On September 3rd, the National Post published a table from a Leger poll which indicated the issues identified by Canadian voters as most and least important to them.
The largest number of respondents (13.5%) chose “cost of living’ while the fewest respondents (2.2%) chose immigration. All of these numbers are low and there is little consensus on what the major issues are. Given the many closed businesses, the huge transformation in the types of jobs available during a pandemic, and the uncertainty how the pandemic constraints will play out, it is not surprising that how we’re going to survive financially is on everyone’s mind.
In Part 1 of these posts, I identified the four issues or topics of particular concern to me in the upcoming election. I have written about preserving our freedoms and securing our oil and gas supply, but I have neglected the middle two, primarily because these concerns do not seem to register on the radar of any of the political parties. Yet I think they are very important. Here is the list again.
- Preserving our basic freedoms
- Keeping the government from interfering in our lives
- Preserving the history and accomplishments of Canada in particular, and western civilization in general
- Maintaining Canadian energy independence and, particularly, preserving the strength and viability of the Canadian oil and gas sector
It’s noteworthy that none of the topics that mattered most to me as a voter, were chosen by Leger for their poll list. At least basic freedoms and preserving our oil and gas sector has been addressed by two of the main parties. So why are points two and three important?
Keeping the government from interfering in our lives
It has been at least a multi-decade trend that our governments increasingly interfere with our lives. From my perspective I our governments increasingly:
- Regulating what we watch on TV or listen to on the radio
- Controlling our eating habits
- Controlling what topics we can debate and change by voting, so that some changes that have been voted in can no longer be voted out
- Educating our children by training them what to think, rather than training them how to think
These past eighteen months, I have seen this interfering trend accelerate. Certainly part of this acceleration has been the pandemic measures that had an invasive impact our personal lives such as:
- when and who must wear masks
- the number of people we can have in our homes, our gatherings, and even our church meetings
- a movement toward coercing people to get vaccinated even if they prefer to take their chances with a Covid-19 infection or because they believe they are at risk of being harmed by the vaccine
But the government has also been working to be invasive in other ways
- restricting what news programs we can watch because they claim some news organization distribute misinformation (isn’t it my job to determine that?)
- limiting some experts from sharing their analyses on Covid-19 because they differ from the government’s directives (shouldn’t the government permit disagreement as long as both sides talk about data and statistics?)
- the government is increasingly taking on the role as an omniscient mind reader because they pretend to determine what speech is motivated by hate, and so, it is becoming increasingly arbitrary what assertions are out of bounds in discourse
Preserving the history and accomplishments of Canada in particular and western civilization in general
If one travels extensively abroad, one realizes rather quickly the privilege and benefits we have had in growing up in Canada. We have had access to education. Our parents have had a major say in our education and they have been permitted to pass on their convictions to us. We have been able to start our own businesses and manage our investments. We have been able to vote and even begin new parties when the existing ones no longer serve their constituents.
These benefits are part of our identity, and have been strongly influenced by our fore-bearers. Our history (both Canadian and European) have strongly influenced the institutions we value (democracy, parliament, rule of law, independent courts). From where I sit, we no longer transmit these realities to our children. Indeed, I have never before seen the intensity of the self-loathing for our history and institutions that is now commonly expressed in news media and even in educational materials.
These trends are not only damaging, but unjust. We have not walked in the shoes of the Fathers of Confederation, yet we condemn them anyway. We deface and damage statues and somehow the rule of law is not enforced.
I find this very troubling and look to vote for those who least support this troubling trend.
I have read and enjoyed The Last Castle several times. I enjoyed it so much, I am reading it now in its much longer, original, unedited version. The title MacDonald originally chose was St. George and St. Michael.
MacDonald’s story begins in 1641 shortly after Thomas Wentworth, The Earl of Stafford was arrested by Parliament, tried for treason, and beheaded. King Charles I, a personal friend of Stafford, signed the order for the execution and regretted his decision to his dying day.
MacDonald, as a masterful storyteller, does not chose the easy road and cast the conflict between Parliament (Roundheads, Puritans) and the King as a one dimensional conflict between Good and Evil, but rather he shows how two groups of people, the Heywoods on one hand, and Henry Somerset , the Earl of Worchester, and his subjects on the other hand, find themselves by differing honorable convictions on opposite sides. Although on opposing sides, they fought each other for noble and altruistic reasons.
The Earl of Worchester, a catholic, and his followers had given their allegiance to the King and would stand by him to the bitter end. Hence St George is in the title, representing the red cross of England and the crown.
On the other hand, Richard Heywood and his father, believed their first allegiance was to their conscience and truth. For that reason they chose the side of Parliament and the Puritans. The archangel St. Michael stands for truth.
Although they were on opposite sides of this great civil war, when they met they respected each other since they saw a true man, a man of principle in the other. They were taking part in a war that was a collision of two imperfect causes (I think this phrase was used by MacDonald but I cannot locate the reference).
Indeed when Richard Heywood is captured inside Worchester’s Raglan Castle, The Earl now a Marquis offers him freedom if he would renounce his cause or even share his secret how he came to get into the castle. Richard declines and is sent to the dungeons.
After Richard is taken away the honorable Marquis says to himself:
“I doubt not the boy would tell everything rather than see his mare whipped. He’s a fine fellow, and it were a thousand pities he turned coward and gave in. But the affair is not mine–it is the King’s. Would to God the rascal were on our side! He’s the right old English breed.”
How Does This Speak to Me Today?
In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus says:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
The reason I am not to judge, is not because judgment must never happen, but rather because I am so poor at it. I am too ready to excuse myself and condemn others. I know nothing of the background, assumptions, or personal history that led to a particular action in others. If this is true of contemporaries I know reasonably well, it is much more true of historical figure in whose shoes I have never walked and whose motivations I could never fathom. Yet, as I get to know people from other eras through what they have written , that reading can be invaluable in finding out about myself, my own biases and about the uncritiqued assumptions that so plague my thinking.
We live in a time when the wholesale destruction of our history is taking place. Statues are torn down, graves desecrated, and places named after historical figures are being renamed. We act as if we moderns are uniformly righteous and those that have gone before us are irredeemably evil. Even if that were true (we are too complex as human beings for that to be so clear cut) we would still be better off to leave our history intact and learn from our past both good and bad. It is better to have a view into the past from historical eyes than to leave the writing of history to the biased ideologues of today who desire us to think in a certain way.
Every war is a collision of two imperfect causes. Those on opposite sides may indeed be there for different, honorable reasons. I hope I continue to have the courage to respect that.