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Opinion: Points of pride for Canada Day

Despite its current shortcomings, Canada is still the best place to live on Earth.
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Canada Day celebrations with fireworks over Whistler Village.

I don’t want to sugarcoat things, so let me get the obvious out of the way: Canada is dealing with some serious challenges as of July 1, 2022.

Inflation is out of control. Fuel prices, too. Home ownership is currently out of reach for many. Partisan and ideological divisions are deepening every day, fuelled by social media and cynical, opportunistic leadership from the highest offices in the country. Reconciliation with First Nations remains a work in progress. COVID is still circulating, and in general, more doctors and child-care providers are needed almost everywhere. 

No good, eh?

It’s a lot, and as I pondered what it means to be Canadian in 2022, I came to a sad conclusion: after several years of, for lack of a better phrase, ass-backwards bullshit, the collective Canadian psyche appears to be deeply wounded.

But while some have expressed shame for their country and even their fellow countrymen and women at points this year—for all kinds of reasons that I really don’t care to get in to here—I’m not one of those people.

At the risk of sounding horribly cheesy, I still believe in Canada, and I’m still proud to be Canadian. Because we’ve got a lot to be proud about.

So fire up the “This is The Tragically Hip” playlist on Spotify and join me as I attempt to unify our nation, restore our collective pride and salve our damaged, syrup-drowned hearts with my clean, simple, Canada Day Points of Pride.

Quality of Life

Listen to some of the drama queens on Twitter, and you might believe Canada is simultaneously a police state, a globalist shadow cabal, an oil-addicted petrol state, a communist dictatorship and/or part of the developing world.

There may be small kernels of truth in each of those extremes, but luckily, Twitter is hardly representative of reality, and despite its many challenges, Canada still consistently ranks among the best places to live in the world, year in and year out.

Depending on the rankings and the metrics used, Canada doesn’t always end up on top of the heap, but for the purposes of our Points of Pride, let’s look at a couple that really play to our vanity.

In its overall rankings of the best countries in the world released last year, U.S. News and World Report put the Great White North at No. 1.

The model in question is largely based on global perception, as researchers surveyed more than 17,000 people in 36 countries, asking them to weigh each country based on 76 identified attributes. Canada finished second in the rankings in 2020 before taking the top spot in 2021.

In late June, the Economist Intelligence Unit released its annual Global Livability Index, which featured three Canadian cities in the global top 10: Calgary (fourth), Vancouver (fifth) and Toronto (eighth).

The only other country with two cities in the top 10 was Switzerland (with Zurich in third and Geneva in sixth).

So Canada can’t be that bad, eh?

Abortion Rights are Human Rights

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court rolled back 50 years of American abortion rights when it overturned the landmark ruling of Roe v. Wade—six people imposing their archaic, oppressive beliefs on millions of American women, regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

In his decision, Justice Clarence Thomas mused openly about striking down decisions related to contraceptives, same-sex marriage and even privacy in the bedroom next.

What’s the opposite of progress? Oh, right. Regress.

I don’t want to dwell on this one too much, mostly because it makes me very angry—and I am a straight man living in a different country.

But I’m proud to live in a nation that still believes in the right to choose. I’m proud to live in an inclusive, thoughtful society that emphasizes equal rights and multiculturalism.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade is a rude awakening. It shows us what can happen to our rights when we get complacent.

Even in Canada.

Parliamentary Democracy

When Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Jagmeet Singh’s NDP announced in March that they had reached a supply and confidence agreement to keep the government in power until 2025, I was treated to perhaps the single dumbest tweet of all time (or maybe just that day).

When Pique shared a news story about the agreement, a reader expressed a scattershot of outrage. The deal was evidence of corruption and a broken government, and the media reporting on it in a neutral manner—rather than sharing this particular reader’s (completely misplaced) disgust—was evidence of a bought-and-paid-for media ecosystem.

Where to even begin unpacking the comprehensive ignorance of such a tweet?

In fact, the agreement is evidence of a system that works—coalitions/supply agreements are a key tool in any parliamentary democracy, particularly in minority government situations. The fact that you don’t like the parties in question doesn’t mean they’re cheating.

And no, it is not the media’s job to share your off-target outrage over basic parliamentary procedures.

I may not agree with every underlying policy implication, but seeing our minority parliament function in such a way brought a strange, embarrassing joy to my little politico heart.

Now if only Trudeau would make good on his promise to bring Proportional Representation to Canada—then we’d really have a democracy to be proud of.

Free Health Care

I don’t need to say much here. 

Canada’s health-care system is obviously far from perfect, and needs serious investments now and into the future to ensure it is sustainable.

But the gift that is Canadian health care—my No. 1 Point of Pride as a Canadian—is reinforced every time I see an American post a picture of their hospital bill.

I could go on, if I had the space. There really is no shortage of things to be proud of in the Great White North, even as some will try to tell you everything is gone or going to shit.

But as I said off the top, my intention isn’t to sugarcoat things.

Our challenges are very real, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to in the coming years and decades to ensure Canada remains one of the best countries in the world.

It starts with getting involved, in any way you can. Volunteer for a community organization. Attend public meetings. Be an active part of the process instead of a casual observer. Do something to make your community and country a better place for all of us instead of sitting on the sidelines whining about how everything sucks because of some vast conspiracy.

Despite its current shortcomings, Canada is still the best place to live on Earth. But it’s going to take all of us, working together, to keep it that way.

So let’s get to work.