O, Canada

As I write this, it's the early evening on what has been a pretty quiet Canada Day. We've been pushing rather hard this past week, and I still have work to do. Thanks to Erin, we now have a clean bedroom and a clean living room. I've made sure the kids have been fed. We plan to head out to Columbia Lake around sunset to show the kids some fireworks, but that should be about it for celebrating Canada Day. Holidays may derive from the term "Holy Day", but I'm in no mood for religious reflection or fervour. The best thing we can do on a day when we don't have to go to work (at least, if you don't have a 9-to-5 job) is rest.

I did head out in the morning to collect a quick breakfast for the kids from Tim Horton's. Last year when I did this, I found that the drive-thru lines stretched around the block. Clearly, I wasn't the only person with this idea. This year, the roads were deserted, and there was no waiting at the drive through. I did notice, however, that the tables in my local Tim Horton's were full, with people chatting. I wonder if they were talking politics.

There has been some political chatter on my twitter feed. Harper's Conservatives govern this country and I fundamentally disagree with this man and his supporters on policy and on their approach to government. More than a few people have noticed that the Canada Day stage in Ottawa had a lot of blue in it. But I felt it best to refrain from political commentary, and so turned off the twitter feed. Yes, I disagree with my government. Yes, I know people whose disagreement is stronger and more personal. But I remember back in 2003 when Jean Chretien's Liberals seemed firmly ensconced in power, and some (a minority) on the right side of the spectrum blogged disparaging things about this country, including showing a picture of a paper Canadian flag upside-down in murky water. We tut-tutted about how their hatred of the government's politics was tainting their views of the country as a whole. I tut-tutted too, though I don't think I said anything on this blog. And I think it would be hypocritical to act in turn, now that the tables are turned. It would also be wrong.

The great thing about Canada is that one doesn't have to love our government in order to love our country, in spite of some attempts by this government to conflait the two. And let's not forget that most Canadians are probably a lot more a-political than I am. Their first priorities are just raising the family, getting down to the store on time, holding down jobs and just making life worth living -- a job which, thank goodness, most of us succeed at. We have a lot of good people in this country, like all of the car drivers who stopped and pulled over to the side of the road when they saw a pedestrian clipped by a turning vehicle and knocked to the pavement (he was all right; just a little shaken up). We have hard working scientists, engineers, teachers, business people, writers all producing great things, most of which don't get reported in the media because they're shared within the family or communities too small for national media attention. For the most part, we smile, and we know how to be kind, and we do the best that we can. And so Canada remains fundamentally a place where most of us who find ourselves here are blessed to live.

Over on Dr. Dawg's Blawg, Balbulican has put together a made in Canada meme. He asks three questions:  "When do you feel most Canadian? When do you feel least Canadian? Is there a song that says Canada to you?"

I do feel most Canadian when I cross the Bluewater Bridge between Port Huron and Sarnia, heading home. It's strange that I should feel this because I've previously argued that national borders shouldn't really matter to us anymore. And I can't help but wonder if this isn't some kind of echo of the feeling I have when I pass Townline Road on Highway 401 and see the "You are now entering Waterloo Region" sign and know that I'm coming home, but it's still what I feel, and I'll offer it as an example. And I feel a bit of national pride to hear of Canadians who have made it in the wider world, like Commander Hadfield's rise to Twitter fame, or whenever I realize that a particular actor on a particular TV show is Canadian, or the reason why there's streetcar tracks on Chicago's streets is because Due South was filmed in Toronto. I guess I know where I am, and it's nice to know that others who share my common geography have made it in the world out there.

When do I feel least Canadian? I have to agree with Balbulican that it's when the NHL hockey playoffs leave me utterly cold. Mind you, I suspect that's more the NHL's fault than my own. I could see myself enjoying a hockey game in February. We're less than a week away from the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and it's July frakking First! Does this make sense to you? About as much as having an ice rink in Glendale, Arizona.

Finally, what song says Canada to me? Other than the national anthem, I suppose? Well, the group I first thought of when asked this question was the Tragically Hip. The song I first thought of when I thought of the Tragically Hip was New Orleans is Sinking. I somehow don't think that counts. So, instead, I'll go with this one below:

Happy Canada Day.


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