March 12, 2015

Happy birthday, William Lyon Mackenzie: Why he still matters today

John RobsonResident Historian

The best gift I can give William Lyon Mackenzie -- who was born on this day in 1795 -- is to clear up some misconceptions about him.

He was more than just the rebellious rabble-rouser whose printing press was thrown into Lake Ontario.

In the first place -- and there's no other way to put this -- he was obnoxious.

WLM's critics had a point when they complained about the dubious accuracy of some of his claims.

What few people know, however, is that he actually drafted a awfully American-sounding constitution that included the right to bear arms. Not surprisingly, there aren't a lot of copies of it around.

(Mackenzie King loved America so much that he moved there briefly, but he later decided he hated it there, too and returned to Canada.)

The elites tell us that conservatism is unCanadian, but a closer look at William Lyon Mackenzie's life and legacy shows that this isn't really the case:


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commented 2015-03-14 09:20:00 -0400
“One thing, only I know. That is I know nothing” or something like that. Love learning new things. Keep informing us John!!
commented 2015-03-13 00:53:29 -0400
W L Mackenzie and J L Papineau (1841) can be credited with getting the British attention that the government and philosophy of 1791 (The Constitutional Act) was not a realistic model for the Canada’s. With the investigation by Lord Durham and his report, it took until 1849 (Lord Elgin) before responsible government was finally realized in the Canada’s and the voice of the elected assembly had real powers. Lord Elgin signed the Rebellion Losses Bill, which he disliked, but which had been passed by the elected assembly. Responsible government was established.
commented 2015-03-12 21:13:12 -0400
Good stuff John! Can we get this draft constitution online?
commented 2015-03-12 17:07:05 -0400
So who wrote this headline? WLMacKenzie died in 1861. Prime Minister?
commented 2015-03-12 15:17:51 -0400
The blurb above the video conflates Mackenzie and Mackenzie King with regards moving to the states. Also the idea of drafting an American-style constitution seems not so unreasonable, since, despite, or possibly because of, the right to bear arms being of long-standing in English-speaking countries, British legislators neglected to see it enshrined, (along with property rights, freedom of speech and such), in the BNA. Of course, given Obama’s recent illegal rampaging about in Washington, writing it down in clear for the the nation to ratify does not appear to have done the damn Yankees much good either.
commented 2015-03-12 13:33:34 -0400
Interesting John. Where can we find Willie’s constitution? I would love to post it with highlights on the CBCnews site. Love your work.