Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Can you forward the cheques to Heaven?

More than sixty years after the end of World War II, verterans are getting a Bill of Rights. After World War II, Canadian vets had a pretty good benefits plan. it was nothing like today's, but it was far better than the post World War I policies that radicalized many vets.
I'm leary of pols who make promises that are linked with media events like the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This is an "event" that is far over-blown, as there are no surviving Vimy vets, and the centennial of Vimy is only ten years away. This is the 140th year of Confederation, too. Should we break out the champagne, dust off Expo and start building swimming pools and fountains in every duckburg?
I don't agree that Vimy "forged" a nation. There's far too great a leap between World War I and the Statute of Westminster of 1931 for someone to make the argument that Canada gained political independence from its participation in the war. The claim that people began self-identifying as Canadians after Vimy is pretty ludicrous, too. The shift away from Britishness began during World War II, especially after the Ogdensburg and Hyde Park meetings. The post-war immigration wave and the Liberal policies of the early 1960s were the final set of factors in de-linking us from the UK. But to really understand Canadian independence, you have to look at the liquidation of British investment in North America during World War I and especially World War II, the views on Empire of the various Labour governments, and the British decision, in the late 1950s, to end Imperial preference and seek an accomidation with the European Common Market. Diefenbaker wanted to keep the old Empire trading system, but the British said no. So, with the Brits having no desire to interfere in our political and defence affairs or to invest and trade with us, we were as much cut loose as we were successful in winning independence.

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