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Nation building

Posted on 15 October 2015

So I’ma go ahead and criticize Rick Mercer here in his rant on national vision, or lack thereof, from our current leaders.

“Is he the kind of guy who would’ve said ‘let’s build a national railway?'” Mercer asks of Harper. “Nation building is for everyone.”

But was it? Take a look at the historical record on the national railway.

Macdonald largely-ahem- railroaded the building of a national railway which led to massive debt, political scandal, and his eventual resignation.

And that controversy was just among the dominant class (white, male, land-owning voters) of the time. What of everyone else?

Well, there were the Chinese, who were paid $1 for every $1.50 white workers earned, and were assigned the most dangerous + often fatal jobs. And there were the First Nations people, forced off their land, in some cases starved into submission, to make room for the railway. There’s even a whole book on this.

So I think it’s pretty disingenuous to try and criticize ANY politician of today for not having more of Macdonald’s vision, because there was a pretty dark side to this so-called “big tent nation-building,” one that is still left out of our official historic narratives.

It’s not that there’s nothing to the rant, but it loses a lot of power when you simultaneously decry the debate over the niqab as small-minded whilst at the same time pining for a time when leaders steamrolled over First Nations rights while building an unpopular project on the backs of straight-up structural racism.

Filed under: Canada

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