Conrad Black: Lowered flags are a symbol of a nation in decline

NP

The flag is seen flying at half-mast over Canada House in London. PHOTO BY @CANADIANUK

The most frequent opening conversational gambit that I encountered during the past three very social weeks in the refreshingly mask-free, socially undistanced city of London, was the question of why the Canadian flag on top of Canada House in Trafalgar Square appeared to be permanently at half-mast. I had the heavy duty of conceding that it was part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s endlessly protracted act of national self-humiliation and confected grief over the history of the white man’s treatment of Indigenous people in Canada over the last 500 years. The many informed people whom I encountered in London could not be described as a broadly based and deeply enthusiastic group of admirers of Justin Trudeau as a leader and clear champion of the Canadian national interest. In general, in my experience, he is seen in Europe, as in the United States, as the chic and dapper bearer of a name well-known in Canada, who deserves the credit due to being a consecutive election winner in a G7 country, but is nevertheless seen as a feckless and rather superficial posturer.

Like most people when absent from the country where they reside, I always do my best to put Canada‘s case forward as persuasively as I can to doubting foreigners. My explanation for a permanent flag in official mourning over the Canadian High Commission in the greatest public square in Britain was greeted with universal, and not always polite, incredulity. Canada has no responsibility for the Indigenous policies of the French and British colonial governors. Once Canada was in charge of Indigenous policy, after 1867, that policy was designed to assist First Nations in participating in the life of the country.

As we all are now tiresomely aware, the residential schools wrenched a minority of Indigenous children from their families, and many were mistreated, but almost all of them were taught the elements of literacy and arithmetic in a way that they likely would not otherwise have been able to learn. There is neither a moral nor a practical case to be made for further humbling acts or pseudo-conscientious deluges in the perpetual regime of atonement and expiation that Justin Trudeau is inflicting upon us. Having presumed, with no factual or legal authority, to plead guilty on behalf of all of us to the false charge of attempted cultural genocide against the Natives, he has, in six years in government, failed to devise substantial improvements in Indigenous policy. I went through Trafalgar Square several times every day for three weeks and was often prompted to reflect on the absurdity of the current state of Canadian politics.

Alberta, which has dutifully poured billions of dollars into Confederation through equalization payments, chiefly to Quebec, only to be rewarded by an unholy war by the federal government on its petroleum industry in the name of the fatuous crusade to eliminate carbon emissions, has finally voted against the equalization system. Meanwhile, the prime minister increases the utter fiscal nonsense of sustainable energy, as he makes us an international mockery by his hemophiliac-bleeding heart misinterpretation of the history of our Indigenous peoples. The equalization payments system was set up in 1955 by the government of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, as a consolation prize for federalism, after Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis forced the federal government to acknowledge the constitutional right of the provinces to collect their own income taxes and offset them against federal taxes. Much less numerous French-Canadians in other provinces have much greater rights than Quebec’s 1.5 million anglophones, and the federal parties are insipidly quiescent.

It is not clear what useful purpose is now served by the federal Parliament. I have returned to a country that is disintegrating politically and no longer seems to recognize itself. Canada was not even considered in the new Pacific alliance of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. We have become such a boring and underachieving country that we’ve induced a coma in our political life while the authority of our central government decomposes like an Ozymandian monument, and the world yawns.

Source: Conrad Black | NP

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