A caller named Joseph said he thinks "that's wrong," and Miller said he agreed.
"You know, like frankly, if you, if you're not willing to show your face in a ceremony, that you're joining the best country in the world, then frankly …" Miller said, before the caller interrupted to say, "send ya back."
"Yeah," Miller said. "Frankly, if you don't like that or don't want to do that, stay the hell where you came from, is the way."
Miller went on to say that "I think most Canadians feel the same."
Yes we do.
Now let's spent a moment going back, way back, to that distant epoch known to history as the 1970s. During that barely recorded age, a mixture of myth and memory even in the minds of our finest scholars, the Portuguese were relatively new comers to our fair Dominion. Officially the first Lusophones arrived in 1953 and came in dribs and drabs over the next thirty years. There was a particular surge around 1974-1976. That was during Portugal's touch and go transition from fascist dictatorship to social democratic republic.
One of the big push factors was that, at least for a few months, it looked like the Reds might take over the whole of Portugal, or that a civil war might erupt. It's unlikely the Americans would have tolerated a member of NATO, and so strategically well placed a member at that, going over to the other side during the Cold War. That said we are talking about the Gerald Ford years. The Americans had abandoned the South Vietnamese to their fate at about the same time Red militias were training near Lisbon.
Those not terribly keen on becoming communists, my free market leaning father among them, decided to get out of Dodge. Canada let him in and the rest is history. Now how do you think dear old dad was greeted when he came here? Welcomed with open arms? Saluted as a valuable addition to Canadian society? Nope. He was either tactless ignored or greeted with "Go Back the Hell Where You Came From".
This was in fact the traditional greeting provided to new immigrants from the Irish famine to sometime in the mid-1980s. I suspect the Portuguese and the Pakistanis were the last groups to really get in the neck. Toronto legend has it that more than a few Pakistanis where shoved in front of subway trains back in the 1970s. I tend to take these stories with a grain of salt but, needless to say, the brown folks were not popular back then. The Portuguese being semi-white, and terribly useful when concrete needed to be poured, got a marginal pass.
Your humble correspondent is fond of many aspects of Canadian history. The casual endemic racism and ethnic bigotry of those long gone times are not fondly missed. The reason the phrase "go back the hell where you came from" has a certain emotional resonance is because for a very, very long time it was motivated by fear and bigotry of the lowest variety.
Larry Miller, MP, choose his words very poorly. Yet I don't believe, and until I'm provided with strong evidence to the contrary I won't believe, that Mr Miller was motivated by bigotry. The objection wasn't to the people or the country of origin, it was to the pernicious practice of the niqab. Like the majority of Canadians he finds these articles of clothing oppressive to women. We have spent centuries fighting to establish the equality of the individual in Canada. This is a throwback we neither want nor need.
A comparison is sometimes drawn between the niqab and the Sikh turban. It is a deeply absurd comparison. The latter is a statement of faith and the former a statement of oppression. The objection to the niqab is only very partially based on any lingering bigotry in Canadian society. It is the values such a mode of dress represents that Canadians find truly appalling. What Larry Miller was trying to say is that the values of oppression and legal inequality have no place in Canada. It is to those anti-Canadian values we say: Go Back The Hell Where You Came From.
Canada’s Constitution is a mess. It doesn’t provide good government, doesn’t unite us, doesn’t inspire us, and cannot be amended. We can, and should, do better. It might seem unwise to revisit the question after the two previous attempts to fix it destroyed the party that led those efforts and shook the country to its foundations. Ever since we’ve subscribed to Robert Stanfield’s “bicycle” doctrine that Canada will keep going as long as we don’t stop and think about it. There is relative peace and prosperity in the land today, but the misguided 1982 reforms are like termites in our constitutional rafters, and we really need to fix the roof while the sun is shining.
Of course the Canadian constitution is a mess. But look I didn't vote for Pierre Trudeau and I suspect neither did most of the people who read this blog. The logical thing is to fix the constitution, toss in something about property rights, reform the Senate and come up with a nicer name for the Governor-General. Personally I'm thinking of Lord Viceroy of All The Canadas but that might strike some people as dated.
What's logical is rarely what makes political sense. Any attempt to tinker with the constitution is a suicide pact amongst the witless participants. If someone offered Stephen Harper the option of re-opening the constitution or high diving into the Rideau Canal, I suspect he'd go get his swim trunks. This is crazy and John Robson must know this. What are they putting in this man's corn flakes?
Whatever it is please stop.
In a normal country, like say Botswana or Mongolia, modernizing a constitution is just one of those things that politicians get around to doing once in a generation or so. It's no big deal. But then again in these countries, not run by crazy people, updating your basic legal instrument isn't seen as a threat to national unity. Imagine sitting down with an American or Frenchman and saying, with a straight face, that if they were to attempt to amend their constitutions it would provoke a national unity crisis. They'd think you were nuts or the country in question was some third rate third world banana republic.
Our constitution complex is one of those weird quirks of the national psyche. A nation of accountants who, on the weekends, like to play Russian roulette just to take the edge off. We are a boring country, boring as a matter of principle really, but we decided that when it comes to arcane legal questions we're willing to blow the whole place up. Just because.
It has been a tenant of this blog since its inception that everything in Canada, from the complexities of our monetary policies to the subtle dawn light turning the wheat of Saskatchewan into that magical golden hue, depends on Quebec. No other country is founded on the premise that one quarter of the country may indefinitely hold hostage the other three quarters. Only a nation with our obsessively absurd desire to please would agree to such terms.
We cannot amend our constitution because while nine provinces, eventually, will get around to striking some kind of vaguely sensible deal, that one stubborn province will never go along. Short of Alberta promising on bended knee to underwrite the entire Quebec budget from now until doomsday, which ain't happening, Quebec will never sign the constitution. It's too useful a political prop for both the pseudo-federalist Liberals and the pseudo-separatist PQ to give up on. They need to play the victim. In the passion play of constitutional politics they're always the hapless habitants and Lord Durham is coming around to snatch their dog eared copies of Moliere.
Our constitution, it must be noted, is living proof to the inherent uselessness of written constitutions. Don't believe me? If having a well written document was essential to the success of a nation then why are we still around? Even the original BNA was just something Macdonald and Mowatt threw together in the back of a hotel room in Quebec City between bickering and drinking. John A, of course, was doing most of the drinking. It was never intended to be, like the American constitution, some kind of holy writ to lead the chosen people to the promised land. It was a preliminary document that few expected to last.
The genius of our Founding Fathers was that they understood that nations aren't built by constitutions, they're built by people actually doing useful things. Building railways, canals, schools, hospitals, factories and offices. Building things that enhance human life. From John A to Lester Pearson no one gave two hoots about the BNA except the half-dozen constitutional lawyers we had in Canada at the time.
Guess what? It worked brilliantly until Pierre Trudeau decided he was going to save Canada from its boring old self. The vanity of a vain man imperilled the unity of the nation and wasted the attention of the electorate. Instead of modernizing our economy and keeping our fiscal house in order we spent a quarter century on this useless constitutional merry go around.
If I had my way we'd repeal the dog's breakfast of 1982 and hand the constitution back to the British. Honestly what damn difference would it make? It's not like we were paying them to keep the thing stored or something. Failing that we could replace the whole constitution with the lyrics to Anne Murray's version of Snowbird. It would at least have the advantage of making it slightly more difficult for the Supreme Court to play philosopher kings.
If wars were won by feasting,
Or victory by song,
Or safety found in sleeping sound,
How England would be strong!
But honour and dominion
Are not maintained so.
They're only got by sword and shot,
And this the Dutchmen know!
The moneys that should feed us
You spend on your delight,
How can you then have sailor-men
To aid you in your fight?
Our fish and cheese are rotten,
Which makes the scurvy grow--
We cannot serve you if we starve,
And this the Dutchmen now!
Our ships in every harbour
Be neither whole nor sound,
And, when we seek to mend a leak,
No oakum can be found;
Or, if it is, the caulkers,
And carpenters also,
For lack of pay have gone away,
And this the Dutchmen know!
Mere powder, guns, and bullets,
We scarce can get at all;
Their price was spent in merriment
And revel at Whitehall,
While we in tattered doublets
From ship to ship must row,
Beseeching friends for odds and ends--
And this the Dutchmen know!
No King will heed our warnings,
No Court will pay our claims--
Our King and Court for their disport
Do sell the very Thames!
For, now De Ruyter's topsails
Off naked Chatham show,
We dare not meet him with our fleet--
And this the Dutchmen know!
The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., met today with volunteers from the Deltassist Family and Community Services Society to promote the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP). Minister Findlay also talked about key initiatives recently implemented, including an additional $1 million investment to strengthen the program this tax-filing season, and released the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) new Need a Hand video.
There are over 2,000 community organizations partnering with CRA to lead CVITP clinics assisting taxpayers. The CVITP offers Canadians with a modest income and a simple tax situation help filing their income tax and benefit returns. By filing their return, taxpayers ensure they don’t miss out on a broad range of benefits and credits for which they may be eligible.
Or you could just replace the current system with a flat tax. Or better yet reduce the size of government to a point where income taxes are entirely unnecessary.
When asked about new firearms legislation at an event in Saskatoon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said there are too many restrictions on gun ownership, which he added is important for the livelihoods of rural people, recreation and personal safety.
“My wife’s from a rural area and obviously gun ownership wasn’t just for the farm, but was for a certain level of security when you’re a ways away from immediate police assistance,” he said during a question-and-answer session with the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.
“(Guns are) something people use for recreation and the vast majority do so safely,” he added.
The Prime Minister then laughed manically before kicking a small puppy down a flight of stairs. No really. There was a whole article on it at Rabble.ca yesterday.