At dinner with a friend the other night, we were discussing Canada and the perennial vexer, 'national identity.' We talked about the legitimacy, in Catholic teaching, of patriotism as one of the natural loves and whether it is possible to be a Canadian patriot under our current diminished circumstances. Does Canada qualify as a country for which one can have this natural love?
C.S. Lewis gave one of the best starter-kit descriptions I have yet come across for patriotism (which we must distinguish from nationalism.) Despite his reputation as a logician, Lewis had a keen sense of the poetic and visceral. He said, if I remember rightly, that patriotism is simply the natural love of one's home.
But we have a difficult conundrum here. Our home no longer loves us. It is difficult to see why those of us who have been used as a scapegoat in this election, who every party in the race has defined as the enemies of freedom and the principles upon which the country is founded, would continue to love that country. If your country hates you, can you be a patriot?
In the course of our conversation, my friend Neil pointed out that some months ago, there had appeared a little burst of letters to the editor from veterans who said that this thing created in the image and likeness of Pierre Trudeau was not the country they had fought for and for which many of their friends had given their lives.
That is an interesting question isn't it?
Would you die for Canada as it is defined by the Liberal party flackmachine? By Margaret Atwood, Peter C. Newman, Bill Graham and Irwin Cotler?
Who will write high heroic poetry about the New Canada? Who will go over the top of the trench for it? (Notice it seems silly to use the feminine pronoun "her".) Who now, after having been raised in the Liberal party's threatened child indoctrination centres, will love Canada for anything other than the handouts? The state-subsidized housing projects and medical care and state euthanasia centres to speed you painlessly on your way? As Steyn put it a few weeks ago, countries cannot make its secondary products into its primary aims.
How can one die for a meaningless abstraction like "multiculturalism"?
Canada suffers not only from an abandonment of its original guiding principles - they were not perfect, but they at least were founded in something concrete and related to the Natual Law - but from a surfeit, perhaps an obsession with things for which there is no concrete reality. Ephemeral and indefinable slogans have replaced the historic principles. Where we had notions like "Peace, order and good government," "God, the Queen and my country" (if I remember correctly from the Brownie pledge), we now have a state that bases itself on "a woman's right to choose." A euphemism that was devised to deceive, a slogan that leaves one wondering, "Choose what?" (But of course, with a finger laid to the side of the nose, we all know what the woman is choosing yes? No need to say it, no need to embarrass her or ourselves.)
Martin's hysterics in the last days of the campaign have, at last, shown us what this country is all about: Abortion.
It has been a pretty abortion-free campaign until he stated panicking and telling us what he really thinks. He has told us, the foundational right of the Nation of Rights-without-responsibilities, is abortion. Ours is the abortion state.
In the early days of the campaign, at the debates for example, the old Liberal party rule applied: never never use the "A" word.
For a very long time I have known that the one thing that is strictly off limits for discussion, is the one thing that must be protected, the heart of the matter, the holy of holies and core of our national identity. No other issue is protected so closely that we are forbidden to use the word: Abortion.
If we must mention it, we must use the approved slogans and euphemisms; the knowing wink that we all know what we are talking about, but that it is so sacred it must never be threatened by revealing its true name. This was a hard rule under Chretien, and was broken only on the back of Stockwell Day, that sweet man who never mentioned the "A" word either until the Globe and Mail was ordered by the Party to attack him on the subject.
But again we see it is the Liberal party secret weapon, being weilded very ineptly by Paul Martin. It has long been my thought that abortion being the one thing the Liberal party will never mention, never address in Parliament, never talk about in the media, is in fact, the foundation stone of their government. The right of a private citizen to kill another without even legal scrutiny, never mind legal repercussions, is the right that must ultimately undermine the proper rights of the government to rule.
Looking at it quite apart from the moral issue of whether it is acceptable to kill a defenceless innocent, the rammifications for a government who cedes the ultimate power over the lives of its citizens into the hands of the individual, is a government that has cut off its own feet.
So we have a strange situation. There is no capital punishment in Canada, and for various reasons, though I am in agreement with the Church that capital punishment must remain the right of the state, I sincerely hope that we do not reinstate it until political sanity has been restored. We have a government that on the one hand has deliberately denied itself its proper powers, has eliminated its international stature (once considerable) as a fighting force with a patriotic and strong-minded, stout-hearted populace, and on the other hand has granted the ultimate authority to kill citizens to anyone who wants to. (Oh, I correct myself, to any woman who wants to. But we will save the examination of this other inversion of the natural order for another day.)
It is why the whole enterprise of the New Canada will fail. It is failing of course, but the old assumptions held by most Canadians, (outside the 416 area code) are propping it up. A government that denies itself its proper authority, will not rule long. What I fear is that something much worse will replace it.
Something that does not fear to call itself what it is.
We have been liberated from freedom and citizenship and all to the tune of "rights." But a country that can invent new rights out of whole cloth can do anything. It may have ceded its proper earthly authority, but it has replaced that authority in its own fond imaginings, with godlike powers to invent "rights" ex nihilo. A state with such powers to grant "rights" to selected bodies of the population, is in a position to remove rights with equal facility from other bodies.
What has disturbed me in the course of the election campaign, is that the body most vilified, most demonized has been the chimera, "social conservatives." Harper, Martin, Layton and that other guy, have been unanimous in their characterization of this straw man as Canada's deadliest enemy. The trouble again, with undefined and indefinable slogans is that, having no concrete reality to create a distinction between what a thing is and is not, the indefinable definition can be applied to anyone. In the shifting sands of Canadian political opinion, a "social conservative" is a very useful label. It can be slapped on anyone who does not go along with the crowd.
Having been made the new scapegoats for the New Canada's set of indefinable defining slogans, Social Conservatives have become, without having done anything, enemies of the state. It would be interesting to insist to someone like Martin on a clear definition and examples. But of course, everyone who knows, knows. We know they are among us. They are everywhere. Why, your own family might harbour Social Conservatives. They might be sitting next to you in Church listening. They might be skulking around the water cooler at work. They might be taking notes on your conversation on the streetcar.
There is a lot wrong with this country, but I still find an amusing irony here. It is the Social Conservatives who are able to define Canada. The new breed of Canadian, having been raised in the shifting hall of mirrors that is postmodernism, cannot define a rock on which he has tripped. The Social Conservatives, are the type that are willing to give their lives for their country. They know how to define a country, without agonizing or editorializing or establishing a Royal Commission. They know too what value a country has. But we are the enemy, the snake in the grass seeking to destroy the new indefinitions.
By giving the very definition of Canada over to those who resist the principle of definitions, the New Canadians risk having their country disappear, as if it was eating its own tail and finally got to the head.
What will remain to govern those who live within the Old Canada's geographic territory is anyone's guess. But I don't imagine it will be somewhere I or any of my friends would want to live. I venure to guess also, it will not be to the liking of the latte-sipping Annex crowd either. The trouble is that by the time it arrives, people with the will to resist it will already have been made to disappear along with the old definitions.
I am a Canadian,
a free Canadian,
Free to speak without fear,
Free to worship God in my own way,
Free to stand for what I think right,
Free to oppose what I believe wrong,
Free to choose those who shall govern my country.
This heritage of freedom,
I pledge to uphold,
For myself and all mankind.