Tuesday, August 17, 2010

 

FUNNY THING ABOUT HISTORY

It's the "dog days" of August and I hope that one may be forgiven for lightening on the Blog Load, or at least on its content. A reflective piece I read recently titled "How Many Times Can We Come Of Age" focused on the media's coverage of the annual July First Canada Day festivities, marked this year by the visit of The Queen to Ottawa.

At long last it seems after 143 years; that pundits, editorial writers, commentators concurred that the country has "come of age!" It's a story that we've been telling ourselves for quite some time. John Mazerolle who wrote the piece doesn't quite buy into the scenario. He believes we cling to a perpetual Canadian humility..."then claim we're newly proud every time anything noteworthy happens." There is perhaps something worthy about that conclusion. Maybe it's true: Clinging to a national myth of humility makes it easy to pat ourselves on the back for accomplishing things that really don't matter all that much.

Mazerolle says instead, we are incredibly smug and he likens being Canadian to a..."self-satisfied guy, who smirks to himself and wonders when everyone will notice how awesome he is". The "Confederation" of 1867, celebrated on July first, may be just one of those events we've convinced ourselves firmed-up our Canadian national identity: The list is nebulous and varies according to one's background, education and interests - Vimy Ridge, the Wars, Expo '67, Paul Henderson's 1972 goal, Olympic hockey gold, even the occasional mention on American network television all seem to bolster the national consensus that we're really better than anyone else...It's just that the world, (especially the United-States) has not quite noticed.

In fact another tempest in a teapot with the moniker "coming of age" may be brewing just around the corner: It seems a group of history pundits and advocates are trying to get their hands on the original "British North America Act," essentially Canada's birth certificate. The document which was adopted by the British Parliament in 1867 reposes in the archives of Great Britain. A former national archivist for Canada, Ian Wilson, says his group is inspired by the 1988 Australian battle with Britain over the century old legislation that made Australia an independent country.

In 1988, Australia arranged to borrow its document to celebrate a national anniversary and subsequently refused to return it to London. The move prompted some British Parliamentarians to accuse the Australians of..."conniving for accepting...a loan and then hanging on for dear life to what is rightfully ours."

Our Canadian promoters want Britain to "lend" us the British North America Act to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. What happens after that...Well, it could pretty well be any one's guest?

A noble endeavour perhaps. But, I think we're full of it: John Mazerolle likely would agree!

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