Seeking national consensus is a largely wasted exercise in matters of true national significance.
Sure, we shout our unqualified support for Canada on the easy ones like cheering Team Canada to Olympic or World Championship hockey titles, but on critical matters which should serve to remind we’re all in this Canadian thing together, our confederation is coming unglued.
The last several weeks serve as a case in point.
National laws went up in the acrid smoke of burning tires. Law enforcement, from local gendarmes all the way to the national police, stood helplessly by — literally — as so-called protesters ground much of Canada’s rail system to a halt, harming everything from the nation writ large to small business entrepreneurial efforts in the process.
When “Shut down Canada” becomes the effective battle cry of unopposed anarchy, the immediate outlook becomes what, exactly?
The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their very public opposition to pipelines exposed the faultlines upon which Canada’s uneasy foundation rests today.
Ours is a divided nation in which the drum beat of regionalism grows. Quebec returned to electing sovereignists in large numbers last Oct. 21, while Alberta and Saskatchewan changed the locks and refused to send even one Liberal candidate to Parliament. Think about that.
Is it possible — or perhaps likely — that Alberta and Saskatchewan will, through the din of public opinion, hold referenda on exiting Canada within, say, five years?
I’ve heard claims of concern for “national unity” from premiers Scott Moe and Jason Kenney repeatedly in interviews, while in a conversation not long ago, Premier Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick declared we must decide whether Canada is “a nation or a notion.”
In recent weeks, as the current crisis lurches along, the word “reconciliation” has been repeated constantly, but is that what the pipeline disruptions are really about?
After all, First Nation band councils support Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline in northern B.C., as, similarly, First Nations in Alberta supported the now-vanished TECK Frontier oilsands mine.
Reconciliation should begin with proper housing, safe drinking water and providing Indigenous youth with support and engagement which, in turn, would drive away thoughts of and even acts of self-harm and suicide.
Canada today suffers from a dearth of visionary leadership at the national level. I don’t know if that kind of leadership is even possible, but this nation certainly could use one or more — and quickly.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.