Canada: Top Ten Things To Love and Hate

Last week, in honor of Canada Day, I decided to whip off a list of The Top Ten Reasons We Here in The Great White North Should Be Both Proud and Ashamed of Being Canadian.

However, I soon realized that it wasn't something that could simply be whipped off in a few minutes, so I decided to take a few more days to think about it and here, finally, is my official list of the top ten things I love and hate about this country:

Shame:

Let's start with the negative stuff first, just to make sure that no one mistakes this for yet another "Oh aren't we just the most perfect nation on earth" piece of mindless, nationalistic claptrap and self-praise.

There's simply no denying that this is one hell of a great country, but we also have some pretty shameful things that need to be acknowledged and dealt with before I, personally, will ever say I'm fully proud to be Canadian. That's right people, like a Canadian Michelle Obama, I'm declaring that I've never been 100% fully proud of my country.

And I should mention that we're not talking about miserable winter weather here. Nor are we talking about much of the country's inexplicable love of both Don Cherry and bare-knuckle brawling during otherwise perfectly entertaining hockey games.

What we are talking about, however, are the following ten items from the Canadian Hall of Shame:

10. Celine Dion: Not much we can do about this one, she's out there, she's, tragically, perhaps the most famous Canadian in the world, she's reputedly sold over 200 million albums worldwide, and as Blender magazine so famously and perfectly put it she has been "Seemingly hellbent from birth on proving that Michael Bolton isn’t the cheesiest balladeer on the face of the planet".

9. Conrad Black: If his name alone doesn't conjure up immediate feelings of scornful disgust, then perhaps you should read more here: The Black Hole of Arrogance Rant 'n' Rave: Conrad Black Convicted

8. Alberta: Sure, with the influx of Canadians from other parts of the country and immigrants from overseas in recent years, there may now actually be some progressive types in the province, particularly in the two big cities of Calgary and Edmonton, but that in no way takes away from the fact that this Land of Rednecks, Bigots and Oil Sands is our very own Texas. Decades of opinion polls have shown a population that is much more in touch with their kin down there in the Lone Star State than they are with their fellow Canadians.

It may have the spectacular beauty of the Rocky Mountains going for it, but this bastion of The Three R's (that is, all things Right-wing, Redneck and Reactionary) is still a scar on the otherwise (relatively-) progressive Canadian landscape. Not only did they give the country the anti-semitic Social Credit Party of the 1930s and '40s and the dreaded earth-destroying oil sands of today, but they've also given us the dual scourge of Preston Manning and Stephen Harper as well.

And, yes, I guess I should acknowledge that the relatively large redneck element that exists right here in B.C. would probably rather be part of Alberta themselves, but, hey, everywhere has got at least some right-wing wackos, right? The difference in Alberta is they're the dominant force in the province.

7. Exporting asbestos: Few people may have known about this story before the CBC's exposé a few weeks back, but, unbelievable as it may seem, Canada does in fact actually still sell this cancer-causing shit overseas, even though we won't let it be used here in our own country due to the overwhelming evidence that it kills people. You want horrific hypocrisy in the name of slimy greed, look no further than this.

To learn more about this blemish on our national reputation watch Canada's Ugly Secret, Mellissa Fung's excellent recent piece that aired on CBC's The National.

6. The Queen: Is it just me or is it not simply ridiculous that Canada's head of state resides across the Atlantic Ocean in England? But that's not the half of it. Will somebody please tell me why on earth we still have the head of some inbred European aristocratic family as our nation's sovereign? Oh, I forgot, they're born of "good blood" or some such shit.

Unelected, undemocratic, unneeded. Feudal systems of government sucked in feudal times and they suck even more in the 21st century. Wake up people, wake up!

Read more here: The God Save The Queen Rant

5. Downtown Eastside, Vancouver (and other similar areas in other Canadian cities): It is absolutely inexplicable, inexcusable and downright disgraceful that a country this rich allows such an appalling, poverty-stricken, drug-riddled area to exist right in the middle of one of its major cities. And it's all the more outrageous when you consider that all these people have been abandoned to the streets of Vancouver, a city of incredible wealth and overabundance.

Obviously it's not something that is easy to solve, what with all the addiction and people so down on their luck, but if we can spend billions on bailing out GM then we can certainly spend the few millions it would take to clean up such a disgraceful situation and get all these homeless people housed and in proper treatment programs. There's simply no place for such suffering, poverty and hopelessness in a country as rich as this.

4. Police brutality: It may be true that police brutality occurs in every country on earth, but that doesn't lesson the revulsion of knowing that cases such as that of Robert Dziekanski actually happen right here in Canada.

It should also be noted that not all countries have national police forces that seem to do whatever they can to protect the thugs within their ranks, rather than doing everything possible to clean up the force. Because at the end of the day the truly outrageous thing is how the thugs within the police force are coddled, protected and allowed to stay on the job when they should, of course, be charged and prosecuted.

I've said it over and over again, there are lots of good cops out there, but there are also a lot of hothead, kneejerk reactionary thugs in the force as well. And a truly civilized nation wouldn't put up with the thugs for a minute, let alone coddle them.

Read more here: The Dziekanski Killing and Cover-Up: Even Fellow Cops Now Feel Compelled To Speak Out In Disgust and here: Cowards and Apologists: The Police Brutality Rant

3. Getting sucked into America's so-called War On Terror: No, we, thankfully, did not get sucked into Bush's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, but we, as a nation, have most certainly been dragged into some awful Bush-like behavior over the past eight years:

- First and foremost is our government's disgraceful stance when it comes to Canadian child soldier, Omar Khadr. Read more here about how we've left this poor kid to rot in Guantanamo Bay for seven long years: Canada The Callous and Cold: Get Omar Khadr Freed Now!

- Then there's the case of Abousfian Abdelrazika, the Canadian citizen stranded in Sudan for six years who, until last month, the Canadian government illegally refused to issue a new passport to, even after CSIS and the Sudanese authorities had both cleared him of any wrongdoing or involvement with terrorism.

- Then there are those dreaded national security certificates that allow the government, in violation of hundreds of years of legal tradition, to withhold evidence from suspects in their own trials; certificates that Canada used to hold five men for up to eight years without charge (and still holds them today under house arrest). Just last week it was revealed that in two of these cases CSIS mishandled and misrepresented evidence against the accused (which the accused never knew, of course, since they and their lawyers had been denied the right to see the faulty evidence in the first place).

- Then, back in 2006, under intense American pressure the Canadian government, as part of the so-called "War On Terror", took sides in a civil war and, ridiculously, branded the Tamil Tigers alone as the terrorists in the 30-year-old conflict on the island of Sri Lanka. Read more here: Freedom Denied! Are We Happy Now: The Crushing of Sri Lanka's Tamils

- And let's not forget about our present government's one-sided, 100%-pro-Israel position, no matter how horrific the carnage and loss of civilian lives in Gaza earlier this year and in Lebanon back in 2006.

That the "War On Terror" is a joke that has destroyed many innocent lives is sad; that our country has largely gone along for the ride is tragic. Read more here: The War On Terror Charade: 14-Year-Old Terrorists and The Fight For Western Civilization

2. Treatment of Natives: If this were a purely historical list then this would, without question, sit at number one. Because when it comes to shameful aspects of Canadian history nothing really comes close to our treatment of this country's Native peoples. After all, we don't really see ourselves as a nation that commits horrific war crimes, slaughters innocents, steals land, breaks treaties and kidnaps children, do we? But that's exactly what this country is guilty of.

Of course these explicit horrors and crimes are all long in the past now, but the legacy of this treatment on the original inhabitants of this land lingers on in innumerable ways.

The overt racism may be long gone from government policy, but the living conditions on many reserves across this country are still often comparable to those in the Third World.

After stealing their land and then attempting to destroy their way of life, culture and sense of self-worth, there's no doubt that we as a nation have a moral obligation to make things dramatically better for Canada's aboriginal people.

Stephen Harper's apology for the horrors of the residential school system was an important step, but there's so much more that clearly needs to be done.

Read more about the residential system and Harper's apology here: Finally An Apology: The Canadian Native Residential Schools Rant

1. Environmental record: Can anyone say oil sands?! But that's just one aspect of our country's pathetic record when it comes to the environment. As I wrote in much more detail in an earlier piece, "The Let's Get It Together Canada Rant: Canadians Among Worst Environmental Degraders In The World", when it comes to taking care of this planet, when it comes to truly caring about the world we're going to leave for future generations, when it comes to genuine concern for the world around us... we simply suck!

Don't believe it? Well, just this past week we scored yet another great distinction: Canada in last place on WWF's G8 climate scorecard

Perhaps if you think Jesus is coming soon to carry you up in The Rapture then none of this really matters. But for all non-delusional Canadians out there the fact that we are among the worst, if not the worst, per capita contributors to greenhouse gas pollution in the world is a horrific reality that simply must change.

 

Pride:

We may not have given the world any sort of fine cuisine (does poutine count?) and we may be laughed at for being too polite at times, but this country most certainly has some pretty friendly people and, as anyone who has ever driven across the country from coast to coast can attest, some awe-inspiring natural beauty as well. Beauty that makes this one of the most strikingly magnificent places on earth.

However, this list is not about such bland and obvious things as "friendly people" and "beautiful nature". Nor is it about such basic and absolutely crucial fundamental rights and institutions as freedom of speech, a free press, and democracy itself. No, this list is, in fact, about these ten things:

10. Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen: These three Canadian musical legends have each spent more than 40 years creating works of sublime beauty and, in Neil's case, some rugged rockin' masterpieces as well. Pure Canadian greatness. Almost great enough to make you forget Celine Dion.

Read more about Neil and Joni here: Talkin' Prairie Triangle of Inspiration (A.K.A. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell Make Their Great Escape)

9. Beer: We may not be Belgium or Germany, but when it comes to smaller local breweries (even if they've mainly been bought up by bigger conglomerates in recent years), we've sure got some fantastic beer here in Canada.

Now if we could just do something about the pathetically puritanical public drinking laws in this country we'd be set.

Oh and, hey, with beer being the most popular drink in the nation and pizza being the most popular food isn't it about time that parliament recognized pizza & beer as our National Meal?

8. Thriving arts: This country has an incredibly vibrant thriving cultural soul. Including:

- world class authors the likes of Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Mordecai Richler, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Margaret Laurence, Timothy Findley, Douglas Coupland, and William Gibson. And let's not forget great political and environmental writers and activists like Naomi Klein and David Suzuki;

- some of the greatest acts of the rock 'n' roll era, such as The Band, The Tragically Hip, Bruce Cockburn, Ron Sexsmith, Arcade Fire, Rufus Wainwright, and the aforementioned Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell;

- great filmmakers such as David Cronenberg, Paul Haggis, Denys Arcand, Deepa Mehta, Bruce McDonald, Don McKellar, Atom Egoyan, Norman Jewison, James Cameron, Sarah Polley, and Guy Maddin;

- an endless supply of hilarious comedians like Mike Myers, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, John Candy, Seth Rogen, Catherine O'Hara, Russell Peters, Leslie Nielsen, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, Mary Walsh, Rick Mercer, Phil Hartman, Eugene Levy, The Kids In The Hall, Samantha Bee and Jason Jones of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and the creator of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels.

In fact, comedians may be what we're most famous for around the world, but we've also produced many other famous and not-so-famous painters, architects, dancers, sculptors, playwrights, and stage & film actors as well.

Finally, largely thanks to government funding, through grants and the National Film Board of Canada, we've produced a large body of incredible documentaries and short films.

For those who like their culture as much as their beer, there's simply a lot to love here.

7. Stephen Lewis and other Great Canadian Heroes:
This country has had its fair share of selfless heroes over the years, most famously Terry Fox and Rick Hansen. But today there are even more Canadians than ever out there doing amazing work helping people around the globe, Stephen Lewis perhaps being the most notable. This former U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa now runs a foundation that, since 2003, has been helping in the fight against HIV/AIDS throughout sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been absolutely devastated by this horrific disease. Working at the grassroots level, the Stephen Lewis Foundation has raised millions of dollars in the past six years, money which has funded over 300 projects in 15 countries, helping tens of thousands of people.

Read more about this Great Canadian here: The Stephen Lewis Rave

And check out The Stephen Lewis Foundation's website here.

Stephen Lewis, of course, is just one of many Canadians doing incredible humanitarian work. Here are a few others who I'd most definitely call personal heroes of mine:

- Jiri Zivny, the B.C. man who died earlier this year while in Cambodia doing humanitarian work;

- Lorrie Williams, the Vancouver woman who runs a charity called the Canadian Harambee Education Society that helps poor girls in Kenya get an education;

See the CHES website here;


- Saskatchewan native Jeremy Wildeman, who founded Project Hope in the West Bank city of Nablus to work with Palestinian youth;

See the Project Hope website here;

- Chandrasekhar Sankurathri, or Dr. Chandra, the Ottawa man who, after losing his wife and children in the Air India bombing, has gone on to found a charity that not only educates poor children in India, but also helps thousands regain their eyesight by offering free cataract operations;

See the Manjari Sankurathri Memorial Foundation website here.

6. Quebec: How does Quebec make Canada a better place? Let me count the ways: a) Regardless of whatever the anti-French bigots, particularly out here in the West, may think, Quebec has given our country a distinct and unique character; b) When it comes to just about every single social issue, poll after poll has shown the Quebecois to be more progressive and open-minded than their anglophone counterparts across the country (part of the reason the anti-French bigots don't like them, I'm sure); c) Over the past few years Quebec (along with Toronto and Vancouver) has kept Stephen Harper and his Conservatives from forming a majority government in this country; d) Quebec City is one of the most beautiful cities not just in North America, but in the world; e) Montreal is so all about culture that the city actually shuts down downtown for two weeks each year for the Jazz Festival; f) Quebec has given us the likes of Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur, Martin Brodeur, Rocket Richard, Roberto Luongo and Patrick Roy, to name just a few of the hockey legends the province has produced over the years; and, finally, g) Quebec gave us poet, novelist, songwriter, hipster, Buddhist monk, and living legend, Leonard Cohen.

5. Education system: Contrary to what conservatives may want you to believe, our education system does not, in fact, need lots more math, science and standardized testing. Our system is one of the best there is for the simple reason that it creates, breeds and encourages a free-thinking, creative-thinking populace and that's far more important than science and math will ever be for the good of the country (though, of course, it is good if our doctors, scientists, engineers, etc, do master their science and math... which they do with ease. We've certainly had no shortage of talented people in all of those fields over the years).

4. The lack of influence by religious wackos - and religion itself - in our political system: The wacko Christian Right may have huge influence south of the border, but up here things like rational thought, science and reasoned debate almost always prevail, though money and lobby groups often unfortunately dominate as well. But at least its not religious money and lobbies pushing the political agenda here in Canada. We may, sadly, have a constitution that states that our country was founded "under the supremacy of God", but the reality of modern-day Canadian politics is, to Stephen Harper's great chagrin I'm sure, remarkably secular and reason-based. Well, "remarkable" at least when you consider the reality down south, but quite normal I suppose when you look at just about every other Western democracy.

3. A relatively progressive political culture: No capital punishment, strong opposition to the Iraq War, legalized gay marriage (and who would have thought two decades ago that by 2007 70% of Canadians would decide to go with equality over bigotry and support gay marriage?), public support for the Kyoto Treaty (even if the politicians from both major parties failed to implement it while in power), etc., etc.

Most obvious example of this political reality: Top local, provincial and federal politicians out celebrating Gay Pride Day in places like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver each year. Now that's a progressive political culture!

2. Universal Health Care system and other universal social programs: It's certainly not perfect, but our system of medicine and our ideal of universal coverage for all, regardless of means, is a bedrock foundation of what makes Canada the society it is. Unlike a certain Richest Nation In The World to the south, we don't leave the poor to fend for themselves uninsured.

Read more here: The Tale of Two Sickos Rant 'n' Rave (Michael Moore, Grandpa and the Glorious Soapdown).

1. Multiculturalism: To me the greatest single thing about living in Canada is the incredible mix of peoples and cultures we have here and, specifically, the way people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds mingle freely, peacefully and happily throughout the country. At the core of all this is the continual arrival of new immigrants from all parts of the world and the cultural diversity and fine cuisine, among other things, that they bring with them. This is particularly apparent in places like Toronto and Vancouver, but you can also see it these days in smaller towns and cities as well.

The key word in the above paragraph is "peacefully". Anyone who knows anything about the horrific sectarian violence that is all too common in parts of Europe (particularly the Balkans) and especially India and Africa knows just how much we should cherish such peaceful coexistence.

No, screw that, we don't "peacefully coexist", we thrive! And that to me is the thing that makes this country especially wonderful.

Yes, there are exceptions and some rare racist incidents or attacks, and, yes, of course there are still some unrepentant redneck racist pricks out there, but the fact is they're rapidly becoming a smaller and smaller minority and the vast majority of people in Canada today live harmoniously with all sorts of other Canadians of different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds.

A Long Way

For those who forget or honestly don't know what a racist recent past we come from in this country, let me just tell you a quick story from my own family that highlights just what sort of country this used to be: It wasn't that many years ago now - the early-1960s to be exact - that my grandparents, on the purchase of a new house in The British Properties in West Vancouver, had to sign a contract that forbid them from selling to any "Jews or Asians". And at that same time Natives in this country weren't even allowed to vote. Oh, and we were kidnapping their children and putting them into rape camps, I mean residential schools.

Oh yeah, you better believe it, we've come a long way baby!

But we've still got a ways to go yet.

Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

 

Now check out these four other recent political rants:

 

The War On Terror Charade: 14-Year-Old Terrorists and The Fight For Western Civilization

 

Imagine: A Common Sense Justice System That Frowns On Police Brutality

 

Freedom Denied! Are We Happy Now: The Crushing of Sri Lanka's Tamils

 

Nothing To Fear But Truth Itself: Criminalizing Criticism of Israel

 

For more on Canadian politics visit the Politics: Canada page

 

For more on American politics visit the Politics: America page

 

And for lots more on politics of all types visit the Politics Homepage

 

MikesAndDislikes Home

1) Multiculturalism? one

1) Multiculturalism? one boat load of POOR refuges turn up & parliament is recalled! This is something that happens every day in European Western nations! The implication is the Canada deals with such people in a fairer more 'modern' way & by default the old world is ...well old. The truth is that Canada welcomes professional, middle class people from abroad, highly selected & examined. Europe has to deal with thousands of unchecked people every day! given the governments reaction to ONE boat maybe we should be a little less smug after all Canada is really, really distinctly Anglo-Saxon. 2) Lack of religious lunatics? Sure, fair point BUT Holland, Sweden, the UK, France, Germany et al don't really have them as well. Hardly a Canadian trait, more of a Western World that's not from the USA 3) Thriving arts: Who doesn't? 4) Canada is not known for its comedy this is a national concept that every nation has. Successful national comics are, by default, successful in their own countries because they make people in that nation laugh. Again...Canadian humour more palatable that most US comedians, not for example...Better then a true French Farce or the endless comedy of the British Isles. 5) A relatively progressive political culture: relative to who? Let me guess THE USA!! not Holland or Germany or the other nations of the world you like to imply that you're more 'part of' then the US. 6) Beer & Music: Really? You-are-way-off...name one youth culture or band/dance act some kid in East London for example has been influenced by over the last 50 years from Canada...no... I don't think so. Beer? again it's just a bit better then the states. OK RANT OVER, Canada's great (two of my children are half Canadian! & the love of my life is Canadian through & through) repeat; Canada's great OK? Just stop trying to 'define' yourselves, it's tedious especially by comparing yourselves with the USA & the USA only. There is a painful truth in this that you really don't need, you reject the USA as the only culture that matters then spend a huge amount of effort comparing yourself to them & them only, thus submitting to the very view that they ARE the only one that matters it's just your a bit better...in the things you want to highlight! Being better then the States is nothing to be proud of! Many nations do it in many areas! Stop it now, it smacks of an insecurity that you don't deserve. Your'e OK!

Alberta

As an Albertan I am thoroughly disgusted by most of what you have said. I know as well as anybody (as do most of us) that the oil sands are not ideal, it does not take an idiot to see that but it is where our people (and thousands from other provinces) make their livings and if it was your only job oportunity then you'd take it too. We're proud of our more redneck activities but that does not, by definition, make us bigots. Nor do we automaticly then hate people from Quebec! Please check your viscious generalisations before you publish them on the internet I am a proud Canadian who also holds a British passport and I think that you, sir, need to take a look around because no country is perfect. If you find Canada is the worst place to live then I heartily reccomend that you relocate...I doubt that any patriotic person will miss your ass.

Totally agree! I have lived

Totally agree! I have lived all over western Canada and living in Alberta is one of the best experiences of my life. The people are warm and welcoming. What I noticed is a lot of Albertan's still have that old fashion sense of hospitality and community togetherness. You have people who are willing to help out. Unlike Quebec that normally discriminates against anyone who isn't French. You ever think that the reason Canada is starting to fall apart is because of all the new age ways of thinking, where people are just out for themselves and to get ahead. The prairie provinces still have morals, and I'm proud to live in any 3 of the prairie provinces!!!!

Well done

While some of this contains inaccuracies, it's by and large accurate. Especially Alberta. I detest this mindlessly conservative hellhole that cannot accept the fact that our government has screwed us over for a good twenty years, abused us, and knows it can get away with it. I swear, Albertans are probably among the most deficient groups of people on Earth when it comes to political savvy.

Your extreme leftwing views

Do not know even where to start here. But I do find it comical that you list HIV activism as something to be proud of considering it has been enviro nuts like yourself who indirectly are responsible for the deaths of over 50 million African children alone with the banning of DDT. Thankfully you are in an extreme minority. Enviro nutters are the most arrogant and uninformed people I have ever known and your comments about Alberta are disgusting.You are a biggot beyond scope and thankfully have no impact on this country what soever.

Actually, you are a hypocrite

You place the entire province of Alberta on your list of shame because of the oil sands and right wing views. Of course you don't implicate the rest of Canada even though a significant portion of the oil sands work force comes from other provinces. I suppose the BC person's desire to leave their home to go make money in the oil sands is somehow more noble than the Albertans. You don't mention Quebec's notorious exploitation of 14 or its 16 largest rivers in the name of money-whoops, I mean energy. Of course since you're from the other hydro province, BC, I suppose you think hydro is clean. Except for completely trashing ecosystems and displacing hundreds of Aboriginals, and releasing mercury among other chemicals into the water supply. Apparently, if you live in Alberta and want to exploit your resources and separate you're a stupid redneck, but if you live in Quebec doing exactly the same things you are a source of pride and diversity. Oh, and have you not met the last decades Ralph Klein? Well he lives in Newfoundland and his name is Danny. You claim to support multiculturalism, but you do so in a shallow, tourist brochure fashion. Lots of our immigrants (and I assure you, Canadians across the country) hold very conservative, religious points of view that do not support equal rights for homosexuals, or even women. Yet instead of deriding these negative qualities on their own you claim them to be Alberta's failings. Let me try and put it in a way you may understand. Atlantic Canada is our shame because they won't stop bottom trawling, they fished the Cod out and are trying to do the same to the blue fin tuna, and they are happy to get paid by the government. It's not nice, and it isn't accurate. You sir, are part of the problem with your incendiary region based attacks, and in my opinion, on the shame list. PS: all of the asbestos mined in Canada comes from Quebec.

What I hate in Canada I put it into pictures

What I hate in Canada I put it into pictures inluding Bad Ministers of the government, bud Justice system, bad Cops and bad RCMP, bad health system, abuse of tax payer's money.. A picture for me is worth a thousand words http://picasaweb.google.com/anonconformer/Thenonconformer#

My goatee makes me sensitive to all cultures

Because I believe fiercely in brevity (this is the Google age, after all), this redneck Albertan has only one thing to say: I am really, really surprised that you do not sport a goatee.

Mikey Likes Hypocricy

It has been said that “hypocrisy is insidious and can never define the instance of its birth”. While I'm sure Mike cannot put a finger on the day he first woke up and decided to become a hypocrite, he can certainly recognize in his writings that his hypocrisy has certainly grown to full maturity. Take for instance his pride in point 5 that "...our education system does not, in fact, need lots more math, SCIENCE..." and then contrast it with point 4 (that's right, not even a mouse-wheel scroll down the page!) that "…up here things like rational thought, SCIENCE...always prevail". Does Mike like science, or does he think we have too much of it? How will science continue to prevail if we don't value it in our education system going forward? Would Mike's ideal Canadian education system replace math/science courses with some Will Ferrell inspired ribbon dance from the movie Old School? How about Mike's rant on people with religious beliefs all being labeled “right-wing wackos”. He’s upset with the religious right because he’s run into a lot of religious people who are intolerant of gay people. I get that. They're mostly in Alberta, right? Okay, whatever. I grew up in religious circles around some of the same people. I don't really care how/where people find love, but am always perplexed that those who are intolerant of intolerant people don't consider themselves intolerant. If Mike loves tolerance so much, he’d be tolerant of intolerance, or he’d just choose to say he is intolerant about “other” things. Bashing others/Albertan’s for their beliefs (whether you agree with them or not) is far less effective than respecting and educating people. It's a lot of work though, so I can see why he’d opt for bashing the bashers. It's hypocritical, but Mike seems to wear it well. I think Mike's top 10 likes and dislikes about Canada should include the freedom to rant without accountability?

Sorry, but not even close to hypocritical

Well, of course it's not even slightly hypocritical now is it? It's all about balance in our education system and the Right's constant demands for more standardized testing and more math and science at the expense of other subjects. It's simply about a balanced curriculum.

 

I'm obviously not against teaching science, I'm simply saying we don't need MORE math and science at the expense of other subjects.

 

Our education system is great in this country precisely because it does teach a balance of math, science and all other subjects and because it encourages creative thinking and independent thought (and because we, thankfully, don't even have a hint of the moronic debate they have down in the States about whether science is real or not, whether it can be trusted or is just some sort of trick God is playing on us to test our faith).

 

And as for the topic of religious people, the Religious Wackos being referred to in this piece are clearly not your average level-headed Christians; the topic here is the irrationality of the Christian Right and all other similar fundamentalist types from other religious groups. The point is that political decisions in this country are, thankfully, not influenced by religious hardliners, as they so clearly are in the States (and Iran and elsewhere).

 

Finally, being tolerant of intolerant people (such as, say, racist Nazis or Klansmen; or fundamentalist misogynistic Muslims; or fundamentalist Christian homophobes) is hardly something any thinking person would pride themselves on. Silently sitting back in the face of hatred (all in the name of "toleration") is anything but a virtue.

Mike Cowie

Canada's Water - something to Love

In making “Water On The Table”, a film about Canada’s water, I must say that Canadians are very ignorant about our freshwater: the facts and the important political and ethical issues facing our water. We are blessed with somewhere between 6 and 9% of the world’s renewable freshwater, and in a world that is running out of freshwater we have a big responsibility, to steward it and not take it for granted.

 

For more information about Canada’s water check out the Council of Canadians' various campaigns: http://www.canadians.org/water/index.html

 

To learn about the documentary "Water On The Table" visit: www.wateronthetable.com

 

   Liz Marshall

comment on comments

As an American who has driven through every province as well as the Yukon and the Northwest Territories (even drove into Labrador), I would offer the following comments. Canada is a BIG land with a wonderfully diverse population. That "diversity" extends beyond nationality, ethnicity, and politics to include (although, hopefully, not welcome) some real nasty people and, inevitably, some small-minded, genuine bigots. But, all in all, I have found Canadians to be kind, warm and friendly and far more concerned about their neighbors than Americans.

Regarding Alberta, there can be no question that that province includes some of the most beautiful and dramatic sights in North America; I did not understand Mike's criticisms to pertain to the landscape, but rather to some of the political ideology that has come from there. The politics of Ralph Klein evinced an unseemly selfishness. When Alberta was flush with wealth (from resources for which the people of the province could hardly claim credit. It was not their labor or cleverness that located those resources into their province.), they were loathe to share with other provinces. Now, with commodity prices down, those same Albertans seek assistance from Ottawa. What's with that?

A challenge to all of you Canadians: You really need to formulate a Canadian identity beyond "not being Americans." I wholeheartedly concur that "not being Americans" stands you in good stead, but you deserve more. Work on it.

PS - compiling a list is a very difficult and challenging undertaking. Those who would pick at it, might first try making their own list. At the very least, Mike's list provokes some introspection about your country. There is much to be proud of and much that calls for improvement. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Comments on Comments' Comments

Unfortunately driving through our fine country did not afford you the opportunity of understanding how transfer payments work or what the terms "have" and "have not" Provinces mean, so your comments on Alberta being flush with cash and now seeking Ottawa's assistance misses the mark so wonderfully, I don't even know where to begin in correcting you, other than to suggest next time you do a Canadian road trip you listen to CBC radio. They are sure to bore you with those kinds of topics, between readings of The Vinyl Cafe or some other moronic story of course! To the extent that all Canadians pay taxes at federal and provincial levels, and all Canadians make use of services or finding at federal and provincial levels, Alberta is nowhere near "seeking assistance from Ottawa" unless you consider the entire country a Pogey Nation. You may have to look up ‘pogey’, as it's a great Canadian word.

Religious influence

......I wouldn't call it a lack of influence. I'd call it less influence. We still have a remarkably religious right-wing retard for a PM, and his science minister is a YEC who's been cutting funding for the sciences. What's sad is that, yes, this is less.

Nickleback

On the pride side of the list of bands, you forgot some big ones such as Rush, BTO, Our Lady Peace. On the shame side of the list you forgot the scourge we Canadians have unleashed on the world...... Nickleback.

Nickelback

Screw you! -Chad Kroeger

Poutine

I've been thinking of moving to Canada for a while now, it seems like my kind of place, except Alberta it seems. And I wanna try poutine, even though in picture form, it looks like a regurgitated meal.

Stay out of Alberta

Unless you are conservative or an idiot, it is not the place for you. The government is horrible, save yourself. Sadly, I'm stuck in this hell on Earth for a good while longer.

Really?

Not saying this because I do happen to live there, but its not a bad place. Whats with Mike and you all feeling that this province is a s***** place? You seem to be VERY arrogant. Its not. If it wasn't for the oil sands, Canada would not be getting a whole lot of money. And, yes most of us are conservatives because they are the party that supports the oil sands. I bet, if another party got the government role, first thing to go would be the oil sands. We are not at all seeking more money from Ottawa. Have you not seen? Most of the people in Alberta are pretty rich for the most part. We are up there... Why? Because of the oil we pull out. The government has its weak parts; Crime and justice. But other then that major area, its doing a good job for the most part. Health care is good. I do hope your mind gets more influence from others, then just your own "focused on me" mind set.

What a Moronic List

"Celine Dion"

So what? You don't like her, don't listen to her. There's a reason she sold 200 million albums worldwide: people enjoy her music. At least she can sing.

I'm far more ashamed of Nickleback.

"Conrad Black"

Renounced his Canadian citizenship. We can safely ignore him.

"Alberta"

Seriously? I love poking fun at Alberta as much as the next guy, but why should we be ashamed of them?

"but they've also given us the dual scourge of Preston Manning and Stephen Harper as well."

It can be argued that Preston Manning did a lot of good while he was in politics. He was never as far to the right as Harper is, and many of his good policies were outright stolen by Chretien's Liberals. In my opinion an effective opposition not only provides criticism to the government, they provide such attractive alternatives that the government is forced to steal them.

Oh, and Harper is from Ontario. Maybe we should be ashamed of Ontario now?

"Exporting asbestos"

There is nothing wrong with asbestos as long as it is handled properly. It has been discovered that any substance made out of microscopic fibres can cause lung cancers. Carbon nano-tubes are in the exact same boat as asbestos. Does this mean we should abandon research and development of such a potentially revolutionary technology?

"The Queen"

Yeah, we should be incredibly ashamed of our history and tradition. Let's throw out our hundreds of years of history and adopt a republic. While we're at it, we can just drop the name "Canada" and start calling ourselves the "United States of America." Hey, an elected head-of-state has worked out so well for nations like Mexico and the Philippines, we should just jump right on that bandwagon.

Canada's parliamentary constitutional monarchy is something I'm very proud of.

What an incredibly biased list. The author is wearing his politics on his sleeve here.

You just might be a red-neck

I always thought of 'ignorant redneck' as an expression you apply to someone who doesn't know very much about what they're talking about but still feels entitled to let the rest of us know what their silly little thoughts are. Maybe you mean something else, but by your attack on Alberta you sound like an ignorant red-neck to me. You speak of Alberta as a land of bigots, red-necks, etc. I met my fair share of bigots, red-necks, etc. in BC, so your province is not exempt from this charge. And for every Stephen Harper that comes out of that province, there's also a Diane Ablonzky or a Monte Solberg. You're being a bigot by over-generalizing about all Albertan's from a small sample. It's ironic that in the very same breath that you charge all Albertans with bigotry, you yourself, are being a bigot. I mean, I am as far left as they come, and I really do love Vancouver, but Alberta is a beautiful province, full of great people, and sure it's flawed, just like BC, but it's a vital and wonderful part of Canada, and doesn't deserve your spite. You live in a province whose government is constantly putting up highway signs letting you know that "This highway was brought to you by the BC government", the Alberta government just does their job and paves our roads. They don't need to brag about it. And I swear, those stupid BC propaganda commercials "This is the best place on Earth right here." I wanted to throw my TV out into the BC rain every time one of those came on. And as much as I love Vancouver, I'm sorry but East Hastings is a shame to the entire country. Alberta's got nothing on the poverty in that neighborhood. It makes the poorer parts of the United States look half-decent, and that is really really pathetic and un-Canadian. We can and should do better. That said, I love both BC and Alberta, despite their flaws.

shame and pride

Hey Mike - good ones. Just a couple of quick things on the "shame" side:

 

- about the homeless, you say if we can afford $ to bail out GM, then we should be able to house these people. In fact, it would cost us FAR LESS to provide housing and decent living standards than it does to leave them on the street. Health and policing costs alone far outweigh the price of providing people with the dignity of having a home. It's not just the right thing to do - it's the financially responsible thing to do.

 

- re Canada's support for Israel: if you criticize Israel's foreign policy, you are branded anti-semetic. It's ridiculous. However I must say that Canada is orders of magnitude better on this issue than the US.

 

- re: First Nations, Inuit and Metis, huge legacy of shame. However, there are signs that things are getting better - the Liberal govt in BC, as much as I despise them, have been very progressive on this and will continue to be for at least the next 5 years. Campbell wants this to be his legacy, and he's not going to pander to anyone now because he has political capital and nothing to lose. Watch for huge strides in this area in the immediate future.

 

- One shameful thing you overlooked (of many, probably): Internment of Japanese Canadians during the second world war, many of whom had been here for generations and even fought Fritz in WW1. Thomas Berger has written extensively on this but alas - I don't have a reference.

 

- Finally, one thing you are proud of that I am ashamed of: Rick Mercer. Come on, man. Come on. This guy is where funny goes to die.

Jim

shame and pride

what an incredibly moronic list. The diversity you speak of is something that is killing Canada. Try going to Pearson Airport and see how you feel when you cant understand one word that is being spoken by anyone there. Lets talk about how our long standing tradition of being a Mountie gets challenged by someone who needs to wear a towel on their head. No other country in the world would let an immigrant come in and force their religious beliefs on them. I cant even continue to address your list. You are so clearly out of touch with reality. One of the shames of the country is you. I would bet that you are an immigrant yourself and enjoy the freedoms that Canada offers you while paying a monthly website fee to sit and spew propaganda and falseness. It is a free country though and we have so graciously given you the freedom to say what you want. I do agree with some things on both lists but to place the best thing about Canada is its diverse culture just stinks of stupidity. Wait till you lose your job (if you have one) to a Hindu or Seik . Wait till you hear the Canadian national anthem sung at the Olympics in English/French and Hindi. Lets see how proud you are then. I stand corrected about you being an immigrant. I just saw your pictures and family. Makes sense now why you are so jaded. Welcome to the country to 2 more.

Reply to 'Shame and Pride'

I was suprised when I read your comments. I thought jobs were given out based on merit, not religon. Besides, even if someone lost "their" job to a Hindu or a Sikh (this is the correct spelling), should they not work harder and try for other jobs? Are you implying that a person of different ethnic backgrounds should be given second priority because of their backgrounds/religon? And talking about forcing ones' beliefs and religon on others, is that not what we, as Canadians, did to the Aboriginals who were already residing here? Does it not suprise how so many diverse people can co-exist? Does it not occur to you that this is what makes Canada unique? Soo many of the immigrants who come to Canada, come seeking new oppurtunities; oppurtunities that they might have been denied in the country they are coming from. And if it weren't for these immigrants, Canada could not sustain it's population. Besides, if it weren't for diversity, what would differentiate us from the Americans? P.S. If you can't stand Pearson Airport, you might also want to avoid Scarborough Town Centre. From: Another Canadian (Peace)

Yes, I thought jobs were

Yes, I thought jobs were given based on merit as well however sitting in the front row for the Ontario Government, I have witnessed it just isn't so. Am I implying that a person that is of different ethnic background be given second priority?. Oh my god, did you not read my comments? Of course I am implying that. I can certainly appreciate someone trying to gain new opportunities but why would I care if our population is not sustained based on someones willingness to succeed at life. Why must our culture be changed to accomodate? Why cant I say Merry Christmas? Why cant my child express and share Christmas with school friends in school. Why do we have to walk on egg shells around people with towels on their head? Why do WE HAVE TO CHANGE????? I just dont get why people that come here for a change, get to change us.

It IS our culture to accept and accommodate NOT segregate

I can't believe you just posted this garbage. Are you serious or joking? Because this is a terrible, terrible joke if it is and is absurdly offensive. It is our culture to accept and accommodate NOT segregate and assimilate. And for the record, people don't like having religion forced on them... Don't just assume a stranger in public is Christian, that's rather rude.