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OPINION: Canada—respectful and boring

A tale told by my grandfather. My great grandfather, one Michael Murdock, owned a farm about midway between Kingston and Ottawa. Prime Minister Sir John A.

A tale told by my grandfather. My great grandfather, one Michael Murdock, owned a farm about midway between Kingston and Ottawa. Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald used to stop in sometimes to rest and water the horses on his way between his parliamentary riding office and his seat in Ottawa. My great grandfather so decided to attend question period in the House of Commons to see his friend Sir John A. in action. On that fateful day, an especially spirited exchange took place between Sir John A. and opposition leader George Brown (a fellow Father of Confederation). incensed by the attack, he exited the Chamber with loathing in his heart for the Liberal Party and Mr. Brown -- until. Leaving the Houses of Parliament, he saw the two combatants walking arm an arm - heading no doubt for the nearest bottle of scotch. He never returned to Ottawa.  

What always struck me about this story, was the realization that we can have strong differences of opinion on how to solve problems but so long as we have an underlying common goal - in this instance the survival of a newly created nation - we can still have a civilized society with respect for each other.

That is missing in today’s politics, particularly in the USA where the angry years of the Vietnam War humiliation have returned but this time the guns are being fired in the streets of America.

The challenge for Canada is to survive not only the Trump/Biden MAGA policy, but also the cross-border infection of a destructive political discourse. Should such a calamity as a Trump presidency recur, we will need to focus on how to survive as a civilized state within a violently angry world.

The time has come to face who we are and the type of governing structure we have evolved into. In the beginning, the Fathers of Confederation formed a nation where the federal government was accountable to the member provinces. Provinces were the ultimate authority. That was a Confederation, formed as a political compromise between economically and culturally uneven British colonies against an empire-seeking USA. Today, our federal government is paramount. It holds the ultimate taxing and public policy authority. We are a Federation. We evolved into this state of governance by feature of our national character —seeking equality of access across our provincial boundaries to education, health and social services and, most recently, the right to shelter.

Quebec and Alberta premiers would prefer that we return to a Confederation model politically.  But neither wants to assume the constitutional and taxing responsibility for all the provincial and nationally funded programs that their citizens receive. Still the issue of our constitutional federal-provincial status should be recognized publicly so that we can get on with consolidating our national political future.  

And that means urgent actions to regain our sovereign status - regaining responsibility for our arctic islands and passageways, establishing energy and water self-sufficiency, and abolishing interprovincial trade barriers. Otherwise, we will never sort out a fair and mutually respectful relationship with the USA. 

But first, we need a return to the political attitudes of MacDonald and Brown. Sorry.