Socials DoL 3: Halibut Treaty

Halibut Treaty… What exactly is the Halibut Treaty? The dictionary definition for the word treaty is a formally concluded and ratified agreement between countries, therefore, it can be assumed that the halibut treaty is an agreement made between countries about Halibut fish. However, many people fail to inform themselves on the direct consequence and result of this event, and how it really shaped Canada’s political and economic growth. A reasonable explanation for the lack of unified Canadian identity that is evident in today’s society is due to our lack of knowledge in significant Canadian events that determine our autonomy and makes us Canadians. By delving into the Halibut Treaty, we are able to learn about one of Canada’s most prominent landmarks that transitioned Canada to a sovereign autonomous state.

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First of all, in order to look back at an event which took place nearly a century ago (95 years to be exact), it is necessary to recall the events leading up to the Halibut Treaty. In 1923, when the Halibut Treaty was negotiated and signed, Canada had an ‘independent government’ but was not fully autonomous as a nation, due to Britain’s powerful grasp that still had a huge impact in Canada’s political decisions. Britain had the right to consent, repeal, and override any of Canada’s acts, and Britain’s acts still applied to Canadians.


Section 132 of the British North American Act states:

The Parliament and Government of Canada shall have all Powers necessary or proper for performing the Obligations of Canada or of any Province thereof, as Part of the British Empire, towards Foreign Countries, arising under Treaties between the Empire and such Foreign Countries.”


This basically implies that a Britain representative will have a seat at or at the very minimum be present in any of Canada’s international treaties and foreign affairs. Canada’s international standing became almost non-existent, which was expected  considering that any meeting involving Canada had a British subject attached at the hips who had all the power to OK or veto all the conditions being negotiated. Almost all of Canada’s officials at this time grew increasingly frustrated over Britain’s control over Canadian matters, many felt that Canadian ego was threatened, and some began to take small, but noticeable actions to retaliate back.

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In Canada, the Halibut stock value was rapidly decreasing. Prior to 1921, it was in great bloom: large scale halibut fishing was big in business after the creation of the Northern Pacific Railway, which connects the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Canada allowing Halibut to be traded and sold. In World War I, fishing for Halibut was big due to the continual efforts from Canada and the United States to be on good trading terms while the war was happening. In 1915, Halibut was at an all time high of 69 million pounds! The serious decline in Halibut became concerning enough that the Canadian government sought for a way to amend the problems. Between Canada and the United States, negotiations for preserving fish stocks began around 1918. Most prominently involved was Ernest Lapointe, then Canada’s minister of Marine and Fisheries, and Charles Evan Hughes, the US Secretary of State. Although at first the discussions had no urgency, the continual decline motivated both countries to come to an agreement regarding the North Pacific, fishing grounds for both countries. In the terms of this treaty, fishing would be off season and would not be allowed between November 16 to February 15, with a seizure of penalty if terms were broken. The International Fisheries Commission was introduced to inquire about the life of a Pacific Halibut and recommend measures to preserve their presence in our oceans. On March 2nd, 1923, the final result of the treaty boiled down to the Convention for the Preservation of Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean, an historic first agreement on an international preservation of a resource. However, there is a bigger underlying theme that is arguably, more important than the treaty itself. (Will be discussed later on.)

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Halibut Treaty


Economically, this event improved Canada’s fishing industry and therefore the flow of Canada’s cash flow and economy. During this time, there was also an economic shift in trade between Canadians and international countries. Prior to the event, British was Canada’s biggest trading partner, but during this time, the US surpassed Britain. Politically, this was the first treaty that was signed without British involvement and established Canadian dominance over Canadian issues. (This idea will be developed in Historical Significance). Finally, socially, this changed Canadian mindset so that Canada is not so dependant on Britain, but rather a separate entity that can make own decisions.

Regarding this whole ordeal, we can put ourselves in the perspectives of Canadians of the early 20th century, and what they felt about the Halibut Treaty. One of Canada’s biggest industries at this time was fishing, and local business were being threatened by the lack of Halibut reaching the markets. Those who knew about the discussion of a treaty supported the government’s decision to negotiate fishing rights in the North Pacific Ocean, as the continual decline of Halibut could have negative impacts on Canada’s economy. Many also supported the government’s decision not to involve British officials. Prior to confederation, a lot of Canadians were still loyalists, and enjoyed the benefits from being under Britain’s rule, such as protection. However, after Canada’s ‘semi-independence’, the British Empire became a huge benefactor from the creation of another country. They did not have to use their resources to protect Canadians, however, still had the right to control all the regulations and bills in Canada. This brought along many concerns by Canadian Prime Ministers such as Robert Boden, and it can be assumed that their interests reflected the citizen interests at this time. After the treaty was signed, initially, the Halibut market continued to decrease while the IFC was researching and providing recommendations. However, after revisions in 1930, 1937, and 1953, and a increase of board members to six people, the market finally began to stabilize and grow. In 1959, a catch of 71.5 million pounds of Halibut finally exceeded the 1915 record of 69 million pounds. Canadians could finally feel a sense of independence, knowing that as a nation, decisions made without British involvement could still have a positive influence on Canada. 

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Historical Significance

As mentioned earlier, the Halibut Treaty affected all four quadrants of a cycle: economical, political, social, and environmental. That’s great and all, but what does this really mean in terms of Canadian identity and it’s path to becoming a fully autonomous state? This treaty seems of low importance at first, considering that it had minor impact on the US, however, it was extremely important from Canada’s perspective in terms of what this treat symbolizes beyond the simple preservation of nature.

When the negotiations were being made between Canada and the United States, the British wished to sign the treaty as they have always had. However, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King argued that this issue had nothing to do with the British Empire, therefore, a British official doesn’t need to be present. Despite fervent British resistance, King maintained his stance, even threatening to send independant representative to Washington D.C. The British Empire backed off, knowing that a request for independent representation would bypass any British authority.

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Mackenzie’s strong insistence to keep Britain out of the Halibut Treaty, was the start of proving Canada’s autonomy from the British Empire. Canada proved as a nation that it is capable of making independent decisions that shape its own future without guidance or help from Britain. Throughout accumulations of smaller steps such as the independent Canadian involvement in World War I, Prime Minister Mackenzie King successfully took the first noticeable step with the Halibut Treaty to Canadian autonomy.

For example, Prime Minister Robert Borden demanded that the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I fight as a single unit instead of a subunit under British troops. His case seems well justified; Canadian military members would want to fight for their own country, and it probably boosted Canadian moral and national pride. After the war, he continued on to fight for Canadian independence in small ways such as arguing for a Canadian representative at the Paris Peace Conference and for Canada to have its own seat at the League of Nations.

This also demonstrates national pride for Canada, and its growth over the last century from confederation to resisting against other countries trying to meddle in Canadian affairs. It proves that Canadian wants and fears can be negotiated within Canada and by a representative of Canada, and we are capable of making independent decisions that shape our own path. Although I was not present 95 years ago, this event is significant to shaping Canadian autonomy and forged the way to the Balfour Report, which states that, “all are autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth.”


Socials Academic Controversy: Trudeau and Laurier

Is Justin Trudeau currently positioned to be Laurier’s successor?

L = Laurier T= Trudeau


Pro (things they have in common) Con (things they don’t have in common)

  • Both in favour of immigrants coming to Canada
    • Wants to increase the population: in the case of L was to cultivate the land and in the case of T is to even out the wage gap
    • Believe in equity?
    • Cares for minority groups
    • Both achieved their goals
    • L = Was in huge support of bringing immigrants to colonize Canada West and promised free land
    • T = Welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees although it was two months later than promised

Background and Culture

  • Both politicians and French Canadian
  • Catholic background
  • Similarities in education L = Law, T = Literature
  • Stressed importance of maintaining both the English and French culture

Sunny Ways

  • Both used lots of compromise to come to agreement of various conflicts
    • L = Manitoba School Question where L attempted to make the Catholics and Protestants happy
    • T= the 2015 debate where he used sunny ways and also in his platform when he was talking about positivity
  • Not very radical
  • Seeks to please everyone (ties into focusing on re-election as both set their platform on getting re-elected for the next term)

Rebuttal: T doesn’t focus on sunny ways as much as Laurier does because he sometimes makes a decision (arguable for the greater good). An example is the Pipeline issue where he didn’t really compromise with the Indigenous people.

  • Strengthening Royal Canadian Navy
    • L= create a navy in 1910 which helped Great Britain in their war
    • T = promised more ships and patrols for navy however has yet to keep his promise
  • Peacekeeping nation (keeping peace in international conflicts)
    • Being supportive country allies but not fully being involved in the issue
  • Look to long term Canadian development

Foreign Relations

  • Tried to/keeps good relation with the States
  • Independent nation
    • L = pushed for independence and Canadian Confederation
    • T = Canada is making changes to the government system
      • Senate reform
      • Not depend on Britain as much?
      • Questioning why we have a monarch
    • L = tried to encourage free trade with the US
    • T = supports NAFTA free trade agreement

  • L = was raised as a farmer (less introduced to the political scheme)
  • T = Raised in a family politicians (Pierre Trudeau)

Unity vs Diversity

  • L = tried to push for unity of all countries and strongly supported Canada’s independence
    • Style of compromise
  • L = loyalists although french born
  • T = post nationalism state
    • Advocates for diversity in a global setting

Different perspectives on society

  • L followed the ideals and views at the time: society has progressed since then and some of L’s values do not match up to T’s values
  • E.g.
    • L = raised Chinese Tax from $50 → $500
    • L = transferred Indigenous land to Western Settler Land

Focus on internal vs external threats

  • T focuses on protecting citizens internally (within Canada)
    • Social infrastructure and building on top of the essential needs of humans
  • L focuses on protecting citizens from external threats
    • Independant Navy (Navala act)

Rebuttal: Arguably, at the time L had to protect Canada to maintain its own identity. As Canada has a secure global standing currently, T can take more time into focusing on the living conditions of Canadian citizens (Pyramid)
Way of leadership compromise vs greater good

  • Although both have a certain degree of compromisation, sometime T is not all about compromise
    • E.g. For the Mountain Trans pipeline, he didn’t negotiate or compromise very much

Sources: 1.4534679

Over 800 businesses slam Trudeau government’s purchase of Trans Mountain pipeline



Jonathan McCully and the Morning Chronicle – Articles of Confederation


December 1864

While in the past I have voiced some differing opinions regarding Confederation, after attending the Charlottetown conferences I must say I have been utterly convinced that Confederation of the Colonies should have my full support. It is my goal to change the tone of the Morning Chronicle from one of indecisiveness to a piece of writing that exemplifies why Confederation is the upmost option when it comes to improving the society in which we live in. I hope that my writing will prove to my fellow Nova Scotians how Confederation will protect us, improve our economic income, and enhance our way of life.

– Jonathan McCully –       




March 1865

Confederation is not an idea that is widely supported in our Nova Scotian demographic. I too once doubted Confederation’s legitimacy, but once I understood the reasons for union I began to see more and more how its benefits will be Nova Scotia’s to reap.  The most common argument against Confederation at this time refers to our current success as a colony. I hear many commoners in the streets asking “why would Nova Scotia risk the failure of Confederation when it is fine how it is?”. Well, even though we are functioning as our own society, a big threat is looming in the south. America is stronger than ever and very soon could be plotting to invade Nova Scotia, causing possibly catastrophic consequences for the foundation of our colony. The Americans would impose their beliefs and way of living onto our thriving Nova Scotian ways, so how can this be prevented? Confederation would provide us with military assistance from the bigger colonies in case of an attack from the south. If the colonies are united then it makes it more intimidating to attack as opposed to a divided society.      Confederation will ensure our safety for generations to come.

– Jonathan McCully –




October 1865

It seems as though the protection of ourselves and our loved ones is not enough to convince all of Nova Scotia that Confederation is in their best interest. Therefore with great pleasure, I bring forth to you the notion which states that our economy will significantly improve with the union of the colonies. Yes, our economical ties with New England are booming, but we can do better. Our closer ties to the Confederation will one day open up markets from sea to sea, especially when the promised railroad reaches the Pacific. All the colonies, all the people, all the money, and Nova Scotia’s hard working citizens will profit from it all. Not only do we benefit, but we make the rules. All the of the colonies trades will go through Nova Scotia, which means that it (we) can tax the items which come through. Not only would we be gaining money from the taxes and selling of goods, but our ports would need to be improved which means more jobs for some of the hardworking, but struggling individuals of our great colony. The Confederation of the colonies will not only make Nova Scotia a safer place to live, but will allow an increasing amount of people to live like Kings!          

– Jonathan McCully –




January 1866

In one of my most recent articles depicting how Confederation will improve the domestic market for Nova Scotia trading, I brought up the great railroad. What I forgot to mention is how the success and our participation with this railway might depend on our support of Confederation. The railway and notion of Confederation share the goal of connecting the colonies as well as the people in them, so if Nova Scotia was to defy Confederations intent, then it may be inferred that we don’t want the railway either. If we don’t support the other colonies through Confederacy, it gives them no reason or motivation to help Nova Scotia, or any of the Atlantic colonies, with the addition of the railway. Why spend resources and money to connect with a collection of people when they don’t want to be ‘connected’ in the first place. Thus, Nova Scotia’s participation in the uniting of the colonies will promote our hopes and vision of a great railway sea to sea.      

– Jonathan McCully –





Dear, Sir, John A Macdonald,

Dear Sir. John. A. Macdonald,


First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your investment towards uniting the colonies.

I have written this letter to ensure my support for the upcoming confederation conferences and to convince you where I stand in this issue.

I must admit, when I first entered political matters I was quite opposed to the idea you had with the other members of the Great Coalition. I vaguely recall our confrontation in 1861, and being described as “a Tory of the old school” by Sir, which I presume implies negative connotations to the fact that I belong to “the old fossil party”, otherwise known as the Family Compact. However, I can reassure you that I do not have the so called wealth to be part of the group of people that controls most of the judicial, legislative, business, and religious powers of Upper Canada. My failure of a business and my poor success as a lawyer is enough proof of this fact. Furthermore, members of the Family Compact are heavily against democratic reform and responsible government which I clearly stand for, and which is the purpose of me writing this letter to you now.

As you may already know, in 1861, I defeated the postmaster general of your party, and was elected as an independent candidate to represent the Northumberland West in the Legislative Assembly. However, after much thought, I have decided to switch my allegiance to stand under your Macdonald and Cartier party, mainly due to one reason. I, Cockburn, pride myself on being a strong nationalist and hope to see all political parties stand under one central government which will carry out acts that benefit all the nations as a whole. This is the very reason why I empathize with your need to unite Upper, Lower and the Maritimes of Canada for economical reasons and for fear of annexation from the South. Time and time again I have reconfirmed my support for you, and the case in 1862 with my support of the proposed militia act is evidence of such. Needless to say, I am strongly for confederation as I have great faith in you, your convincing arguments, and your determination to see confederation through.

What particularly intrigued me was the rep by pop system. Although I am no means a recognized politician, and others may not see me as an individual with great conviction, I write to convince you of the validity of the rep by pop system and its accurate representation of the people’s wants and needs. Furthermore, as I immigrated to Canada at a very young age and my childhood and education has thrived in the heart of Ontario, undoubtedly, I have the citizens of Ontario in mind when pondering about the future of this new confederation. Canada West outweighs the population of that of Canada East and the Maritimes, and this could be used towards our favour when discussing new policies and laws that could benefit Canada West.

Finally, I write to you to shed some light on our recent threats from the south. As you are well aware, there is great tension that is arising between the border that separates us from the power of the south. It is in my greatest interest to see the colonies unite and raise our defenses towards their motives to annex our land through what is called the “Manifest Destiny”. America’s civil war may be dying down, but in turn, they have turned their ugly heads towards the land that we hold as our own. They may seem divided, but we must not cast this aside as weakness; their military and their soldiers could roll into our land in a matter of weeks and destroy years of culture and heritage that we have built upon our land. While other politicians have been blissfully feigning ignorance of such threats, I trust that you see the great dangers that might be soon present if we don’t take action immediately. In this, I give my full support to unite all colonies and nations as one, and to protect our people.

Although I am from a small town of Ontario, and my opinion matters least among powerful politicians, I do hope that my leap of faith towards the confederation would give you some support and confidence to follow it through.


An union of all people of all lands is long overdue.  The time is now.



James Cockburn



Canadian Autobiography Check-in #1

Quote 1

“He has lived a life that should be an example for everyone who achieves greatness of how to be humble and unselfish and how to treat others” (xii)

Personal Interest: Something you notice very quickly about Bobby Orr’s personality and writing is that he doesn’t like to talk about himself as being ‘great’. As a quote that was within the first pages of the book, it gave me a particular interest and motivation to finish it. I am someone who desires to succeed in sports, school, and more importantly succeed in my happiness, well being, and life – hearing from someone who seemingly has done a lot of those things, it is fascinating to read his point of view.

Something I pride myself in sports is not being a selfish player. Sure I love scoring and having the ball in my hands, but I also find pride in playing defence and setting my teammates up for success. When the quote mentions being unselfish, I connected to that and immediately wanted to hear more from someone who is ‘great’ but not because he did everything himself, or even thought of himself as great, but because he worked hard and helped others around him. 

Canadian Identity: 

Canadian’s are know for being polite and unselfish. We might be seen this way as a comparison to American’s who the media can portray as brash, selfish and ego driven. I started to wonder as I read this quote if perhaps some of the Canadian identity, and how non-Canadian’s see us, is party based on our cultural and sports hero’s. In the 1970’s, there was maybe no more of a significant Canadian sports hero as Bobby Orr.

Quote 2

When talking about the famous photo of him ‘flying’, Bobby Orr said that –  

“By capturing a single moment, it had to leave out the moments before and after. By depicting a single person, it left out all the people who won the Cup that year, and all the people who helped us win it — and also the fans who shared that victory” (5)

Personal Interest: This quote says a lot about Bobby Orr as a person. It shows what he values and how he thinks about success. I don’t succeed only because of my efforts, but because of the collective team effort of those all around me including my family, teammates, friends, teachers, and anyone who has devoted time and effort to help me succeed. This is a truly interesting topic and basically goes against this project, ‘Eminent’, and any “historical person project” I’ve ever completed because when doing those, we are asked to praise one person, and in doing so, we neglect all of the other people that contributed to their success along the way. No championship, gold medal, scientific breakthrough, or outstanding novel are successful and important because of one person. This is a truly interesting topic to me because not only does it question the ways in which we look at history and significant people, but it also pushes me to look at my success in a more grateful mindset. 

Canadian Identity: 

Bobby’s quote is interesting when we consider the famous picture of him, and the statue in Boston are historic symbols of his greatness. When I think about what he said, I look at the picture in a completely different way. I think Canadian’s are proud of their hero’s and whether they play for a city in another country, we still never stop seeing them as ours. When I look at the picture now, I imagine Bobby playing on a frozen pond, with his parents and coaches and friends watching and cheering him on. Canadians seem to love their hero’s but I like to think our hero’s appreciate Canadian’s just as much.

Quote 3

“I suppose Parry Sound was the same kind of town you would have found all across Canada at that time. By that I mean it was a safe place, generally very quiet, and a great place to be a kid.” (13)

Personal Interest:

Even though I didn’t grow up in a big city, Port Moody is also much larger than the small towns Bobby was talking about in Northern Ontario. When Bobby mentions it being a great place to be a kid, I immediately related it to me growing up in my own community. Although Port Moody and the tai-cities are fairly large over all, when I think of home I think of my street, elementary school, and the kids that live near me. I still think about going to the park and playing football playing tag in forest as the sun went down. My parents didn’t worry and I always felt safe in my community but I see how that is changing with the ability to communicate all the time with technology and also the increasing violence around the world. 

Canadian Identity: 

This quote summarizes what Bobby thinks Canada is, or at least was, when he was growing up. This shows his pride in Canada and when you have pride, you want to represent it well. Reading this, makes me think about what Canada was like in the 40’s and 50’s. Small towns, and places where kids were safe to play many sports. This feels a little different from now, these days small towns are rarely talked about unless there is tragedy. Canadian media is dominated by the big cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, but it is important to remember that there are still small towns in every province. The news these days seems to say the best jobs and opportunities are in the big cities, I wonder if that is true, and if so, how has the innocence and culture of small town Canada changed since when Bobby was a kid.

Quote 4

“As long as we could play hockey, we were happy. I’d leave in the morning with my hockey stick in hand and skates slung over my shoulder, and often my parents would say nothing more than ‘Be home by dark.’ And that’s what we would do.” (18)

Personal Interest: 

This quote really makes me think about how fun sports are. Bobby Orr is talking about playing hockey all day, because he loved it. He wasn’t playing hockey to become famous, or make money, or because he felt pressure to keep up with other kids. I think about going out to play basketball, football, soccer, and hockey outside with my friends to connect with them and feel the rush of a good play or shot. Of course there were winners and losers, and some of us weren’t even very good, but that didn’t matter because we weren’t playing to impress, we were playing for ourselves. It also makes me think about the “need” to specialize in sports at such a young age. In the book, Bobby also talks about how when summer came he didn’t keep playing hockey but also played baseball and other sports. I think about how disappointed I am that I can’t play basketball anymore because both it and water polo require 7 days a week of commitment to play on a team.    

Canadian Identity:

Canada is a hockey nation. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that everyone loves and plays hockey because even I didn’t love playing hockey and usually prefer to watch other sports instead. But something keeps bringing us back to the same winter sport, whether it’s the NHL playoffs, local tournaments, Olympics, or even devastating tragedy’s such as the Humboldt deaths. There is a connection between Canada and hockey that cannot definitively be explained but is definitely there – the NHL is made up if roughly 50% Canadians despite having a population significantly smaller than the United States, the Montreal Canadians and Toronto Maple leafs have some of the biggest fan bases in all of sports, and 27.6 million Canadians (81% of the population) watched the 2010 Olympic gold medal match, the most watched show EVER in Canadian history.       

Quote 5

“I just loved the time spent with friends in all kinds of sports environments. Those experiences were probably shared by millions of children coast to coast back then, because as Canadian kids, that was something you did” (19)

Personal Interest:

For me, this quote touches on some of the things I have already said. I have always loved sports growing up, even though I was not always good at them, and so did most of my friends. That being said, I also loved theatre, dance, board games, and playing the occasional video game. I don’t think that Bobby had these same opportunities when he was a kid, so sports was really one of the only ways for fun and connection building with his friends. One thing I think about now though is whether kids these days know how fun sports can be, not for competition purposes. It almost seems like you either have to committed to sports full time or neglecting sports all together.  

Canadian Identity: 

Bobby Orr talks about Canadian Identity in the 50’s like my Grandparents and parents talk about it as well – being outside, playing sports/games, riding bikes, and having real life adventures as long as they were home before the lampposts came on. Nowadays, even as a kid, I see many of my friends and peers spending more time on screens than with each other. So what does this tell me about Canadian Identity? It tells me that it is changing and we have to work and make sure that we are building our character and memories upon real experiences, rather than virtual ones.  



Theme: Joy and fulfilment are found in the things you choose to do, the people you do it with, and the memories you make by doing it, not in the accolades you might receive.    

Bobby describes his success as a result of doing what he loved to do as a kid, and the support that he had from his family, coaches and mentors. Bobby also sees Canada, and where he grew up as playing a role. He was able to play outside for as long as he wanted on nearby frozen lakes – a perfect playground for him to develop his skills while having fun and building friendships. It was clear that he chose to dedicate his time to hockey because he loved it. Bringing this back to my own life, I am a very busy person and its possible for things like school and water polo to go by lightning fast. Throughout this chaos, it is an important reminder for me to look at more than just the end results to my hard work. I am making great friendships, meeting interesting people, and traveling all over the country. I love being in the water and at the end of the day I will always love to learn and challenge myself. These are the things that sustain my joy while still working hard.    

Sir. John. A. Macdonald – Worth A Long Second Look

Mr Morris


April 20, 2018

Historical figures are often held at a higher scrutiny regarding their negative actions then positive as they affect a wider array of people’s livelihood. Recently, this sparks the debate over Canada’s first prime minister Sir John. A, Macdonald, who is receiving criticism for his promotion of the Indian act, and similar legislations, that goes against modern Canadian principles. Although some argue that Macdonald is rightfully titled as ‘Father of Confederation’ due to his resolution to unite Canada, those who call for the removal of Macdonald’s name and statue believe that his actions towards minorities, such as the Indigenous and the Chinese, are a direct insult to the multiculturalism that is prevalent in Canada today. Nevertheless, because of John A. Macdonald’s historical values that cannot be judged by contemporary mindsets and his strong effort to keep Canada a separate entity from the United States, his displays should rightfully remain in the public sphere.

Since values are determined by the wants and needs of society during a specific time period, one cannot judge Macdonald with current values, as when society progresses values change as well.  Although the Dominion of Canada had multiple misjudgements in its creation, one must note that “while Macdonald did make mistakes, so did [all] Canadians, collectively” (Gwyn). Macdonald cannot be used as a scapegoat for the thousands of other Canadians during the 1900s, who also believed that white supremacy was the fundamental basis of law, hierarchy and order in a society. Viewing Macdonald objectively as only a leader of this environment, his first priority was to Canada as a whole and to please Canadians in order to form a new thriving force. Since the majority of vote holders at the time were white, privileged men, it made sense for him to appeal to them in order to implement his big ideas. Like any other praised political leader, he was committed to the right values of society then, and worked hard to ensure that his actions reflected the people’s wants. Instead of seeing Macdonald as an obstacle to Canada’s acceptance of all ethnicities, one can view  Macdonald as a reference point of Canada’s progress and rapid changes in the Canadian zeitgeist.

Contrarily, others argue that John. A. Macdonalds’ public displays accentuate and glorify his negative values such as racism that don’t align with current Canadian values. However, Macdonald’s monuments represent moments in time that deserve appraisal from the public, most notably, his determination that kept Canada a separate nation from the United States. Macdonald was prime minister during the time labeled “Canada’s age of failure, [when] one in five Canadians left for a better life below the border” due to the poor economy (Gwyn). However, despite Liberal promise of a free-trade agreement with the United States, Macdonald’s strong resolution and vision towards Canada convinced Canadians to vote for him at the election of 1878. By keeping high tariffs, taxes paid by importers and exporters to have their products available internationally, he helped to promote the economy by forcing Canadians to buy domestic goods. Without Macdonald’s determination to prevent the free-trade agreement, Canada’s economic dependence on the United States would soon shift to a political dependence; the wealth of culture and diversity that can be seen in Canada now would have been lost. The statues of John. A. Macdonald honour his efforts in uniting Canada as an independent nation, and because this is still valid and of importance today, his figure should not be removed.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario states that the removal of Macdonald’s name from public schools is necessary for children to feel safe in their own environment, while others say that removal will prevent us from learning about Macdonald’s legacy as the father of confederation (National Post). However, when one understands that Macdonald cannot be judged with our current values, and that his determination stopped Canada from merging into the United States, it is clear the Macdonald should be a figure that remains in the public sphere. Sir. John. A. Macdonald made plenty of bad judgement calls, but just because the values of his time were different then now, hiding our past by removing his likeness isn’t helpful in the long term. As Canadians, we should be honest when looking past our history, and understand the sacrifice and efforts made to achieve Canada’s multicultural society. Similarly, while understanding Sir. John. A. Macdonald and respecting his endeavours, we can learn from his mistakes and make sure history does not repeat.


Additional Works Cited:

Press, The Canadian. “Ontario Elementary Teachers’ Union Calls for Renaming John A. Macdonald Schools.” National Post, 24 Aug. 2017,

Socials DoL 1: The October Crisis

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state.”

-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (2015)


Definitions (Google):

Identity: The fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

Mainstream: The ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional; the dominant trend in opinion, fashion, or the arts.

Postnational: Postnationalism or non-nationalism is the process or trend by which nation states and national identities lose their importance relative to cross nation and self organized or supranational and global entities.


Choose an event from Canada’s past or present (social, political, environmental, or economic) and describe / illustrate (show cause and effect) how this event influenced / influences all four of the quadrants. Provide images / primary source evidence where possible.

The October Crisis, which occurred on October 5th, 1970, between the FLQ (Front de Libération du Québec: Quebec’s most radical separatist group) and the Canadian government politically, socially, environmentally, and economically shaped Canadian identity. During the October Crisis, four FLQ members kidnapped British trade commissioner James Richard Cross, and in exchange for his freedom, demanded the release of “political prisoners” of the FLQ who were charged with crimes committed in the name of the Front, a payment of 500,000 dollars, and the publication of the FLQ manifesto.  When these demands weren’t met, the FLQ group resorted to “kidnapping Pierre Laporte, the Quebec minister of Labour and the government’s senior Cabinet minister” (CBC). These series of events impacted Canadian identity the most politically as it invoked the War Measures Act; socially as it bridged the gap between French and English nations and later, proper acknowledgement of Québécois; economically as it incorporated Quebec economy into Canada; and lastly, the impact terrorism causes on the environment.

Québécois holding up signs for independence fueled by the FLQ (Civics Google)

Although the FLQ acts of 1960 didn’t affect the environmental aspect of Canada’s identity as much as the other quadrants, there were still environmental consequences left behind by terrorism that shaped Canada’s identity. It was difficult to find evidence of environmental destruction that directly impacted from the October crisis, however, common side effects of terrorism include pollution and waste, toxic dust and fumes from military trucks, graffiti, and overall, negative changes to Quebec. As a country that is viewed externally as ‘peacekeepers’ or ‘environmentally conscious’ people, this shows once again that a nation’s identity, and within it one’s values, are fluid and vary between different people.

The origins of the crisis was mainly due to strong nationalist discontent by separatist Quebecois, however a big factor which triggered the October Crisis was rising unemployment and the Canadian government’s attempt to control Quebec’s economic resources. Before the 1970s, Quebec’s economic advances were not spectacular; it did not take part in the automotive or electrical appliances industry growing in Canada, therefore, there was a low employment rate. Furthermore, as so many of these new industries were focused on Ontario, “a higher proportion of Quebec industries were low productivity activities that could not pay high wages” and Quebec workers earned significantly less compared to the rest of the Canadian population (Canadian Encyclopedia). During the 1960s, a quote of 5-20 % of the Quebec economy belonged to French Quebecois, and the rest, a minimum of 80% was in the hands of English corporations. The Quebec party worked hard to create funds such as the Societe generale de financement, which was made to support Quebec businesses who were in difficult situations. When the Crisis occurred in 1970, Robert Bourassa, who was the Quebec premier at the time, stated that, “[Quebec’s] economic recovery, the foreign investment, the 100,000 new jobs, all that has just gone up in smoke” (CBC). However, in long term, the October Crisis has changed the Quebec economy positively. Although it’s a stretch to state that the October Crisis improved the wage gap between the Quebec and the rest of Canada, it certainly helped to incorporate the Quebec economy in Canada affairs instead of regarding them as a separate nation.

At this time, there was still an ongoing debate between the anglophones and the Québécois in regards to equal human rights across all Canadian citizens, and from third party sources, this event could seem like a further social split between the two nations. However, the October Crisis actually connected the different traditions between the Quebecois and the Anglophones, which opened doors for a more diverse Canadian culture. I believe that Canadians take pride in being a society that welcomes other cultural groups, and diversity is a common value for the majority of Canadian even for today. Additionally, this event was significant because the fear brought by the FLQ terrorist acts caused people to bond together and become more united as a country. The October Crisis was perhaps the most influential factor in lessening the hostility between the two nations in Canada.

“Just Watch Me”

-Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister

Out of all the quadrants, the October Crisis impacted the political aspects of Canadian identity the most. First of all, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau gained support from many Canadian Citizens for the way he handled the problem. This cannot be included as a factor that fueled Trudeau’s other political successes, however, his increasing authoritarian streak may have given him the necessary rally and confidence he needed to initiate the 1982 Constitution Act. Furthermore, his success in maintaining order during crisis’ in his political career, may have given some Canadian citizens confidence towards Justin Trudeau, our current Prime Minister. Also, the October Crisis was the first domestic use of the War Measures Act, which suspended Canadian civil liberties in peacetime. The Act was in favour of the majority of the population, and later, this led to the creation of the Emergencies Act, a more refined and limited version of the War Measures Act. As a nation which holds peace and freedom in a high regard, the enacting of the War Measures Act points out the extremity of the October Crisis. Most importantly, the government acknowledged the French nation as part of the Canadian Confederation and gave Quebecois more equal rights in terms of respect for their language and traditions. This contributes to the diversity in Canada we see today, and the inclusion of all different cultures. This event was significant to Canadian history, as it stimulated Quebecois to act or negotiate political differences without violence, and gained approval from the general public towards political leaders which solidified unity in Canada.

“A newsboy holds up a newspaper with a banner headline reporting the invoking of the War Measures Act on Oct 16, 1970, following the kidnapping of British diplomat James Cross and Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte by the FLQ” (The Global and Mail)


Does your event represent a step towards creating and maintaining a coherent Canadian identity, or does it move Canada more clearly in the direction of Trudeau’s discussion of a “postnational” state?

Best demonstrated under the socials aspect of Canadian identity in question one, the October Crisis was one of the most influential events in the 20th century in creating multiculturalism and our bilingual state; few of the main core values of Canadians today. Furthermore,  the October Crisis was a key event to restating Canadian identity because it allowed Canadians to understand that identity is fluid, and it is shifting. Personally, I believe that becoming too involved in Canadian identity does more harm than good. Obviously, becoming part of Canada’s goals and values positively unifies Canadians, but looking at events through the perspective under one label as “Canadians”, may have negative impacts. For example, the Canadian government under the label of “peacekeepers” are quick to point out acts of terrorism in under countries, and that terrorism in Canada are influenced from external sources. But under this pretense, we fail to adjust and change with the shifting Canadian identity. Before the October Crisis, the government did not implement actions regarding the visible divide between the French and English. However, the October Crisis allowed people to “examine closely what happened in 1970, to see how fragile Canada’s democracy was in the face of homegrown terrorism directed at our beliefs about ourselves and our defining institutions” (The Globe and Mail). Canadians pride themselves on having equal human rights, freedom, peace; but the fact that acts of terrorism were committed in the name of unequal treatment of people living in Canada reshaped Canadian identity. The October Crisis forced Canadians to open their eyes to different nations that make up their identity, which was beneficial to Canada but did little to impact the rest of the world; eventually this bridged the gap between the two nations and solidified Canadian identity.

A couple watching armed soldiers circle the city (The Sun)


In your opinion, is there any value in trying to define a specific Canadian identity, or should we abandon this idea towards a more open and global idea of nationhood? Why?

The essential thought behind the idea of a more open and global idea of nationhood can be once again, linked back to Justin Trudeau’s statement on postnationalism. When Charles Forman, a journalist from the Guardian, mentioned Trudeau’s quote to Michael Bach, Germany’s minister for European affairs,”[…] was astounded […] as no European politician would say such a [radical] idea” (The Guardian). Like Bach, the idea of a global nation may seem far-fetched to many people, but in reality, something we are already working towards. Canadian identity is made up of different civic nations inside Canada, which are made up by a diversity of unique people brought together by their belief in their principles, in society’s principles. This is present in all countries; for example, as unified as America may seem, there are still a diversity of culture noticed due to the immigration population and the mix of racial ethnicity. In fact, there is no ‘specific’ American identity, and although they pride themselves as being ‘one’, they are merely a collection of people, all with different values and interests, separated with the rest of the world by physical borders. Likewise, Canadian identity, and the identity of other countries, will continue to exist as long as borders exist, and the word countries exist, because they remain as a physical attachment that everybody longs to be part of. Nationalist pride seems unimportant in times of crisis’; however, pride unifies people, and unified people can statistically, perform at a higher rate which ultimately increases independence in a nation. If we can stretch this concept to world pride, then potentially, we can move past the idea of specific identities and focus on more important problems unified by the entirety of the world. In fact, the values that most Canadians stand for, are often the values of many others in the world, and are not limited to Canadians only. There is no value in a specific Canadian identity, because ‘one’ identity does not every exist in a country, and although it may seem unrealistic now, we should embrace the fact that we are all part of a much bigger picture, and that everybody’s unique identities build a global nation.