Nation Builder of the Decade ala Globe
The globe and mail is running a question for its readers, who is the ‘Nation Builder’ of the past decade? They suggest some names as well as the yearly Nation Builder winners from each of the past 10 years. Its a fascinating read, you should take a look.
Off the top of my head, asking me to pick one person from the past decade who has helped to shape Canada into something a bit better, the first and only person I can think of is General Rick Hillier, head of the Canadian Forces for about 5 years of the past decade. I didn’t always agree on his take on things but I know from my military friends that he did bring in a cultural change of tone in the forces which was for the best overall. He was also a vocal proponent for the forces in public which sometimes got him in hot water but is important for Canadians to hear as we are far too apt to ignore the fact we have a military at all and all the sacrifices they make for us. I think the growing comfort with the military as a part of Canadian society is partially due to Gen. Hillier’s leadership.
Now that I’m thinking I suppose I would consider nominating Auditor-General Sheila Fraser, she’s always investigating something, and usually its good for the country in some way. Or maybe Justice Gomery and his inquiry which collapsed the Liberal dynasty. But those don’t excite me as a constructive force for change. As someone deeply involved in electoral reform, I’d wish I could nominate someone for that, perhaps the leader of FairVote, Larry Gordon? But truly, for that realm, I’d much rather nominate Nation Breakers. That would be a list of defenders of the status quo and entrenched power, who fan the flames of fear and ignorance by resisting electoral reform or other progressive changes canada needs. From the BC referendum a few people come to mind such as Bill Tielleman. I’m sure you could think of other to nominate for such a blacklist regarding environmental protection, health care, social rights and national unity. I would resist as too obvious nomination of Stephen Harper to the Nation Breakers list except for his stance on the environment and his disgusting attacks on Quebeckers during the Coalition ‘crisis’ last fall.
But I digress. My actual nomination was set when I glanced down the list of inductees for yearly Nation Builder and I stopped cold.
And the nominee is…
What else happened in Canada in the last ten years other than Liberal collapse, wars in Afghanistan, gold medals, minority governments and failed electoral reform referenda?
Something big, so big it seems obvious and unquestionable now. But at the time, its was and exciting, progressive leap forward.
Gay marriage happened. In 2003 the three Ontario Court of Appeal Justices who decided on the gay marriage case and effectively legalized gay marriage in Canada were name the Globe’s Nation Builders. You should read the background story on the them. They are a finally triumverate with varied histories, backgrounds from across Canada and a history of involvement in “Nation Building”. Ontario Appeals Court Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, for example, was one of the people (in cahoots with Jean Chretien and Roy Romanow) that came up with the ‘Notwithstanding Clause’ which saved the negotiations over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I’m a big fan of this catch all, release valve, which is difficult to employ but ensures that our constitution is not restrictive by assuming to cover all possible cases, its like a global else clause for our constitution to catch exceptions. But you should read the article. And if you can get to the end without getting the chills or almost tearing up then you don’t get how big of deal the gay marriage fight was for Canada as a progressive nation of reasonable discourse.
So globe and mail, I say, give them the big prize for the decade too, they deserve it, and my apologies to general Hillier.