It’s again the Family Day weekend in Alberta, and there are a few apparently disparate things I want to write about, but in the great holograph, maybe all things are related. We shall see.
First, some housekeeping. I have revised the look of the site. Now each post has a related picture up front, and only the first few lines of the post are shown on the front page. It looks way better. Thank you to my wife, for convincing me not to be afraid of change, and then for showing me how to do this. Thank you to my kid, for earlier showing these steps to my wife, so she could later show me.
Some of the photos I took myself. Some come from other web blog pages and in those cases there are links to the original sites. Quite a few photos come from a website called pixabay, which host a huge library of interesting photos of a wide variety of topics. The pixabay photos are free for the downloading and re-posting. I found the service very useful, so I’ll give it this plug. Thank you people who run and maintain Pixabay.
I changed the tagline of the site. It used to be ‘a different view from the west’, because I was, originally, writing about the 3E Senate proposal, and I wanted to stress that it was not universally uncritically supported in Alberta (not like pipelines today). What happened is, I wrote the chapter Rational Numbers, and I was inordinately proud of it (still am), but then I asked myself, so what have I achieved? And I found my answer was
So far, I have only exposed as fallacies some common notions that buttress the 3E Senate proposal. I have not challenged its core. For the 3E Senate proposal, swept clear of the chicanery that surrounds its promotion, is, at heart, a genuine call for local liberty from the tyranny of the democratic majority in central Canada.
It opened up a whole can of worms; I did not really know what democracy meant! That was embarrassing. It got worse when other people told me what democracy meant and I couldn’t understand their explanations!
So, the next two chapters were a personal quest to try to pin down democracy. I came up with a rigorous working definition, based on what the word meant and how it was implemented by those folks who first came up with the word. The point is, it was the first time the word ‘Democracy’ was used; the Athenians made up the word to describe the novel journey upon which they were embarking. ‘Democracy’ was not originally a marketing term; it was meant to be descriptive.
I came to realized I was not alone in my ignorance. You would think that might be comforting, but really, not so much. I tried, in the next two chapters, to explain how what happens in Canada might not really be democracy, per its original meaning: rule by the people.
But you can see that I, being an individual, and one who disagrees with a lot of the group decisions my government makes, was in a kind of conflict of interest position when it comes to the discussion of democracy. Am I whining because I am not getting my way time and again, am I a sore-looser in the minority? Should I just suck it up, or is there really a systemic problem? And, I am not an expert in this field by any means; what gives me the right to pass judgement? All I can really rely on is that I am a long-time dissatisfied participant in the system.
Fortunately for you, my reader, I am endowed with a large ego. I wrote the last chapter, my opinion of how things should be. At the same time, the new Liberal government was actually asking for input, so I came up with input that would maybe meet the criterium of Democracy.
So, that’s what I have been doing on the web since 2009. My point (I do have one) is that when I upgraded the look of the website I changed the old tag line to ‘a quest for democracy in Canada’ because it fitted more with what the essays had grown into over time. And the site header photo of wandering tracks in the snow seemed to express the nature of that search.
When I was looking through the posts and picking photos, I saw that I had written the post about ethology on March 11th of last year. Now, ethology is a subject very near to my heart, so I can maybe be excused for not noting then that March 11th is a special anniversary in Canadian history. But I will flag it for you this time!
This March 11th, 2018, will be the 170th anniversary of Responsible Government in Canada. It was the culmination of years of effort by the Reformers, especially Louis-Hyppolite La Fontaine and Robert Baldwin. In the town of Montréal in the Province of Canada, an outpost of the British Empire, the newly arrived Governor, Lord Elgin, asked the members of the elected Assembly of Canada East and Canada West to choose for him the people who would make up his Executive Council. The new Governor stated that he would act on the advice of the council as long as those councilors had the confidence of the Assembly. This had never been done before in the Province of Canada. It was only the second time anywhere in the British Empire that Responsible Government had been allowed (the first being in the colony of Nova Scotia the previous month).
In my opinion, expressed throughout this website, Responsible Government “is evolved from a concession negotiated with tyranny to avoid rebellion.” It was and is not Democracy. It was, nevertheless, better than what we had before; it was a very important first step. Certainly I would like us to take a second step, but that doesn’t mean we should not celebrate our first step! (I’m not the first person to have the idea.)
This year it happens that March 11th falls on the Sunday that is the start of daylight savings time. I am not sure what’s a good way to celebrate Responsible Government Day. If you live in the Montréal area, you might take your family to visit Pointe-à-Callière museum. Last summer they set up an archeological dig of the burnt ruins of the Montréal parliament. The site had been under a parking lot since the 1920’s, so was actually fairly well preserved, and the archeologists dug up some cool artifacts from that era. A pavilion is being set up at the old site, that you can visit (open on Sundays). If you are not near Montréal in mid March, consider purchasing a membership on line to help with funding the site.
On March 11th you could read John Ralston Saul‘s book Extraordinary Canadians: Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin. It’s 272 pages, well researched and well written and quite readable on a quiet Sunday. Lafontaine and Baldwin are portrayed as visionary heroes by the famous and patriotic JRS. It’s a perspective I don’t quite share, but, for a celebration day, why not embrace and enjoy quality Canadiana?
You could invite friends over to play Nomic on March 11th. The game is in keeping with the theme of evolving government; each turn the players change the rules! This is the kind of game that you should play at least once in your life, and it is different each time.
For my part, I think I will invite some friends over for a potluck and an evening of Rummoli, a game of probability, skill, and blind luck with high stakes. Just like the struggle for Responsible Government! What could be more Canadian?
Come up with something fun that makes you think about Responsible Government. And then do it with your friends and family. Maybe our current government will notice.
Again I must mark the passing of greatness. Local heroine, Elke Blodgett, the irascible and tenacious environmental crusader of St. Albert, passed away a few days ago, at age 81. She was an old friend. She will be missed on many fronts.