Posts Tagged ‘alberta’
This Canada Day, I decided to revisit the OUP anthology Riven Lands: Canada and Laurentia from 1980. Back when I first posted my reaction to this book in 2008, it sparked a substantial discussion about the extent to which the dissolution of old Canada into Laurentia and the new Canadian federation was inevitable. Looking at the essays again, I’m caught by the tragic inevitability of it all. From the moment the Quiet War started, the Dominion was bound for a reckoning at terrible cost to its people. It was trapped by history.
Old Canada remains trapped. Looking south from my vantage point in Boston, there just hasn’t been much positive change in the Dominion. Laurentian nationalism remains as strong as Canadian resentment, each set of grievances distracting each country from tackling its own crying issues The economic crash hit both countries hard, though Laurentia was at least spared the housing boom. (Is it ever likely that Montréal will regain its pre-war population, or Ottawa?) The Maritime Canadian provinces continue to drift, most notable for being a source of migrant workers for anywhere that will take them: the rest of Canada, the United States, Britain and Ireland even. (Newfoundland’s separation last year wasn’t unexpected, not with oil affording it an incentive to try to start over again. Here’s to wishing them success.) In Canada west of the Ottawa, meanwhile, stagnation. Will Alberta try to follow Newfoundland? Will Premier Ford be able to save Ontario’s industry?
Maybe social democracy will rise and save everyone, uniting all of old Canada across the old borders. Who knows? By this point, I really doubt the competence of the old Canadian political classes to solve old issues, never mind resolve current problems. The world moves, and moves ahead.
I keep wondering if Canada could have survived. On a few forums today, I suggested that if not for the Social Credit governments of the post-war era and their hyperinflationary policies, there might have been enough wealth to sooth differences between Laurentians and the rest of Canada. If Spain and Yugoslavia could survive the 1970s and 1980s, could Canada not also manage? The United States was surely at least as attractive a market as western Europe, and intra-Canadian grievances until the 1960s were certainly not as deep as those in Spain and Yugoslavia. Or was the collapse of Canada preordained? Was Canada, paradoxically, not multinational enough, with a sufficiently large and united Anglo population falsely thinking itself large enough to override the Laurentians?