By G.D. Maxwell
Were rolling right up to Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men time. Im deckin the halls, makin my lists, jinglin my bells and silenting my nights. Im admittedly still balking at donning my gay apparel not that theres anything wrong with that. This is Canada and while we may not participate in everybody elses rites of celebration, we try to encourage their self-expression and most definitely tolerate their differences.
But make no mistake: Canada is not as many Canadian writers and a whole slew of misinformed Americans seem to think the kinder, gentler nation Pappy Bush had in mind lo those many years ago when he made meaningless noises about leading the USofA in that direction. He was thinking of a superpower with a conscience, a nation of rugged individualists with a semblance of a safety net, a hot-rod with airbags, a switchblade with a finger guard.
Canada is kind; Canada is gentle. Canada is a bit like an overly sensitive, self-absorbed teenager living in his own apartment with enough income to get by, a wide circle of friends he can count on and, an old refrigerator with a keg inside and, most importantly, a deep and abiding friendship with the biggest, toughest bully on the block.
The kinder, gentler country that never was would still have been able, and occasionally inclined, to blow any oil-rich country in the world to smithereens. Canada, on the other hand, seems barely able to defend itself from a gaggle of delusional, Quebecois separatists with an overwrought sense of historical wrongs and no real clue what a puny, insignificant country theyd actually be on the world stage should that mindless tragedy ever play itself out.
On the world military stage, Canadas greatest contribution may well be a regiment of Princess Patricias serving Timbits. Dont knock the power of Timbits.
But there are disturbing signs of an upswell in conservatism, intolerance and outright meanness growing in the True North. Consider, for a moment, the provincial Alliance party in Alberta ran candidates in the recent election because they thought Ralph Klein was too liberal. Anyone who thinks Ralph Klein is liberal may well mistake Dubya Bush for an atheist.
And if thats not enough, there even seems to be a small contingent of overly-nationalistic malcontents out there who believe Mr. Barnett ought to replace me with a Canadian. Me! With a Canadian!
I am Canadian!
If you prick me do I not bleed maple syrup? If you tell me its snowed 20 cm overnight do I not respond "Beauty, eh?" If you make me sing O Canada do I not mix the French and English words together into a seamless, though admittedly meaningless, melange? Mais oui, mon cher.