Another Dominion Day has come and gone. It is what foolish people tell us we should now call "Canada Day." The folks at The New York Times who wish that Canada would absorb America, and not the reverse, featured statements on their op-ed page from eleven Canadians on what they miss about their country ("Our True North"). Most of it is grumping about America by politically leftist Canadian expats.
Rick Moranis simply despises everything associated with whatever remains of British North America.
David Rakoff, an author, misses all the free stuff from the government. Perhaps I misread him. Perhaps it’s the moral superiority of having a government that treats its citizens like men who still live at home, and whose mothers still cook and clean for them. The generous welfare state. Other than that, he misses a particular mint that you can’t get here. A great nation indeed.
Sarah McNally, a bookstore owner, misses Canadian literature (which of course she can read in the United States). She says there is a national conversation in CanLit that you don’t see in American lit. But that's because Americans know who they are. Canadians are constantly in anguish about their identity. But if you reject your founding principle, i.e. British North America as a unique and noble project, an interminable identity crisis is sure to follow. It is interesting that, despite the superior worth of this literature and its importance to Canadians as a people (supposedly), she says that it “probably wouldn’t exist without government support.” What does that indicate about the sustainability, or even the reality, of Canada as one people? All the same, the government tells Canadians who they are supposed to be and what they’re supposed to like. I don’t miss that.
In a likely unintended political faux pas, Lisa Naftolin, a creative director, expresses her fondness for a Britishism, the “u” in color. She likely understands holding onto that "u" as an act of defying American cultural imperialism. What she doesn't see is that for the last fifty years and into the foreseeable future, Canada has three, and only three, models from which to choose for its identity: America North, British North America, or post-modern Euro-North America. Led by its left-wing intellectuals, Canada has chosen the Euro-model, and so is following (though not mirroring) Europe in its economic, moral, spiritual, and demographic problems.
Musician Melissa Auf der Maur, after mentioning cheese and pâté, recalls fondly the Canadian cultural mosaic in contrast to the evil American melting pot. The concept of the cultural mosaic as a national virtue was invented by the Trudeau government as a way of defusing the French-English conflict. In the 1970s, my high school taught us this like a catechism. They told us that we are not two nations, but a blend of many nations. As result, however, we became no nation. Americans are more of a melting pot because they have noble and ennobling principles worthy of embracing: political, economic, and religious liberty. It has nothing to do with ethnic food, traditional clothing, and folk music all of which people are free to cultivate and, much to everyone's enjoyment, they do.
Sean Cullen, a comedian, misses hockey highlights, “the height of civilization.” It is said that Canadian culture can be summarized in two words: hockey and beer. Perhaps an overstatement.
Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker (I should have known that a man named Malcolm could not have been born in the U.S.A.) misses the “true” account of the American regime and it’s founding history. According to this view, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and John Adams were just “ungrateful tax cheats.” The revolution had nothing to do with the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence. Isn't it strange that such a hoax could produce such an energetic and world-transforming nation?
Kim Cattrall’s career as an actress is finished. All she did was remember childhood games on beached logs, and failed to make any political point about global warming, acid rain, American economic imperialism, or anything like that.
Tim Long, a writer for “The Simpsons,” misses Canadian snow, but he has to throw in a jab at American health care (which people travel from around the world to use, by the way). In the end, he has one of the best reflections.
When I was a child, it wasn’t unusual for my 15-minute walk home from school to begin under clear skies and end in a blizzard. I remember once, when I was 8 years old, stumbling into my house, my hair covered in powder and my eyelashes frozen together, and screaming, “Why do we live here?!” My mother took my face in her warm hands and said, “Because it’s where people love you.”
Bruce McCall, a writer and illustrator, and A.C. Newman, a musician, miss certain foods. For Newman, it is Dai Ching bean curd or bean sprout chow mein, unobtainable in their familiar perfection outside Vancouver. McCall misses the Coffee Crisp chocolate bar, and he supplies a delightful appreciation and history of the confection. These are honest men. Aside from friends and family and particular terrains, food is what people really miss from their homelands. The rest is mostly political trumpeting, which in this article is all from the left.
I see my family from time to time. My friends have grown up, become family men, and set off on divergent paths. The familiar places have all changed. Toronto's downtown is more crowded, and the University Theatre where I worked as a blue-jacketed boy is gone. Georgetown isn't 1971 anymore. There's no going back.
But I miss Toronto fish and chips. Tender, flaky Halibut encased in thick, crisp, golden batter. Greasy, floppy fries. Also fresh, baked Whitefish from Lake Huron. Yum. Heaven, though its glory and chief delight is Christ himself, is nonetheless described as a banquet. I pray that the feast involves these Canadian delicacies.
But as for this world, with eyes turned now toward the fourth of July, I am grateful to be in the land of liberty and I would not have it any other way.