Like the flag above politics and a symbol of Commonwealth unity
When Europeans conquered America, the Monarchs of Britain, France, The Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain were the acknowledged rulers. Of these the ones with the least power were the British who were subject to Parliament. This monarchy still flourishes in every continent.
Canada has now been blessed with 65 Governor Generals, 16 French, one of whom was Canadian-born, 39 British, and 10 Canadian including 3 women. Practically all of these have been dedicated public servants who have contributed greatly to the welfare of the country and were chosen because of proven service.
Like all governments, monarchies include duds, especially hereditary ones as we humans do not breed or develop consistently well. Even the good ones are not always appreciated. Of our first 4 Georges by far the best was George III who took a genuine and unselfish interest in the colonies, an interest that interfered with a minority and their vested interests so a civil war ensued in 13 of Britain’s 29 American colonies, a war that resulted in Canada becoming a bi-cultural country, with a change of monarchies. Out of his own pocket, George III financed the re-settlement of thousand of United Empire Loyalists in Canada and the West Indies.
Our current Royals officiate at some 4,000 functions annually, relieving the prime minister of this heavy chore and allowing him or her much more time to attend to affairs of state. For $1.28 each we get a capable, hard-working monarch. For 25 cents more we get a governor general - and Charles and Camilla are thrown in for another 6 cents. Much cheaper than our senate that costs each of us $2.45 annually.
Charles, a Canadian citizen, is much more accomplished than his press has acknowledged. He was considered eccentric and laughed at when he was one of the first to warn us on global warming, to venture into large–scale organic farming, and to criticize modern glass-and-steel architecture that were eyesores and robbed us of the charm of older buildings. He is a paratrooper, has flown fighter jets and helicopters, and has commanded a minesweeper. His 20 charitable organizations raise $260 million annually for health, environmental, and educational causes world wide. He is an author of children’s books, and a water-colour artist. Those who have met and talked with him are impressed with his wide-ranging knowledge and interests. He has made major improvements in relations with the non-Christian world. Camilla may be new to Canada but her ancestry has deep Canadian roots. Her long and interrupted romance with Charles is now flourishing and she has, like most wives, contributed greatly to her husband’s stature. Both were admired on their November 12-day tour of Canada.
There are those who, like rebellious children divorcing their parents, call our founding nations “foreign counties”. There are enough divisions in this world without creating more. For simplicity we lump scores of founding associations under the term “First Nations” . This makes France the second and the United Kingdom and Ireland the third. All deserve a special place in our hearts as well as gratitude for the blood and treasure they have sacrificed on our behalf. These bonds should never be broken.
MIKHAIL and RAISA GORBACHEV - ANOTHER COUPLE INSUFFICIENTLY APPRECIATED
My appreciation of this couple commenced when in Ottawa in 1982, Mikhail took a liking to Alexander Yakovlev who had been a thorn in the side of the Politburo and had been sent off as the 1973-83 ambassador to Canada to get him out of Moscow. When Mikhail became the leader of the USSR in 1985 he selected Alexander for key positions that were to include freeing the media, exposing the dark side of the Stalin era, rehabilitating political prisoners and generally infuriating hard liners. Part of Mikhail and Raisa’s charm were their strong interests in world publications and philosophies. Lasting impressions have been made by Mikhail’s remarks, such as:
“Communism is man exploiting man - Capitalism is the reverse,”
“We must view the world with eyes open, bypassing personal interests.”
Mikhail and Ronald Reagan disliked each other on their first meeting. Mikhail described Ronald as locked in the Past and Ronald thought Mikhail a Bolshevik. Mikhail, believing the Cold War could result in nuclear annihilation, pressed on and was the spark plug for the nuclear disarmament agreement with the US.
In March 1985 he told the Warsaw Pact: “You are responsible for your policies and we will not interfere.” Mar 89 saw the first democratic election in Russia. Some 35 Communists were defeated but over 80% were re-elected. In June 89 Gorby met with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Erick Hornecker in East Germany but both insisted on gradual reunification. Gorbchev saw that most Germans wanted it now and he sided with them. 300,000 elite USSR troops were in East Germany, yet change began there. When in October 1989 he was back in E. Germany, groups from 28 regions urged him to stay. The dam burst and the walls came tumbling down.
In an interview in Moscow, 23 Sep 09, with Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation Magazine and herhusband, Stephen F. Cohen, Gorbachev argued that The US is wrong in believing it won the Cold War. Perestroika did it. Then, the US, believing it won, decided it did not need to change as the USSR had capitulated and was now history. Yeltsin became a US vassal. The US decided it did not need Russia whose industries fell into disrepair. Russian plans for a new Europe disappeared. NATO started to take over the world. Higher oil prices saved Russia. When Russia needed aid it got none. Now US needs Russian help in Afghanistan. He added:
“Russia needed its perestroika, the US now needs its own perestroika.”