Canada and demand politics that en-
sure our sovereignty and independence on every front if we are to have a meaningful, world-beneficial political future.
First, we need to know our national aims. By these, I mean the basic, the most fundamental goals of our society; goals toward which all our policies should be directed. We must want Canada to remain a sovereign state. And we must want to be able to control what happens in, over and around Canada. The first aim of a nation is to maintain and enhance its nationhood.
Second, there are cultural, social and technological changes taking place in Canada — and faster than ever before. We must face change, look at it positively, accept it, and change with it. And we can do it. Generally speaking, Canadians — relative to the United States, the USSR, Japan, etc. — tend to think we can’t compete with these giants in terms of ideas. This is nonsense, and it is holding back our national development, which is the key to our political future. Canada can, and must, compete in all areas — economic, scientific and cultural.
The two factors that have been most important in the development of national cohesion in Canada have been a strong sense of tradition and order in community life and the impetus to physical development and settlement of the land mass. These priorities, seriously weakened in recent years, must be re-established. Of the two, the developmental process has done more to give Canadians a sense of national identity “from sea to sea.”
It is essential that this be given the most attention in the future. We must consolidate our achievements in the southern part of the nation and spur development and settlement of the heartland and the north in order to rejuvenate Canadian life and carry it forward to a rewarding political future.
Canadians must also reject federalism as a solution to the national problems of the future. However necessary it was in the past to bring this country together — and that is debatable — it has outworn its usefulness in the present day. The costs of 11 parliaments where one (or. perhaps, two) would be sufficient, the duplication of effort, the difficulties over funds, and the ease of modern communications are all factors accounting for signs of growing impatience with the federal structure. Federalism may be the delight of constitutional lawyers and pedants, but as a functional structure in mid-20th-century Canada it is woefully inadequate.
To use federalism as a yardstick for deciding national policies and priorities is both sterile and retrograde in the present day. Overflowing federalism distorts one’s vision of reality, prevents one from
seeing problems in their true perspective, falsifies solutions and constitutes a classic diversionary tactic for politicians caught by facts.
Facing our problems squarely, we must choose the free flow of national, political, economic and social life within a unitary framework, rather than the restrictions of our present obsolete federal-state structure.
If this country is to work, if we are to have a really meaningful political future, federalism must give way to national unity. The realization in Canada of a true, authentic nationalism is a task that, on the political level, can bind our generation together.
This view of federalism is not at the present time shared by many of the middle-class elite. But, then again, federalist policies in Canada are generally advantageous to the middle class though they run counter to the interests of the majority of the population in general, of the economically weak in particular.
However, our political future continues to be threatened by prevailing attitudes among the liberal ruling elite, the intellectuals and ideologues, and certain elements of the national bourgeoisie who sacrifice long-term profit for short-term gain by selling out to foreign interests and relegating themselves to a satellite managerial role in the branch-plant sector of our economy. The prevailing ideology must be overthrown and the direction of our economy recaptured from foreign control before we can claim the future that is our right as Canadians. — GREGORY MCLEAN, REGINA
THE FUTURE OF Canada is to be one nation and how this is done decides Canada’s destiny and role in the world as a humanitarian nation. To attempt to make one country within the present concept of governments, commerce, industry and social justice is desirable but impracticable in the foreseeable future without the denial of parochialism.
Four equally important areas offer the challenge: education, regional disparity, external affairs and politicians. Solved and dovetailed, they will be the foundation of Canada and her future.
Education should become the responsibility of the' federal government. In that event, Canada-wide standards could be administered by the provinces, but the low-calibre politicians would have little say in the politically expedient spending of the education tax dollar. More education per dollar, more movement of students, and a step toward one Canada would be the end product.
Regional disparity is quoted in dollars and cents, but the physical causes of the currency signs can perhaps be removed in large part by indirect-cost movement
of freight across provincial boundaries. Let the federal government pick up the tab through graduated taxes on users of the services. As a result, the costs of similar goods across Canada will be approximately the same. Oil, gas and electricity should be handled in a similar manner, making Canadian fuel available to all Canadians. One prerequisite will be a Canadian Merchant Marine, which is essential in any event. The above would also lessen the possibility of industrial espionage through externally controlled labor unions.
In external affairs, Canada rightly takes her initiatives where humanism is concerned, yet all other policies are counter this or anti that. Canada, to be one, must think of the benefits to Canada and Canadians tempered by her humanism. But Canadians first, and seen by Canadians as Canadians first, must be our policy if Canada will be one. Historical fishing rights, as an example of Canadians last, will then be history.
Politicians have refined, through generations, their profession’s unenvied reputation. Now they must work to reverse the feelings of distaste at the overt unmethods they use to grasp or retain power. Politicians of conscience are needed to take what is good, no matter from what source, and build on it for those who elected them. An old workshop is modernized or torn down, redesigned, rebuilt or discarded. Politicians must see their need to rebuild before they are rejected. When they do build they will build one Canada.
People are people are people. What is good for the people of Canada cannot be bad for Canada, commerce, industry, politicians or the world. Canada as one will be envied as the practitioner of human rights and will be recognized as the trusted champion of the rights of the individual and not as the chit-chattering intellectual dreamer being raped.
E. M. ALLISON, STEPHENVILLE, NFLD.
And here are extracts from some of the essays that deserve honorable mentions:
WE MUST prevent foreign-based companies from dominating our industry. Unfortunately, money has no nationality and greed no loyalty: therefore, very firm and perhaps severe laws will have to be passed . . . The provinces will have to co-operate with the federal government in this so that our right hand will know what our left is doing. Otherwise, foreign companies, well-informed and wellserved, will be able to slide by federal restrictions and use provincial laws to their advantage — MRS. M. E. LLEWELLYN,
THE VOTERS of the year 2000 had accepted conservatism as their political
way of life. It seemed illogical to question a system that gave them all the material benefits that could be desired. They voted for the party that succeeded in selling all the Canadian natural resources. The patron saint of the Con-Lib Party, W. A. C. Bennett, had passed on his last message received from his direct line to God, that the successful Canadian way of life lay in the acquisition of wealth, no matter how this wealth was acquired. — MRS. ELIZABETH ROGERS, VICTORIA
WE, IN CANADA, have practically the American standard of living, without the Vietnam war and without the black problem. What more can we ask? In addition, we have untouched resources and beautiful, unspoiled scenery. In fact, we have about 10 times more scenery per person than the Americans . . . We have problems. We have too much wheat, our farmers are too efficient, but this is better than not enough wheat to feed us. The only solution I can see is to send all the wheat farmers, at public expense, to Hawaii or Mexico, anywhere they want to go, for a year or two. Anything to get them off the land. — FRED LAMOUREX,
WHAT WITH regional disputes erupting everywhere, and various racial minorities charging off in all directions, trying to do their own particular thing, the future of Confederation appears to be hanging on the ropes. Consequently, I’m willing to scrap the Crown and risk going it alone if for no other reason than that this would not only enhance our status as Canadians; it would eliminate, once and for all, the humiliating term “British Subject,” which many people bitterly resent.
Unfortunately, the establishment of a successful republic requires very strong overtones of nationalism, which is almost completely lacking in Canada. Thus, for better or worse, I have no choice but to vote for the second of two alternatives — political union with the United States.
W. A. FOSTER, POWELL RIVER, BC
WHAT CANADA needs is a full-scale Cultural Revolution, a nonviolent parallel to that which took place in China, during which Canadians can seek out their identities, emerge from their shells and share their respective cultures. A time to become a nation in the classic definition, a group of people striving toward a common goal. In attempting to carry this Cultural Revolution off we must look, as always, to the youth first. Schools should carry courses in Canadian Culture, supplemented by travel and experience sessions on every phase of Canadian society. - DAVID WALL, W1LLOWDALE, ONT. □