As we celebrate 150 years of confederation there is much discussion around the question of a Canadian identity and around what unites us as a country. Many believe that there is no core Canadian identity, no real heritage of value, and that all that unites us is our diversity. When looking back to those who founded this country, however, you will find that this diverse group of men united not on the basis of their differences, but on the basis of that which they shared, that is, a common heritage and a common set of values and beliefs. We would do well, I believe, to celebrate these things with the same vigour we celebrate diversity itself.
While proponents of confederation were in general agreement as to the desirability of this project, there was a fair amount of disagreement as to how to make it a reality, as well as how to unite the people around a common identity. They began, therefore, with the recognition of our common heritage in the Crown and of all that had been achieved under it. In the Legislative Assembly of the United Province of Canada (1865), Richard Cartwright, influential politician and orator, explained that Canada should indeed “cherish and preserve those time-honoured associations our American neighbours have seen fit so recklessly to cast away.”