On the proposed LSUC name change from “Upper Canada” to “Ontario”
LSUC Bencher Michael Lerner has asked our opinion on Convocation’s decision to change the Law Society’s name away from “Upper Canada”. Here is my letter in reply.
Good morning, Mr. Lerner.
Thank you for seeking our opinions. That said, and with respect, I really don’t think it should have been a benchers’ decision at all. It should have been on the ballot for the next benchers election as a binding choice of the licensees taken together.
I oppose the name change.
Is the name dated? Yes; LSUC has existed since 1797, and the name of the province changed in 1841. Does that make it bad? No. Does that make it necessary to change? No.
Names that link us back to our history are part of remembering who we are, what we were, and where we came from, to remember the positive and the negative. This is normal, and positive. But, the fact is, there are many voices in our culture who take as both the starting and finishing point of arguments that where we started and what we were were both Unequivocally Bad, period, if that “we” links to the colonial or British or pre-multicultural past. This is terrible history and worse social engineering, creating as it does one ethnic and cultural origin group who must be perpetually ashamed, and (in this case) whose names linking to that past and achievements must be progressively and wholly erased, like old Bolsheviks airbrushed out of photos of Stalin one by one as each becomes an unperson. In essence, it is a peaceful adoption of the philosophy of Mao’s Red Guards: all the “Olds” must go, by fiat or force if necessary. It’s all the more shameful because the moralities and philosophies of liberty, of parliamentary representation, and of the legal and court systems that we as lawyers represent and try to uphold all have British origins. It seems wrong and ahistorical to so treat the core trunk of our cultural tree, helping it become an “unculture”, recognition of whose contributions are systematically erased on the dubious and transitory of today’s view of what the present and the future should be.
[End note re publication]