The nationalist in Canada has always played a unique role in the battles of political thought and geopolitics. His opposite and opponent is the liberal internationalist. Canada’s defenders opposed the proposition nation, along with the atomizing individualism and chaotic divisions in sovereignty it promoted. They believed that society must be well-ordered and governed, and that human nature was particular and rooted. But in the very fact that Canada was established as a defence of British and French America against liberalism, it was imbued with a mission: to build North America as it ought to be, conscious of its roots and its inheritance.
Canada as a political order is the response of a civilization which predates Confederation, the conflicts of 1812 or 1776, and even the arrival of Europeans in the New World. Our monarchy embodies this fact better than any other institution. The Crown is linked by oath, culture, and blood to the civilization of European Christendom. In the early history of our continent, the English and French branches of this civilization clashed over resources, culture, and faith. Yet in time, the loyal English and the proud French would have more in common with one another than with the unfolding experiment to their south.
We can compare that great Canadian defender of the British Empire, Sir George Robert Parkin…
Pan-Anglican Synods, Oecumenical Councils, and General Assemblies, together with the great Missionary and Bible Societies, keep in closest touch the religious thought and activities of the British world…Once more there is the sense of common and equal ownership of great national memories and names. The people of the great colonies have never broken with national traditions. They are able to enter without reserve into that passionate affection with which Shakespeare and Milton, Scott and Burns, loved their native land, even while pointing out her faults.
…with the words of Quebec politician Henri Bourassa:
Our special task as French Canadians, is to insert into America the spirit of Christian France. It is to defend against all comers, perhaps even against France herself, our religious and national heritage. This heritage does not belong to us alone. It belongs to all Catholic America. It is the inspiring and shining hearth of that America. It belongs to the whole Church, and it is the basic foundation of the Church in this part of the world. It belongs to all French civilization of which it is the refuge and anchor amid the immense sea of saxonizing Americanism.
Here is the mystery and perhaps even contradiction which envelopes Canada. Two men whose defense of their particular ancestral inheritances united them in spirit against the levelling hegemony of liberalism, whose power threatened both. The nationalist in Canada differs not only from his liberal opponent, but in some ways also from other nationalists, because he is not only a defender of state and social order, but also a believer in a mission. Yet this commitment does not allow him to fall into proposition-nation universalism, precisely because it is a mission to defend a particular order. Canada represents the America which has defended her Crown and her roots. If the immediate enemy to British and French America was once annexation to the republic, then today it is the neoliberalism and globalism fostered by the very Canadian governing classes themselves.
Canada’s mission was to defend America—the old and true America—against liberalism and its republic. Canada’s nationalists defended her in turn from those forces which might undermine her and the great mission. United States forces from without in 1812, annexationist businessmen from within in the 1860s, and the cutting short of her westward expansion in the 1870s. In the 20th century it was first the death of the Empire and then the onslaught of cultural and philosophical Americanization. In these first decades of the 21st, it is the global order which promotes neoliberalism, open borders, gender and race subversion, and the final cutting away of our Western and Christian roots.
Unlike previous centuries, both Canada’s political culture and general population now finds these ties all but severed. The generations from Loyalism to Confederation had an extremely conscious sense of their mission. The generations after Confederation up until the 1970s retained it at least as a current of thought, culminating in George Grant. From then on, our political spectrum has become little more than shades of globalism: neoconservative, neoliberal, or social justice. A nationalism in Canada which would reject the monarchy, or erase the British and French ethnic heritages, or which reduces Canadian values to “anti-Islam” or “pro-democracy”, debases this great civilizational mission.
To be a nationalist in Canada today—that is, to accept the mission of Canada—requires one first of all to rediscover what was lost. For English Canada, this means re-establishing the loyalist spirit to the Crown and the Imperial heritage. For French Canada, this means recognizing Franco-American civilization as a product of the royal and Catholic France and not the Jacobin one. To be sure, Canada has had its great defenders from other stock, like the Irishman Thomas D’Arcy McGee and the German-descended Diefenbaker. Nevertheless, these men were nationalists precisely because they recognized that Canada is inseparable from its British and French roots. Without “lily, thistle, shamrock, rose“, it cannot be understood.
This Canada also stands as an example to the rest of America. The alienation of proposition nationhood has become apparent to ever-growing numbers. Insofar as it fulfills its mission, Canada is a reminder of another America: the America whose history began not in 1776, but in 1492. The America which is older than the very Protestantism which became its dominant religion. The America where to be American does not contradict being a New Englander, or Southerner, or Californian, or Midwesterner. This is the rooted America, the royal America, the America which might yet beckon hearts on this continent.
To be a nationalist in Canada is to be a nationalist so that one might pass on the flame.