It seems cancel culture has reached Canada. Literally. Across the nation politicians are cancelling Canada Day because we are a genocidal disgrace. To which I am obliged to say: “Be careful what you wish for.”
Canada is not perfect. How could it be when it is full of human beings? I don’t think anyone doesn’t wish parts of our history were different, definitely including aboriginal policy. But many underestimate the difficulty of doing better, blithely assuming the past of which they are largely ignorant would be a shining tale of unalloyed virtue had they only been there to advise idiotic monsters like Churchill, Macdonald, Shakespeare, King Alfred, and so on.
A potentially more challenging concept is that a person could do bad things in some areas, and hold bad beliefs legitimately subject to historical reproach, without being a bad person. But if it is untrue, who will forgive us our sins?
Today we scorn such humility. Instead, if you object to defacing statues of Sir John A. Macdonald, you are accused of racism, and if you deny it, it proves your guilt. I hear much talk of reconciliation, but many talk of Robin Hood who never pulled his bow, and the more statues get pulled down, the angrier the activists get.
This movement will end somewhere ugly. Mark Milke’s book “The Victim Cult” warns of how “the culture of blame hurts everyone and wrecks civilizations.” And we’re about there, aren’t we? What politician or cultural icon, asked for a rousing Canada Day speech, could offer any heartfelt and convincing reason why this Dominion should not crumble into dust?
The rot goes back at least to the 1960s, when a prime minister named Trudeau thought Canada would be great if only it was changed completely from its current narrow-minded mess to a “Just Society” remade in his bilingual, bicultural, big-government-libertine hip image. And oddly derivative of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” just as some now want us to celebrate Juneteenth.
Which is a great day. But in someone else’s history, as partial expiation of someone else’s sins. What happened to Canada? Well, it got cancelled “[b]ecause Blackness has no borders, because Indigeneity has no borders, because the concept of U.S. and Canada was a colonial-created construct,” as one activist put it.
So no more True North Strong and Free. But what does anyone plan to put in its place? And who are they to succeed where everyone in the past failed contemptibly?
The official history, now indoctrinated in schools, is the noble savage myth redux, about “settlers” without virtues and aboriginals without flaws. Which might mislead a person about the source of evil in the world and the ease of abolishing it. And about how ditching Canada for flaws mild by historical standards might plunge us into the other kind.
Consider Vladimir Putin dismissing charges of Kremlin hacking by saying Western countries do the same. It won’t do to label it “Whataboutery”; the appropriate response is “I sure hope so, and I hope we beat you because we’re good and you’re bad.”
Yes, really. We’re not perfect. But one of the key things that makes us better is that we don’t claim to be, whereas Putin calls the collapse of the USSR the greatest geopolitical calamity of the 20th century, perhaps of world history. Discard Anglosphere liberty and you will end up not back in Eden but in Putin’s or Xi Jinping’s garden. And you won’t like it. (Or, if you would, you’re the last person who should hold any kind of power over anyone.)
Here I’d invoke Tennyson’s “You Ask Me, Why, Tho’ Ill at Ease.” But they don’t teach that stuff in schools anymore, and the left wants to punish Canada for America’s sins. So recall instead Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream,” among the greatest public speeches ever and certainly the greatest captured on film.
King declares bluntly, “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’” But he doesn’t stop there, join the Black Panthers, or go back to Africa. Instead, he summons the better angels of his fellow citizens’ natures.
Soaring morally and rhetorically, he said “we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. … And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
So what of Canada? There are two fundamental ways of telling our national story. As a tale of high aspirations imperfectly realized, or a mountain of lies on an abyssal foundation of oppression.
If you are so reckless as to buy the latter version, you will destroy the West. And then you will live in some other place with other ideals, and weep for lost Canada Day.
John Robson is a documentary filmmaker, National Post columnist, contributing editor to the Dorchester Review, and executive director of the Climate Discussion Nexus. His most recent documentary is “The Environment: A True Story.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.