Post-National Passports

“When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness” – Alexis de Tocqueville

The Trudeau government has decided to eliminate pictures of Canadian history in our passports, including Terry Fox, Vimy Ridge, Nellie McClung, and Samuel Champlain. They will be replaced by abstract imagery such as a squirrel, a snowy owl, and children jumping into a lake. Columnist Brian Lilley described the new passport as resembling a “cheap Ikea colouring book”.

The removal of cherished symbols has provoked a significant backlash from the Canadian public. Notably, Conservative politicians, too often reticent to enter the controversial debate on national identity, have joined the chorus of protest.

If we are to effectively oppose the current dismantling of Canadian history, we must accurately articulate the motivations of those responsible. The changes to the passports are not silly or nonsensical, but rather correspond to the post-nationalist philosophy of a section of our political elite. This post-nationalism is best exemplified by the Trudeau dynasty.

In 1967, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism concluded that Canada was fundamentally “bicultural”, a term which encompassed the Anglo and Québecois cultures, while explicitly including the contributions of other ethnic groups. Pierre Trudeau rejected these findings, instead establishing multiculturalism in 1971.

Pierre Trudeau took this bold step because of his profound distrust of all forms of nationalism. In his 1962 essay The New Treason of the Intellectuals, he declared that the “very idea of the nation state is absurd”. While he is mainly remembered for his hatred of Québecois nationalism, his scorn for Anglo Canadian nationalism is lesser known. He proclaimed that “English Canadians, with their own nationalism, will have to retire gracefully to their proper place, consenting to modify their own precious image of what Canada ought to be”.

Pierre Trudeau’s vision of a Canada without nationalism, without even the concept of a nation state, has reached its logical conclusion under his son. In an interview with the New York Times, Justin Trudeau infamously described Canada as the world’s first “post-national state” with “no core identity”.

Far from nonsensical, the decision to wipe Canadian history from passports is perfectly consistent with the post-national ideology that has been imposed by the Trudeau dynasty. If the concept of nations and nationalism is absurd, it logically follows that all symbols of national identity and history must go.

We cannot defend Canadian history and identity without understanding the motivations behind their erasure. If the ideology of the ruling political elite is post-nationalism, the antidote is nationalism. While Canadians are wary of nationalism, in the past, eminent intellectuals as varied as George Grant and Mel Hurtig were unashamed of using the term.

The idea that being a nationalist means hating other nations is laughable. Does loving your own family mean that you hate other families? It is high time that we consider nationalism to be the healthy default regardless of one’s place on the political spectrum, and relegate post-nationalism to the dustbin of history.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Islands Marketplace magazine ( in my bi-monthly column, Counter Current.

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