Journalism: Gwynne Dyer Veteran journalist tours North
Gwynne Dyer offers optimism for Canada's future
NNSL (OCT 14/96) - Canadians have little to fear from the future, says Canadian award-winning journalist and historian Gwynne Dyer.

Dyer wrapped up his northern lecture tour, The New Canada ... the Globalization Shuffle, last week in Yellowknife.

Dyer, a guest of Aurora College, spent two weeks touring campuses and community halls in Iqaluit, Inuvik and Fort Smith.

Best known for his award-winning television documentary series, War, Dyer recently hosted Millenium, a six-part CBC Radio series.

Dyer offered audiences his theories on subjects ranging from Quebec's separatism to Canada's role in the emerging global village and the immigration explosion.

While Ottawa remains suspect over its non-publicized lifting of what Dyer describes as the "white policy during the 1980s," which cranked open the doors to immigrants world-wide, Dyer said those immigrants have helped Canada's economy like never before.

"About 1980, traditional English Canada passed away.... Since then, two-thirds of the immigrants have come from non-traditional areas such as Asia. We've now got twice the immigration rate per capita than the Americans, even including their illegal immigrants."

This explosion, Dyer said, has transformed the psychology of the country.

"We've now got the capacity to have the innovative edge because we have everyone from the world here.

Last year, for example, Canada traded its traditional position as the world's second-largest manufacturer of automobiles for the same spot in television manufacturing.

"The world has virtually run out of wars."

Dyer's exploration of war, or the lack of them, also drew considerable audience reaction.

With the fall of the Soviet Union and China heading down the road to democracy, the world is seeing an "avalanche of democratization."

"We stand at 70 per cent of world countries living in a democracy. Once China switches it will be 90 per cent."

Wars don't occur between democracies," he noted. "The world has virtually run out of wars."

Overall, Dyer holds out hope for an united and prosperous Canada, despite the political problems brewing since last year's Quebec referendum.

"It would have been an ugly divorce and it would have got very ugly very quickly," said Dyer, The Cree and Inuit of northern Quebec were prepared to assert their rights to stay in Canada by trenching roads and airport runways, while Mohawks in the south were ready to do the same by barricading bridges across the St. Lawrence, and ethnic violence would have erupted in Montreal, said Dyer.

With that disaster narrowly averted, Quebec separatists' window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

If the country survives the next referendum, expected in 1999, he said, then we will be out of the woods.

"There is a very major light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "What we have to do is hang in there for the next five or so years and hope the country doesn't fall apart -- which may be a tall order."

But not to worry, he closed, "I have become an acute belated optimistic, I'll stay there for now."