Friday, 1 July 2011

Happy Dominion Day!!!

Canada day - Eh?
As I was watering my lawn on Canada Day, a neighbor walked by and wished me a Happy Dominion Day. We laughed at it, and then it hit me- how did we Canadians end up as a Dominion first and then just plain old Canada after? 

One story goes that when the delegates from Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, were hashing it out in England in 1866 on what the joining of these three areas were to be named, there was some difference of opinion. After tossing out such monikers as “Kingdom of Canada " – might piss off the Americans, and "The Colony of Canada" – made the Canadians grumble as they wanted equality, the band of merry men, including John A. MacDonald, put forth idea of being a dominion. It came from a verse in the seventy-second Psalm, "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." (Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 223.)

Nice story, but what the heck did it mean in the day to day reality of being a Dominion of the British Empire? Dominion in this sense means a polity ruled and owned by the British Empire. We were not the only ones: Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State. Over time, the Dominion of Canada was dropped as it became more independent of British rule and the end of its Empire overseas.

The real change for me was my textbooks. In 1982, I was just a little kid but I remember watching on TV when Pierre Trudeau and the Queen smiled as she handed over Canada’s constitution. Apparently, we Canadians had our Constitutional Act only exist as an act of British Parliament. Wow – crazy in a modern country that Canada was still beholden to Britain. So Queen Elizabeth II (Lovely old biddy) granted by royal ascent to patriate our constitution, our papers which said we were a country. I saw a difference when we got our new shinny textbooks, no mention of Dominion was anywhere on the maps either. Good riddance – if we wanted to be a modern democracy, that nonsense with Britain owning us had to end. 

Well, technically…we still have Queen Liz as the head of our democratic/constitutional monarchy. But that is for another post.