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Friday, November 21, 2008

Inspiration for Change

The following is a Web Talk response to an article published on November 14 by Matthew Claxton in the Langley Advance. It contains excerpts from that article.

Anyone who is as tired as I am of living under the thumb of Canada’s warped and unfair parliamentary system should take heart in knowing that nothing, not even government, lasts forever.

The word “change” doesn’t need to be confined to use in American political rallies.

To illustrate this point, in a recent article published by the Langley Advance, columnist Matthew Claxton wrote:

...I watched the election of a new president in the United States in much the same way that many Canadians did…

I also spent some time thinking about what it means when power is transferred in one of the oldest countries of the world.

Yes, the United States is one of the oldest - if not the oldest - states on the planet. A friend of mine made this claim several years ago, and the more I think about it, the more I think he was right.

Of course…we are often told of China or Egypt, countries which have thousands of years of history and continuous settlement and so on and so forth, but a nation is not the same thing as a state. (Ask a separatist about the distinction.)

Nations, in the modern sense, can be defined by things like shared culture, language, and history.

Does the English nation include Wales, for example?

Is Newfoundland a nation within Canada?

The point is a nation is not defined by its system of government.

The United States has been operating under the same system of government…since the late 1700s.

If you grabbed an American off the streets of New York in the year 1788, for example, and dragged him into your time machine for a quick trip to the year 2008, he would be shocked at a lot: culture, language, technology, population growth. But ask him about the three branches of government, and he would name the president, the congress, and the supreme court, just as would a modern American.

Try the same thing in China. You would have to explain that the last emperor was dead and that the country was now called the People's Republic of China, which was founded on Marxist principles in 1949. There are older houses on my street.

Quick, try to think of another state, any other state in the world, which has maintained the same system of government for more than 200 years.

France? Currently on its Fifth Republic, after interruptions by Nazis and emperors.

India? A collection of several states, crushed together by the British and finally given independence in 1947.

The only serious contender for the throne of oldest state that I can think of is Britain itself. It has undergone more evolution than the United States, but you can date its current system of government to the late 1600s or early 1700s.

It was those British rights and governmental procedures that Canada inherited after Confederation in 1867, which makes Canada, so often acclaimed as a young nation, middle aged at the very least.

This makes me wonder what lies ahead. Are the states we live in destined for centuries of life, or will they in turn be replaced by other forms of government, other ways of ruling and being ruled?

Well said Mr. Claxton.

It’s a little disheartening to think that such a warped parliamentary system of government is one of the longest lasting in the world but it’s reassuring to think that the system adopted by Canada has already exceeded the average life expectancy of most governments and, one can only hope, it has reached a point in history where it’s approaching its final days.

Your article provides insight into the potential for change that so many crave, especially in mismanaged, economically outcast and socially neglected regions such as Newfoundland and Labrador.

At least now, when the people of Newfoundland and Labrador must deal with a federal government intent on ensuring that the larger provinces prosper, regardless of the needs of the smaller ones, when the few are oppressed by the many and when the voices of the people are ignored, we can keep hope alive by remembering that nothing, not even government systems, are permanent.

It may seem, in Newfoundland and Labrador, that we’ve been living under a one sided centrist regime for far too long, and we have, but in the grand scheme of things it’s really only been 60 years.

With new voices speaking out all the time, with a more educated, aware and informed populace than ever before and with the advent of new political and social movements in the province, one day I believe the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will find a way to either change the current political system from within or adopt an entirely new and independent one of their own.

Where there is life there is hope.

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