My home and native land...I have a neighbour here in central Florida who reminds me on occasion that there are more people living in California than in all of the world's second largest country: Canada.
Last fall as I escaped eastern Ontario's 2009/10 winter that never was; I noted on these pages that it's useful and appropriate sometimes to view ourselves as others see us: In this case the large powerful southern neighbour with whom we share most of the North American continent.
Though not all of the following observations are as our American cousins necessarily see us. - As I prepare my return journey north I feel a need to reconcile the differences and contradictions about Canada that seem easier to observe from somewhere else than on our native soil.
- Americans cringe and complain about western Canada's "dirty" tar-sands. Oil extracted in Alberta accounts for about 30% of U.S. consumption each day...and they ignore the dirtiest of coal mining practices on their soil. An industry which most of the developed world abandoned during the last century.
- A Washington based lobby group: "Defenders of Wildlife" which counts many Canadians amongst its members, agitates against wolf and polar bear hunting in the north. A friend and university contemporary from the 1970's; - and current resident of Nunavut,- boasts on FaceBook that his "son got his first wolf".
- Europe recoils after The Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, eats raw seal meat while participating in an Inuit ceremony. The same Governor-General in 2006 awarded the multi-Grammy and Juno Award winner, Sarah McLachlan, the "Order of Canada". Sarah McLachlan campaigns relentlessly in the U.S. in favour of animal welfare and against the annual seal hunt.
- The debate over health-care in the United-States is one of the most divisive and partisan in the country's history. Supporters acknowledge and praise Canada's superior universal medical system. One of Canada's highest profile provincial premiers, Danny Williams of Newfoundland & Labrador, travels to a Miami hospital for cardiac surgery.
- Fear of separatism scuttles a multi-billion dollar deal to sell New Brunswick's power corporation to Hydro Quebec. Jacques Parizeau who led the separatist forces in the 1995 referendum and; then blamed..."money and the ethnic vote" for his loss; checks himself into Montreal's Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital for medical treatment.
-Two young Canadians who hoisted a red Maple-Leaf on a California flag-pole in boisterous celebration of the Vancouver Olympic Games are charged with desacrating the U.S. Stars and Stripes they pulled down in the process.
Think we're conflicted? Maybe that's what makes being Canadian so damned fascinating, worthwhile and interesting. Here's looking forward to "road stories" to pass along from the drive back home in a few days.