From the Editor / L. Ian MacDonald
Welcome to our special issue on Canada 150, celebrating our history, geography, linguistic and cultural diversity and the blessings of democracy in the secondlargest country in the world. Pollster Frank Graves of EKOS Research shares a new poll that compares the mood of Canada with the turn of the millennium as well as our 100th anniversary in 1967.
But we wouldn’t be here without the vision of the founding fathers who created the original Canadian compromise—Confederation itself, with its pragmatic division of powers between Ottawa and the provinces. Successive generations of leaders built railways from Atlantic to Pacific, fostered a nation of immigrants, and led Canada through two world wars where it made great contributions, at great cost in lives, to secure the liberty of Europe.
Canada has seen three enduring political parties—the Conservatives, the Liberals and the CCF-NDP. Geoff Norquay assesses the legacies of Conservative leaders, from John A. Macdonald to Robert Borden, from John Diefenbaker to Brian Mulroney. All were transformative leaders, Macdonald as the father of Confederation itself, Borden as the leader of a remarkable Canadian contribution in the First World War, Diefenbaker as the author of the Bill of Rights and proposer of a Northern Vision, Mulroney as the father of free trade, architect of the Acid Rain Accord, champion of Nelson Mandela and proponent of German reunification at the end of the Cold War.
Tom Axworthy writes of the dynastic Liberals as the enduring party of the centre, where elections are won in this country. “In the 150 years since Confederation,” he writes, “the Liberal Party has been in office for 89. In 24 of the 42 general elections since 1867, the Liberal Party has captured more votes than any other.” Robin Sears looks at the NDP as a party torn between the conscience of the left and progressive policies historically hijacked by the Liberals. This has created a permanent existential debate between those who are content to be advocates and those who would rather play to win, as the NDP has in several provinces. Principle or power? The NDP’s eternal struggle.
University of Ottawa’s Carissima Mathen looks at Canada’s constitutional framework, from the division of powers in the British North America Act to the individual rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. Her U of O legal colleague Adam Dodek appraises the Supreme Court of Canada, from 1875 to the present. Velma McColl and Kathleen Monk assess the political journey of women in Canada, from the suffragettes to the road to gender parity, still a work in progress. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains writes from his own experience of multiculturalism and diversity in the Canadian mosaic. University of Regina’s Vianne Timmons and Stephen King tell an important success story of Aboriginal peoples in post-secondary education.
Former Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser considers the dynamic of Canada as an officially bilingual country, regarded as a given today, but not always the case. Richard Dicerni, a former senior deputy minister in Ottawa, sends a birthday card to Canada from its public service, saying it’s been “quite a journey we have travelled together over the past 150 years.” Helaina Gaspard and Sahir Kahn of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy offer a ranking of governments’ fiscal frameworks since Confederation.
Jeremy Kinsman, our veteran foreign affairs hand, looks at Canada’s diplomatic identity and finds a Canadian balance of reason and passion. As a case study of Canadian success in the Middle East, Associate Editor Lisa Van Dusen writes up the work of McGill University’s International Community Action Network in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together. Derek Burney and Fen Hampson write of Canada as a trading nation, and the challenges of renegotiating NAFTA. Historica Canada’s Anthony WilsonSmith looks at history by the minutes, Heritage Minutes. In the 100th year of the Railway Association of Canada, its president, Michael Bourque, offers a short history of Canadian railways, a story of nation-building. CPAC President Catherine Cano marks the 25th anniversary of the public affairs channel of record. And columnist Don Newman weighs in on the sesquicentennial.
Finally, we offer a summer reading list. James Baxter looks at Terry Mosher’s latest Aislin collection of political cartoons, Trudeau to Trudeau: Aislin 50 Years of Cartooning. Jaime Watt reviews Jim Prentice’s memoir, Triple Crown. Anthony Wilson-Smith has a positive take on Laurence B. Mussio’s A Vision Greater than Themselves: The Making of the Bank of Montreal, 18172017. And I offer a review of Alvin Cramer Segal’s memoir, My Peerless Story, about how he built a Canadian world champion in men’s clothing. Happy 150th, Canada!