Editor: On September 1, 1864, the premiers of the colonies of Nova Scotia (Charles Tupper), New Brunswick (Samuel Tilley) and Prince Edward Island (John Hamilton Grey) met with the premiers of Upper and Lower Canada (John A Macdonald and George Etienne Cartier) here in Charlottetown to discuss a potential merger of the colonies.
These discussions by our Founding Fathers eventually led to the birth of our nation on July 1, 1867.
It is worth repeating that July 1, 1867, was the date of the formal creation of Canada, a date that was decided upon through discussions with the British government in late 1866 and early 1867. It followed the drafting and enactment of the British North America Act in London.
That act was proclaimed by Queen Victoria on March 29, 1867, for the union to take place July 1 of that year.
This is why all Canadians celebrate July 1 as the nation’s birthday each year, the date of birth of the nation.
But P.E.I. was not party to the discussions leading up to Confederation, having decided in October 1864, after the Quebec Conference that followed the Charlottetown meeting, that a merger with the other Canadian colonies was not a good idea.
P.E.I. decided to remain a British colony at that time and removed itself from further discussions. P.E.I. only elected to join Canada in 1873, six years after Confederation, and by then it was preceded by Manitoba in 1870 and British Columbia in 1871.
Given that July 1, 1867, is the birth date of Confederation and P.E.I. had excluded itself from the process leading to the formation of Canada, how can we now claim to be its place of birth?
P.E.I. was neither at the table when the new nation was born nor provided the maternity bed, as it were.
It stretches the imagination to suggest that September 1, 1864, the initial date of the Charlottetown discussions, could be regarded as the true date of birth of the nation.
But if this is not the case, P.E.I. can hardly be its birthplace. There is no doubt that the Charlottetown meeting of our founding fathers has an extremely important place in Canada’s history leading to our nation’s creation, but it was neither the time nor place of its birth.
I am afraid that all the P.E.I. licence plates will have to change.
by John Palmer,