“My Wish for Canada 150 – One Canada Again!”

31, August, 2017 – BLOG #10

CANADA 150 EDITORIAL  – By Guest Les Bowd

”  MY WISH FOR CANADA 150 – ONE CANADA AGAIN !!”

In 1967, 20 million Canadians embraced and participated in their 100th Anniversary enthusiastically. The stirring strains of Bobby Gimby’s “C-A-N-A-D-A” or Woody Guthrie’s rendition of the Canadian version of “This Land is your Land”, euphoria generated by the new Canadian flag, and the global reception of Expo ’67 in Montreal, all contributed to the pride felt for our country and its place in the world.

Much has changed in 50 years. Now a nation of almost 35 million, multi national and cultural people. with a Constitution repatriated in 1982. Global trade supports a relatively vibrant economy. Financial discipline saved us from the worst impact of the market melt-down. Canadians are seen as “nice people” with a high quality of life.

However, there is much that we could do to make this country a great one globally. In our efforts to advance across many fronts we seem to have inadvertently slipped backwards. If we are to become “One Canada Again “we need to ensure our path towards Canada 200 is positive. We must pay immediate attention to key areas that affect our ability to go forward together.

Trade, Education, Health, the Economy, Canadian Citizenship and Identity, a Renewed Constitution, and a Return to Political Civility all need to be addressed.

Our nation is a world leader in establishing global trade arrangements. Yet we cannot trade / sell a bottle of beer across many provincial boundaries. Every Canadian should be able to sell or buy goods and services anywhere in Canada.

Canadian students should be free to attend college or university across the country. Admission should be based on ability not geography. A national effort t is required to equalize tuition and residence fees across the country.

We take pride in our “universal health care system”. But, increasing inter-provincial restrictions make it difficult for Canadians to obtain health services wherever they are in the country. Further, different funding mechanisms in provinces, place many Canadians at a fiscal disadvantage. Establishing one “Canada Heath Card” entitling all to free access to medical services across the country is urgently required.

Inter-provincial economic competition is extremely dangerous. Initiatives taken to attract businesses, through tax breaks and other incentives, are undertaken haphazardly across the country by municipal, provincial and Federal national governments. The time has come to collaborate on the development and execution of a comprehensive, consensual national economic strategy.

We should relish the diversity of national origins, cultures and religions. Honouring the traditions and cultures of our First Nations should also be front of mind. The language and cultural of our two founding nations should be enshrined in any renewed Constitution However, to build a “One Canada “philosophy, we need to assert we are all “Canadians First” This will allow us to develop an integrated national perspective to the benefit of all Canadians.

Some may suggest this is a too idealistic vision of what Canada can be. To achieve this we must consider seriously the development of a totally different National Constitution. What was appropriate in 1867, does not fit the 21st century Canada. Although the 1982 Constitution repatriation did modernize Federal and Provincial responsibilities, it also reinforced the provincial powers that have contributed to disparity. We must be prepared to question whether the current structure of Canadian federalism fits our future. needs.

To achieve this ambitious goal, one additional major change must occur. Political actors must commit to return political civility to our democratic institutions. Having almost destroyed any concepts of integrity, truth, shared consultation and mutual respect in the political processes across the country, and fostered deep public cynicism towards politicians and the institutions in which they work, they must work vigorously to reverse this situation. Politicians used to cooperate to resolve issues affecting Canadians. Now such help is usually associated with political contributions and influence.

Moving into the future our political leaders must be able to set mew direction and have Canadians follow with confidence. A good start would be to enact legislation banning any form of negative advertising in elections at all levels across the country.

Many countries around the world are struggling to redefine their national and global purpose. However, Canada is poised to provide a glowing example of how we should move forward into the middle of the 21st Century and travel the road to Canada 200. But, we must do it together as “One Canada – Again!”

 

Les Bowd

THECIS Board and Fellow

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