Editorial

III winds or no, it’s still a fine time to be Canadian

Peter C. Newman December 31 1979
Editorial

III winds or no, it’s still a fine time to be Canadian

Peter C. Newman December 31 1979

III winds or no, it’s still a fine time to be Canadian

Editorial

Peter C. Newman

During 1979, Canada seemed to suffer not merely a change in mood but a shift in climate. The sense of instant replay prompted by the forthcoming

election is deceptive. Ever since the born-again Liberals who populate the parliamentary caucus voted to canonize Pierre Elliott Trudeau, this campaign became a futile and expensive exercise in lip-flapping déjà vu.

But one vital new element has been added: the oscillation of political expectation and disappointment has accelerated beyond credibility. No matter how often the party leaders may lunge at us out of TV screens (trying their best to look as sincere as those hosts of the daytime game shows); no matter how hard they pretend their policy declarations are based on something harder than the latest public opinion poll; and, especially, no matter what they promise—no one believes them anymore. It has become obvious that Canada’s future lies not so much among Joe Clark and Pierre Trudeau and Ed Broadbent as beyond them.

The current campaign aside, 1979 witnessed some important transformations.For one thing, the notion that we’re a dull backwater of a country—which for so long served as the staple myth of our existence— was buried forever. Instead, at the start of a new decade most of us feel vibrantly alive; veins humming with adrenalin, curious about what happens next, how best we can withstand the assaults of history.

Despite the certain imposition of oil rationing during the 1980s, we still possess the world’s cheapest gasoline and enjoy at least the potential of achieving energy self-sufficiency within a decade. At the same time, during the past year some of the poison has drained out of Quebec separatism. It now looks as though René Lévesque may end up more of an aberration than a prophet.

The ecological activists who once operated on the fringes of society achieved important if belated victories in 1979, as more and more Canadians realize how essential the preservation of a hospitable environment really is. Feminism may not have reversed past injustices, but at least sexually based discrimination is becoming more of an exception than a rule.

Despite our many problems, looking around the globe should have helped us realize it’s a fine time to be Canadian. It has never been quite so obvious as during the past 12 months just how much we want to preserve what we already have in this country. Lucky us.