Can We Learn From Our Past?

Why, year after year, decade after decade, do we read of the same problems that befall us? Why do we not learn from the past? The above quote surely answers these questions as we seem doomed to live through continual Ground Hog Days by the way we think, legislate, contest and interact in daily life.

Recently, I put my nose into a Tome by famed lawyer, Alan M. Dershowitz- America on Trial [2004] and could not help noting certain similarities between the end of 18th century America and the recent opinions, albeit now rescinded, by PKP. Back around 1798, in America, there was a Federalist movement afoot that was responsible for passing the Alien and Sedition Acts under President John Adams.

Now this was long before conspiracy theorists created the ever present stories of aliens being held at Area 51. In fact, the aliens referred to in those laws were, basically, immigrants, due to the rising fear (by the legislators of the day) that censorship, imprisonment and deportation were necessary tools. (Are you starting to feel a connexity to the political disaster we call Quebec politics yet?)

The Americans felt the “need for a sedition law to keep our rogues (read Quebec Anglos/immigrants now) from cutting our throats, and an alien law to prevent the invasion by a host of foreign rogues to assist them” [page 70 / America on Trial].

Why then is it important for Quebecers to learn from this past in America? Because we must not put up legislative walls to control our fundamental rights and freedoms. We, and by we I mean all Canadians present and future, who reside in Quebec should curtail any Government, politician or pretender to the Throne who suggests that one or more groups amongst us should be treated differently. Otherwise, we are raising one group to a level permitting that group to erroneously believe that they are superior to the rest of us. We are not “aliens” or “rogues” and frankly, I am tired of hearing and reading of others who hold that opinion in this day and age. Enough already!

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

– George Santayana

Austerity, we are told, is the religion of the day, if you are but a mere taxpayer. Yet politicians continue to waste our money daily, not to mention those who speak to yet another referendum! How many more millions have to be thrown out on this notion of inequality instead of using it to fix our crumbling infrastructures? It is shameful and embarrassing to live in such a great city yet have streets that look like tanks have rolled through them. How can we ever regain our rightful place in a world of cities by wasting the little resources we have on ego boosting rhetoric? When will we stop spending beyond our means?

So many unanswered questions, so much to be done and no one to take the helm and make the tough choices that will get us out from under. In a time of austerity, Government shouldn’t be changing street names thereby causing businesses to have to spend more money to redo signage, business cards, letterheads, etc. Disband the OQLF and use that budget for infrastructure and upgrades, instead of menu reprinting and plastic spoons. Cut by 50% the Quebec Perceptor’s Office as it was never true that all payers of alimony and child support were deadbeats. That was by and large simple bureaucratic job creation. Take that budget too and pave our streets and fix our overpasses.

When will we be mad enough to say “ça suffit”? When will we learn from the past?

Me Hammerschmid is a practicing Family Law Attorney since 1982 and Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates, 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290, and a founding and current member [past Secretary for 28 years] of The Family Law Association of Quebec. Frequent guest on CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD on Family Law, Me Hammerschmid can be reached at 514-846-1013 or [email protected].  Inquiries treated confidentially.