November 14, 1997 Halifax Herald

Citizens must put Canada before mother countries

When Premier Bouchard stated "Canada isn't a real country," he caused many Canadians to react in rage. He later retracted the statement. However, was it that far off the mark? A real country would have reacted to separation threats by declaring that it's borders are inalienable, and that statements made by citizens to the contrary would be considered treason. Many Nations already hold this view, the United States and France among them.

The citizens of a viable democratic country should give to their Nation undivided loyalty, take pride in it's democratic accomplishments, acknowledge it's societal defects, then strive diligently to find justice for all by overcoming them.

First Nations Peoples are among Canada's most loyal citizens. We are such, even though this country has historically treated us with contempt.

After reading Loyal til Death: Indians and the Northwest Rebellion, a book by Blair Stonechild and Bill Waiser which tries to prove that the Indians did not support Riel's rebellion, Peter C. Newman made this comment: "There is something very touching about this volume, written entirely from the aboriginal point of view, demonstrating that more than 100 years ago the Indians, who were as mistreated then as now, stayed loyal to the country of their degradation."

In contrast, many citizens of European descent, who have reaped the most from Canada, give their first loyalty to a European ancestral country. When asked their nationality, many will state with pride: English, French, German, etc. Very few will state, without qualification, Canadian.

Perhaps in denial, many English speakers in this country believe that only French-speaking separatists are guilty of treating their Canadian citizenship as secondary. After Bouchard's trip to France, where he had tried to get France's support for the separatist cause, an editorial cartoon in these newspapers showed an umbilical cord stretching from Quebec city to Paris. I believe the cartoonist's intent was to suggest that the apron strings from France to it's child, Quebec, still exist. What the drawing didn't show was the umbilical cords which stretch from nine other provincial capitals and Ottawa to London, and the smaller ones which stretch from a great many individual Canadians to ancestral European countries.

We have among us too many hyphenated Canadians. South of the border, citizens of the US are Americans first, and proud of it. In this country, besides those who give a foreign land first loyalty, many give provincial affiliation primacy over Canadian identity. It's time we stopped this Nation-breaking practice and ape the Americans: put National identity first.

To those folks who give first loyalty to ancestral European Nations, because they believe that the old country loves em, I point out: Very few English, French or any other European has the woes, or even the existence, of their Canadian cousins on their minds. The main concern of Europeans is creating, for European benefit, a prosperous, United Europe.

Those who think otherwise should heed this. Stephen Clover, a columnist for the London Daily Telegraph wrote about the Commonwealth: "...because of its composition as a motley collection of generally impoverished states..." Not once does he mention Australia, Canada or New Zealand, or note them as exceptions. Clover's disparaging remarks about the Commonwealth, its members, and its usefulness is not an exception; most of Britain's politicians, news media and population think the same.

Many concerned citizens in this country - I being one of them - that if Canada is to continue to exist, we must adopt new attitudes. I quote this profound statement, which was given to Peter C. Newman by Charles Baillie, CEO of the TD Bank: "What is required today more than anything is to rekindle a sense of national pride, of common Canadian purpose. We need to rediscover who we are and why we are. We need to articulate the Canadian ideal-not simply to tolerate one another, but to take pride in helping each other be what we want to become."

The time has come to cut all umbilical cords to mother countries. A good start would be an end to the practice of permitting citizens to carry dual citizenship, and the practice of flying foreign flags in Canada as if they were national flags. Nowhere in Canada, including the Governor General's residence in Ottawa, should a foreign flag fly in a paramount position. In Halifax, it bugs me to see the Union Jack flying in a paramount position over our flag at the Lt.-Governor's residence. Are we yet a colony?

And last but not least, need we keep the Queen of a foreign country, no matter how friendly, as head of state? Canadians should have an opportunity to pass judgement on this in a referendum.

Will we take the creative steps needed to save Canada from breakup, or continue to emulate Nero and fiddle while the Nation dies? A solution is needed now; the Nations' ruin will be assured by further procrastination.

Daniel N. Paul


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