Pan Northern


In the 1990s Quebec was seeking Sovereignty after the Meech Lake Accord fell apart.  The Accord had set out to decentralize some powers and recognize Quebec as forming a “distinct society”.    The Ontario government established a Select Committee to find some different ways forward.  I made a presentation called “The Idea of North”.

I had always appreciated the “distinct society” and particularly the Quebec cinema, music and theatre.

Perhaps the “arts” would be fertile peacemaking territory.  Perhaps our shared northerness should be expressed as a common characteristic.   In a presentation, quite unlike others, I celebrated shared northernness and then went on to express the strengths of a pan-Canadian and ultimately a circumpolar northernness.  On an environmental note I spoke of the environmental fragility of the North presaging the frightening warming that’s now taken place.

My presentation became like a theatrical staged event!  It seemed every time I spoke of northern cold or arctic conditions, someone came into the room from the north-facing doors and snow and wind from Georgian bay “whooshed” into the room.  It became a “dramatic” presentation!!

On re-reading the following report from Provincial Hansard, published 25 years ago, I find it informative and particularly want to note that later that year Finland proposed a pan-Arctic Council and it came into being before the century was over.  I still celebrate the vitality of Quebec arts, architecture and “northern spirit”.   Read my two-gage presentation here:    Pan Northern Presentation

Presentation to the Select Committee on Ontario in Confederation Feb 14, 1991

Presentation to the Select Committee on Ontario in Confederation Feb 14, 1991

I appreciated the photography of James Masters and shortly after making the presentation ordered prints of his photography from the Owen Sound Sun Times.  We both liked the flag background, and the profile photo also captured the sense I was feeling at the time. 

Confederation Hearings 02-14-91-0001 (2) Confederation Hearings 02-14-91-0002 (1)