Canadians are masters of understatement when it comes to celebrating our national pride.
Whereas our neighbours to the south belt out the Star Spangled Banner at every opportunity, the national anthem at Canadian events is usually performed, rather than participated in. Everyone but the singer stands awkwardly at attention, some of us humming and only a brave few souls singing along – much to the embarrassment of the people standing near.
But on this day once a year, it seems we give ourselves licence to go a little crazy waving the flag over Canada. Kids, and a few grownups too, paint their faces, the sky across the country is lit up with fireworks displays and people find reasons to get together, whether at a community event or backyard barbecue.
And we have to admit to one another, we live in pretty special place.
If there was any doubt, a story in last week’s Globe and Mail should lay it to rest.
“Given the choice, 53 per cent of adults in the world’s 24 leading economies said they would immigrate to Canada, according to an international survey commissioned by the Historica-Dominion Institute in partnership with the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Aurea Foundation,” the story says.
“The results bode well for Canada’s efforts to attract highly educated immigrants as the global search for talent heats up in coming years.”
The story postulated that Canada is seen as welcoming and respectful of newcomers relative to other places, notably the U. S. where immigration has become a debate that is divisive and mean.
And, as the resident population ages in wealthy countries around the world, the competition for young people capable of keeping the economies humming is expected to be steep.
The situation in the U. S. is particularly troubling as political leaders balance their economy’s dependence on foreign labourers, many of whom are in the country illegally, against the political price of legitimizing that resource.
One of the defining features of Canada must be our refusal to stoop to that level of competitive advantage.
Our front-page story this week is one of many reminders of late that what makes Canada a great country should not be measured by its ability to attract well-trained people from other countries to maintain or improve our fourth-placing ranking on the UN’s quality-of-life index.
It’s our commitment to making the world a better place for all.
It’s no secret that our cattle producers are facing difficult times of their own, but that didn’t stop them from reaching out to troops returning from duty overseas with a gesture of appreciation and support.
Canada’s decision to send troops to Afghanistan comes a great price to those individuals serving, as well as to their families and communities.
It is a thankless job and it is hard to know at times whether their sacrifice is making a big enough difference. But in the end, Canada’s presence there in an investment in about the only thing that can bring peace to conflict, the victory of pragmatism over ideology.
Another reminder of what makes Canada special is a news release that arrived in our email box recently from International Development Enterprises, a non-governmental organization based in Winnipeg that develops affordable technology to help the world’s poor improve their incomes through entrepreneurship.
It was one of those stories that makes you smile.
When confronted with a flooding basement during the rainfall deluge in late May, IDE executive director Stuart Taylor found local stores were plumb out of electric pumps.
So he went to his office and borrowed a treadle pump, a foot-powered irrigation pump that his organization has developed for Third World farmers.
The foot-powered pump drives two pistons that can pump water from up to six metres deep. Small-scale farmers in poor countries can irrigate crops and double their incomes within the first year.
The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on Taylor. Here he was using a technology designed to draw water in the Third World to get rid of water in this land of plenty.
He joked this may represent an opportunity. “I see the business model as part exercise gym and part emergency response unit,” he said. “We can offer people a good aerobic workout in exchange for pumping out flooded basements. It’s a win-win.”
The story underscores another defining feature of Canada. IDE, among other Canadian-based NGOs such as the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, are reaching out to the world to share our wealth and expertise. But their experience brings home a broader perspective.
It’s Canada’s participation in the world, not its activities within safe and secure borders, that makes this a special place.
This country is blessed with many great things, good water, abundant resources, and wide open spaces. But it is our people who make it great. [email protected]