Monthly Archives: March 2019

I am a Canadian. — John Diefenbaker

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“I am a Candian,” is the opening phrase in a notable quotation from the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker (1895-1979) 13th Prime Minister of Canada serving from June 21, 1957, to April 22, 1963. The entire quote reads as follows:

“I am Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” (John Diefenbaker, House of Commons Debates, 1 July 1960)

Yes, John Diefenbaker was a proud Canadian–not only that he was a proud Canadian nationalist. As Prime Minister, Diefenbaker advanced the cause of Canadian nationalism. He envisioned:

One Canada, one Canada, where Canadians will have preserved to them the control of their own economic and political destiny. Sir John A. Macdonald gave his life to this party [Conservative]. He opened the West. He saw Canada from east to west. I see a new Canada – a Canada of the North! (John Diefenbaker, Winnipeg Manitoba, 12 February 1958)

Diefenbaker lived during the first century of Canada’s existence. He witnessed the development by which Canada gained independence from Britain. Until 1931, with the passage of the Statute of Westminster, the British government managed Canada’s international affairs. Diefenbaker saw Canada fight in two world wars and Canadians suffer through the Great Depression. He proudly saw the passage of the Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947. Canadians have much to be proud of in their history.

While Diefenbaker saw all that is good in Canada and being Canadian, he did not overlook the problematic moments in Canadian history. Canadian society was not without issues of unjust discrimination and prejudice. Diefenbaker observed:

From my earliest days, I knew the meaning of discrimination. Many Canadians were virtually second-hand citizens because of their names and racial origin. Indeed, it seemed until the end of World War II that the only first-class Canadians were either of English or French descent. As a youth, l determined to devote myself to assuring that all Canadians, whatever their racial origin, were equal and declared myself to be a sworn enemy of discrimination. (John Diefenbaker, Nowlan Lecture, 6)

Diefenbaker knew of the head tax charged on Chinese immigrants. The head tax, enacted in 1885, remained in effect until 1923. Chinese immigrants to Canada were charged (at its worst) $500 for admission to Canada as landed immigrants. From 1923 to 1947 Chinese immigration to Canada was banned. He knew of the internment of Japanese-Canadians in World War II. He was well aware of the Catholic-Protestant divide in Christendom that existed well into the 20th-century in Canada. I remember my mother telling me that my father had to convert to Roman Catholicism to marry her in 1960. My father’s family is Anglican. It is hard to believe such tribal divisions existed in Canada historically, but it is the reality.

Diefenbaker envisioned Canada as a nation organized according to the values of liberalism and pluralism. In shaping his vision of Canadian society, Diefenbaker was inspired, in part, by the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a Canadian-led effort. John Humphrey, a professor of law at McGill University, became director of the United Nations Division on Human Rights in 1946. Humphrey produced the first draft of the declaration. When Diefenbaker became Prime Minister in 1957, he set out to enact a piece of legislation–following up the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human rights–called the Canadian Bill of Rights. In addressing the historical issues of unjust discrimination and prejudice in Canada’s history, the Canadian Bill of Rights asserts in part:

 It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely,

  • (a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;

  • (b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;

  • (c) freedom of religion;

  • (d) freedom of speech;

  • (e) freedom of assembly and association; and

  • (f) freedom of the press.

The Canadian Bill of Rights was superseded by the passage of the Constitution Act in 1982 with the entrenched Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

To his credit, John Diefenbaker laid the groundwork for our national identity as Canadians. Despite what so many people think currently, nationalism is not a dirty word. As I grew up the values of liberalism and pluralism–the proposition on which Canadian identity is built–that John Diefenbaker advocated were instilled in me. I remember the Centennial celebrations in 1967 fondly; the swell of national pride Canadians felt in celebrating Canada’s first 100 years as a nation. I am proudly Canadian. I am not ashamed of my European heritage–my ancestry goes back to the British Isles. In keeping with Diefenbaker’s vision, I view the people with whom I interact as individuals and judge them according to the content of their character. I reject the notion that expressing Canadian nationalism is racist, that it is a declaration of white supremacy. No, Canada is not a “post-national state.” Canadians are well within their rights to stand up for their national interest, and Canadian law guarantees them their right to speak up and do so.

I hope Canadians will not lose sight of the fact that Canada is a great place to live and Canadian citizenship is worth fighting for. Yes, John Diefenbaker got it right when he advanced the cause of Canadian nationalism and Canadians would do well to remember as they face the challenges of life in the 21st-century.

Posted by Geoffrey

 

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Sentence first, verdict afterwards. — Lewis Carroll

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Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, poses with Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada and Sadiq Khan, Lord Mayor of London.

“Sentence first, verdict afterwards,” is the unreasonable demand issued by the Queen at the trial in the novel Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. What brings this quotation to mind is the absurdity of the emotional and knee jerk response to the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Her mawkish virtue signalling and condescension towards Muslims is truly cringe-worthy. I can only surmise this is a desperate effort to appease Islamists. It is a despairing ploy on her part to ward off a retaliatory attack on New Zealand by Islamists. If Jacinda Ardern thinks putting on a Muslim veil, encouraging New Zealanders to do the same, broadcasting the Islamic call to prayer over the airwaves, and having an Islamic prayer recited in parliament is going to impress Islamists, she is delusional. New Zealand had better brace itself for retribution from Islamists for the 50 Muslim citizens killed in Christchurch.

If this situation were not bad enough, Jacinda Ardern, moved ahead with a hastily crafted plan to prohibit specific makes and models of semi-automatic guns currently owned by New Zealanders. She justifies this decision in pointing to the dead and wounded in the Christchurch terror attack. This decision is emotionally driven, poorly thought out–there is zero public consultation. Sure, it is very popular with supporters of gun prohibition, both in New Zealand and across the world, but what does she expect to accomplish with this course of action? The people gunned down in the mosques in Christchurch were helpless against the attacker. It took New Zealand police 36 minutes to arrive on the scene. The fact that the attacker used semi-automatic rifles in the attack is incidental. The attacker in the shooting spree at the École Polytechnique at the Université de Montréal in 1989–in which 14 women were murdered–used a semi-automatic rifle. As the Report of the Coroner’s Investigation into the shooting at the École Polytechnique concluded: “with the unlimited ammunition and time that [the shooter–name redacted by the author] had available to him, he would probably have been able to achieve similar results even with a conventional hunting weapon, which itself is readily accessible.” (Report of Coroner’s Investigation)

There has not been an investigation into the attack on the mosques in Christchurch and the background of the perpetrator. Therefore, there is no rational basis on which to proceed with the prohibition of specified makes and models of semi-automatic guns as a response to this atrocity. Just as in Alice in Wonderland, Jacinta Ardern demands “sentence first, verdict afterwards.” Her maudlin virtue signalling and knee jerk jump to implement gun prohibition shows how weak and emotionally driven she is as Prime Minister. It does not inspire confidence. I hope the police and intelligence services in New Zealand are actively preparing for the likelihood of Islamist retaliation. It is sure to come. Beyond that, New Zealand’s gun owners are preparing for a fight with their government over the hasty decision to advance the prohibition of specific makes and models of semi-automatic guns. The dispute between New Zealand’s gun owners and their government only diverts attention from the threat of terrorism and ensures that New Zealanders are as helpless as the men, women and children gunned down in the mosques in Christchurch given the risk of future terror attacks.

I hope New Zealanders pull together and calmly and rationally take stock of their situation and work toward developing practical measures to ensure the peace and security of every individual and community in their society.

Posted by Geoffrey

The wolf is always at the door. — Don Henley

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Keeping the wolf from the door is a fact of life. You never know what fortune will bring. I am reminded of this by the horror unleashed in Christchurch, New Zealand when a maniac went on a killing spree at two mosques where people gathered for prayers. The suspect in this atrocity live-streamed his attack on worshippers at the mosques as he gunned them down. The video is available online for those who want to view it. I listened to the description given by someone who saw the video, and that is more than enough for me; I will not watch the video. What came through in the description of what happened in the video is the sad reality in this horror is the people who perished were utterly defenceless. The likelihood of finding yourself caught in a terror attack at the mercy of someone intent on mayhem is remote but a possibility; just one of the vagaries of fortune. Continue reading