July 1, 2008

Oh Canada

Now, I really, really hate that I have to do this, but every year I've been given a whupping. Saying "Canada is a great country" is not a direct translation for "The US stinks". Being pro-Canada is not being anti-US. Saying "I love the way we do things" does not mean "and therefore, you do it wrong". This is a whole different country with different laws and culture. We will never be the same and that does not mean that either country dwells in the heart of darkness. Loving where I live is not bashing the US any more than having fireworks and shouting "USA #1" on the 4th of July (which I thoroughly recommend, since I think a country is only as good as the people who love and defend it) constitutes an attack on Canada. Thus ends the pre-emptive strike. Don't be a hoser.

Every year I take a minute to write a little something about my country on its birthday. I love how international the blog community is, and can't resist the opportunity to do a little PR for the good thing I think we've got going on here. I did "Things to do on Canada Day" and "You know you're a Canadian Knitter when...." then "Stuff you maybe didn't know about us" (Clearly I didn't work hard on that title.) Then last year "Canada A to Z" (and that's "Zed" not "Zee").

This year I was at a loss. I felt like I've done it all, I took my knitting and a good brew to the backyard, and sitting there in the sunshine knitting, it hit me:


In the fine tradition of Random days on blogs, this is:

Random stuff about Canada

This is a country where if we accidentally elect an arse, our political system allows for a do over. Admittedly this creates other problems (like 1984, when three Prime Ministers held office) but at least there's a way out of a bad call, leadership wise.

This is a country with access to good beer, and nobody thinks you're a lush if you drink it at lunch. (Also, if it is hot or if it is a long weekend you can drink it anytime you want. Heat and long weekends are a free pass in the beer department.)

This is a country with something as grand and glorious as CBC Radio. (Three cheers for Vinyl Cafe, As it Happens and DNTO.)

This is a country with a national sense of humour. We are a funny people, and a people that value not taking things too seriously all the time. The best evidence I can offer is that this is a country where a politician running for office appeared bare bummed and leaping into a lake during his campaign and it improved his chances of being elected.

This is a country where the Government (finally) apologized, took responsibility for and began the process of compensation to the Aboriginal People of this land for the shameful way they have been treated. While I can't help but think that this might belong in the "too little, too late" category, I felt proud to hear the words "The government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. We are sorry." come out of Stephen Harpers mouth. (It's one of the only times I've enjoyed hearing the man speak.)

This is a country with the worlds longest National Highway. The Trans Canada Highway is 7, 821km long and goes from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John's, Newfoundland.

This is a country that is home to David Suzuki.

This is a country that generated the genius of The Logdriver's Waltz, (which still fills me with joy no matter how many times I see it.) not to mention the National Film Board.

This is a country with Universal Health Care, which means that no matter what goes wrong with me or my children, we'll be cared for by the best person for the job, not the best person we can afford. Sure, it's a triage system which means that if we're not very sick we'll have to wait, while sicker people go first, but the fact that the only thing that can move you to the front of the line is your need, not your money? It just makes me more proud.

This is a country that is ranked the 4th most livable country in the world, has one of the highest life expectancies, low infant mortality, and 48% of Canadian adults have a college or university degree. (That's the highest of all OECD countries.) We're ranked 11th on the Global Peace Index, it's safe here, we're very tolerant and we eat more Kraft Dinner per capita than any other country in the world. (I can't explain that last one.)
(Kraft Dinner is the Canadian name for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I don't know why it's labelled differently here.)

This is a country that prides itself on being a mosaic, rather than a melting pot.

This is a country that has the second largest oil deposits in the world and provides the US with more of their oil than the Middle East does.

This is a country with an exceptional Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (It helps that it was written in the 80's. Nice and current.)

This is a country where 77% of the people believe that global climate change is a big problem, where Henry Morgentaler is about to get The Order of Canada, where the flag on Parliament Hill is lowered any day a Canadian Soldier is killed overseas, where 95% believe that our government has a responsibility to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment in other countries, 25% use marijuana at some point in their life, (93% of Canadians support Medical Marijuana use) 78% believe in life somewhere else in the universe, 74% of people consider President Bush a threat to world peace, 54% use alternative medicine along with allopathic medicine, only 8% of us belong to an evangelical Christian church, but 10% believe they have seen a UFO. If Canadians could vote in the next US election, 17% would vote for McCain and 46% for Obama.

This is a country that values "Peace, Order and Good Government." (This is Canada's equivalent to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness")

This is a country that knits. A lot. Think huge knitting guilds with hundreds of members.

This is a country that invented peacekeeping.

This is a country:

where you eat a chocolate bar (not a "candy bar")
where you line up or queue up
where you can buy milk in bags
where almost all tea is served hot, not cold
where you write the date day/month/year.
where you can still do all the hand signals to Skin-a-mar-in-kee-dink-e-dink, and you can't imagine who can't.
where there is the Queen's Plate, longest running stakes horse race in the North America.
where when you and you're kids design hallowe'en costumes, you make sure they can go over a snow suit.
where if a cop gives you a ticket you thank them.
where if the government wastes money it's a scandal that brings down the government.
where it's spelled colour, honour, woollen, woolly, centre, theatre, cauldron, axe, catalogue, cheque, grey, favour, glamour, misdemeanour and ardour.
where you can buy two-fours, chesterfields, Mickeys, poutine, screech, serviettes, tuques, pop... and if you have enough money... Tories or Grits.
where Cuba is an awesome vacation spot.
where you feel very sentimental about Casey, Finnegan, Rusty Jerome, Sharon, Lois and Bram.

This is a country that wants you to keep your stick on the ice. (Literally, and metaphorically.)

Happy Canada Day, and how about using the comments for your version?

Canada is a country where.....

(PS. Sorry about this guys, so many of you are leaving such wonderful comments, but I'm closing them. I know that won't stop the private mail and I can live with that. Really, there's a few people that I'm just gong to save from themselves. For the record, although I'm probably going to have to type it a hundred more times, Canadians having an opinion about the country with whom they share the worlds largest trade relationship and the worlds largest undefended border is appropriate and necessary. The US is a superpower, and what happens in the government there influences the lives of people around the world. US economy down in a mortgage mess = Canadians out of work. I understand the urge to tell the world to mind their own business...but as long as the US has a hand in everyone's business, that's simply not a reasonable request. To quote Spiderman's Uncle Ben "With great power, comes great responsibility." How Americans vote influences the world.)

(PPS: Seriously, as per the disclaimer at the top, saying Canadians have a national sense of humour is not a statement about the US. It's a statement about Canada.)

(PPPS: While we're correcting things, as for the Pride Day thing? Slag me all you want, but I still think that Human Rights should be extended to all Humans, and that Humanity should be the only criteria. I won't be calling you names or threatening your livelihood if you disagree though.)

Posted by Stephanie at July 1, 2008 3:49 PM