Friday, July 01, 2011

the good things about being Canadian

Today is Canada Day.

I've been feeling pretty out of sorts about my country lately, for a whole bunch of reasons (the most recent of which is our opposition to listing asbestos as a banned substance at the United Nations. Asbestos is a known cause of cancer. This kind of cancer is solely caused by asbestos. Asbestos is banned in Canada. But we still export the stuff. So it's OK to give people in other countries cancer. Shameful.)

And I really don't care about the Royal Visit.

I've only been to Parliament Hill once on Canada Day and that was more than twenty years ago, before I lived in Ottawa.

I'll be spending the day on the road, in advance of an important family event in Toronto. We'll be listening to talking books, breaking up fights between the kids and trying to convince the dog to stay in the back with the suitcases. And I won't feel like I'm missing anything.

But I am a proud Canadian, despite my country's bad choices. And July 1 always provides me with an opportunity to think about what that means. So, in no particular order, here's this year's list of things I like about my country:

Politeness. The other day my son stepped on my toe. We both simultaneous said, "I'm sorry!" There is a certain level of courtesy in our culture that I have come to really appreciate. On the street, between strangers and at home, with those we know best.

Moderation. My younger self is howling with laughter at this one but we Canadians mostly avoid excess of all kinds and I've come to really appreciate that.

Universal health care. Do I really need to explain this one?

Gay Marriage. For six years now. It's not going away and it's no big deal. Except that it is.

Neighbourliness. Canadians are generally good neighbours. We tend to be "live and let live" types (occasionally to our detriment but, mostly, it's a good thing).

An appreciation of good beer. It's not just about quantity but quality too. 

The weather. I can't believe I'm saying this but the changeability of Canadian weather is highly entertaining (when it's not downright disastrous). With weather like ours, there is always something for strangers to chat about.

Pedestrian friendly cities. I think the best way to get to know any place is to walk or ride your bike. I love that I can walk so many places in my home town (and it's a good thing, too because our public transit sucks).

And I love that many of you will disagree with me on some of these things (heck, with the exceptions of beer,gay marriage and health care, I may change my own mind tomorrow) and some of you will let me know. Politely.

Happy Canada Day! Have a moderate amount of fun and enjoy yourselves - courteously.


Dee said...

Just saw a news report about the Royal Visit in Ottawa and wondered if you were participating - or even excited about it. Good to know!

I agree, though, beer, gay marriage, and universal health care are all good things. Happy Canada Day to you, too!

Eileen said...

Hey, totally agree with all that - except with a thing that I think you weren't thinking would get an argument.

Which is that I found out recently that asbestos is not the only cause of mesothelioma. CANCER TREATMENT also can cause mesothelioma. Specifically, it turns out that the intensive radiation treatment they used to give (and perhaps still give?) for certain types of leukemia can give you mesothelioma over the long haul (5-15 years).

I know a very lovely young woman who had just this happen to her - leukemia in collage, now mesothelioma in what would otherwise have been her child-bearing/rearing years. Ain't that a kick in the head?

Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie,

Sometimes it's not what you say but the way you say it. It's your style; your "take" on things and your absolutely singular placement of words and phrases. A writer; that sums it up.

B in F

laurie said...

Eileen, thanks so much for the correction! I feel so sad for your friend. I know that the treatment for cancer can cause cancer (one of life's many little ironies) but I did not know this about leukemia and mesothelioma. It's just wrong.

And B - thanks so much. your words put a giant smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

My Toronto friend Filamena and I joke about the Canadian Politeness: "I'm sorry you slammed the car door on my finger!"

She told me the Jean Poutine endorsement story:

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