Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
June 27, 2005
Keep Canadian dream alive
A few of us have always thought that economic conservatism and social liberalism are one and the same thing. Look into either one deeply enough and at the centre you will find the individual self. The radical free enterpriser has no use for solidarity or communal obligations. Neither does the libertarian rights advocate.
Now that Canada's Supreme Court has spoken on not only abortion and same-sex marriage, but also on medicare, maybe that unspoken allegiance between the libertarians of the left and the individualists of the right will be seen with greater clarity.
Canada has understood itself as a country based on communal values while those naughty Americans built a nation on individualism. To the extent that view was true, the courts, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and their political lackeys are now quickly undermining it.
And if Canadians now wake up to the fact that individual liberty has now been given supremacy over that which binds us together, perhaps we can begin to seek remedies that will restore a balance.
Maybe we will also see that if we support universal medicare because we believe in the common good, we should also defend the lives of unborn children and defend marriage as an institution that uniquely binds one man and one woman for life as instances of the common good.
If Canada's power elite favours homosexual "marriage" and abortion without limits, the people of this country do not. A clear majority supports the traditional definition of marriage and a clear majority favours restrictions on abortion.
Despite 50 years of the spread of a culture of individual consumerism, most Canadians still subscribe to what might be called common sense morality. They believe that, along with individual rights, we all have obligations to the community.
On Canada Day, that is something worth pondering. Earlier chest-thumping about Canada being the greatest country in the world has faded as politicians make a mockery of democracy, ignore the persistence of poverty and whittle away the rights to life and family.
Oh, we love our prosperity and our freedom, but we are not so quick to protect children from their excesses.
Yet among the people, there remains a strong residue of social concern. We used to see governments as a vehicle for expressing that social concern. Now we have reason to be unsure. Government, in the public mind, is more and more equated with waste, corruption and incompetence.
But we still want Canada to stand for the common good as well as for reasonable individual liberty. Canada, fortunately, is more than its governments. Voluntary organizations can strengthen our social fabric. So can individuals who take responsibility for confronting public misbehaviour.
But in the end, we cannot ignore the role of governments and the courts. They write and rewrite our laws. They do much to determine the direction of Canadian society, for good or for ill. We ought never to forget the words of Pericles: "Those who do not take an interest in politics will be ruled by those who do."
If good people leave the political realm to the corrupt and corruptible, that is who will lead our government. If we leave government and the law to those who champion radical free enterprise and social libertarianism, why should it surprise us when the common good is ignored?
The Canadian Dream has not died, although it may seem to be on life support. Belief in that dream means addressing the great issues of our day.
Make Canada Day more than fireworks and flag-waving. Keep respect for the common good alive. Make democracy work again. Get involved.
- Glen Argan
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