Monday, December 11, 2006

The Recognition of Independence

Today, as it turns out, is the 75th anniversary of the passing of the Statute of Westminster (Dec. 11, 1931). This was an act of the British Parliament that recognized the "white" dominions (Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa at the time) as the peers of the United Kingdom. Effectively, this was date that Canada (et al.) took full control and responsibility for its own foreign policy, laws, and government. No longer could or would London legislate in any manner that applied to us (without our consent), nor could it any longer nullify our laws, or send us to war, or interfere or intercede in our negotiations with other lands. Not strictly analogous to the US Declaration of Independence, it might better be described as the Recognition of Independence. For each dominion, the price was the blood shed on battlefields of the Empire in the First World War, and demand afterward that that should mean something.

The day will pass in Canada without observation or recognition. I don't know if that will be the case elsewhere in the "white" Commonwealth, but I suspect as much. It's a real shame the low-key embarrassment felt in modern Commonwealth countries about our imperial past should rob us of an opportunity to feel pride in a very key moment in our development as independent nations on the world stage, particularly when that final acknowledgement came at such a cost to a whole generation.

1 comment:

Daniel wbc said...

Thank you for this; I was unaware. I am working on my Canadian education.