The Autonomy of Canada

6 June 2016

The significant twentieth century has made Canada, Canada. Several events in the 1900s have had a huge impact on the creation of Canada and Canadian autonomy. These events have put Canada through many stages and have created this great nation that exists today. A strong sense of Canadian nationalism has also become present in Canadians overtime (Marked, 2004), and the desire to become independent from Britain has only grown. For the most part of the century, Canadians felt proud to be British subjects rather than proud to be Canadian (Free, 2007). Throughout the twentieth century, this mindset had slowly changed. Through political laws and battles, through social events of the time, and through the economical hardships and profits, Canada has been defined as a nation.

Of the many political events of the twentieth century, the three points discussed here have defined Canada. These events have also showed its independence towards Britain, and internationally. The Statute of Westminster, a law passed by the parliament of Britain in 1931, gave Canada its legislative independence (Hillmer, 2012). This law stated that the British Parliament no longer had the legal right to create laws for its colonies (especially Canada), giving Canada the authority to create laws for itself.

The Autonomy of Canada Essay Example

Canada could also modify and alter past laws made by Britain, or get rid of them if the law was not wanted. The passing of the Statute of Westminster politically separated Canada from Britain because Britain pretty much had no more control over its dominions and colonies, through the force of law and politics. Before the law came into play, Britain had control over legislation and had authority that surpassed any authority of those governing in the colonies.

Canada’s independence was pretty much given to them during this event, but this event was significant as it began to isolate Canada from the motherland. The Persons Case in Alberta had also somewhat isolated Canada from Britain, but more had it defined Canada as its own nation. The Persons Case consisted of Alberta’s Famous Five, five women who fought for the rights of women and for women to be recognized as “persons” in society (Swc, 2009). This was a big moment in Canadian history because women were still considered very inferior to the men of the time. With the political fight and success of these women, they granted Canadian women to be considered persons and they fought for a woman’s seat in the senate. Women were beginning to become people now, as they were starting to fight for themselves.

The Persons Case allowed women to have independence. Moreover, this event led to the definition of the nation that we call Canada today. Defining this nation was also done by the famous Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I, led by a Canadian himself, General Arthur Currie. The battle was such a success that even today, a monument was built in France to commemorate Canadians and this great battle and effort (Veterans, 2013). The battle was a great success, but only because of the immense planning and preparations the soldiers had to go through.

It was the first time all Canadian division fought together as one, and as Brigadier-General A.E. Ross said, “in those few minutes, I witnessed the birth of a nation” (Cook, 2012). The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a defining moment for Canada because it was a victory for Canadians. Furthermore, the winning of the battle had won Canada a seat at the Paris Peace Talks in 1918, after World War I had ended. This seat represented Canada as a separate nation during a political event; apart from the homeland Britain. Politically, Canada has been through a lot and has been defined through these events. Canada has not only been defined politically though, but also through social means.

Throughout the 1900s, Canada has been moulded and created to become what it is today, even through social events. On July 1st, 1980, Canada had adopted its own national anthem, the one we sing today, “O Canada” (Pch, 2013). “O Canada” had replaced the British royal anthem, “God Save the Queen”, which obviously shows Canadian autonomy. By adopting its own anthem and replacing that of the homeland’s, this proves that Canada has become more independent and is slowly becoming its own nation. 2 years later, Canada changes the name of its independence day, “Dominion Day”, to a new name that suited it better,”Canada Day” (Pch, 2008). This was also a great act of independence for Canada.

It signified that Canada was not just a dominion of Britain anymore; it was its own nation, its own country, the country of Canada. People had to vote and fight for “O Canada” and “Canada Day” to be official, so the desires of the people also made Canada more of an independent nation. Also, after World War I, Canada had joined the League of Nations, an organization created during the Paris Peace Talks to help resolve disputes and promote peace (Veatch, 2012). Canada joined as its own nation, which made it become internationally recognized as an independent nation. In the League of Nations, Canada got the opportunity to vote and the ability to make social decisions with the other countries and discuss among them.

This demonstrates that Canada is separate from Britain and is slowly being recognized apart from Britain. Another way Canada was defined was through the Canadian Citizenship Act, in 1947, and also in the revised version of said act in 1977 (Young, 1997). Before the act, a Canadian citizenship did not exist. This act gave Canadians the title of being a Canadian citizen, rather than being titled with being a British subject. Canadians finally became Canadians. Everyone who was in Canada belonged to Canada, not so much to Britain. This was a huge social event as after the law was passed, it united Canada and its people together as a part of one, independent nation.

This independent nation of Canada has also been through lots of economic good times and hardships, as they contributed to the autonomy and definition of the nation. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), was the agreement that Canada made with the United States and Mexico in 1994, which stated that they could trade goods amongst each other without tariffs (Nafta, 2012). This greatly contributed to Canada’s economy, as these countries traded with each other even more. Even if NAFTA was only present in Canada for 6 years of the twentieth century, these six years were affected by it, defining Canada to what it is today. NAFTA has created many job opportunities for Canada, gave Canadians a choice and variety of goods to choose from, and generated economic flow within Canada (Markville, 2011).

Also generating economic flow was probably the main economical occurrence in the twentieth century, the rise and fall of the 1920s and 1930s, leading up to the Great Depression. The mid 1920s were very beneficial and good to most of Canada. After recovering from the economic hard times from after World War 1, parts of Canada saw economic good times (Markville, 2008). People in Canada could afford many things that they could not before, and also had much more time for leisure activities because of all the technological advances of the time (Ascension, 2012). Then in 1929, the New York Stock Market had crashed and had started the Great Depression (Ascension, 2012). The Great Depression was a huge tragedy leaving many people in poverty and in bad times and bad conditions.

This event definitely helped shape Canada to what it is today, as Canadians now know how to deal with these types of situations. The rise and fall had also helped Canada become more autonomous because it had recovered, fallen, then dealt with its problems on its own, with minimal direct help from Britain. Later on, Canada had also shown its independence by declaring war on Germany (during WW2) 7 days after Britain had in 1939 (Lucas, 2006).

Declaring war after Britain signifies that Canada is not just fighting in the war because of Britain, but because they want to fight as their own nation. World War II had also taken Canada out of the Great Depression, as war times restored and rejuvenated the economy. Overall, Canada’s economy has been through many ups and downs, but all in all has made it independent from other countries and has defined Canada as its own.

Canada had become its own nation throughout all of the twentieth century. This time period has given Canada its independence and has defined Canada. Politically, Canada has experienced the Statute of Westminster, The Persons Case, and The Battle of Vimy Ridge, and all have showed signs of independence and definition of the nation. Also through social means, such as the birth of “O Canada” and “Canada Day”, The League of Nations, and The Canadian Citizenship Act, Canada has become autonomous and united as one. Finally, Canada’s economy has benefited from agreements like NAFTA, but it has also plummeted, sky rocketed, then plummeted once more during the 20s and 30s, including the Great Depression and the second World War. No matter what Canada has been through, it has gotten through it all successfully. The twentieth century, has made Canada, Canada, and what has happened is now Canadian history – the history of a superb nation.

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