Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Voice From the Past Responds to the Monarchist League of Canada

On a tip from one of my readers, who drew attention to the enormous clout being given to the Monarchist League of Canada, a right-wing fringe group associated with the Orange Lodge; I did a bit of research, and what I found should be shocking to most Canadians.

This is not just a tea and crumpets fan club, but a group working to establish an Anglo-Saxon hierarchy in a multicultural country.

Not only were they behind the change to our military, restoring the 'Royal' to its name and the crown to its symbolism, but they were also responsible for the ridiculous new citizenship guide, a throwback to the 1950s.

New Canadians must again pledge allegiance to the Queen and her heirs, and the only commitment to Canada is to uphold our laws.

Our government suggests that these moves are to "right a wrong".  In other words, we should never have stopped paying homage to a foreign dignitary, and placing their interests above our own.

However, instead of taking direction from the Monarchists, Canada's neocons might want to pick up a history book; one not written by Paleoconservative Peter Brimelow

Facts, Facts and More Facts

My husband and I recently purchased a large collection of military books from the estate of a former officer in the Canadian air force.  There are over 150, and what we liked about them, was that they were written during the wars they covered, better capturing the mood of the nation.

Most books today on the subject, focus too much on battles and their outcomes.

We've only owned them for a day, so I've just thumbed through them; but one caught my attention, so I stayed up last night until I finished it.  It was written in 1939, just after the invasion of Poland, by Canadian scholar, Watson Kirkconnell (1895-1977).

In response to a comment left after my last posting on the topic, I reminded my reader that Canada did not enter WWII for Britain, and in fact when Louis St. Laurent was acting as secretary of state for external affairs, Great Britain's foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, thanked Canada for coming to their assistance "during the darkest days of World War 11".  St. Laurent immediately set the record straight.   In his reply to Bevin he went out of his way to emphasize that Canada's declaration of war had been an independent decision made by the country's elected representatives, that it was prompted by the nation's determination to fight Nazism and had nothing whatever to do with helping Britain. (The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff, By Sonja Sinclair, University of Toronto Press, ISBN: 0-8020-2556-0, p. 108)

Kirkconnell in his 1939 book Canada, Europe and Hitler, validates this claim.  In describing the public sentiment as Canada was heading to war, he shares a quote by Lord Tweedsmuir, who on October 12, 1938, stated:  "A Canadians first loyalty is not to the British Commonwealth of Nations, but to Canada, and those who deny this are doing to my mind, a great disservice to the Commonwealth." (Oxford University Press, p. 108)

When my father went overseas, it was not to fight for Britain, but for Canada.  He was Acadian on his mother's side, and Irish Catholic on his father's, so had little respect for the British monarchy.  The only thing England ever gave him was a nurse he met at a dance.  My mother, who arrived here as a war bride.

Without knowing how long the war would last, how many casualties we would suffer, or what defining battles would take place, Kirkconnell provides some very compelling insight on Canada's decision to go to war, that blows the idea of an Anglo-Saxon dominance out of the water.

Quebec Premier, Maurice Duplessis, felt that French-Canadians should stay out of the conflict, and challenged conscription.  This caused a rift in his own party, with several members jumping ship, including Gilbert Layton, Jack Layton's grandfather.

Feeling confident that Quebec citizens would agree with him, Duplessis called a snap election, despite the fact that he had two more years to govern.  As a result, his 76 seats were reduced to 16, and the Liberals won 66.  " Quebec has proudly proclaimed to the world that it believes in a national unity wider that that envisaged by the strident isolationism of Mr. Duplessis and his kind". (p. 113)

This vindicated our integrity as a nation.  We had a shared enemy and a shared interest.

Kirkconnell concluded the chapter by saying:  "... it may in the end paradoxically prove true that Adolf Hitler, without intending any such consummation, has done more than any other force in the world to make Canada a nation."

But What of King and Country?

In the First World War, many Canadians rallied under the cry of  "for King and Country".  However, as many historians point out, the simple fact was that most who answered that call, had been born in Britain, so were heading home to fight for their country.  In fact, Desmond Morton in his 1994, When Your Number is Up: the Canadian Soldier in the First World War, concluded that "Seventy percent of the men who enlisted in the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) were British immigrants, even though British immigrants were just eleven percent of Canada’s population. Anglo-Saxon Canadians whose ancestors had lived in North America for generations had low enlistment rates similar to those seen in French Canadian communities."

If you peruse the attestation papers on the Government of Canada website, Morton's argument appears valid, especially for those who signed up at the beginning of the war.

This notion that we are who we are, only because of the contribution of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) males, is an insult to our rich cultural heritage.
"... the notion that some Reform members may have strong Anglo-Saxon nativist inclinations is supported by more than merely the background profiles of its leaders, members and supporters. It is supported also by the words of many of its ideological mentors who depict Canada as not only historically an Anglo-Saxon country but also part of a wider Anglo-Saxon culture that is in need of recognizing and re-establishing its heritage.

"Read for example Peter Brimelow's words bemoaning the eclipse of Anglo-Saxon hegemony. 'At the end of the nineteenth century, belief in the superiority of the Anglo Saxon values ... (was) the most social norm in every English-speaking country ... For WASP supremacists everywhere, however, the twentieth century has been a most distressing experience.' (Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6, p. 120-121)
This is why we have to challenge the Monarchist League of Canada at every turn.  Not their right to exist.  Many Canadians like the tradition of the Royal Family.  For my dad, there were two.  His own and the Montreal Canadians.  He probably would have gone to war wearing their logo.

When JFK visited Canada in 1961, observers claimed that he drew larger crowds than were there for the Queen and Prince Philip on a recent visit", and he "created the biggest traffic jam" in Ottawa's history.  (Kennedy & Diefenbaker: The Feud That Helped Topple a Government, By Knowlton Nash, McClelland & Stewart, 1991, ISBN: 0-7710-6711-9, p. 108).

I don't know of any head count, but no doubt President Obama's first visit to Canada was just as well attended as that of Will and Kate's, and definitely more than that of Charles and Camilla.

Canada chooses her own heroes and for a variety of reasons, and those who deny that, do a great disservice to our country.


  1. Thank you for your thorough analysis of the cultural identities of Canadians during WWI, WWII, and today. I found the comparison of WWI enlisted men from Britain to Canadian-born men to be interesting.

    My comparison of the Conservative Party being the English-speaking party to the NDP being the French-speaking party may not be accurate. Although a majority of the NDP MPs come from Quebec, the vast majority of its members reside outside Quebec. However, I do think that in the next election, the Conservatives will try to portray themselves as the party of English Canadians. The NDP may help the Conservatives if the NDP is seen as being too pro-Quebec by Canadians living outside Quebec. The NDP will need to find the right balance between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians.

    I don't think that the Conservative promotion of the monarchy will make Canadians like myself into monarchists. I don't think that's the Conservatives' goal. I do think that the Conservatives have figured out that so-called English Canadian monarchists are a beneficial group to target for votes. The Conservatives are very good at targeting specific groups of voters--each with their own interests. They include the very wealthy, lower educated, lower-income Canadians, Jewish voters, devout Christians, South Asians, suburbanites, and rural-agricultural voters. They all come under this general English Canadian umbrella. By micro-managing their target groups, the Conservatives can maximize the largest amount of seats with relatively few votes.

  2. I love "distressing experience for WASP supremacists".
    Yes, I'm white and I attend the United Church of Canada. But the whole idea of supremacists of any kind is anathema. I was born early in the post-war baby boom, and raised to believe in equality of all human beings. All.
    The idea of racial supremacists of any kind in the 21st century is proof that humanity has made very little progress in this area. Oh, sure, lots of scientific progress, but no human rights progress.
    Hope of a kinder world in my lifetime seems dim.
    And I'm a monarchist at heart but have no desire whatsoever to try to convince anyone else to be one.
    It sure would be fun, though, to create some distressing experiences for those WASP supremacists. Pepper spray, for instance.

  3. I am also white with French, Acadian, English and Irish blood put in my veins, but what comes out is Canadian blood.

    The Reformers were always about a white male Anglo hierarchy. Did you watch the CBC video? Frighteningly white.

  4. I suppose that supporters of the monarchy and the old imperial values can band together and work towards regaining the old flag and the old national anthem. Harmless enough.

    But if the evidence suggests that they a group working to re-establish (sic) an Anglo-Saxon hierarchy in what is already a well established multicultural community, then we are talking about a real danger. And if they derive support from right wing or white-power movements in the USA, even more danger.

  5. At least the Queen speaks French.

    I take it as a mark of respect for us, so to speak (yup, I'm a Franco from Québec).

    I really liked the naturalness of Will and Kate when they came to Canada and their genuine interest in people. Will has a full-time job. That couple is a bit like Scandinavian-style monarchy, which I like. I don't think royalty is useless. It is up to them to redefine and modernize it. And pay their share, of course. Will is not a parasite.

    In a way you can say I am a monarchist.

    But what you describe, Emily (and I believe you 200%), gives me the creeps.