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Celebrating the merits of being Canadian

It’s an election year in Canada, with attack ads already trickling in. Justin Trudeau isn’t up for the job. Andrew Scheer provides cover for Doug Ford. Jagmeet Singh just wants somebody to notice he’s around.

With the vote now just months away, the level of bother, blather and vitriol is nothing like what’s happening in the U.S., where an election is more than a year away. Of course, the daily charges of corruption and criminality surrounding the president and his Congressional enablers certainly explains the higher volume.

As Canada Day approaches here, soon followed by the July 4 festivities to the south, the differences between the two countries remain more pronounced, a distinction that’s grown since the 2016 U.S. election.

Has the U.S. president’s attack on Canada’s goods and government boost the patriotic quotient of July 1? We’ve certainly seen a boost in Canada-first sentiment in the wake of Donald Trump’s tariffs, trade bluster and personal attacks.

Trade wars and inanities aside, the fact we’re not subject to the administration Americans are saddled with may be enough to give this weekend an added boost.

Just three days apart, the countrywide birthday parties in Canada and the U.S. will have a decidedly different flavour. While our American neighbours make much of their Independence Day festivities – they are not shy about flying their colours – we Canadians are usually more reserved.

In years past, the anniversary of our country’s founding has, often as not, been seen as just another statutory holiday – ideally leading to a long weekend, as is the case this year.

Yet there are signs things are changing. Although nothing akin to the red-white-and-blue flag wavers, anecdotal evidence suggests we are displaying the maple leaf more often than we used to – more homes, business and even cars appear decorated with the flag, and not just leading up to July 1.

That movement has certainly been boosted by recent political wranglings that served to differentiate us from our cousins to the south. There is a danger, of course, is putting too much weight on “not being Americans” – that is no way to form a strong national identity. Still, there appears to be a welcome window of opportunity for our (usually self-serving) leaders to encourage this pride, to promote some of the “can-do” mentality that makes up the attractive part of American patriotism. And without some of the over-the-top jingoism that clouds the issue – a development likely held in check here by our inherent politeness and pragmatism.

We have our political differences, but the situation is not anywhere near what we see in the U.S. That country is particularly bifurcated at this point, not just along Republican/Democrat lines – the parties are essentially just slightly different extensions of corporate control, the current occupant of the White House notwithstanding – but also culturally. There are plenty of sociological reasons for the rift – from economics to education – but there’s definitely an increasing divide where facts and logic are no longer relevant. No more is that  evident than in the blind support for military imperialism that has taken on pro-fascist undertones, going well beyond the jingoism many in this country find both alarming and incomprehensible.

Here, we’ve also thus far avoided the demagoguery to the south, which mirrors the despots so admired by the current president.

It’s something for us to reflect on here as we head into our own national celebration. Barring that kind of introspection, perhaps we should simply be thankful for the benefits we take pleasure in as Canadians – including the chance to make much-needed improvements without (as much) partisan vitriol – and to enjoy ourselves this Canada Day weekend.


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