December 22, 2000 Halifax Herald

Christmas: time to contemplate peace, goodwill

Now that the November federal election is over and the status quo has been opted for, I'll make a Christmas wish: That Canada's politicians, presumably mostly decent and honest folks, come together in the New Year to reform an archaic political system that requires a politician to give to the Party almost mystical allegiance, to dish out political patronage to Party faithful that borders on the criminal, to ignore the wishes of constituents, etc.

A democracy which ignores the wishes of its People is charting its own course to extinction. The fact that 37.8 percent of the people were so turned off with the process that they didn't vote in the recent election speaks volumes. In comparison, the vast majority of First Nations Peoples, 85 to 100 percent, vote in Band Elections. That off me chest, I wish to extend to the many multi-Party political friends and acquaintances that I've made over the years a Merry Christmas and the very best for the New Year. Although I've often been very critical, and will continue to be, I wish to acknowledge that the vast majority of politicians have served with dedication and personal sacrifice. Hats off to them!

FROM MY PRONOUNCEMENTS about colonial history, some people have deduced that I dislike the English. Completely false - factually I never disliked the ancient English either. What I do strongly dislike is the colonial English leaders who brutalized, without pity, Native Americans, and the English class system that caused unimaginable misery for countless millions around the world. However, modern English leaders are a far cry from their predecessors. They've left behind dreams of Empire and partake fully in trying to build a better democratic world for all.

Actually, one of my oldest friends, Norman Johns of Mill Village, is a former Englishman who migrated to this country in his youth. When much younger, we occasionally hunted, fished and worked together. Norman, should you read this, Merry Christmas! I'll always remember how Dad, because you were a novice, tried to walk your butt off the first time he took you hunting through the worst terrain he could find around Otter Lake. He was shocked that night at camp, when you expressed enthusiasm to do it all over again the next day. In you, he had finally met his match!

Thinking of Norman brings to mind his late brother-in-law, Rex McCoul. He and I were casual friends and residents of the same boarding house for a winter in Truro in 1960. Suffice it to say that many of the inmates of the house had more than a few idiosyncrasies. Rex was the clown who could get the "normal" ones, such as I, to bust a gut trying to refrain from laughing at the most inopportune times. This was especially so when the belly of one of the tenants, who thought she was one of the most sophisticated persons on earth and that we were vulgar peasants, would leave out a roar at the dinner table that rivalled a volcano erupting.

When reminiscing about Christmas's past, I have to mention again the year I and some school friends, after tipping more than a few, decided to trim a tree. After we finished what we deemed to be a first class trimming job, it was discovered that the tree top had been forgotten.

As the tallest person, I was elected by my peers to stand on a chair and correct the omission. As could be expected in such situations, the chair slipped, and the tree and I became intimately entangled. This, however, was not a tragedy as we were all heading home for the holidays anyhow. It was a fun night!

Probably the best early Christmas present I've ever received came this year at the November 14th launch of my latest book, the new edition of We Were Not the Savages. The 150 or so good people in attendance came from every walk of life: human rights activists, politicians, legalists, different religious beliefs and all colours, etc. Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy, Rocky Jones and Sister Dorothy Moore, all old friends, paid compliments that made my day, to put it mildly. It was a happy party!

To all who came and to all those who called offering congratulations, many from around the continent, I give humble thanks and wish them all the best of the season.

Now, of course, I have to wish a Merry Christmas to the diverse readers of my columns. Your responses over the past twelve months were most appreciated.

During the New Year, I'll endeavour to keep your interest by offering up more of the same. If you have any suggestions on matters of interest, please send them along.

Speaking of responses, although all are greatly appreciated, every now and then one really stands out. For example, this recent verbal critique from a senior high school student is a gem: "Man I like your columns! They make me use what's inside my head for something other than filling a vacuum. Whether I agree or not, I look forward to the next." It would be hard to find a better compliment for one who hopes his views generate debate and dialogue.

Many thanks for your past and future support. To one and all, a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

Daniel N. Paul


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