Today is Sir. John A. Macdonald’s 203rd birthday and that gives us reasons to be thankful for the Canada that he helped to create and for the founding principles of freedom and justice that he entrenched in the our vital government institutions.
While much is said about the role that he played in uniting Canada from sea to sea and in linking it with a national railway, little is said of the deeper principles that he and his associates built into the institutions that make Canada the wonderful country that we have the privilege of calling our own.
Drawing on the heritage of government and law that had developed in Britain over a period of more than a thousand years, they established a system of limited government that was firmly committed to the principles of freedom and fundamental justice.
Government was assigned the primary job of protecting the indisputable right of every person to live their lives as they chose – subject only to the duty to respect the equal rights of every other citizen.
Every person was assured freedom of action, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom to own the property that they justly acquired. The institutions of government and law ensured that those absolute rights were protected against the actions of any other person, including any agent of government or of the courts.
Those essential foundations of a free and just society are often driven from sight by the obsessions of political correctness which attempt to rewrite our history and to remove all reference to those who made Canada the wonderful place that it has been.
Along with the rejection of our founding fathers, we see increasing pressures to reject the principles upon which they built the Canada that we know and value – and to change our society in a manner that would reduce our freedoms and give government more power to tell us what to think and what to do.
Without doubt one can find flaws in Sir John’s legendary tendency to imbibe in alcohol to excess, in his involvement in the first major political scandal in Canada and in some of the prejudices that he shared with others of his time.
It would do us great harm, however, to let those flaws serve as an excuse to set aside the core values that underpin the system of government and law that was left to us by Sir John A. Those values were confirmed over centuries and they were built into the British institutions of government and law. Those institutions guarantee the freedom of all persons and they define a system of government that is bound to upholding the principles of fundamental justice equally for every single person.
Sir John A. confirmed that those values form the essence of Canada, and that matters immensely.
It is on that basis that I celebrate the contribution of Sir John A. – a person without whom the Canada that we value would not exist – a person whose legacy must be protected if Canadians are to continue to aspire to live in the greatest country in the world.