“The True North strong and free.”
A key line in Canada’s National Anthem.
These are more than words sung at hockey games or special ceremonies. These words declare a truth that was fought for and won by those who went before us. This truth is now preserved by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At the start of this vital document outlining our guaranteed protections is this assurance: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law…”
There is something resolute about the recognition of these two powers.
These two components play a fundamental role in our genesis as a parliamentary democracy—a system of governance where the state is the servant, and the people are the masters.
Throughout history, it has been kings and queens, dynasties and dictators who have ruled the people. Some rulers exhibited characteristics of benevolence and faith in the people. However, it was not common and not often long-lasting. Today, full democracies—nations where civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms are respected and reinforced by a political culture—only make up about 12.6% of the world’s countries and only 6.4% of the world’s population.
My point is this: democracy and respecting the rule of law is not the norm; it is the exception.
Through this lens, I wish to express both honour and gratitude to the veterans who have served this country, many of whom gave their lives to preserve the values we hold so dear.
In many ways, we take our precious and unique rights and freedoms for granted in this country. Sadly, this apathy is accompanied by a dying understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices made by our veterans and those currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.
During the First and Second World Wars, when young soldiers set sail across the Atlantic, they did so to protect these principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. Tyrannical powers were attempting to usurp individual freedoms and restore a governmental structure that would make the people servants to the state.
It is impossible to comprehend what our world would look like today if the Allies had not won the War. However, what we can imagine is the almost constant temptation of governments to exert more and more control over the people, whether through excessive taxation, or control over speech, belief, or expression.
Governments always tend to lean toward dominance.
It is only through a healthy, strong, and engaged civil society that democracies are sustained.
The government must focus on four main things: the safety and security of Canadians, facilitating an environment of economic prosperity, maintaining a strong justice system, and establishing our place on the world stage.
When the government encroaches on our lives beyond these purposes, it impedes the human spirit, thwarts creativity, prevents innovation, and hinders our ability to prosper.
A limited government allows for people to be the solution makers, problem solvers, and wealth generators, and this is what truly makes our country thrive.
When I consider our rich Canadian heritage and culture, I think of people like Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, Frederick Banting, who invented insulin, Lewis Urry, who invented the Alkaline battery, Norman James Breakey, who invented the paint roller, Marcellus Gilmore Edson, who invented peanut butter, and Joseph Coyle, who invented the egg carton. I look at the sports that originated in Canada, like ice hockey, basketball, five-pin bowling, lacrosse, and baseball.
It is the people, not the government, that make this nation great.
I want to thank the men and women who have gone before us—those who built a country of
which we can be tremendously proud and those who have fought and continue to fight to preserve the fundamental principles of democracy so that we might remain “The True North strong and free.”
President Ronald Reagan wisely pointed out, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
To honour those who died for our freedom, the least we can do is live for it.
I hope you and your family will take the time to attend one of the Remembrance Day Ceremonies taking place in our region on Friday, November 11th.
Lest we forget.