IS CANADA FREE? © David Watts, 18/07/2000

Canadian Specific ®

For a country that calls itself “the true north strong and free,” Canadians have spent much of our journey together wondering whether we are free or not.

Our asking this question semiconsciously has usually focused on someone else.

For a century after Confederation we focused on our relations with Britain.

Having never signed a Declaration of Independence, we were extremely self-conscious of our continuing ties with our colonial mentor.

Originally our foreign policy was British. Our flag was British till 1965, our court of last appeal was British till 1949, and our constitution required British approval to amend till 1982.

As our ties with Britain changed, our focus moved to our relationship with the United States. Now our autonomy was measured in terms of American influence:

Our economy was owned by the Americans, our auto industry a US branch plant.

Our culture was seen against a tidal wave of American television and magazines.

The value of our dollar is measured against the American dollar.

Now that we’ve seen that the US can be dictated to by offshore and multinational interests—why they were forced into free trade—our focus has shifted again.

Now we see our freedom as limited by the policies of the G8, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization.

In a semiconscious state, it always seems that our independence is limited by someone or something else. If we could only eliminate all outside influences…

It keeps us tied to the ground and determines the way our rivers flow.

Take the atmospheric conditions which determine our weather.

Or the sun, which determines the seasons and the length of the work day.

Take our semiconscious thinking this far, and we see that our focus is misplaced.

It’s not who or what’s Out There and what they will let us do that determines our freedom.

It’s knowing who and what we are, and living creatively in that awareness.

A famous teacher 2000 years ago was asked by a subject people about national freedom in terms of foreign taxes, laws and occupying armies.

He replied that the free state for which they were longing was an inward one:

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

An even earlier teacher taught that the focus of education and enlightenment is to Know Oneself.

Self-awareness has been an important factor in the strength and survival of two peoples, the Scots and the Jews, for hundreds of years.

For much of this time, neither of these peoples has had a national state. Yet both peoples are known world wide for their courage and resourcefulness.

What are the truths of Who we are in Canada, that knowing will make us free?

First is the awareness we’ve already mentioned—that the primary values are not outside and economic but inner and spiritual: what we choose as priorities.

Second is the awareness that Life is not an aggregate of individuals in struggle, but of inter-connected beings expressing a common source.

Third, derived from this, is the awareness that our peoples—all of them—are not “human resources,” producers or consumers, but our very reason for being.

Fourth is the awareness that our land and its riches are there not to be exploited as commodities but enjoyed as a common trust.

This is the consciousness not of domination but of dominion. It is a Dominion that Canada chose to call herself rather than a kingdom or republic.

The consciousness of dominion knows itself to be part of a larger whole.

It knows that the other ports of the picture are ultimately in harmony.

The spirit of Dominion always remembers the bigger picture. It sees the belief that we can control the whole show not as freedom but illusion.

Is Canada free?

Rather, is Canada conscious of who and what she is in the global community?

In that awareness is greater scope for self-expression than an absence of restraints, greater opportunity for growth than an overcoming of adversaries.

Knowing this and living it is what makes Canada “glorious and free.”

Remembering it—staying consciously focused—is what it means to “stand on guard for thee.”

(690 words)