This land is my land, too

Edmonton - Monday, September 30, 2002 - by: Ron Thornton


Once there was a time when I found stirring the lyrics "this land is your land, this land is my land." Trouble is, as I gaze upon central Canada with the specter of Kyoto casting a growing shadow over us, I can't help but feel that while my land is your land, you don't seem to think that it is my land as well. As the high-tech concept of firewalls seems a bit beyond some, maybe we should instead consider putting up a good, old fashioned fence to mark the property line.




Once upon a time I plied my trade in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, a friendly town that allowed me to leave my doors unlocked and my keys sitting in the ignition of my car. The local grocer used to deliver my goods to my house, enter, and put the perishables in the fridge, even when I was not there. Times have long since changed, as in the west we get the distinct feeling that our central Canadian neighbours keep coming across the property line to plant stinkweed in our flower garden, run off with the car, relocate our tools to their garage, raid our fridge, sleep in our bed, and end up stealing all of the covers in the middle of the night. That cosey little band of brothers feeling we once had seems to have eroded somewhat. Then again, isn’t that what our Liberal friends wanted?




We are a diverse nation, with no recognizable culture, or at least that was the opinion in 1995 of then Multiculturalism Minister Sheila Finestone. We are a land that celebrates our differences, while doing our best to trample every recognizable tradition we ever had. No wonder our Canadian family is dysfunctional. My father built his own home with his own hands. I try to make a bread board and end up with a cheese board. When his car breaks down, my father pulls out a tool box. When mine breaks down, I call him. My three brothers still have a use for their combs, yet I'm the only one who can grow a decent beard. My father and my brothers fix or build things, while I gather and communicate information. Interestingly enough, we don't dwell much on our differences or celebrate our diversity. What we do celebrate are our common experiences, our love for one another, and we share much laughter and joy. I wonder why we fail to do this as a nation?


Folks in the west have tried to find political alternatives to this Liberal love affair with destroying this nation. We waited decades for the rest of the country to join us in support of the Progressive Conservatives, only to discover that the Tories were merely the flip-side of the same wooden nickel. We turned to a group that talked about principles, about reforming our institutions so that we might have a more representative government, one that gave more influence to the hinterlands in the east and the west, where our leaders were made more accountable and responsible to us. It sounded good enough for hundreds of thousands of Ontario voters to also sign on, but not within the time-frame or the ability for some to build upon. I wasn't interested in uniting the right. I sought leadership interested in doing what was right. While urging us to "Think Big", all I wanted them to do was to at least give me the impression that a politician could simply think.



of power

Now, we have a Prime Minister who finds the clock ticking down on his wasted leadership, intent on building some kind of legacy on the backs of ordinary Canadians. Sure, he might be gone soon, though not soon enough and not until some irreparable damage is done. As for the future, there isn't much hope for democratic or institutional reform coming from those who have stripped Parliament of its power to put it into the hands of the Prime Minister, that avoids the democratic process by appointing "star" candidates for election, and where even now some want to dump its democratic leadership convention in favour of a coronation for Paul Martin as the new Liberal leader.


Should this nation be dismembered, we can be confident that it will be caused by Canadians and the reasons will be economic. When the good people from Quebec decided by a razor thin margin to remain within the federation, it was not due to any groundswell of nationalistic pride in Canada. Rather, ordinary Quebeckers recognized the economic advantages of being part of this nation and were not willing to surrender them on behalf of their children for the uncertainty of independence. Now, should that economic prosperity end, should ordinary Quebeckers find themselves facing an insecure future that threatens their jobs, their homes, and their way of life within Canada, then their reservations regarding independence would understandably be reduced. Another life-sucking federal policy like the National Energy Policy or Kyoto may well cause the same reaction in the west.




We've been through this before, when Peter Lougheed stood toe-to-toe with Pierre Trudeau, only to surrender in the end, to give up the fight, and sign the documents that allowed our economy to be devastated. It is said that people simply had enough of the rancor, allowing themselves to go along in order to get along. However, there are times when one must continue the fight, be it against your amorous room-mates in cellblock B, or against federal policies that promise only crushing economic devastation. The Kyoto Accord advocates an ineffective solution to an improbable problem while masking its chief aim which happens to be wealth redistribution to the third-world at the expense of our way of life. It represents a path that anyone with any measure of intellect would refuse to go down, yet our present government seems intent on forcing us to do just that.


If we finally come to the conclusion that our problems are caused due to the dominance central Canadian politicians have over us, and if there appears no solution to that dominance within the federation, then the solution would seem to be clear. This land may be your land but remember that this is where we live and where we strive to produce a meaningful legacy for our children's future. In fact, this land is their land.


You shouldn’t be surprised that we wouldn't take too kindly to the Prime Minister's bumbling for a legacy, or those parts of this nation that support his efforts, if it ends up destroying the legacy that rightly belongs to our children.


Ron Thornton



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