A his­tory les­son we have yet to learn

Truro Daily News - - Colchester County - Rob Maclel­lan Rob Maclel­lan is an ad­vo­cate for ed­u­ca­tion and non-pro t or­ga­ni­za­tions. He can be reached at 902-305-0311 or at rob@nsnon­pro tcon­sult­ing.com.

One of my favourite Cana­dian lms of all time is Sa­muel Lount ( 1985), star­ring the renowned Cana­dian ac­tor, R.H. om­son.

I am a fan of om­son’s work any­way, but his ex­cel­lent per­for­mance in this lm cast amid the back­ground of the re­bel­lion in Up­per Canada in 1837, for me as a lover of Cana­dian his­tory, left a last­ing im­pres­sion.

om­son served in the ti­tle role as a sim­ple peace-lov­ing black­smith in the com­mu­nity of Hol­land Land­ing. He was a lead­ing mem­ber of the Chil­dren of Peace, ded­i­cated to a life of paci­fism.

e back­ground of this story as it un­folds is grow­ing ag­i­ta­tion among the Up­per Cana­dian ci­ti­zens to­ward the in­creas­ingly cor­rupt colo­nial rule. e peo­ple wanted a voice, and they were at­tempt­ing to rally to­gether to press their case.

The ral­ly­ing point for this move­ment was around rebel leader Wil­liam Lyon Macken­zie, a jour­nal­ist and prin­ter who had quickly be­come a strong sup­porter of the re­form move­ment, and spoke out in his news­pa­per, the Colo­nial Ad­vo­cate, against the ruling oli­garchy

As Lount was a prom­i­nent mem­ber of his com­mu­nity to- wards whom many of the lo­cal peo­ple looked for lead­er­ship, it slowly and painfully be­came ev­i­dent to him that he had to take a role in the con­cerns of his fel­lows, as he re­al­ized he did have re­spon­si­bil­ity to his larger com­mu­nity.

As this story un­folds, Lount in­creas­ingly pro­gresses to­wards par­tic­i­pat­ing in the vi­o­lence that took place dur­ing the Up­per Cana­dian Re­bel­lion. His per­sonal jour­ney is fas­ci­nat­ing. And in the end, very sad.

What was this all about? e peo­ple wanted re­spon­si­ble govern­ment and skip­ping ahead past many sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal events and many years, they fi­nally achieved it. The British gover­nors would bow to the will of the peo­ple through the elected as­sem­blies.

I’m at the point that I be­lieve if Sa­muel Lount could wit­ness cur­rent events, he would roll over in his grave. It is true that Canada has its own govern­ment elected by the peo­ple, to whom its elected mem­bers must be re­spon­si­ble through our elec­toral process. So that level of re­spon­si­bil­ity is there. In Lount’s day, this would have been a ma­jor ac­com­plish­ment.

I do think, how­ever, that truly re­spon­si­ble govern­ment has lost its way. We con­tinue to elect our rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the House of Com­mons and to the pro­vin­cial leg­isla­tive as­sem­blies, but once these elected mem­bers take of­fice, gov­ern­ing party lead­er­ship takes the path they think best, rather than fol­low the will of the peo­ple.

is is very trou­bling. As we know, the rst job of any elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive is not to serve his or her con­stituents, but rather, to get re-elected. Once they get elected to o ce, they start pre­par­ing for the next elec­tion. Sadly, part of this re-elec­tion process is mak­ing sure that your party still likes you. e party will still like you if you make no gaffes, if you stick to the party’s talk­ing points, and if you bow to the wishes of the party.

In the mean­time, you pacify as many of your con­stituents and their con­cerns as ts within these fore­go­ing pa­ram­e­ters. is is re­spon­si­ble govern­ment, but it’s a demon­stra­tion of be­ing re­spon­si­ble to the party, and not the peo­ple so much. His­tory buffs, can you de­tect shades of the Fam­ily Com­pact here?

Our cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau promised be­fore be­ing elected to re­form the elec­toral process. Once elected, it didn’t take him long to back away from that oner­ous task. I can’t re­ally fault him too much. It’s just an­other in a long list of bro­ken prom­ises that our na­tion’s lead­ers over the years have failed to make good on. Is this re­spon­si­ble?

e fact is that we need not just elec­toral re­form, but party re­form as well. Power can­not be con­tained in the hands of the few who are op­er­at­ing out of their own in­ter­ests.

A good rst step to re­turn­ing to real re­spon­si­ble govern­ment would be to in­sti­tute mid-term elec­tions, and in in­still­ing in vot­ers a re­newed in­ter­est in the af­fairs of our coun­try.

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