A history lesson we have yet to learn
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.