I also advocated that no town and area in Canada has more reason to celebrate 150 years of Confederation than ours. I still hope we will celebrate appropriately.
Of course, there may be some cynical, negative types who will be left cold by the idea. They may even maintain that we should not be so smug – that 150 years is really nothing to brag about. Compared to other countries we are just a baby, they may claim.
Just think about countries like Egypt (7,000 years – approx.), China (12,000 years – approx.), Iran (ancient Persia) or Greece (3,000 approx.). Countries like France, Germany and Spain have existed as such for more than 1,500 years. How can 150 years compare to that? How is that worthy of celebration?
The answer is quite simple. Canada came about as a result of negotiations by leaders with big dreams. Canada is not the result of conquest, revolution or the diplomatic compromise after a war. It is comprised of a federation of units with a strong central government, that has worked flawlessly (compared to other nations) without a civil war or revolution or drastic reorganization of any kind.
The only federal state of any kind at the time, other than Canada, are the United States of America. A civil war tore them apart around the same time Canada was given birth.
When Canada was born in 1867, most modern countries anywhere around the globe were ruled by monarchs of one kind or another in various stages of absolutism. Just think of the changes Germany has gone through in the last 100 years. France too. Most European countries were torn apart by two world wars and were patched up again. The only countries I can think of that have had a consistently stable government structure without interim periods of conquest and occupation are Great Britain and Sweden. Maybe Thailand counts but that country has had to endure military dictatorships and changes to its constitution. None of these are federal states.
Switzerland may be the only rival. It was born out of revolt against an occupying power. The federal system relies heavily on country-wide plebiscites (town by town, village by village). That feature did not allow the voting franchise for its female population until about 35 years ago.
Canada stands for a peaceful union, a peaceful expansion from coast to coast, without a civil war and major overhaul of its constitution. No revolution, no conquest. There is no country like it anywhere in Central or South America, Africa, the Middle East or all of Asia. Australia is similar but younger.
Militarily, Canada is inconsequential. Politically we are a "middle power" on the world stage. However, in terms of social policy, human rights advances and quality of life, Canada has no rivals.
Also, let's not forget that for several decades now, Canada has ranked first or close to first on international scales as" the best country in the world.” Just recently, another survey of the "happiest people" ranked Canadians in seventh place. Not bad, out of over 150 countries. (Maybe our long winters played a role in our assessment.)
Of course, not everything is perfect. Just ask our native, indigenous population, for example. Imperfection is no reason not to be appreciative and joyful. No reason at all to prevent yearlong celebrations. Yes, indeed, we Canadians have a great deal to celebrate, to be proud of and for which to be very grateful.
Morris Haugg is retired lawyer and longtime Rotarian. He is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.