For me, it started with Mulroney and the cutting of national programs like the train and the post office. Maybe even further back and the changes to the military’s uniforms and structure. It continued for another two decades with more and more removing and cutting and denigration of the land as a whole in favour of local interests and a do nothing attitude. The Government of Canada is for disassembling. It’s not so much as these programs and institutions were sacred but they were not replaced by anything that made the federation stronger.
Recently, I had the honour to go to a US village council on official business and witnessed the pledge of allegiance being recited before the meeting began. It was a casual, competent and fully aware moment of commonality by everyone of all persuasions in the room that could have been played out anywhere in the nation. Not jingoism. They just love their country. We have nothing like that. Maybe we did once.
Something unsurprising happened when I was in Saskatoon. Because there was a non-Canadian with us we realized what it means that we thought of it that way.
Somebody pointed to a license plate from the Yukon. A fifteen passenger van, the mostly Inuit bunch of kids jumping out into a gas station parking lot – what were they doing in Saskatoon!? Oh yeah, it’s pretty close to Canada Day. They’re traveling back from Ottawa of course – see the Canadian flag in the window?
You should have seen Andreas. These people had driven across a continent to celebrate a country. He couldn’t imagine Germans driving across Germany to do that. He said that if you waved a German flag in the street the Russians and other immigrants would beat you up.
We have something. We have a country where patriotism has a good history. Canadian patriotism means liberating Holland was part of looking out for our own rights. Our Commonwealth heritage has given us a cosmopolitan nationalism. We’ve known how to feel kinship beyond borders for a long time and being in the Francophonie means we’ve got something really unique.
We’ve got a country where a Russian is a German is Korean is Inuit is Canadian – right across a continent.
It’s been said that the Dutch know what it means to be Canadian better than we do. So does a German. Our system of government is being tested. Let’s remember that this mess proves how well it’s been working up to now. A coaliton could make a lot of people – and not just in Alberta – question the country. But an election doesn’t guarantee anything. Let’s keep in mind that Canada’s been through parliamentary mess – even one that was essentially between anglo and french blocks and that took a Grand Coalition to keep us going on – and that it’s been seventy years since the last one anything like this. And…
Let’s remember that from outside eyes, it’s a country worth keeping.