Lament for a Nation: George Grant And The Dream Of An Independent Canada
Presenter: Alan Danesh
Once upon a time there were great Canadians who loved this country and dreamed of its becoming a truly strong and independent nation. Those were people like the late philosopher George Grant and the gentle patriot Walter Gordon. They did not subscribe to the ideology of Continentalism, knowing very well that Continentalism would bring an end to Canada as an independent and self-directing nation. However, history was not kind to their dream, and Integration proceeded at fast pace, bolstered by neoliberalism of some sectors of the Canadian elite and the majority of corporate bosses.
Walter Gordon, at the time finance minister in Lester Pearson cabinet, prepared a budget the provisions of which were designed to protect the Canadian economy and prevent Canada’s national economic assets from being taken over by foreign interests. The reaction was swift from the south of the 49th Parallel, and Pearson was forced to drop him from the cabinet. So the Integration process continued. Much later on came that Neoliberal admirer of “Free Trade”, misnamed Progressive Conservative, who promised the people of Canada a Garden of Eden of “Prosperity,” and opened the gates for unhindered foreign takeover of Canada – first economically and then ideologically.
Who would have imagined in the 1960’s that one day Canada would be ruled by a government ideologically akin to the rightwing Republican Party to the South – curtailing political rights of citizens under the pretext of “war on terror,” dismantling Canada’s social institutions, curtailing scientific work, muzzling scientists, and transforming Canada’s international role which historically has been that of peace-maker to that of being an appendage to the Empire and bombing other countries in complete violation of International Law in pursuit of Regime Change and becoming complicit in destruction of civil societies and bringing about the humanitarian tragedy of the millions of refugees that the world is facing today?
Who would have imagined in the 1960’s that Canada would have an average annual Balance of Payments Deficit of more than 50 billion dollars six years in succession in pursuit of “Free Trade”, with the dire economic consequences that such massive deficits lead to for the people of Canada?
And so to compensate for such recurring deficits, we sell off even more of Canada’s precious economic assets at fire-sale prices to maintain the façade of prosperity.
The great Bard, William Shakespeare, could have well described Canada’s predicament when he wrote “They sell the pasture now to buy the horse.” And the late, great Canadian economic historian Harold Innis once referred to Canadians as “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” At the rate we have been selling off our national economic assets soon neither the wood we “hew” nor the bitumen we “draw” would be Canadian owned.
© Alan Danesh
Alan Danesh is a political scientist trained in European law. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.