Ah I love to reflect on some of the greatest things Canada has ever done. And it was repatriated away from Britain to us in 1982. The Constitution Act 1982 (an update on the British North America Act 1867 which made us a nation), and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This is not a digression in the loss of the social charter that was spear headed by then Alberta PC Premier Lougheed. No, it is a reflection on what was accomplished, and for those who are more fluent in the American Bill of Rights, for Canadians what is the key differences. I also always encourage one to read both documents that are the foundation of Canada’s systems.
The act opens:
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms
One little word, God. But it is not a Judeo-Christian God, it is an anglicized affirmation of the creative force no matter how it is defined. For the charter this leads into, when one dives into the archives had all sectors of society speaking into it including and not limited to: First Nations, Churches, other religions, politicians, and justice.
It opens up the fundamental freedoms section:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
There are freedoms spoken of, but notice that under (b) it is not speech, but rather expression. Each fundamental freedom flows into the other, and ties not into just simply an individual’s rights, but rights as they exist in the collective communities, the villages that make up Canada. The nations as well, as you go through the other rights you will note we are not about independent singular lives knowing that actions do not have ripple effects in the pond.
Much like how the nation grew, interdependence in spite of labels. Unity within our diversity (a mosaic) is what this reflects. The charter in 1982 was the culmination of work that began in Red River rebellion under the leadership of Louis Riel in 1869 displayed the first human rights bill, which was built upon under Douglas’ Saskatchewan Government, and also federally with Diefenbaker in 1960. But all these bills came out of a sense of community solidarity.
Not just the words on the paper, but the context, the intent…and sadly that is what has been missing a lot in public discourse in my nation. We gravitated to a simpler black and white system without realizing our nation has never been black and white. First Nations, English, and Francophone. Later saw Scottish and Irish fleeing English colonialism coming to Canada; loyalists from the US. Nordic country settlers into the prairies… to the 20th century and 21st century with refugees and new Canadians of all stripes.
Our identity has been forged in our differences. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY the unity of one nation, under one law of collective rights, for the collective good. Essentially our rights exist up to the point they cause harm to the other, and then we work to welcome the differences of the other into our national fabric to make us better.
For the story of Canada is not one of revolution. It is not a story of religious battles. There are gruesome histories that need to be spoken about in truth, and in reconciliation to move forward from. But as a nation, we have always been driven by answering two questions, since the Skralings rescued the Vikings in Newfoundland…
Who is My neighbour?
And what does it mean to build a community together?
2017 we vote for City Councils and village/town leaderships in Alberta.
2019 is a federal election that currently has two parties searching for identity and leadership.
2020 in Alberta is another election where change can happen for the better.
But it is time as citizens to learn from our neighbours to the south, and what happens when you forget what made you as a people. Not the labels that divide, but what ties you together. No more into a mirror darkly.
2015 the best part of Justin Trudeau was he raised political discourse out of muck racking to a positive spin. Now though is our time to demand better. It is our time to demand political leaders running cast more than management cycles, budget sheets and sprockets–the things the bureaucracy is designed to handle.
Now is the time to demand actual leadership from each riding, from each person running, on their personal level, what is their vision for their village in the collection of villages? We want electoral reform, let’s send visionaries to Ottawa, Edmonton and City councils…not managers. Let’s elect those with heart and passion. Those that understand our national foundation within the Constitution and Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
For these beautiful documents speak to a guarantee the engaged citizens of Canada can hold to, and that is quite beautiful and simple:
Peace, Order and Good Governance.
Let’s dream no little dream. Let’s dream what is possible, and hold ourselves and our leaders to what we said we deserved.