Ladies and Gentlemen,
Some of you may already have had a chance to leaf through my book, Fearful Symmetry: the fall and rise of Canada’s founding values. If so, you‟ll know that it is a celebration of some fundamental values that I think informed the first century of Canada‟s existence, and extended well into the past prior to Confederation. As the book recounts, for some reasons we don‟t need to worry about too much right now, Canada lost sight of a great deal of that endowment of values over the last half century, in part because we understood poorly why those values were important, we thought we could toss them aside because they were inconvenient, because we came to believe in the absolute value of “liberation” from the past, from tradition, from constraints on our emotions. These constraints came to be seen as inauthentic and old-fashioned, as obstacles to realising our true selves, a realisation best achieved by doing whatever made us feel good at the time.
If we thought back to that set of ideas that characterized Canada for the first eighty-odd years of its existence, for example, we mostly seemed to take the view that the founders of our society were trying to make themselves and their fellows miserable through unrelieved Calvinist gloom, including a mean-spirited insistence that everyone capable of working should do so, that we should respect authority and our inherited traditions and behaviours.
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