If Canada Was Scotland …

- June 15th, 2014

saltire-face

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

— the formal question in the Scottish referendum to be held Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

 

 

I have a bet with my son — a brilliant and learned fellow who is a much more astute and pragmatic political observer than I am — about the upcoming Scottish referendum on independence from Great Britain.

His position — probably the winning one — is that the majority of Scots will vote to remain within the warm embrace of the so-called United Kingdom.

My betting position is that the Scots will buck up their courage and shed the shackles of centuries of English domination, re-assert their native independence and say “Up yours, Whitehall b’stards!”

I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose this bet. So be it. We all choose our own destinies.

 

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry on the Scottish independence referendum if you want to delve more deeply into the complexities of the issue. I urge you to do so. You may come to a different conclusion than I do, and that’s fine by me.

 

But consider this …

What if Canada was Scotland and the United States of America was the United Kingdom or Great Britain or whatever you want to call the island queendom?

After all, Britain wasn’t “Great” until the English bribed and cajoled and bullied and manipulated and cheated their way into political mastery of Scotland three centuries ago.

I know, I know — that sounds like some ancient blood feud, but it’s not. Three centuries is a mere blink of the eye in the grand scheme of things. People in the Mideast, Europe and Asia are still killing each other over things that may or may not have happened 500 years ago or a thousand years ago or two thousand years ago.

And there were many times — four at a bare minimum — during those three centuries that the present nation of Canada could easily have been absorbed into the hungry maw of the United States of America.

That was, after all, the ultimate plan of the U.S. founding fathers and their successors — Manifest Destiny, the creation of a grand empire encompassing the entire North American continent. Great America, in other words. Much bigger and better than piddly Great Britain over on the other side of the Atlantic.

And that annexation could have occurred many times over if not for the likes of John A. Macdonald and his ilk. And luck. And fortuitous timing.

Now I’m not putting the U.S. down here. I was, after all, born in the U.S. and I’ll defend to their early graves the suicidal and/or homicidal right of all Americans, regardless of their mental state, to bear arms and slaughter each other and their children and their children’s children. I just think it’s a dumb approach to life.

But, hey, I don’t live in the U.S., so it’s not my problem any more.

Yet…

If Canada was Scotland and had been absorbed by the more powerful and populous nation to south, the border would be meaningless and America’s problems would be the former Canada’s problems.

Granted, Canada and the U.S. are joined at the hip economically — although the U.S. War on Terror is doing everything it possibly can to impede the free flow of trade between two sovereign nations.

And granted, Canada is — as that subversive separatist (separating Canada from the U.S.) Pierre Trudeau put it so picturesquely — a mouse sleeping in the same bed as the American elephant.

Canada is definitely a junior partner in the North American consortium.

But …

Canada is not  part of the U.S.

Canada is surviving quite fine, thank you, despite the fact that Canada’s natural resources could probably be exploited more efficiently and profitably if completely under the umbrella of American law and corporate dictate.

And, yes, that efficient, profitable exploitation of Canada’s natural resources — and Canadian whiskey too, I guess — might mean a slightly higher income for the average Canadian.

But at what cost?

Would you, as a Canadian citizen and national stakeholder, willingly give up the independence — however illusory — of your country to our southern neighbour?

Would you trade your Canadian birthright for swift approval of an oil pipeline or cheaper six-packs of beer? (By the way, Canada could — and should — have much cheaper beer without giving up national sovereignty. It’s just a case of government cutting back a little bit on the usurious taxes imposed on alcohol.)

We are so lucky.

We don’t have to step into the unknown. We don’t have to try to wrench our society and our economy out of the larger organism of Great America. I think it would be almost impossible to do so, just as it is probably impossible for Scotland to break free from the only form of government and dependence that 15 generations of Scots have known.

Scotland-UK-map

Scotland’s predicament could so easily have been Canada’s.

Canada could easily have been absorbed by the United States in 1867 — the same year the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia — instead of becoming an independent nation.

Canada beat the odds. Scotland didn’t. That’s the only difference.

Do you really think the London money men would give two figs about Scotland — or give Scotland a dime — if it didn’t have oil? Do you really think the New York money men would give two figs about Canada — or give Canada a dime — if we didn’t have oil and water and other coveted natural resources?

And the only difference is that Canada is an independent, sovereign nation and Scotland is a … bump on the rump of England. What a terrible place to be.

Imagine if, when Scots go to the polls on Sept. 18 to vote in their referendum, Scotland was an independent nation and the Scottish people were voting on whether or not to join England in a new union.

Do you think they would really vote to give up their independence and nationhood in that circumstance any more than Canadians would?

I certainly don’t.

Instead, Scotland has been held in thrall for so long that comfortable but recalcitrant subservience seems the normal state of being, not an unacceptable abberation.

And the fear mongers do their job well: “If you venture outside the harem, you will starve on the streets.”

It’s hard not to compare Scotland’s relationship to Great Britain with Quebec’s relationship to Canada.

I, for one, always had a problem with using threats and holding a hammer over Quebec’s head to maintain Canada’s territorial integrity. I don’t think threats and warnings of dire consequences and implied violence are a good basis for nationhood any more than they’re a good basis for a personal relationship.

So I’m glad we’re through that phase of the Quebec-Canada relationship and into a more positive, aspirant interlocution.

Yes, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in Scotland’s Sept. 18 referendum.

As I’ve already said, I think the majority of Scots are going to opt for the safe, the known, the tolerable, the secure option of remaining a junior clerk in the United Kingdom counting house. They may have a twitch and an itch before marking their ballots, but the majority will almost certainly go down on their knees.

I’m just glad Canadians aren’t in that position. Yet.

 

 

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16 comments

  1. vincent danagher says:

    most of the original scots are in canada ,nova scotia is full of scottish names music and culture ,if one meets a nova scotian he more than likely bears a scottish surname ,they were transported to canada after the highland clearances and english planters took their place that is why except for highlanders most people comming out of scotland today bear english surnanames, so why seperate ? arent they mostly ango saxons today?

  2. Alan Parker says:

    Oh, that prior comment is going to make some Scottish blood boil! No, Vincent, most of the exiled Scots weren’t replaced by “English planters” (you’re thinking of Ireland), they were replaced by sheep — owned and operated by the greedy, money-grubbing, London-living lairds who foresook their responsibilities to their clansmen to use the common lands under their control (which they supposedly held in a form of trust for the entire clan) to raise sheep for the new English woolen mill trade instead of sustaining the Scottish people. Yes, there are quite a few English surnames in the Lowlands of Scotland, but you’ll find all the bearers of those names consider themselves Scots, not transplanted Englishmen (unlike residents of southern Britain with Gaelic surnames, who consider themselves Scots no matter how long their families have lived in England). As for any Scot named “Brown” or “Green” or the like, you’ll find the original family name was almost certainly “MacGregor.” Since the MacGregors were an exceptionally feisty and rebellious bunch (i.e. Rob Roy MacGregor), the English banned use of the family name “MacGregor” and the wearing of the MacGregor tartan pattern several different times in the 17th and 18th Centuries. As a result, many members of the Clan Gregor assumed as a new surname one of the colours of the old MacGregor hunting and working tartan to maintain their identity. (The reds and blues that are now seen in many MacGregor tartan patterns were added much later when the romanticizers and fashionistas of the 19th Century took over and tarted up the rather boring natural dye colours that previously made up the Scottish tartan palatte.)

  3. EllieS says:

    Hopefully, they Scots WILL come in record numbers and vote accordingly. Love to see the look on the English when they realize the cash cow of agriculture and oil is no longer theirs!! (btw – I was born in London, England, but to Scottish parents :) ).

  4. Frank McGurk says:

    I think your right Alan. The Scots will vote for the DEVIL they Know!
    Quebecois should remember this too! Do you think the Americans would put up with with the shenanigans from Quebec? Say Texas wanted to succeed. They would be surrounded and forced to surrender!

  5. Prof Frink says:

    Your article would make much more sense if it were regarding the question of Canada holding a referendum to free our nation and natural resources from the clutches of the British Monarchy – just like Scotland is set to do. Scotland is set to become the wealthiest-per-capita nation in the world, with one simple referendum.

  6. Prof Frink says:

    Wow! My previous comment (posted at 8:10am) is still awaiting ‘moderation’. I must have struck a nerve with the ruling class. I’m so proud of myself, and so disappointed in the ‘free’ press.

  7. Alan Parker says:

    Don’t flatter yourself, Prof. I’m just a slacker. Your self-involvement doesn’t qualify as an emergency for me.

  8. momstalking says:

    I thought the oil was now running out and that’s why there is no big push to make them stay!!!

  9. Andy McKenna says:

    The Irish set the table for what is going on in Scotland. They sent 1 million men to WW1 and those who came back, knew all about guns. The Queen herself is short 1 uncle who through breathless incompetence caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims and Hindu’s, a conflict that persists today in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 1st, a real country, the 2nd one dreamed up by the late Earl of Mountbatten. The IRA blowed him up real good…(He..He)
    Those men regained control of 70% of British Ireland and the rest is basically theirs for the taking. If they had not succeeded, Scottish independence would not be on the table. What is interesting is that the British Royal Family have illegal tittles to most of their Scottish properties including Balmoral Castle. Returning all of them to their rightful owners would bankrupt that largely German family.

  10. Ian MacKenzie says:

    Mr.Parker
    I’m sure you are having a chuckle trying to agitate. Fair enough.
    But your perspective is not correct. Lets look at the facts.
    King James of Scotland became king of England as well in 1603.Without that event the union of 1707 would not have happened. For a hundred years before that political union, England and Scotland drew closer with the protestant reformation and trade, They also paved the way forward together for political democracy through civil war. In fact the Scottish Presbyterians were in the front seat. The union of 1707 took 6 years to negotiate.
    The Scots wanted free trade with the English market and the colonies. The English wanted security on their northern border and no Scottish support for the French.The Scots retained their own legal system and national church. Both sides got what they wanted and it worked because of the English language and protestant connection. A new nation called Great Britain was born in 1707. This was hardly a subjucation of Scotland. Scotland was not absorbed into England then nor is it now. Of all the UK nations, Scotland’s culture is the strongest. Please note that England is not an independent country either. It is part of Great Britain. Also,It is interesting to note that when Labour runs the UK, the Scots are usually in charge. In addition, Scotland is not just about oil. She has a large financial services industry and solid engineering companies. And lets not forget the whisky which pours millions into the British treasury every year. Further, there is no comparision between Scotland and Quebec. Scotland was an independent nation for 700 years before the union with England. Quebec was a French colony. If Quebec leaves Canada, there is still a Canada. If Scotland leaves Great Britain, Great Britain and the union jack no longer exist.
    Lastly, in regards to the UK counting house, the Scots, as they do around the world, play a very large role. They founded the bank of England and are still good at counting money.

  11. Sutherland says:

    Your son had more sense than you it seems. Lets hope they all vote NO.

  12. Alan Parker says:

    Damn you, MacKenzie (my grandmother’s maiden name, by the way) — stop rolling out facts to interfere with my argument.

  13. Alan Parker says:

    And, Sutherland — I acknowledged at the beginning of my rant that my son has more sense than I do. Doesn’t make either of you right.

  14. Mary Jay says:

    Having been born in Scotland and a Canadian citizen for many years, I loved your analogy. Not bad for an American

  15. Ray says:

    Works both ways, until Scotland gained access to the world markets of the English Empire, it was a backward country, it only gained prominence after the Union. Both sides have clearly benefited from the Union. No, I’m not English, I’m Canadian of both Scottish and English ancestry going back 300 years in this country.

  16. Scottish Scottie says:

    Aye…you good Canadian boys should read your history before letting generationally separated patriotism form an argument. The notion of a Great Britain was borne from the ambition of James the 1st – a Scotsman – who took the throne in England when they had no heirs of their own to claim it. And so opposed to the idea of a Protestant scot king of England creating such a union were the military class, that a group of radicals led by Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Westminster, not as an act of dissidence, but as an attempt to assassinate James. So 300 year old English politics did not cajole and manipulate the union into being, rather the scots proposed it. We had to wait 300 years however for a backward thinking anti-Thatcherite egomaniac to come along and try to reverse it.

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