#51 – An introduction to the Babel Manifesto.

We come from many lands. The stone-age nomads from Asia, the venturesome from Europe beginning over 300 years ago and then from the green British Isles, the wind-swept steppes of Asia, the crucibles of middle Europe, lands embracing the Mediterranean, people of Africa and Asia. the sub-continent and points between. We come as Babel, to share this bounty, this land, this Canada.

As countries go, ours is a young nation but it certainly has reached its age of majority. As a nation, it has to choose a route to the future. Not just what it will be, for it has already shown the world its capabilities, but what form of governance will enable it to build that future with confidence and caring.

In 2017, Canada will have had 150 years of development as a country and yet it still clutching vestiges of a colonial past. Canada is governed as a constitutional monarchy but with all real power in the hands of a single person, leader of the political party in power and selected as prime minister. The role of the monarch is played by a faux Governor General, appointed every five years by the then prime minister.

But Canadians are no longer satisfied with this governance. It is not clearly articulated but the unease with the current system has been building for many years. Since the days of Le Front de Libération du Québec to the roll call of new political protest parties in the west, Canada has been dealing with an increasingly schizoid love-hate between its component parts.

There is no question but that Canadians love their country. It seems that the more recently people have come and adopted Canada as theirs, the greater is their love. Whether it is the grandeur of the scenery, the vibrancy and opportunity of the cities, the fairness of the people, the concepts of justice, the freedom and the opportunities for education, newcomers are caught up in this country. It comes as no surprise that around the world, Canada is perceived as a kinder, gentler, more generous and modest America.

While some worry about Alberta’s schizophrenic tantrums, it is Quebec that will cause the most problems if it goes off its meds and holds another referendum on separation. The control exercised by what are known as ‘les notables’ –the elected and non-elected francophone leaders in the province—over the francophone population, could push the ‘yes’ vote over 50 per cent and create serious problems for the future of the country. Francophone Canadians refer to their country as ‘winter’ and a yes vote could spell winter for all of Canada, its people’s hopes and aspirations.

Canada is one. It is not divisible. It is not to be hacked at by petty squabbles, avarice and greed, power trips and political ambitions. It is a country of reasonable and warm peoples, willing to accommodate diversity, language, race, origin, culture and you are welcome to share. It is a country tolerant of many religions but we do not welcome hatreds, exclusions, intolerance or ancient feuds to our shores. The official languages are English and French. The unofficial languages number in the hundreds.

Despite many attempts through the second half of the 20th Century, Canadian governments have failed to address the concerns and needs of Canadians for a more stable form of governance for the country. For the situation to be allowed to continue the way things are is a disservice to Canadians and a recipe for failure.

The Babel Manifesto attempts to address the need for a future for a truly great country. It cannot happen overnight but it can enable us to plan, to work towards a common goal.

Barrie, Ontario June 2010

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(Note: The Babel Manifesto will be published late in 2010.)

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me

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