O Canada, our home and native land,
True patriot love in all thy sons command
–Opening lines of the nation’s National Anthem
The next time you as a U.S.’er hear the Canadian national anthem [as opposed to its Royal Anthem, “God Save The Queen”] at a hockey game or Bluejays or Raptors game, be sure and hear the boldface or underlining under “True.” The rebels who usurped the 80-pct.-Loyal* 13 Colonies called themselves Patriots, and everyone else traitors. Now, a patriot is someone who loves his or her country. One may argue over whether British North Americans’ “country” was the nascent British Empire which sponsored and defended them, or its provinces of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Georgia, or whatever. But the so-called Patriots loved neither. They fought for their own “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – nobody and nothing else … especially anyone who didn’t go along with them. Maybe most Loyalists stayed, by choice or were unable to afford to leave. But those who went North, did they set up a similar, narrow, partisan, anti-American state in Canada? No. Their only goal, as always, was eventually embodied in three other, older, wiser principles: “Peace, Order, and Good Government.” This brief discussion of Canadian philosopher John Farthing – I swear that’s his real name – speaks to this too. The Common Good, the wisdom of the ages, a vote for one’s ancestors, even health care paid for, for those who need it: Then again, maybe it WAS anti-American; “UNamerican,” anyway! ;)Before he died, Canadian-American newsman Peter Jennings – who could nevertheless only bring himself to adopt U.S. citizenship in his final couple years – once offered a poignant image of contrast between his natal and adopted countries, reflecting poorly on the former he thought: If one Mountie stood in front of a crowd surging out of a stadium in Canada, he could stop them in their tracks, whereas no U.S. cop would dream of trying such a feat! Jennings favored the American ‘free’ spirit and rebelliousness and skepticism … even as he chronicled its sad, tragic results night after night for so many years on TV. [And they gave him the Order of Canada?!!] Now, anyone who knows Canadians knows they are far from sheep; in fact, many are more free-spirited and skeptical than many Yanks. But as someone else pointed out, they don’t pit themselves against their country like the so-called Patriots did; like “true patriots,” they “love” their country, desire to improve it (like “true,” “honourable” Members of the Order of Canada do), don’t worship it ideologically and self-destructively. If “O Canada … commands … true patriot love,” it’s only because it’s earned it from its people in the first place, not just since 1783 or 1867, but from time immemorial, since “British North America” as an entity, no less than Britain itself, was born on those rainy fields of Great Britain and Ireland millennia ago – a “traditional,” Monarchical system of protective Sovereign, noble persons, and Commons, with no pretense of, but the growing FACT, of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for everyone, even eventually the conquered French and Métis in North America with little claim to the sodden soil of those two Isles of the Northeast Atlantic, as well as their “non-conforming” Irish and Scottish co-religionist immigrants and refugees in Canada, and the unconquered, treatied First Nations there.
Critics of Michael Moore’s new HMO-critical documentary SiCKO call Universal Health Care as practiced (diversely) in Canada as well as the UK and France “communist,” but as he points out, its origins have nothing to do with Marx. At least for Canada and the UK, ‘progressive conservative’ social democracy has more to do with preachers than with Marx. There’s real “compassionate conservatism”! In the end, it’s not ideology or “class warfare,” it’s just the Common Good, the wisdom of the ages, “peace, order, and good government,” “a better country” … even what one British columnist has called “the care ethic” to balance the tired, overworked, underpaid, sick, injured-on-the-job “work ethic”!
So please, think some more about what a “true patriot” is, then and now.
(*–That recent NY Times Magazine piece, and most of the propaganda passing for “American history,” make much of the alleged one-third “Neutral” Americans, “neither Patriot nor Loyalist.” But by anyone’s definition, someone who doesn’t rebel is Loyal, whether they join a Loyalist Regiment, write pro-King [and Country!] pamphlets, or ‘just’ till their farm quietly hoping to stay out of the way. Anyway, as I’ve said, I believe John Adams’ one-third estimate of “Patriots” was closer to 20 percent in reality, based on my own research … and that he cooked the books, a practice which of course continues in America today.)