There are three key factors that as Canadians in a sovereign nation-state we will have to consider.
1. The changing geopolitical landscape. When the Cold War ended, that removed any simplistic models for viewing the world. We are, like it or not, a global society, and any reshaping or refining of Canada internally will have to acknowledge and understand these external changes. Samuel P. Huntington, in his brilliant book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, puts forth the hypothesis that future world divisions will be along the lines of differing civilizations, not nation-states. The idea that our western civilization is the superior model for world affairs will almost certainly not go unchallenged. Kosovo is providing us some startling insight into the future of global conflicts.
2. We are part of a global economy. To ignore that and how It affects our domestic economic policies would be a naïve reaction to reality. How we integrate with that global economy and how we protect what we feel to be essentially Canadian is not the point here. That we understand how it works and how we can assert our influence on its development is something we do have to take into account.
3. The World Wide Web. There is little wonder why it is being called the biggest advancement in human communication since the invention of the printing press, and its influence will be no less pervasive. Its power is unprecedented. One individual will be able to reach out and speak to the world, the world will be able to reach out
and speak to one individual. As a tool for democracy and an open society it is without peer. Navigation, ease of use and validation of information will continue to evolve, putting more and more power into the hands of the end user, providing we take advantage of that power. At the same time, the Internet is revolutionizing virtually every aspect of commerce, business, communication, television, entertainment and how we will receive our information, to name a few of its contributions.
And herein lies the road ahead to solutions for our political, social and economic problems. There can be little question that the average Canadian feels far removed from the democratic process. It is critical to our future as a strengthened and united Canada that this be reversed. Equally critical is that we find common ground in our views. What we need to develop is a model to incorporate the interaction of the Web and our democratic process. A methodology so we, as fellow Canadians, can learn the issues, debate the issues and interact with our elected officials on the issues. A true democratic system. This is no simple task but I would suspect that one is evolving anyway. It is in our best interests to insist upon and refine such a system.
There is a convergence of global influences that we cannot ignore. Our sovereignty is by no means assured or guaranteed, mainly because of the factors stated above. Their influence will be relentless whether we accept that or not. We can learn, share and be strong, or be ignorant, divided and be weakened. The choice is ours.
Gregory D. Esau
The Road Ahead invites readers to advance specific solutions to Canada's political, social and economic problems. Unpublished submissions may run condensed as regular letters or appear on an electronic bulletin board.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.