|FTLComm - Tisdale - July 4, 2000|
|Today our neighbours to the South celebrate what they call "Independence Day"
which actually is the date that Thomas Jefferson's unilateral declaration of Independence
was proclaimed as the United States of America was to come into being as its thirteen
colonies entered into a war with England and those parts of North America loyal to
Britain, in what nothing less than a rebellion.
Though movies like "The Patriot" and so much other popular slogan propaganda would have people believe that the American colonists rebelled against the English king for a long list of humanitarian grievances, the issues were really pretty simple. The British had a weak military presence in North America, thus giving the local population the opportunity to grab power and thus avoid taxes. The "life liberty and pursuit of happiness" stuff was just an excuse, because the very people who participated in the rebellion were slave owners who regularly bought and sold people, for them liberty for all was a pretty remote concept.
One of the interesting things about the American revolution is that it came only two years after the British parliament, which was confounded with what to do with their newly conquered portion of North America decided to do a democratic and rather liberal thing, and they passed the Quebec Act of 1774. This little gem of legislation established freedom of religion, language and French styled common law in the French speaking area along the North shore of the St. Lawrence River.
The founding fathers of the New England states were pilgrims, extreme reactionaries to Catholicism and a rather intolerant group of any social difference as they were best
|remembered for their predilection for roasting people whom they thought might be
witches. You might imagine that they did not view with pleasure the idea that they
would now become a part of a country that included French speaking Catholics.
Many historians firmly believe that the Americans did not separate from British rule but established their own independence North American country to prevent inclusion in a future political development including the people from New France. Whatever prompted the various elements that set about creating a new and independent country they did so with the mind set of the eighteenth century.
Since the Americans decided to craft their constitution as a written and statute defined set of principles they froze their nation in a temporal lock. As conditions and perceptions changed the flexible British constitution based on precedent, evolved naturally and sometimes subtly, but not ever caught in piece of paper that would be more like concrete than anything else. The new country that developed out of the remains of British North America formulated its constitution upon the British principles in 1867 and went merrily on its way until the later half of the twentieth century when the political power of the country shifted firmly into the realm of Quebec.
It is at this point that the extreme irony of the situation really evolves. What the Americans of the thirteen colonies feared began to actually take shape in Canada. Quebec's attitudes and culture were imposed on the whole nation and its political process has become almost exclusively controlled by people from that province with thirty years straight the prime minister being from there. But, what makes things truly remarkable is that first Pierre Trudeau and later Brian Mulroney moved to
|Americanise the Canadian constitution making it a paper, statute based affair with
the similar time based problems that would plaque America. By freezing a constitution
in a list of who does what, a country, or organisation for that matter, no longer
has the dynamic capability of changing gradually as it needs change.
Britain today cheerfully moves along without a written constitution, yet its complex system of precedent law maintains a balance of power and insures a place of continuing democracy. This was scarified in the United States and in Canada to make a new American "low tax"
|and in Canada, a Quebec dominated federalist state, that would forever establish
preferences for the people living along the North Shore of the St. Lawrence
But, you must be asking, what does that mean to us, the people out here in this wide open land, that is only a few years away from being returned to its original state, as aboriginal people reassert their rights and we the invaders are being financially displaced? We the people of the West must respond to the threats to both our way of life and to our environment. We must recognise that we are not alone in our plight. The prairie people of North America are almost uniformly besieged be they residents of Lincoln Nebraska, Wolf Point Montana, Carberry Manitoba, Hodgeville Saskatchewan or Provost Alberta.
|The aging American constitution still has room in it for some democracy, even though
North of the 49th, democracy is only a memory, despite that, the time is now upon
us where we too must consider what brought the American colonists to the point where
they felt that enough was enough and declared "We hold these truths to be
self evident, that all men are created equal. . . " Perhaps 2000 is not
the year but you must consider our plight and wonder if we really belong in this
colonial situation. Is the time approaching when we too must assert the principle
that freedom and democracy are important and the tyranny of the multinational and
its elected confederates heel can no longer be sustained.
Let us consider alternatives. What does our federal government offer us? Is our provincial government different
no matter whom we elect? Is the problem with the leadership or our problem not to stand up for what is important and attempt to change the actual system that is in charge rather then the individuals? Do we have a choice to do nothing?
Timothy W. Shire