Let me be perfectly blunt, I believe that the Conservative Party of Canada is engaged in a project to dismantle our academic national identity.
It started with the 2011 Census, continued with the sudden desire to recast our image as a vibrant extension of the British Empire and then manifested itself in the development of the ‘Warrior Society’ branding initiative that came on the heels of the bicentennial ‘celebrations’ of the War of 1812. If the Tories can manage to do anything right, it’s market their vision of the country as if it were legitimately a consensus understanding of who we are. It is anything but.
We once praised our collective intellect – our great universities and public education system, the immense arm of the federal government dedicated to recording and promoting Canadian culture and social values. Today we call that ‘big government’ and pronounce the efforts of Prime Ministers St-Laurent, Pearson, Trudeau, Chretien and to a lesser extent Martin and even Mulroney to have been in vain. Today’s Conservative-Corporate national identity is composed of Royal Canadian Air Force fly-overs of Grey Cup games while Nickleback churns out over amplified power-pop to reinforce an overly simplistic concept of national pride. This is not what I signed up for. The efforts of our politicians over the better part of nation’s history, to build a Canadian society and shared Canadian liberal social values, has not been in vain. The Tories will tell you a federal plan for national identity is doomed to failure – we’re too diverse, too accidental, and better as a loose federation with no real sense of where we come from nor where we’re going. Inasmuch as we lose our identity we lose any hope of deciding where we go, where we’ll grow.
You can imagine my disgust when I discovered that as part of massive government cuts to just about everything that isn’t the military or their salaries, Library and Archives Canada is facing major budget cuts, despite the fact that it has been chronically underfunded for close to a decade. This is the federal agency tasked with preserving Canada’s social and cultural identity, and it’s being sold off piece by piece to private interests, many of whom aren’t even Canadian. We have billions available for unproven and under-equipped knock-off fighter jets but can’t seem to find ten or twenty million to support the institutional and societal memory of the entire nation. This nation’s government is corrupt to the core.
It’s no secret that the Tories have a particular vision of Canada they wish to promote. It’s militaristic, a loving member of the British Empire, pseudo-Aboriginal (though only to reinforce the notion of warrior traits being somehow absorbed via a non-existant proximity to nature, itself a heavily romanticized vision of our people as being a collection of rugged outdoorsmen), and increasingly Christian supremacist. In my opinion and experience, this reflects but a minority of the people who actually live here.
And yet so it goes, and far more significant and non-violent celebrations – such as the thirtieth anniversary of the Charter and Constitution – go completely unmentioned by ‘Canada’s Conservative Government.’ The single most important document of reference which has inspired the design of constitutions and bills of basic human rights the world over, more important than the American Constitution and Bill of Rights, and our ‘benevolent dictator’ of a Prime Minister decides to stick it to a dead man by denying the moment its due.
But the real damage isn’t created by the lack of celebration, it’s coming from simple budget cuts such as these that are quickly and methodically destroying evidence of Canada’s own culture, our own history and all the evidence of heritage. Folk art and manuscripts and clay pots and correspondence may not be as exciting as battle recreations and military parades, but when they point to the development of a unique society and culture, and establish a history and heritage quite unlike what we see in Europe or the Americas, we’d be wise to preserve and promote it.
Take a look in any illustrated Canadian history textbook and you’ll see what I mean. Chances are the document or object in the photograph will be part of a foreign museum’s collection or else be in private hands.
And all this at a time in which the country desperately needs to be pulled together. All the positive and universally accessible elements of our common culture – those that relate most to the simple matter of living in our country – cast aside as irrelevant. How shamelessly reckless.
The Tories view Canada as an accident, and thus what we’ve created and the study of who we are as a people, is apparently of no significance. If anything, the evidence that suggests Canada is deliberate and purposely complex impedes their efforts to rebrand Canada in their image and according to their minority viewpoint. As far as they’re concerned our culture and history are merely marketing tools to be employed sparingly for manipulative political purposes. And there’s a helluvalot of danger in having your identity dictated to you by a federal government which has been very busy destroying or selling off the evidence that your individual socio-political heritage is anathema to everything the Tories stand for.
I am a sovereign Canadian, and I don’t want this care-taker government to destroy the historical record of my sovereignty.
There’s a petition – check this link to Boing Boing for more details.
And always you, can write the dishonourable Minister Moore.
Remember, any Canadian can send a letter to any Parliamentarian without postage.
Think about what full access to the collective consciousness and history of Canada and all its peoples could teach us. Consider what fully funded government agencies could do with such knowledge and how it could be used to find academic solutions to our contemporary societal problems. One day we will awake and recognize that which truly bonds us together, and try to undo the damage caused by this most cavalier and corrupt federal government.