Saturday, September 01, 2007

What it Means to Be Canadian . . . .

From last evening's Globe and Mail:

Being as Canadian as possible, under the circumstances

Globe and Mail - August 31, 2007 at 8:19 PM EDT

One of the late Peter Gzowski's most amusing contributions to the never-ending search for Canadian identity was his contest to find this country's equivalent of “as American as apple pie.” The winning entry, you may recall, was “as Canadian as possible under the circumstances.”

So what are “the circumstances” under which we feel and become most Canadian? This is an important question as we continue to search for ways and means of maintaining unity and harmony in a country distinguished by great regional and demographic diversity.


The McGill graduate, Nicholas Gafuik, who is now director of program planning for the Manning Centre, puts it this way: “I never feel more Canadian than when I'm out of the country. My sense of Canadian identity becomes stronger the farther and longer I am away.”


Recent immigrants do not need to go “outside Canada” to appreciate Canada; they have been “outside.” Most have evaluated Canada from afar as a desirable place to make a new home, and are coming here with that appreciation already a reality. (Emphasis mine, as I am in total agreement!)

In my experience, the circumstance in which new immigrants feel most Canadian is on the day they acquire their citizenship – a process and a day of ceremony and celebration that the federal government is rightfully trying to make more substantive and meaningful.

“To be as Canadian as possible under the circumstances …” Not a bad citizenship objective, despite its self-deprecating modesty. But let us then pay greater attention to defining, expanding and appreciating “the circumstances” under which we become “most Canadian.”

Amazingly, the author of the piece is one Preston Manning. Based on the little knowledge I have of him, it is highly doubtful his views on most anything would be acceptable to me.

In this case, however, he seems to be quite accurate . . . .

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