Wednesday, December 1, 2004


(via Andrew Coyne and I will link it once it becomes available)

You see, in Canada we gave up believing years ago, in religion, in ideals, in pretty much of anything, really. Secure as we were under the American defence umbrella, we were infantilized; having no need to defend ourselves, we could not understand why anyone else would have more. Or perhaps it is this: having renounced even the wish to defend ourselves, having absorbed the notion that the country could be destroyed at any moment by a vote of half the population of one province, what was left to believe?
If we cannot even bring ourselves to believe in the country's existence - as a first principle, from which all others follow - how is it possible to take a definitive stance on any other question? And so, by and large, we haven't.

This sentiment has come up frequently over at the Shotgun group blog lately, especially here and here.

Both posts quote a Washington Post article with this money quote:

Part of what's irksome about Canadian anti-Americanism and the obsession with the United States is that it seems so corrosive to Canada. Any country that defines itself through a negative ("Canada: We're not the United States") is doomed to an endless and repetitive cycle of hand-wringing and angst. For example, Canadians often point to their system of universal health care as the best example of what it means to be Canadian (because the United States doesn't provide it), but this means that any effort to adjust or reform that system (which is not perfect) precipitates a national identity crisis: To wit, instituting co-payments or private MRI clinics will make Canada too much like the United States.

This is what I found annoying about the whole "Greatest Canadian" exercise. Over and over it was pounded into our heads that the Canadian values are tolerance and diversity. Douglas was great because of this, Trudeau was great because of this, even MacDonald was great because of this. They disqualify of Cherry is that he is somehow intolerant and undiverse (if that is an actual state of being). I have no problem with the concepts of tolerance and diversity but they are not the bedrocks of a civilization. What about the values of hard-work, responsibility, entrepreneurship? The early settlers came here to make their lives better, yes some were fleeing intolerance but they came to find economic opportunity; a place to raise their families. The early dream of immigrants was to live in an environment where their children could have more opportunities than they had. It was inherently an optimistic belief that drove people here. Without this belief in the future and striving for greatness society crumbles and leaves tolerance and diversity in shambles right along with it.

Canadians are more than heathcare, more than tolerance and diversity. We are a great and courageous and yes kind people. I fear the results if we ignore our legacy of greatness behind for the empty promise of anti-Americanism.

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