Thisyear marks the 250th anniversary of the event that truly shaped the geography of North America and, since the Harper government is so keen on teaching us history, à la conservative, obviously, we are surprised that this newspaper has not received a communiqué on the event.
In February of 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed and the world would never be the same. The American colonies, by the way Canada became one of them, were part and parcel of the Treaty of Paris. This set into motion the American Revolution, a dozen years later, when the American Colonies were sent the bill for their ‘defence’. That led to a rather nasty real Tea Party in Boston, when the Americans decided that dealing with their own affairs was much better than having someone else do it.
The whole mess, thousands of British citizens died, would have been avoided if the Colonies had tried to unite when Benjamin Franklin asked them to do so during what is called the Seven Year War around the world and the Franco-Indian War south of the border.
Said Franco-Indians being the Canadians which historians among you will remember were all French back then.
So, tomorrow, the Americans will celebrate Independence Day, not a movie, but a real historic event of incredible proportion.
Before the Declaration of Independence, not a soul would have dared say: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
It is the second phrase that now bothers a lot of friends of the Republic. Everybody will agree that a government’s duty is to protect its citizens. The Framers, what a beautiful term, of the Declaration of Independence were Enlightened Men, its main writer, Thomas Jefferson, an inventor and worldly man himself. But he could not have predicted the power of communication that exploded over the last few years, nor the means of invading the privacy - so cherished - of all of its citizens.
In today’s revelation that the United States has been spying on its citizens, our neighbours to the South could spare some money by looking closely at the work done by members of our Parliament back, way back, when spying on everybody at once was a pipe dream.
A couple of years before the last millennium drew its curtain, Mrs. Sheila Finestone and colleagues in the House of Commons, including our then M.P. Maurice Bernier, went across Canada to discuss the issue of Privacy and technology. The House committee report was titled: Privacy: Where do we draw the line. This writer acknowledged that he is partial: he was the communication officer of that committee.
It delved into what was publicly known and avoided what should remain secret; it peeked into our security apparatus too deeply and looked the other way on what could have compromised the security of Canada and its allies.
The United States could learn a lot from that report, especially its recommendation 18:
The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada undertake ongoing public awareness and education programs about new technologies and their impact on privacy to ensure that everyone is able to make appropriate decisions regarding their personal privacy and the direction of public policy in the future.
An uninformed public or one lied to is not one that will trust a government for long.