I celebrated Canada Day. I took the day off from work. I wore red and white. I enjoyed a barbecue with friends. I’m very glad I live in Canada.
Sad, tragic things have happened in Canada. A catastrophic event has been defined as one where little children die and we’re uncovering evidence of such catastrophes around residential schools where Indigenous children were sent.
The past can’t be changed. We can learn from it and do better in the future. Otherwise, earlier evils will taint the present and prevent more positive action in the future. So this July 1, I celebrated in spite of numerous exhortations to cancel Canada Day.
Seeing multiple mentions in the media for cancelling Canada Day gave me one good reason to appreciate this country. We have freedom of speech and a free media. In too many countries anti-patriotic displays result in job loss or jail. In Canada, one can fearlessly put forward anti-national day sentiments and exhort others to join you. One can also offer pro-Canada Day sentiments.
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Canada isn’t big on flag-waving and drum beating. From our beginning 154 years ago, we have avoided heroics and concentrated on the quiet goals of peace, order and good government. Unlike so many other countries, we have largely achieved our aspirations.
In Canada, we take peace for granted. In over a century and a half, we’ve had one little land war here – the war of 1812 against the United States. The heroine was Laura Secord, a woman who went out with her cow to warn troops of oncoming enemies. Her name is commemorated as a brand of chocolates. The results of the war were sufficiently indecisive that both sides claimed victory.
Very few countries haven’t experienced wars, whether from invasions or violent civil insurrections. Peaceful Canada is very special.
Peace is a major component of order. Two other elements of an orderly society are safety and plenty.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a notable contrast to how safe we are in plague-free times. We can go out and about day or evening. Rape and robbery are rare and the perpetrators are almost always caught and punished under the rule of law. Children are taught to go to police officers if they’re in danger. In many other places, the police are the danger.
Too often we forget to enjoy the plenty that we have in Canada. Even in the initial panic of the pandemic, stores and online warehouses provided almost all of what we needed and wanted. The initial toilet paper scare is now seen as amusing. There were never food shortages, even as food suppliers quickly adjusted their product mix to fill grocery stores when restaurants were closed. Now that restaurants are opening, they’re making the reverse shift.
The lack of sufficient supply to meet one’s needs continuously disrupts people’s lives in so many places. Basic things like food, water, fuel or power aren’t always at hand and can’t be relied on. Canada got a tiny taste of doing without when our travel was restricted by the pandemic but, for the most part, we prosper with plenty.
We can say much about Canada’s government – not all positive. However, our government has been good enough to provide peace and order and protect the basic freedoms we enjoy. One other factor that makes Canada so special is that, for over 150 years, we’ve peacefully changed our governments at federal, provincial and local levels.
People and political parties can oppose government policies and present alternatives without fear of being arrested, exiled or shot by those in power.
Any citizen can stand for election. We can freely vote for whom we choose or even choose not to vote. We can rely on our vote being counted and, when a leader or government is defeated at the polls, they actually step down. A cursory glance at the media tells us that this isn’t the case everywhere.
Canada is a great country, as all the people who have chosen or aspire to come here can remind us. Let’s fix what needs fixing but appreciate what we have.
Troy Media columnist Roslyn Kunin is a consulting economist and speaker.
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