Randomly, on Canada Day

Ah, another fine Canada Day, and who would I be if I didn’t take a minute to write something about the fine country I’m so proud to live in. This is tradition, of course – I’ve done it almost every year I’ve been blogging. There are Canada Day posts from  20042005, 2006, 2007, 20082009, 2010, 2011,  2013 and 2015 for your reading pleasure.

This year I give you: Ten Random things about Canada.

1. There is no cultural taboo about discussing religion or politics in Canada. As a matter of fact, most of us discuss politics everywhere we go. Coffee shops, dinners, parties, the bank… political debate is a sport here. It’s not considered rude to bring up either of those topics. Note: Though religion and politics are fine to talk about, as a a culture, we don’t care for them combined.

2. In Canada, we have no major politicians or parties opposed to equal marriage, which we’ve had uneventfully in place since 2005.  It is a political non-starter in this country, and this weekend, the Prime Minister will walk in the Pride parade here in Toronto. (Me too.)

3. It is free for me to send a letter to the Governor General, The Prime Minister,  the Speaker or Clerk of the House of Commons, the Parliamentary Librarian, all Members of the Senate, all Members of the House of Commons, or the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Any of those people can send me a letter for free too, as long as we’re both in Canada. Note: Not a package. Just a letter, and if an MP wants to send a letter to all their constituents, they can do that for free too, just only four times a year. We’re Canadian. We like restraint.

4. Santa Claus lives in Canada, and his address is: Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0.  If you send him a letter from anywhere in the world, you’ll get a letter back, almost always in the language you wrote to him in.  This is because he is a magic elf, and also, Canadians are really nice.

5. In 2013, we got rid of the penny.  Our only coins now are the $2, $1, quarters, dimes and nickles. Everything still has prices on it like we have pennies though.  If something costs $1.99, and you pay with a card, it costs $1.99.  If you’re using cash the shopkeeper will round it up or down.  Like a lot of things in Canada, this sounds like it would never work, but everybody is doing it and it’s totally fine.

6. While Canadians have free speech (except for hate speech) and freedom of the press, it’s illegal to lie in broadcast news. There’s a law that says they “shall not broadcast any false or misleading news.” This can make the news sort of boring, especially when it comes to politics, but also means that Canadians can pretty much trust what we hear. This makes #1 less volatile.

7. There is a law against “pretending to practice witchcraft.” Actual witchcraft isn’t illegal, it’s find to be Wiccan, for example, but if you say you can perform magic for money, and then you don’t? That’s a crime.

8. The Canadian Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II, not the Prime Minister.  What’s that you say? The Queen of England is Canada’s head of state? Nope. The Queen of Canada is Canada’s head of state, she just happens to have that other job too.  She’s not around much though, so we have a Governor General to be her viceregal representative. The Governor General is also the Commander in Chief of the Canadian Military, except if the Queen is here. Then it’s her.

9. Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t join Confederation until 1949. My husband’s parents weren’t born in Canada, their birth certificates read “Newfoundland” as their country of birth. That means that although their families have been here for a long time, and my husband was born the same place they were, he’s a first generation Canadian.

10. In Canada, when a family has a baby (by birth, or through adoption) the new mother can take a paid maternity leave of up to 15 weeks. After that, “parental leave” applies – either parent can take another 35 weeks of paid leave after that, and the parents can share the leave however they like. They can both claim it, and stay home together for half the time, or the mother can take the whole thing. That’s 50 weeks total, and your boss can’t give away your job. There’s some problems with this, like that we haven’t figured out how to extend it to all self employed parents, and there’s a cap on how much you’re paid while you’re off (it depends on your income level, 55% for wealthy Canadians, and up to 80% for lower income ones) but for most Canadians, it’s a more or less paid year off when you have a baby, and that’s a pretty sweet ride.

11. I know. I said there would be ten, but I can’t resist this one. When our Prime Minister was asked why he’d selected a cabinet that for the first time in Canadian history, had an equal number of men and women, he repliedBecause it’s 2015″.

There you have it, a little slice of Canada for you, on it’s 148th 149th Birthday. (Whoops! Typo!) How about you, my fellow Canadians? Anything you want to add? Any wild or wonderful tidbits about our quirky and kind country?  Have at it in the comments, and keep your stick on the ice.

Happy Canada Day!

(PS. If you want to immigrate here, you can check here to see if you’re eligible. We have lots of room.)