What would Sir John A. say?

Two Canadians make a pilgrimage to the founding PM’s birthplace and are surprised by what they find

by Anne Dance and Mark Dance

National Archive of Canada/The Canadian Press

It is not easy to find John A. Macdonald’s childhood home in Glasgow. No statue stands to celebrate Canada’s first prime minister in his native Scottish city, and it was only with some sleuthing that we arrived at a boarded-up, derelict pub, above which the nation maker is thought to have been born on Jan. 11, 199 years ago.

Glasgow itself is a little different from tourist-friendly portrayals of the country’s wild Highlands or elegant streets of the Enlightenment. Unlike Edinburgh, Scotland’s largest city faces west towards the North Atlantic. On the day of our visit, the streets were wet with rain and grey clouds glowered overhead.

As two Canadians living and studying in Scotland, we made the afternoon trip from Edinburgh and Stirling, hoping to find a tiny Mecca for Canadian patriots and history pilgrims. The wreck of a pub that stood before us did not qualify.

The graffitied walls and broken windows of the abandoned Fox and Hound, although perhaps fitting to commemorate a man who was known to indulge in drink, do little justice to the achievements of the primary father of Canadian Confederation.

Glasgow itself has changed enormously since Macdonald’s birth nearly 200 years ago. The city’s resilient working class endured the excesses of the Industrial Revolution and successive declines in manufacturing, particularly shipbuilding along the great River Clyde. The legacy of Thatcherism still rankles here.

But all that came long after Macdonald left. Canada’s first prime minister was only a boy of five when his family departed his native Scotland. Still, he would draw on his Scottish connections throughout his life. Macdonald got first job in a Kingston law office, at age 15, through the local Scottish community. His membership in the Protestant—and sometimes sectarian—Orange Order grew out of his Scottish affiliation and would serve him well on the hustings throughout his political career.

And yet, a man who never shook off his roots now seems largely forgotten by his own hometown.

When we sat down at a nearby coffee shop with John McNamee, a Glasgow city councillor who has lived and worked in British Columbia, he shook his head at the lack of proper commemoration. “There’s really only one small and meagre memorial to the man and it is affixed to a former church. It is an absolute tragedy that the founder of the nation of Canada has no statue, or legacy, or education program to let kids know.”

Far from a place for young Glaswegians to learn about John A., the block where the man was supposedly born is shrouded in an air of hostility. “Children must not play on this site,” a sign warns. Barbed wire crawls across nearby fences and rooftops.

Although McNamee has been engaged in efforts to properly recognize the site since 2009, he notes it has been a struggle to rally institutional and financial support on both sides of the Atlantic. He says his initial attempts to reach out to the Prime Minister’s Office and the office of the Minister of Heritage garnered lackluster responses.

Heritage Minute, Sir John A. Macdonald from Historica Canada on Vimeo.

“If George Washington had been born in Glasgow there would be a huge, gaudy mausoleum to him.” says McNamee. “The discrepancy is that John A. was Canadian. That has to be rectified.”

In discussing his efforts to get the Canadian giant commemorated in Scotland, McNamee points to the example of John A.’s own perseverance in the face of grim circumstances and long odds. Macdonald is a model politician from McNamee’s standpoint, and one who influences his own work in politics.

But McNamee is not strictly fixated on celebrating the Macdonald of the past. He is equally curious about what the man’s legacy might have to teach us about our world today. In September 2014, Scottish citizens will vote on the question of their independence from the United Kingdom—and it is a question about which McNamee says Macdonald could still offer guidance: “He’d be hugely against it. John A. was a federalist,” says McNamee. “The reality is, I support the union for the same reasons that Macdonald would, pragmatic reasons, economic reasons.”

After spending some time with the councillor we walk back to the bleak exterior of the old pub. Although little physical proof stands of the famous Canadian’s early life in Glasgow’s Merchant City district, it occurred to us that current residents might bear his oral history. Could they illuminate Sir John A.’s elusive presence in his birthplace?

It was not to be. When we tried to strike up conversations about John A., just feet from what is thought to be his childhood home, we were mostly met with blank stares. Not only was Macdonald unknown to those we spoke to, but many of them were migrants from the wider EU, particularly Hungary, Russia, and Poland. Over the last decade, tens of thousands of EU residents have made Scotland their home.

At first, these conversations were yet another disappointment. We had traveled to this gloomy spot in Glasgow to connect with others who might appreciate Macdonald’s legacy. But our encounters with these people had a different lesson. Like John A. himself, many of those we met had found their way to a foreign country to build something new. And they soaked up stories of Macdonald with interest. “I hope you find him,” one Hungarian-born barista laughed, after overhearing us quiz three of her coworkers about Macdonald’s birthplace.

In our fixation on this Canadian historical figure, our mission to find a scrap of Canada in Scotland, we had been blinded to the currents of change, migration and political upheaval underway in the city around us. The upcoming referendum for Scottish independence, the changing face of the city of Glasgow, the remarkable political and economic patterns of activity in the EU that are transforming countries like Scotland—these are the issues of today that deserve our attention.

What would John A. say of Scottish independence or EU economic integration or the way that McNamee should represent his constituents? Does Macdonald’s vision for the relationship between Britain and Canada still make any sense, or do we need to move further past it? What bearing does his legacy have for us right now?

These questions are worth asking. History, we realized, is not just the stuff of plaques or statues—although it sometimes begins there. Our history is the part of the past that we carry forward to inform our politics and culture today.

John A. himself was not fixated on or blinded by his own ancestry. Instead, he leveraged his background to form alliances, build bridges and move mountains. In contrast with his rival George Brown, Macdonald’s visits to Britain primarily took him to England, rather than Scotland, to pursue political projects, rather than nostalgia.

In the end, we learned lessons about John A. rooted in the transience of identity and the uncertainty of our history. Like those people we met on the streets of Glasgow, Macdonald was, at first, a stranger to the place that he lived and he worked to make it his home.




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What would Sir John A. say?

  1. It’s patently clear Mr and Ms Dance haven’t the foggiest clue what they’re talking about and they spit on MacDonald’s memory from a great height.

    Since MacDonald was a federalist, he REJECTED the centralist policies Westminster has arrogantly and selfishly pursued. Furthermore, Westminster has rejected MacDonald’s own federalist ideals despite being pressed many times to consider such an arrangement! Indeed, had Westminster granted a federal arrangement to the individual nations of the UK, we Scots would not be pressing for independence!

    Do not be duped into believing that the UK operates an equitable union. Imagine if you will Ottawa controlling the entire revenues and assets of each of the provinces of Canada, granting them but a stipend to keep themselves from economic collapse. This is the situation under which Scotland lives. An oil-rich nation with enviable natural and human resources, we hand our ENTIRE wealth to London who has thence deceived Scots as to their true economic status and left them scraping to make ends meet.

    So devious has London been in this regard that they went to great effort to hide the true value of the oil in Scottish internationally recognised territory.

    The Dances need to dance off to a career in comedy.

    • What are you talking about? That was not the point of the article, and the authors do not offer any of their own answers to the question of how Sir John A. MacDonald would feel about Scotland’s independence movement. The only answer given is a quote from a Scotland-based city councilor. If the sole purpose of the article was to speculate on MacDonald’s feelings for Scottish independence, then the authors should have interviewed more people. It wasn’t, but it was good of you to take an opportunity to criticize and editorialize anyway.

      • Clearly you must think we Scots are zipped up the rear! It wasn’t an attempt to speculate on MacDonald’s feelings, it was nought more than yet another pathetic attempt to portray Scotland’s people and communities as somehow having failed to recognised a notable father, of somehow neglecting history as well as their own communities. It is an exercise in condescension and patronisation that deserves slamming on the brink of violence. It reflects once again the sneering duplicity of a culture of dominion over those powerless to oppose. Like harebell’s comment below it is typical of a media that sees the Scots as worthy only of derision and negligence, of being played by accusations of sectarianism and social division… two aspects of Scottish life that have been foisted upon them by a London-centric political elite determined to maintain control by any means. Of portraying Scotland as somehow unworthy of recognition by this notable father the article tries AGAIN to demean Scots to the point of political resignation.

        “John A’s legacy was not fixated on ancestry”… no… nor is Scotland’s pro-independence politics.

        Now, take this rubbish and shove it where the sun fails to shine.

        • No… it is the responsibility of Canada NOT Scotland to find an appropriate way to honour its first Prime Minister. I see this as a criticism of the Canadian heritage ministry than a criticism of Scotland. But if you would rather be offended, be my guest.

    • You are absolutely incorrect. Sir John A. was deeply disturbed by the level of powers given to the Provinces in order to achieve Confederation. He was hoping that Canada would actually be a Legislative Union a la the UK, with direct federal input into more local matters, rather than the federal union we ended up with.

      I won’t comment on whether Scotland should become independent of the UK or not, but Sir. John A. would not have been on your side.

    • Weesh your whining man.
      Everything you’ve said is looked at through heather tinted glasses and mostly wrong too as Derek pointed out. I see you and Salmond have about the same idea of reality as each other.

    • I agree that Mr. and Ms. Dance haven’t the foggiest clue what they are talking about in regards to their view of John A’s opinion on Scottish independence. The reason John A. Macdonald would be against Scottish independence is because he was a unionist. In his own words: “A British subject I was born; a British subject I will die.” This is also reflected in his loyalty to the British empire, the orange lodge, et cetera. In his time he was British, and Canada was a province in the empire.
      I must criticize your criticism of this article though, this was not an attempt to belittle Scotland in any way. This was a dig at both Canadian and UK Heritage for not recognizing a historic landmark where one of the greatest statesmen in the British commonwealth was born. You really must do something about this inferiority complex, nobody is out to get Scotland, indeed you will find Canadians have a very positive view about Scotland despite the fact most of them have never been there. Glasgow UK is no different than New Glasgow Canada. every city has dilapidated buildings, slums, et cetera.

      • “Being British” is in reference to appreciating the Union of Crowns. it in NO WAY implies that he believes in centralised government (encapsulated in the Act of Union of 1707). A fact borne out by his being the champion of, nay, the FATHER of… confederation.

        • I never said anything about a centralized government. What I said was John A. was a unionist and federalist. He believed in Great Britain and he believed in a united Canada. That is why he would have opposed Scottish independence.

          • Canada is not united in the same fashion that the UK is! Canada is a confederation of provinces, each independently governed. This was John A’s work and legacy.

            The UK however, is a singular political entity whereby all of the nations are governed from a centralised government… the very antithesis of a federal arrangement! Had John A built a similar situation in Canada, NONE of the Canadian provinces would have had parliaments.

            John A may well have supported the Union of Crowns, but he in no manner by his politics recognised the 1707 Act of Union. Indeed, everything he did opposed that philosophy!

            Since Scotland’s currant independence debate is about dissolving the Act of Union but retaining the Union of Crowns, it can be seen as a move very similar to the creation of a federal UK… but with one major exception… the “provinces” will be sovereign nation states in their own right.

          • John A. actually wanted a more unitary state but gave in to the demands of the provinces/colonies for greater autonomy, otherwise confederation would not have occurred. As the Scottish nationalists are attempting to make great Britain a thing of the past I can confidently say John A. would have opposed it. He like most scots back then were British first, Scots second.

          • Firstly:A quote from John A MacDonald biography-

            “Brown was more interested in representation by population; MacDonald’s priority was a federation that the other colonies could join. The two compromised and agreed that the new government would support the “federative principle”–a conveniently elastic phrase.”

            So let’s put MacDonald as unionist to bed.

            Secondly, the SNP cannot make Britain a thing of the past, it’s an island and a realm, and since the British realm will continue post-independence, with Scotland as a primary member, your assertion is fallacy.

          • Macdonald was in favour a federation but did not want to grant the provinces the autonomy they now enjoy, any Canadian political scientist will tell you the same thing despite what you quote from a biography. Britain is an island, but also a sovereign state. If the Scottish people decide to separate the kingdom of Great Britain will cease to exist and in its place will be a rump UK of England and northern Ireland. John A. Macdonald by his actions and words was loyal to the idea of a British empire not some pretend realm you are making up. If Scotland goes its separate way it will be an independent nation, it will not continue under any guise as a part of Britain other than sharing space on an island with a foreign country ie England. The Union jack will become a historic symbol, Scotland will have to raise its own army, they will have to apply for separate membership into NATO and the EU and will have to adopt a new currency as a rump UK would probably tell them to stuff it and not let them use the pound. A post independent Scotland would only share a monarch with England in the same Canada, NZ Australia and many other commonwealth countries do with the UK. Canada is not part of some bizarre made up “British realm” because we share a monarch. We are a separate country and realm from the UK with a separate crown. So again I will reiterate Macdonald would be against independence because he was British to his bootstraps, a unionist. Unionism does not mean favouring a unitary state. It means being in favour of a united kingdom of Great Britain. The British press even describes the ‘No’ side as unionists. That does not mean they want to do away with the Scottish parliament, it just means they want to keep the kingdom together. Every constituent country of the UK has its own parliament except for England. The United kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is on its way to becoming a federal state.

          • You here to make a fool of yourself?

            As I said, MacDonald was pro-federation, not pro-centralisation.

            Britain is also a realm, a kingdom, and that will continue after independence, so your precious UK will still exist, because the term United Kingdom literally means two kingdoms united under one crown. The fact the union exists between the two kingdoms of Great Britain (that’s Scotland and England), this makes the Union of their Crowns the “United Kingdom of Great Britain”.

            So The United Kingdom of Great Britain will continue as a realm, but not as a sovereign state. If NI wants to remain in a political union with England or anyone else, they’ll have to negotiate and ratify terms for such a political entity to continue. *IF* such a political treaty is signed by NI and ANother state (highly unlikely), it cannot be called the UK, as NI is not a kingdom, it is merely a dominion (you need two kingdoms to make a “united kingdom”)! This is why the sovereign state at present is correctly known as the “United Kingdom of Great Britain AND Northern Ireland.”

            The Union Flag (it’s only a jack on a ship), will remain the flag of the regal union between Scotland and England, but not the symbol of the new independent sovereign states, which will revert to the national flags of England and Scotland respectively.

            Scotland will remain a founding member of the commonwealth and the original realm of the union’s monarch.

            Scotland’s realm shall prevail.

          • You are only embarrassing yourself. the act of union in 1707 created the Kingdom of Great Britain from the kingdoms of England and Scotland. Prior to this England and Scotland were separate countries with separate crowns but shared the same person as monarch. The Kingdom of Great Britain then united with Ireland in 1801 to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It all depends on what the constitution of an independent Scotland would look like. The SNP have only outlined that they want to become a separate country but share the monarch with England and the rest of the commonwealth realms. Technically an independent Scotland would be treated as a dominion or commonwealth realm. It will have no special shared realm status with England. The union of the kingdom of Great Britain i.e. England and Scotland would cease to exist upon a possible vote for independence. Great Britain will not be any sort of legal or symbolic entity. It will only be the name of an island. The Union Jack (It can be referred to as a jack on land look it up) will not represent a realm or state unless a rump UK chooses to retain it. It will only symbolize that England and Scotland share the same person as monarch. However like the other commonwealth realms Scotland would have a separate crown from that of the rump UK. What this all boils down to is the terminology used in official documents. the act of union of 1707 refers to England and Scotland as the kingdom of great Britain. it also refers to England and Scotland as forming part of a united kingdom. My interpretation is that because the kingdom of great Britain had a single parliament (Westminster) it should be considered a sovereign state, a single political entity or a realm if you’d like. Upon the possibility of an independent Scotland this realm/state/entity would cease to exist.. Again there will be no special realm status for a separated England and Scotland. You can argue with me all you want but that won’t change the facts. So to sum up my point there would be no United Kingdom of Great Britain or Kingdom of Great Britain if Scotland decides to separate. If you know anything about Canadian federalism (which you clearly don’t) the Provinces had very little power upon confederation and for some time after. Powers are still being downloaded to the provinces to this day. If Cameron goes through with Devo-max Scotland will have more powers than a Canadian province. So how can you argue that John A. was a federalist but then refuse to admit he would have been happy with a devolved Scottish government? You argue that his reason for supporting independence is because he believe in decentralization. How does this view of yours jive with Quebec separatism? I suppose he would have been a strong advocate for that eh? patriotism is not defined by how much power your particular region has. It is the loyalty and the idea of a particular national identity. History indicates Sir. John was a proud Briton and Canadian, he never said otherwise and he would have opposed the breakup of the UK like he would oppose the breakup of Canada. I realise you are desperate for more Braveheart-esque heroes to legitimize the breakup of the UK but you are not going to find it in Sir. John A. Macdonald, even though his brand of federalism wasn’t that strong he was still a federalist. He believed in union, not division.

          • HAAAAHAHAHAHAHA

            Brilliant. Go read a book, you halfwit.

          • Canadian and commonwealth affairs is my area of expertise. By all indications I have won this debate. instead of putting forward constructive critisms of my latest post you have resorted to 3rd grade name calling. I would say that’s a victory for me.

          • Then away and learn something about the formation of the UK before you start lecturing Scottish constitutional lawyers.

            The Union of Crowns was formed in 1603, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain (in other words, the kingdom of Great Britain was “created” in 1603 by the unification of the kingdoms of Scotland and England)…

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_the_Crowns

            Despite this unification, both countries were still independent sovereign states in their own right from 1603 until 1707.

            It wasn’t until 1707 that the Act of Union closed the Scottish parliament and further unified Scotland and England in a political union. Making the kingdom (realm) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain a singular sovereign state.

            So my 3rd grade name-calling is justified, you clearly haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.

          • 1603 did not create a kingdom of Great Britain, from your own source: “The Union was a personal or dynastic union, with the Crown of Scotland remaining both distinct and separate—despite James’s best efforts to create a new “imperial” throne of “Great Britain”. However, England and Scotland would continue to be sovereign states, sharing a monarch with Ireland, until the Acts of Union of 1707″. Here’s a picture that might help you understand the UK’s formation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nations_of_the_UK.png
            You are arguing that Scotland was in a Realm with England that was named Great Britain before 1707. This is untrue, and in the event of a ‘yes’ vote this pretend realm you’ve made up in your mind still will not exist. Salmond wants an independent country, he doesn’t want anything to do with Great Britain aside from the pound which he will not get. As I have said countless times and history books will back me up on this, The single realm, the kingdom of Great Britain was formed in 1707. Now in the event of a ‘Yes’ victory Scotland will not be reverting back to the relationship it had under the union of crowns, it would be gaining independence from The United Kingdom. The personal or dynastic union would continue with the 16 commonwealth realms. What I am trying to explain to you is that a post independence relationship between a rump UK and Scotland will have a status the same as the relationship between Canada and the UK now. There’s no ‘special realm’ or Great Britain unless a Rump UK choose to call itself Great Britain.
            In other words the separation of Scotland would end the entity we know as Great Britain. I guess your name calling is justified if you enjoy not having having a clue what you are talking about. Btw you still have not addressed the point I made about John A.

          • You sir, are a dogmatic moron.

            Firstly: “Union of Crowns 1603″… says all you need to know.

            Secondly: The Scottish government’s white paper has made it clear that Scotland will retain HER monarchy. Thus Scotland will remain as part of the primary kingdom of the commonwealth (Great Britain).

            Thirdly: Without Scotland, there can be no realm known as the “Rump UK”. The United Kingdom of Great Britain is made of the two kingdoms of Scotland and England… if either leave the Union of Crowns, there can be no UK… rump stump or otherwise. Since Scotland will remain in the Union of Crowns, the UK of GB will continue as a kingdom… but not as a sovereign state if Scotland asserts her PARLIAMENTARY independence.

            So please, take your “separatist” rhetoric elsewhere. Morons will lap it up.

          • I feel very sorry for you if you are from Scotland. Your grasp of your own history is quite poor. Your manners could also use some work. The Union of crowns was a personal union which is the same as the relationship the UK has with the 15 commonwealth realms. Does this mean Canada is in a realm with Britain? No it doesn’t because Canada is a independent country with her own crown. After the statute of Westminster 1931 the dominions gained their own separate crowns. Just like the Union of crowns the dominions had separate crowns but were united under the same person as monarch. When Ireland became the Irish free state with its own government and crown did it remain in a realm with Britain? the answer is no it became its own separate realm while Ulster opted back into the UK. The UK’s title was changed to the united kingdom of great Britain and northern Ireland to reflect this. The reality is the Kingdom of Great Britain united with Ireland to become a united kingdom of great Britain and Ireland. Prior to that it was simply 2 separate kingdoms. The kingdom of great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland.

            “Since Scotland will remain in the Union of Crowns, the UK of GB will continue as a kingdom… but not as a sovereign state.”

            This statement does not make any sense at all. If this were to be true then the 15 commonwealth realms would be included in this pretend GB because just because they share a monarch. Canada is not part of a kingdom of Great Britain. It is its own Kingdom. A rump UK would retain the title of “United Kingdom” because it would be the kingdom of England united with the remnants of the kingdom of Ireland. If rUK wanted to change its name to the UK of Great Britain it has the legal means to do so.

            I have no idea where you are getting this separatist nonsense from, it is you who seems to be advocating the dissolution of Great Britain while applying the same logic to Canada.

            Now if you are going to continue this debate please refrain from calling me name and instead bring me something grounded in facts. I would also urge you to get back on the topic of Sir. John A. Macdonald.

          • OOPS…

            http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gb-hist.html#hist

            By the King: “Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Council, ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN, and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Crosse, commonly called St. George’s Crosse, and the White Crosse, commonly called St. Andrew’s Cross, joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds, and sent by Us to our ‘Admerall’ to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed”. – 1606

          • King Games VI of Scotland ascended to the throne of England becoming King James I of England. You cannot hold a single crown and be James VI in Scotland and be James I in England. That proves Great Britain was not a kingdom despite what James preferred to call it. I even mentioned above that he preferred to call his kingdoms Great Britain despite the fcat England and Scotland were independent nations. Great Britain was not a realm or kingdom until 1707, otherwise the act of union would have been pointless. from your own source: “The flag became ‘the ensign armorial of the United Kingdom of Great Britain’ as one of the provisions of the Act of Union in 1707, when the kingdoms of England and Scotland were united.”
            If you know anything about the SNP they don’t have time for England or the idea of Great Britain, in fact there are a large number of republicans within the ranks of the SNP who wouldn’t think twice about ending an independent Scotland’s link with the crown. Given the chance an Independent Scotland would join the EU and adopt the Euro. If present trends continue and UK voters vote to leave the EU an independent Scotland in the EU would probably set up a border prohibiting the free movement of people from England into Scotland. Stop kidding yourself, Scottish independence would mean the end for Great Britain, That is the whole point of the debate otherwise the nationalists would be content with the national assembly.
            For the 3rd time I will ask you to address the points I made about Sir. John A.

          • Oh dear, clearly you need to go learn history 101.

          • I’m afraid it is you that needs to learn your history. You also need to learn how to debate properly. The question this article asks if what would John A. say about Scottish independence. This is the fourth time I am reminding you to stay on topic. As we both said above Sir. John was a federalist. For some illogical reason you believe that to mean he would be in favour of separatism. This theory you can also apply to Québec separatism which everyone knows Sir. John would have opposed. Sir. John was dedicated to the political union of the English and French speaking colonies. You would think that a man who supported the creation of a French and English speaking country would support the union of 2 English speaking countries. Its funny that French speaking Quebec can tolerate being in a union with 9 English speaking provinces while in Scotland the SNP are running around trying to convince people England is a foreign country. Canada is testament to John A.’s belief in unity. Over his lifetime he built a dominion from sea to sea stretching across an entire continent. He knew only a United Canada could keep the American threat at bay. I assume you are a Scottish nationalist and you are entitled to your own opinions on the matter but as a Canadian descended from Scottish immigrants I had to set you straight about John A. In 1867 Canada was a very British place. One could argue it was even more British than Britain as Scottish and English people coexisted, co-mingled, and interbred more than they would have back in the UK. The union jack was our flag and Britain was the mother country. This attitude more or less survived in some places up until the 1960′s. The Saltire was rarely flown here if at all and our politicians, especially in the 19th century, were staunch supporters of the United Kingdom and the British empire. Go ahead and talk about independence, go ahead and vote for independence. Just stop your historical revisionism of Sir. John. If you are really that desperate for nationalist heroes that you need to make one out of the father of my country it doesn’t bode well for the Scottish independence campaign. Sir. John A. Macdoanld was not a Scottish nationalist and he would never have been. He was a Tory. Fiercely loyal to Canada, Britain. and the empire.

          • On the contrary Dud, I am saying that in being a federalist, John A MacDonald believed in regional governance, not centralist governance, and that since the Westminster government has repeatedly refused to so much as consider a federal arrangement for the UK, the he and they were fundamentally at odds.

            Furthermore, as a “separatist” myself I am also pro-monarchy and thus by default a unionist… a monarchical unionist, NOT a political unionist. But my decision to oppose political union is precisely based upon the inability of Westminster to discuss a federal arrangement for Scotland or the other nations in the UK.

            Finally, let me point out to you that James VI was an absolute monarch… that in 1606 the king’s word was LAW, not opinion, not a slip of the pen, not a flippant error. His word is law.

            And so, with this is mind, the proclamation above stands in law. Great Britain was a kingdom in 1606 and has remained as such, and thus shall remain as such post-independence, until such a time as we (or England) decide otherwise.

            Had this not been the case, HM QEII would not have given her royal assent to the paper that brought about Edinburgh Agreement. In other words, the referendum would not be happening.

            Would Robert Burns have supported the Union? Yes, the regal union he supported… but the union of parliament of 1707 he did not… and was vocal to that end.

            We must also keep in mind that the union we live within today in no way reflects the union that was agreed upon in 1707, indeed, it is a sad reflection upon it.

          • For the 5th time Jock Campbell you have side stepped the points I made about John A. and his beliefs. You are living in a fairy tale nationalist dream world. John A. was not a Scottish nationalist and did not support the splitting of the united kingdom. If he was such an enthusiast for Scottish separation as you claim how come there isn’t’ recorded evidence of this view? Based on the speeches he made inside and outside the House of Commons, The views he hold throughout his life, and the organizations he was affiliated with ,all evidence suggests your theory about John A. is not grounded in evidence and facts.

            “But my decision to oppose political union is precisely based upon the inability of Westminster to discuss a federal arrangement for Scotland or the other nations in the UK”

            The United kingdom independence party and the Liberal Democrats who are both represented in Westminster support a Federal UK. Even the Tories have pledged devo-max when the Scots reject independence. Perhaps at one point in time Scotland’s desire for a federal arrangement went ignored at Westminster but not any more. After the referendum the political establishment will no longer be able to pacify the demands for a federal UK, Indeed, a federal UK is an inevitability. Furthermore if you were a supporter of a federal UK you would be voting for and helping to elected Scottish federalists not just to Westminster but to the Scottish national parliament as well. Again you show your complete lack of understanding of history. The term absolute monarchy implies that the sovereign can do anything he wants without any constraint by law. Technically England stopped being an absolute monarchy in 1215 when magna carta first placed limits on the King’s power. Over the centuries this led to the formation of parliament which further constrained the monarch’s power. The Stuart kings overestimated the power of the monarchy and this led to the English civil war and the execution of Charles I. The monarchy was only restored after Cromwell on the basis that the monarchy could not undermine parliament. When the union of crowns took place James VI tried unsuccessfully to instate himself as King of Great Britain. This was opposed by both the English and Scottish parliaments who both took steps to reaffirm their positions as independent states. As the civil war and the restoration has shown the basic principles of constitutional monarchy were expected by parliament arguably since Magna Carta. James VI’s unilateral decision to call himself the king of Great Britain was a violation of the wishes of both parliaments. It was only until 1707 after negotiations between the sovereign parliaments of England and Scotland that the United Kingdom of Great Britain was formed. Roberts Burns has absolutely nothing to do with this conversation and I don’t understand your need to skew this debate further by including him.

            “We must also keep in mind that the union we live within today in no way reflects the union that was agreed upon in 1707, indeed, it is a sad reflection upon it.”

            That is the opinion you and the SNP share. It will be decided by the Scottish people in the upcoming referendum whether this statement has any validity.

  2. “Two Canadians make a pilgrimage to the founding PM’s birthplace and are surprise by what they find”

    Are ‘Suprise’ by what they find? Hard to read further in the article when the headline is butchered.

    • It’s called a typo — and they’ve already fixed it. Sheesh! Relax already.

  3. Wow Harsh Critics!
    Great Job Anne and Mark, for a girl that knows nothing about our founding father I enjoyed the read.

    • Buy a book.

  4. Oh Jock Campbell! at the risk of further enraging you, I have to point out that your response to the article perfectly epitomises P G Wodehouse’s wonderful quote “It is never difficult to distinguish between a ray of sunshine and a Scotsman with a grievance.” You are seeing insults where none exist and are doing a disservice to the arguments for Scottish independence. I would be happy to challenge any sound arguments against Scottish independence but this article, while it comments on independence and offers the views of one councillor, does not argue one way or the other. Dust off those chips on your shoulder and engage in appropriate meaningful debate rather than attacking perceived slights to your idea of Scottish independence.

  5. “… another Tequila, Sheila ? “

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