Ohhhh Canada . . .
Next Monday we mark the 151st anniversary of Confederation; and our straight-laced quiet little country has never been so . . . Well, one might think Sir John Eh, and the rest of the gang might be tempted to rise from their troubled graves and sign Canada back over to Britain. However, they would probably no longer recognize Britain either.
Oh, don't think this is on account of Victorian gentlemen of the 1860s being a bunch of racist, imperialist swine . . . If you look that closely, they really weren't. They were liberals, mostly, back when being liberal meant having a belief in the rule of law, a common national defence, laws that protected people from wrongs by other citizens, and a government that was intended to protect individual rights and concentrated on infrastructure. Things have gone seriously adrift.
There is the case of 'Nada' who got to Canada as a refugee after escaping from sexual slavery at the brutal hands of ISIS. Recently, on a bus in London, Ontario, she spotted the slave-dealer who sold her and her children in Iraq and ran to the refugee centre to report that an ISIS member was loose in Canada. Now, in 1867, the manhunt would have been immediate and the trial might conclude with somebody sending for the hangman. Today, "Oh no dear, you're overwrought, keep your mouth shut about this." None of the Fathers of Confederation would have tolerated a civil servant behaving like this!
The possibility of two women having to spring for tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a trial to get a public library to do its duty to the public? Were George Brown or George-Étienne Cartier still among the living, Madeline Weld and Valerie Price would have had a powerful newspaper and a passionate lawyer in their corner . . . just for the righteousness of their cause. The Canada that the Fathers of Confederation envisioned had strong opinions about freedom of speech -- they were all for it.
Darcy Magee knew something about having the courage of one's convictions too . . . he died on that principle.
Professor Jordan Peterson and Lindsay Shepherd wouldn't be having to take Wilfred Laurier University to court for abuse of free speech and defamation -- for the crime of being intellectually unfashionable in front of a posse of commissionaires out a French Revolutionary Tribune or a Stalin-Era show-trial. Georges Cole would have lamented the inability of Peterson and Shepherd to resort to a duel for redress, Charles Fisher would have the University Dean up on the carpet for a good wigging out too. There would be correspondence in dozens of newspapers calling the revocation of the University's charter too.
Maybe it is time we had a look back at first principles and remembered who we were meant to be as a people.
Meanwhile, back in the land of the 'Mother of Parliaments', where the pride of the country through the 19th Century were the rights and protections afforded to its citizens, the Fathers of Confederation would be baffled by the treatment given to Tommy Robinson. Bunged into jail for violating the secrecy of a trial about mass gang rape? Inconceivable? Jailed without trial and the rights attendant to it? Impossible! Being virtually condemned to eventual death by being lodged among prisoners who regard murdering the prisoner as a religious duty? Never!
Yet this is the fate of Tommy Robinson, and the Fathers of Confederation (and a good many other Canadians) would be burning up telegraph wires on his behalf for such an alarming abuse of power.
The government seen by the Fathers of Confederation would have considered it to be their duty to protect the rights of citizens but would have thought that cultural expression and definition was beyond their brief. Abuses of power like those that confronted Madelaine Weld, Valerie Price, Lindsay Shepherd and Jordan Peterson would not have been tolerated.
The Fathers of Confederation also would have no tolerance at all for allowing members of ISIS to roam the streets of Canada. The safety of the public from violence was a paramount concern; today's idea that a lollipop and some loving tolerance would cure vicious murdering rapists would have been the strangest of them all.
151 Years ago, if the Fathers of Confederation had seen the state of Canada today, they would have one universal opinion among them . . . Canada will have no 302nd Anniversary of Confederation. Maybe it is time we had a look back at first principles and remembered who we were meant to be as a people.