Living as I do in the back country to the Nation’s Capital I am no stranger to a Lanark County twang or F-150s. My formal introduction to country living was unforgettably by virtue of a casual question from my predecessor Raymond A. Jamieson, QC who upon meeting me for the first time asked, “How’s trade?” The inquiry momentarily set me back on my heels. This was a cryptic glance into my psyche. As a young lawyer who only a year earlier had cut his teeth in the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of West Coast Transmission Co. Ltd. regarding an attack upon the McKenzie Valley Pipeline Hearing, I was less than acquainted with the trades. My upbringing in a predominantly literary and philosophic atmosphere – and not having worked for a living other than among lawyers (unless you count being lifeguard at the golf club pool) – pointedly worked against my worldliness.
Now over forty years later I stare across the precious Persians through the sheers onto the stubble of a vacant field wondering why Americans currently figure so brightly in the putative combat and division between them. Surely it is no coincidence that my predecessor was – unaccountably to me at first – driven by a curiosity in the American political system. This too I have by degrees learned to absorb. My favourite grandfather (the one with whom I was more acquainted) was originally from Massachusetts. Through him I account my attachment to the Atlantic Ocean and my fascination with the the Pilgrim Fathers (1620) and our common resistance to the British.
The singularity of the American mind is proving to be its undoing. Beginning at the top for example the Trump administration has done everything possible to isolate the Union from the world and to restore what he archaically characterized as the former “Great America“. Critics insinuate Trump has sought to distance the allies and embrace the autocrats (Russia, China, North Korea). Meanwhile – perhaps as a result of the aggressive actions by Trump – his supporters seek to regain control of the Constitution by heightening the rights of free speech and to carry arms.
Combining these entitlements with a “helpful” tax system (as part of the business realm) it isn’t long before concluding as is so popularly cited that America is the land of opportunity. It is equally apparent that not everyone succeeds to that opportunity. Nor is it an inductive leap from subsidies to indolence. Americans have unwittingly sought to punish those who would illegally enter or who inadequately perform. Present company excluded.
One wonders what indeed is the divide between business and the trades? Haven’t we all come from the same place? Have we merely adopted different appearances to preserve an isolation and division?