Saturday, July 31, 2010

“Raves” For Justice : My Canada -- 2010JULY31©Susan Dykhuis

This blog, For Justice : My Canada is in response to an e-mail I received today attributing to Sir Wilfrid Laurier a speech given by U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt:

The speech Sir Wilfrid Laurier never made.

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a French Canadian. I can't imagine him opining:
"...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... "

Being Canadian means such a statement is unacceptable because in this country, the Official Languages of Canada are English and French. However, the original first languages of Canada were other than English and French.

Canadian history factoids one can find in Canadian history websites:

After Franco Euro-Christians claimed the land for the King of France and overran the First Nations of Canada, the first language of all of North America was French (up until the British colonized all of North America, imposing as English the lingua franca).

"O Canada" -- National Anthem of Canada

* "O Canada" was proclaimed Canada's national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880 at a banquet in the "Pavillon des Patineurs" in Quebec City as the climax of a"Mosaïque sur des airs populaires canadiens " arranged by Joseph Vézina, a prominent composer and bandmaster.

* The lyrics to the anthem of Canada was written in French by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier, French Canadian.

* Music was composed by Calixa Lavallée, French Canadian.

* English version penned in 1908 by by Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir.

* The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons.

* Original French lyrics remain unaltered.

Canadians are not Americans -- Canada is a multi-cultural mosaic thus benefit from the collected knowledge of many peoples while the United States of America is a big melting pot with one official language.

My view of what immigrants must do:
Immigrants granted Canadian citizenship must accommodate Canada by accepting -- as a condition of becoming Canadian -- the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada, especially the Rights and Freedoms below which are very precious to Canadians:


15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF CANADA / Official languages of New Brunswick / Advancement of status and use.

16. (1) English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada.

(2) English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the legislature and government of New Brunswick.

(3) Nothing in this Charter limits the authority of Parliament or a legislature to advance the equality of status or use of English and French.

Regarding religious rights:
imho, if one's religion interferes with The Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada, Clause 15. (1), then Clause 15. (1) has precedence.

Most Canadians of my generation acknowledge that white Euro-Christians overran First Nations Peoples, causing them great harm which is still evident today. Our white Euro-centric ancestors would be called racists and bigots if they were ding what they did then today.

Canadians have grown and progressed to the point where we are inclusive and accept that Canada is multi-cultural, mulit-racial, no longer a white Euro-centric nation, professing one faith and speaking one language. Canada has worked diligently to become the best we can be by addressing the wrongs done to First Nations peoples, working with First Nations peoples and founding peoples, i.e.: settlers/colonizers from France, followed by England, Scotland and Ireland and later by people from all over this orb we call Planet Earth.

I wish my city, Montreal would redesign its flag, placing in the centre a symbol selected by Indigenous peoples from the Montreal area. The founding peoples' symbols are already on the flag:

Fleur-de-Lis (France) Rose (England) Thistle (Scotland) Shamrock (Ireland)

With a FN symbol in the centre, my city's flag would then reflect which peoples worked together to create this country, Canada...the best country on planet Earth.

About Sir Wilfrid Laurier from the Canadian Encyclopedia:

Idolized by his French Canadian compatriots who remembered his vigorous defence of the rights of Franco-Ontarians in 1916, he became a symbol of division within the country. Now even his party disintegrated when several eminent English-Canadian Liberals crossed the floor to join the UNION GOVERNMENT in which Laurier refused to participate. In the general election of December 1917, Laurier was overwhelmingly defeated by Borden's Unionist Party. The vote was divided along distinctly cultural lines. Laurier died on 17 February 1919, just after beginning his courageous effort to restructure his party and to rebuild Canadian unity.

Under Laurier's leadership the country continued its industrialization and urbanization and was strengthened by the addition of 2 provinces and 2 million inhabitants. A clever and eloquent politician, a true legend in his own time, Laurier has been judged in a variety of ways. For some, he was the spiritual successor to Macdonald, who pursued and consolidated Confederation. For others, Laurier, in the name of national unity and necessary compromise, too often sacrificed the interest of French Canadian Catholics to those of a majority little inclined to support the ideals of Confederation. Finally, some think he too often governed his country with only Québec's interest in mind. Support for each of these opinions can be found in Laurier's actions in Ottawa but the last view is most open to argument.

“Raves” For Justice : My Canada -- 2010JULY31©Susan Dykhuis

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