Friday, July 2, 2010

Dominion Day Forever

To all my friends in the Great White North, happy Dominion Day. (American friends, "white," here, refers to snow. Don't get upset.)

Canadian Flag, the Red Ensign, 1957-1965

On October 27, 1982, Parliament changed what I grew up celebrating as Dominion Day to "Canada Day." Liberals peddled the idea that "dominion" suggested "under the dominion of Great Britain." But it was nothing of the sort. Canada became what was called in the British Empire a dominion on July 1, 1867. It meant a self governing nation under Her Majesty's rule.

I have always viewed the name Canada Day with disdain. It is completely unimaginative. It has no content. It doesn't instruct the citizen in any way. I suspect that was the point. Celebrate Canada, giving that word whatever meaning you choose. That actually summarizes what the country has become in the last 40 years.

If the word "dominion" was just too utterly intolerable, they might have called it Confederation Day. That, after all, is what the day was always called in French Canada. It has historical reference, reminding the country of the great drama of how the country came together. It directs people to learn about the Fathers of Confederation, like Sir John A. Macdonald, their virtues and their statesmanship.

A CBC webpage reports that the bill changing the name of the day was passed by means of questionable legality. "Aside from its controversial content, the bill drew criticism over the manner in which it was passed in the House of Commons. It was voted through in five minutes with no debate, by the scant dozen members in attendance." The constitution at the time, the British North America Act of 1867 (which, in an Orwellian move, they have retroactively renamed the Constitution Act of 1867) required a quorum of 20 for Parliament to act.

Though I am now an American citizen, Canada is still my heritage, and July 1 will always be Dominion Day to me.

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