Maxed out 

Playing the Canadian Game


Oh Canada. Happy Birthday.

Having been a legal Canadian - but, as my Perfect Partner occasionally reminds me, not a Real Canadian - for a relatively short time, owing in no small account to genetic procrastination that left me comfortable with resident alien status for 28 of the 30 years I've lived on this side of the border, I take great relish in playing the Canadian Game on July 1 st every year. What, I hear you ask, is the Canadian Game?

It's a game I made up to appease my dim, latent desire to fit in with my surroundings. It largely amounts to asking, and answering, the question: What do I like about Canada? It is my own variation on the endlessly iterative game Real Canadians play, the national obsession with mining the depths of every possible answer to the question: what does it mean to be Canadian? Since I can never more than aspire to being a Real Canadian - notwithstanding a concerted effort to memorize all 463 verses of Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy - I feel constrained to butt in on that game. The fact that I find the game boring and pointless no doubt fuels that constraint. Hence, my own Canadian Game.

Every year - every day - seems to bring a new and different kaleidoscope of answers to my question. Just this week there was at least one new answer revealed when Deloitte & Touche released their forensic audit of the Canadian Mint's Great Gold Caper. If you're not up on current Canadiana Trivia, you may not be aware of this scandal. Allow me to burden you with it.

It seems there are 17,500 troy ounces of gold missing from the Mint. What, I hear you ask, is a troy ounce? Good question. Unfortunately, the answer is both too complicated to address superficially and, trust me, irrelevant to the Canadian Game. Suffice it to say you have to have an in-depth grasp of the Trojan War and a facile facility with ridiculously tiny fractions to even begin to understand. But trust me, 17,500 troy ounces is more gold than will fit in your mouth and it's worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of 19 million Loonies, also an amount that won't fit in your mouth, not that your dentist would ever give you a Loonie tooth.

In the overall scheme of things, the missing gold is but a trickle of all the gold the mint processes every year, some 5.4 million troy ounces. Some - notably the civil servants who run the Mint - take solace in that exercise in relativity. Others, myself included, liken it to a large hydroelectric dam leaking a small amount of water. Oh sure, it's nothing compared to the lake being held back, but it does leave one with an uncomfortable feeling.


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