Letter to the Editor
I do not often comment on Paul Jackson’s columns, but I must respond to the letter by Carol Bowman and Ernie Sowers. I must agree with Carol Bowman and Ernie Sowers about Paul Jackson. I also argue for his right to voice his opinions. I have even found myself in agreement with a few of his opinions.
However, he does not have the right to state his opinions as facts, which he does in virtually every column. Of the hundreds of examples, I select the column in the Ojo del Lago of January 2012, page 66, where he states that in 1812, “President James Madison decided to attack Canada” and that “Canadians burned down the White House.”
The facts are these: some Canadian historians maintain that Americans had wanted to seize parts of Canada, (a view that many Canadians still share), while other Canadian historians argue that the threat was a tactic against Britain which had blocked American trade with France and had impressed U. S. seamen into the Royal Navy. (See the Chesapeake-Leopard affair, after which many Americans called for war with Great Britain. Jefferson used this anger to threaten the British government to settle differences diplomatically.)
Which brings me to the second fact: In 1812 there were no Canadians; there were only British colonial subjects. Canada did not officially become The Dominion of Canada until July 1, 1867. In fact, Canada did not officially become a country until 1982.
So I say keep writing, Mr. Jackson. But please refrain from confusing your opinions with facts.
Mister Jackson replies:
I have rarely seen such goggledygook, gibbberish and jiggerypokery as Mel Goldberg’s comments about Canada and our federal government’s plans to commemorate and celebrate our success in fighting off the invasion in the War of 1812 in which President James Madison had his troops invade our country and try to annex it into the USA. Goldberg makes the fatuous claim that Canada did not “officially become a country until 1982.” How come then I have held Canadian citizenship since 1964? Goldberg displays his ignorance of what occurred in 1982 and this is it: In that period the Liberal government of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau decided to ‘patriate’ Canada’s Constitution from Westminster (London) and add to it a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a codified constitution which has made a lot of money for a lot of lawyers, but been a pain in the rear-end for the rest of us.
I covered the ‘patriation’ constitutional talks for my newspaper chain in Canada so am extremely familiar with the situation. Goldberg undermines his own argument on this score about Canada not “officially becoming a country until 1982” when he refers to the Dominion of Canada being established in 1867 when Sir John A. Macdonald became our first de facto prime minister.
Unlike the 1982 scenario, I can’t say I covered the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences in the 1860s leading up to that event, but have been told there was a doddering old fellow at those meetings by the Fathers of Canadian Confederation who looked suspiciously like Mel. One can see how age addles us all eventually, and this may explain poor Mel’s confusion and misreading of events.
But perhaps he is also one of those Americans who can’t accept that a smallish but canny group of Canadians, true, with some help from the British, fought off a land grab by a vastly larger nation of 7.5 million. As an aside, one of the great victories in the Second World War was the storming of the German-held Vimy Ridge by Canadian troops. No military expert will deny this was not an historic event, and one of the turning points of that war.
Mel, please don’t try and tell any Canadian living at Lakeside (which I do not) that our heroic troops at Vimy Ridge were not “officially” Canadian – unless, of course, you want a well-aimed punch in the nose.
Cordially, as William F. Buckley would say.
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