June 29, 2001
The Canada Day weekend is usually spent by
most of us hanging around parks, cottages and backyards. There's
fireworks and face painting for the kids and beer for the dads. Not
to mention the million Canuck trivia contests, sports events and
Even as we goof off on a well-deserved long
weekend, everyone tries to capture the essence of what it means to
There's all the obvious ones - hockey, maple
syrup, finding Mike Myers movies hilarious, hating Toronto even if
you live there. But there are some subtle things about what it means
to be Canadian.
Like our irrational love for convertibles
and summer homes, especially crazy since we really only get five
good weekends a year.
Or demanding tax cuts, but whining about how
bad government services have become.
It's part of the Canadian character to
loudly proclaim that if you lived in the States your cost of living
would be so much cheaper, but delighting in telling everyone about
the time you made a wrong turn into a bad neighborhood in Detroit
and almost got murdered.
It's also so Canadian that we have a
'national' newspaper that almost daily demands we merge with the
United States, use Yankee greenbacks instead of the loonie, and
makes a career out of telling the wealthiest people in this country
how badly off they are.
By the way, it also tickles us when we meet
someone in a different country and they don't automatically assume
If you're Canadian you sometimes get to say
'hello' to a former Prime Minister on the street. It's happened to
me twice. I walked by John Turner in downtown Toronto and Joe Clark
in Ottawa. Each of them were walking alone, and both gave me a warm
'hi' back. No bodyguards or Mounties. No one ready to wrestle me to
the ground. We may not treat our leaders with respect when they're
in office, but on the street we remember our manners.
It's Canadian to look forward every year to
strawberry season - the whole week of it.
If you're in my neighbourhood, Blue Rodeo's
Jim Cuddy shops at the same Loblaws as you do, and is genuinely
pleased when you tell him you enjoy his music.
And you can lose your wallet in this
country, and stand a good chance of someone turning it in - with all
your money still in it.
We're still basically an honest and caring
people in a world that increasingly thinks the law of the jungle is
good enough for us humans, and "me first" is something to
be proud of. Even though we're a small country, we want to take care
of people, inside our borders as well as around the world.
Pregnant women and the elderly still get
offered a seat on the bus. Or if some able-bodied person is ignoring
them behind an newspaper, you can guarantee there will be a good
number of people staring at them, silently willing the lout's head
Canadians believe in order, like 'stand
right, walk left' on escalators, and the principle of 'first come,
first served' is almost enshrined in the Charter.
And the debate about Canada's immigration
policies is instantly left at home when going out for Chinese,
Italian or Indian food.
Yep. Every day is a good day to be a