The story of Confederation is not an easy one to tell, and because of this caker logic has filled the narrative gaps in Canada’s formation with revisionistic mortar and a solemn promise to not delve any further into the topic. The make-believe surrounding Confederation is so absurd that I couldn’t help but cite this crystal-clear instance of caker doublethink. I want to direct your attention to these two lines within the above-linked piece:
The historical moment we will commemorate next Saturday is Confederation — a bunch of old white guys signing a document that bound a loose collection of provinces controlled by the British Empire into a vague and discontented unity without the slightest consideration of or participation by the First Peoples…
Confederation was an attempt at compromise between peoples within a unified political framework.
Problem, Stephen: the “compromising” parties are making compromises on occupied land. Hitler and Stalin compromised on the partitioning of Poland. And instead of acknowledging foundational problems like segregation of blacks in the Maritimes and, y’know, the Indian Act, this guy decides to try and sneak the word “peoples” into the notion of compromise while noting directly that Indigenous peoples had no input and imputing that they were the victims of this “compromise” is a wonderful way to pay the white-guilt penance while trying to gloss over its implications.
So that’s the kind of doublethink we have to contend with – a bunch of unsubtle attempts to brush Canada’s unsavory past under a polite, mundane little rug. Let’s list off some of the actual stories of Confederation:
- Nova Scotia elected an anti-Confederation government and appealed for the reversal of Confederation
- Despite Canada’s interest in them Newfoundland and P.E.I would resist attempts at annexation
- Quebec was practically held hostage with the prospect of greater local authority
- The British were sick of supporting a bunch of useless podunk colonies whose useful purpose (the fur trade) had been expended and hoped that amalgamation would provide cost savings
First up, Nova Scotia. In September of 1867 there was an election in Nova Scotia, wherein 36 of the 38 elected to the lower house were against Confederation. Joseph Howe even went so far as to appeal to the Throne to reverse Confederation. Even better – Charles Tupper, the useless sack of shit I wrote about long ago? Yeah, that asshole was the leader of the legislative assembly and approved Nova Scotia’s annexation immediately before that election result where his ideas and shitty plan were rejected wholesale by the people of the province. Because London said “no takebacks lol”, Nova Scotia was dragged by sleight of hand into Canada. Such a lovely compromise – the obvious will of the people subverted by a guy who would gain personally from the Confederated project.
As a side-note, the phrasing of the government-written link I listed above there is kind of odd: “After failing to secure a repeal of Confederation in 1868, Howe recognized the futility of further protests”, it reads. Protest is futile. You will be assimilated.
Next, Newfoundland. It’s worth noting that Macdingus the Drunk and his motley synod of synchophants, sadsacks, jesters, fools, and profiteers sought more than just the four provinces they managed to absorb into their shitty idea. Indeed, Newfoundland has always taken to Canadian identity tenuously, and despite electing a pro-Confederation government led by Frederick Carter in 1865 the Anti-Confederation Party of Newfoundland under Charles Fox Bennett would win in 1869, and the issue died on its feet.
Another swing and a miss for Confederation came from Prince Edward Island (in fact, the only province in Atlantic Canada to willingly cotton to Confederation the first time was New Brunswick, and even they’re saying that they’ve gotten a raw deal), whose Premier James Colledge Pope basically called Canada’s bluff and demanded more money while also holding (ultimately pointless, because P.E.I would need royal assent in order to do again; the Crown straitjacketing her colonies into line is a common theme to Confederation, you see) negotiations with the United States that ultimately scared more funding out of Ottawa. It was ultimately a failed railroad project that would force P.E.I to take Ottawa’s money and sell itself into mendacious mediocrity.
On to Quebec, a province which was forced into Confederation by way of that most classic point of Canadiana, failing civic governance caused by civic failure. This piece from Claude Bélanger at Marianopolis College speaks to the hostage-taking that transpired in Quebec. With the previous mechanisms shackling Quebec to Ontario collapsing and increasingly unable to function, the terms of a new union had to be made. Indeed, there were elements overtly supporting annexation into the United States, like the Parti Rouge. And despite Quebec’s powerful landed English elites and having few alternatives, 40% of the population still voted against Confederation. At some point the rational calculus of the Quebecois voter turned to “turds all around me, and I’d rather faceplant into any other cowpie than the caker cowpie”. Fantastic compromising skills, Stephen!
And finally, the big ugly truth rumbling underneath the entire Confederate project. This is the point cakers hate to be reminded of, in no small part because Canada becomes a lot less romantic when it is revealed to be a child of accounting more than anything else. I’ve been pointing to several instances of the English royalty effectively enforcing Confederation, and the reason for that is simple – the British didn’t want to pay for the defense of Canada. The British too brought their finest Mafioso techniques: Ged Martin writes of the bind that the erstwhile Confederates found themselves in, writing that there would be “a question mark” over British committment to Canada should the union not succeed.
All this is to say that this week’s narratives, complete with bait-and-switch white-guilt tithes and eager to forget how fractuous, non-consenting, and unsatisfying Confederation has been for all of its members save Ontario. Fully 30% of the provinces were bribed into union; with Nova Scotia being hoodwinked and Quebec choosing out of desperation, at least half of Canada had serious doubts about the very idea of Canada. Be sure to remember that when some mouthbreathing caker claims that “Canada was built on orderly negotiation”, because it fucking wasn’t.
Fuck John Macdonald, and fuck Canada.