Sunday, January 17, 2010

Redux - Oh Canada? - From the Archives

While preparing for work this week, I tuned into a popular local talk show. The topic of discussion was whether playing the Canadian national anthem before hockey games served any useful purpose. Several listeners phoned in showing an almost even split between those who thought this was a meaningless tradition, (given that most players on Canadian hockey teams are drafted from other countries), and others who - admirably, if not somewhat clumsily - spoke of the need to preserve tradition in a country that seems hell bent on dismantling what little traditions we have left.

The host, through a clever slight of hand framed the question in a manner that pigeonholed the parameters of the discussion. The topic, formulated by the host, was actually whether or not the national anthem "inspired the players". Yet no matter how slippery the question was, the fact that the program was even having such inane discussion is symptomatic of a much larger problem. The lack of cultural identity.

Ask any bloke or blokette on the street what it means to be Canadian and they will frequently spew forth a litany of ready-to-order items off a check list, most of them declarations about how they are not like Americans. The common version of our watered down notions of national pride boils down to silly tub thumping about how we don't let sick people die because they're poor, how we're all walking saints because we don't carry guns and of course, the ever annoying lament about how we don't start "useless wars". You know you're in deep trouble when you define your national identity in the negative. Who you are, should not be explained in terms of who you are not. If someone were to ask me to define myself as a person and I responded; "Well, I'm not a pedophile, and I certainly don't torture animals", it may make you feel safe about letting me spend the weekend with Spuds and little Johnny, but it speaks very little to what makes me tick - and therein lies in the rub.

In the 1960's we were beginning to mold into our collective psyche what it meant to be Canadian: Honour in combat, the majestic railway that connected this country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, our natural resources and our pioneering ancestors - but there was a counter movement eager to crush this burgeoning sense of national pride. They progressives declared that patriotism was a dirty word and insisted we were all hand-holding members of the kumbaya cult of pan-ethnicity. Their leader? The white-on-white wearing liberal/Liberal hipster Pierre Elliot Trudeau. If America was a melting pot where people of diverse backgrounds and heritage stood proudly under the banner of a united culture that welcomed inclusion, Canada was to become a bizarre soup sitting in an another type of pot, where the burner was never turned on and it's colourful ingredients were left to sit in stagnant cold water.

Multiculturalism - the abra-cadabra, all encompassing, non-threatening name of one the most misguided experiments in social engineering ever hatched. Multiculturalism frowned at any patriotism of the whole and encouraged a strange ethnocentric loyalty to your nation of origin. The result almost a quarter of a century later are ethnic ghettos where poverty runs rampant in large cities and entire swaths of the population that do not posses adequate proficiency in English to compete in the job market.

The true Orwellian nightmare of multiculturalism in all its glory is a nefarious little group of jackbooted bureaucrats called the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Anyone who doesn't like a magazine article or feels excluded from some facet of society can drag magazine editors, writers, artists, priests and even night club owners in front of the commission. Last year, Canadian writer Mark Steyn was ordered to appear before the commission after a complaint was launched by the Canadian Islamic Council over an article he wrote in Mclean's magazine that warned of the ever growing threat of radicalization within the Islamic community. They didn't like it, so in the spirit of free speech for all they hauled Mr. Steyn before the tribunal which almost led to his brilliant cautionary tome "America Alone", being banned in Canada.

Woodrow Wilson, the first American President to try - but ultimately fail - to turn America into a Canadian-style welfare state with a pimped-out European fascist whip was a bit more heavy handed. He routinely shut down newspapers and even had his own personal goon squad at his beck and call to intimidate those who spoke out against the government. Now Canadian citizens are being forced to endure the same type of bullying, albeit under the guise of a "Human Rights Commission".

It's all a bit disheartening that we've reached a point where sober minded people debate whether or not we should still sing the national anthem at sporting events. Perhaps soon, such quaint traditions will be but a memory if the jackbooted intellectual thought police at the Canadian Rights Tribunal have their way.




Sandy L. G. said...

Wasn't it Mr Trudeau who said, "Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die."

Also he is quoted as saying in a heated discussion about our friends to the south, "Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States."

I can go on but I think it is safe to say that Mr. Trudeau was a true Patriot.

gojoe150 said...

Thank you Dr. Sandy!!

We've missed your insightful observations, but I think in making your point, you've proved mine.

In the frustration of the moment, Prime Minister Trudeau did exactly what I accuse my fellow countrymen of doing - he insulted the United States and repeated the mantra about how we're not - and never going to be like them. Boiler plate patriotism followed by caustic remarks and unflattering comments about the United States while vowing never to be like them is not an affirmation of Canadian values.

Thanks Doc Sandy. You are a dear friend of this blog and we always love to read your thoughts!