That’s my grandfather’s flag, the one he would dust off every Dominion Day and hang with pride in the yard. Today, it adorns my daughter’s bedroom wall. She is celebrating the British invasion, but for different reasons than my own. The British flag has now been reduced to my culture’s version of chicken balls, served up with plastic chopsticks and a fortune cookie.
But it wasn’t always this way. The switch from the Union Jack to the Maple Leaf, occurred within my lifetime and I can still remember my mother complaining that the communists were taking over. Canada used to be psychologically tied with the Commonwealth via two World Wars, but that seems to be no more. A recent Ipsos Reid poll discovered that many Canadians are now unfamiliar with John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flander’s Fields”. The poem makes them uncomfortable and they don’t like to be reminded that someone else made sacrifices to which they are beholden. This sentiment may be in part due to the baggage recently foisted upon history by cultural Marxists who want to reposition our British heritage as colonial, outdated, and reeking of white privilege.
A lot has been said about the Royal Family as well. They have been castigated as atavistic cultural shibboleths that are no longer relevant. I was happy for this reason, to take in the Netflix series “The Crown”. It captured not only the unique personality and dignity of our current Queen, it also underlined the importance of the Crown within a constitutional monarchy.
We still enjoy this tie to the Queen via our Governor General, as a symbol of democratic authority when a government is chosen by the people in a fair election. The fact is, Canada is still a country with good institutions. Attractive enough that people from all over the world flock here, and share the chance to live a peaceful and prosperous life. You might say that just like imitation, immigration is a pretty sincere form of flattery.
There is a reason for the stability of our country and its institutions. It’s the great Charter, and I am not talking about Trudeau’s much vaunted Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That particular document has more often showed up in the news like a boil that won’t heal, every time someone claims rights but is not prepared to balance that with responsibility.
The charter I am talking about is the Magna Carta, the legal document ratified by King John at Runnymede in the year 1215. King John was in danger of being overthrown by his barons because of his famous abuses of power. He agreed to a charter of basic rights that originated from the long history of English common law. Common law was ‘common’ because it was derived from an extensive record of civil disputes and how they were settled. The genius of common law follows the axiom “Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done”. That is, common law weighed up individual rights alongside the history of what was seen to be fair. The result is that most people recognize common law judgements as balanced and grounded.
The Magna Carta is deeply seated in the unique Christian notion that every soul has worth before God, and that even a sovereign must answer to God in the end. Go elsewhere in the world and you will quickly see how bad things can get in the absence of such basic underpinnings as “...To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, justice.”
The Magna Carta and its ties the English Common Law tradition, allows us to live in a stable democracy. The Crown has ensured long-lasting governments which secede through election, not coup d’etat or war. A constitutional monarchy, is a model that has thrived wherever it was replicated around the world.
So... I am not ashamed of my British heritage. Those who criticize it, do so out of ignorance, refusing to recognize the many and obvious benefits that have come on down the line and still echo in the hallways of freedom. The idea that authority can be legitimate is under attack all over the world, rapidly being replaced by identity politics. This clash of factions is eating away at the concept of due process, it is often enough these days to simply be denounced when someone does not like your class, race, or religion. It is a trend that left unchecked, will champion violence and lead to rule by the mob. If we fail to understand the roots which sustain our democracy, we stand to lose it. And so I say heartily, God save the Queen. And God save our English heritage. It might be the only thing left in Canada that is still saving us.