SOME in this country call for “order.” Others call for “reconciliation.” We might ask if the vision of “order” is the one that brings “reconciliation.” I think not.
“Peace, order and good government” are not the inspirational words under which Canada was united in 1840. These words were imposed on Canada in 1867 by the Imperial British Parliament in London. The imperial colonial mentality became the phraseology defining the colonies as residual entities of domination politics. It is time to return to the vision of our Canadian founders.
The Canadian wording of the 1840 Act of Union was “Peace, welfare, and good government”. The vision was of diverse peoples governed for the benefit of all the people. It placed people first by identifying “peace” as the nature of relationship and “welfare” of citizens as the purpose of this new nation. Good government was the means to achieve these two ideals. Welfare is a broad term that covers commonwealth and national good, as well as individual and community well-being, health, happiness, and security in society and its environment.
The 1867 revision upholds the elite establishment’s right, the entitlement of those with power, to operate unhindered by any consciousness of needs or rights of the people. “Order” signifies dominance of people through law rather than law that benefits people.
As we seek reconciliation of our peoples it may be constructive to return to the original phraseology. A modest change to Canada’s Constitution would be a way of symbolizing that there is space for all peoples to benefit in this country. Or, at least, a visionary verbalization by our leaders that the nation, to be at peace, united, and reconciled, requires “welfare” as a priority. Peace, welfare, and good government is my Canada, and I invite you to make it yours by embracing the vision of our founders.
(Originally published March 2, 2020)