Friday, July 1, 2005

O Canada!

Today is Canada Day, the 138th anniversary of the formation of the Canadian confederation.

I like Canada. I grew up near it, visit it often, and I think of it as a nice big happy-go-lucky, live-and-let-live friend who doesn’t take himself too seriously but also stands up for himself when he’s treated badly or taken for granted.

Some of the things I like about Canada:

  • A simple but impressive national flag:

  • A singable national anthem.
  • A parliamentary system, which means they can toss out the Prime Minister when he or she screws up.
  • Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, so when someone is arrested, it’s “The Crown vs. John Doe.” That’s cool in a quaint sort of way.
  • They support the arts. The Stratford Festival is some of the best theatre in the world.
  • They don’t get all self-righteous and stick their noses in other countries’ business.
  • They have a rather straightforward approach to rights and freedoms embodied in the Canadian Charter. Oh, and yes, they recognize God in their charter and national anthem but they don’t go all evangelical about it.
  • They don’t carry a grudge — they have diplomatic relations with Cuba.
  • Canadian Football is interesting; three downs instead of four, their field is longer, their season starts in the summer and ends in November, and they don’t turn the Grey Cup — their Super Bowl — into the world’s biggest commercial exploitation; their Sport of the Gods is hockey.
  • They have health care for everyone. It’s not “nationalized” like the British system — it’s done on a provincial level — and it doesn’t cover everything, but it’s better than the alternative.
  • They allow gay marriage. (Thanks for the reminder, Alan.)
  • They have common-sense gun-control laws.
  • My 1988 Pontiac 6000 LE station wagon was built in Brampton, Ontario, and it’s lasted over 238,000 miles.
  • Now, to be fair, there are some things I don’t like about Canada:

  • They use the metric system. I know everyone else in the world uses it, but there’s something disconcerting about going 100 on the expressway and actually plodding along at about 60 mph, and finding out that 32 degrees is really pretty hot is weird.
  • They have Winter. Sorry, but that’s a deal-breaker. When the furthest south point in the country is on the same latitude as Detroit, not even the sunniest Chamber of Commerce writer could call that a “mild” climate. Maybe they could annex a Caribbean island…I hear Montserrat is available.
  • Don’t get me wrong — I am proud to be an American; more about that on the Fourth of July — but I wish all my Canadian readers and friends a happy holiday, and have a Molson’s and some poutine on me.