Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Great Quote By A Great Father of Confederation


"We are of different races, not for the purpose of warring against each other, but in order to compete and emulate for the general welfare."

- George-√Čtienne Cartier
This quote was taken from a 1865 parliamentary debate, and was brought to my attention through reviewing Reference re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217.

Though Canada was but on the road to achieving Confederation, Cartier spoke of what could be, of what should be. And though the current crisis between Israel and Palestine is international in scope, where a solution seems far from achievable, I believe the values Cartier expressed are timeless and necessary.

The larger passage the quote was was abstracted from is below.
"Now, when we are united together, if union is attained, we shall form a political nationality with which neither the national origin, nor the religion of any individual, will interfere. It was lamented by some that we had this diversity of races, and hopes were expressed that this distinctive feature would cease. The idea of unity of races is utopian -- it is impossible. Distinctions of this kind will always exist. Dissimilarity, in fact, appears to be the order of the physical world and of the moral world, as well as in the political world. But with regard to the objection based on this fact, to the effect that a great nation cannot be formed because Lower Canada is in great part French and Catholic, and Upper Canada is British and Protestant, and the Lower Provinces are mixed, it is futile and worthless in the extreme. . . . In our own Federation we will have Catholic and Protestant, English, French, Irish and Scotch, and each by his efforts and his success will increase the prosperity and glory of the new Confederacy. . . . We are of different races, not for the purpose of warring against each other, but in order to compete and emulate for the general welfare."

1 comment:

Loraine Lamontagne said...

For years I have had this passage bookmarked in my copy of the book The Founding Debates. I re-read often. Thank you for publishing it today. You've made my day a happy one already.