Stephen Leacock Speaks

November 17, 2016 Uncategorized Comments (0) 1236

Stephen Leacock was renowned in the 20th century as Canada’s greatest author, a writer of fiction. However, he was also a political thinker and a staunch defender of the High Tory worldview and the cause of an integrated and federal imperialism. Below are a selection of quotes from his work Greater Canada: An Appeal. Readers will note some major differences from the modern Canadian conservative, such as Leacock’s readiness to employ taxation and commit resources to what he considers the great cause of Empire, and his support for a strong and active federal government.

…shall we say to the people in England, “The time has come; we know and realize our country. We will be your colony no longer. Make us one with you in an Empire, Permanent, and Indivisible.”

This last alternative means what is commonly called Imperialism. It means a united system of defence, an imperial navy for whose support somehow or other the whole Empire shall properly contribute, and with it an imperial authority in whose power we all share. […]

Our paltry policy teaches the Canadian boy to detach himself from the England of the past, to forget that Camperdown and Copenhagen and the Nile are ours as much as theirs, that this navy of the Empire is ours too, ours in its history and past, ours in its safe-guard of the present…[L]et us write it in brass upon our temples that for the Navy which made us and which defends us, we pay not a single penny, we spare not a solitary man. […]

Loud sings the little Man of the Province, crying his petty Gospel of Provincial Rights, grudging the gift of power, till the cry spreads and town hates town and every hamlet of the country-side shouts for its share of plunder and of pelf…This is the spirit that we must purge. This is the demon we must exorcise; this the disease, the canker-worm of corruption, bred in the indolent security of peace, that must be burned from us in the pure fire of an Imperial patriotism that is no theory but a passion. This is our need, our supreme need of the Empire – not for its hips and guns, but for the greatness of it, the soul of it, aye for the very danger of it. […]

Nor does our future lie in Union with those that dwell to the Southward. The day of annexation to the United States is passed. Our future lies elsewhere. Be it said without concealment and without bitterness…The propaganda of Annexation is dead. Citizens we want, indeed, but not the prophets of an alien gospel. To you who come across our western border we can offer a land fatter than your Kansas, a government better than Montana, and a climate kinder than your Dakota. Take it, Good Sir, if your will: but if, in taking it, you still raise your little croak of annexation, then up with you by the belt and out with you, breeches first, through the air, to the land of your origin! This in all friendliness. […]

Thus stands the question of the future of Canada. Find for us something other than mere colonial stagnation, something sounder than independence, nobler than annexation, greater in purpose than a Little Canada. Find us a way. Build us a plan, that shall make us, in hope at least, an Empire Permanent and Indivisible.

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