This post originally appeared on ActiveHistory.ca.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair made a good suggestion last week. After the Prime Minister publicly outlined the marching orders for his ministers – which did not address recent tensions with First Nations but did emphasize the allocation of funds and resources towards a handful of historical celebrations – Mulcair took him to task. Picking up perhaps on the contradiction of funding historical celebrations while systematically gutting Library and Archives Canada and Parks Canada (two key institutions that preserve Canada’s documentary and material heritage), Mulcair gilled the Prime Minister on his political use of the past. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water, however, Mulcair suggests that perhaps the Prime Minister expand his commemorative agenda. Why not celebrate the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Royal Proclamation this year?
I agree with Mulcair. The Harper government should embrace the Royal Proclamation. Not only is it a foundational – one might even say constitutional – document in Canada’s legal history, it also provides the Prime Minister with an opportunity to demonstrate his apparent concern for First Nations’ priorities. The Royal Proclamation has all the trappings of a Harperesque vision of the past. It draws together the military, monarchy and a firm spirit of law and order.
I don’t think Mulcair went far enough in his indictment, however. It’s not just Stephen Harper (and his cabinet) ignoring the Proclamation. It’s all of us. Continue reading “2013: It’s time to commemorate the 1763 Royal Proclamation”