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Canada's Great, But I Don't Love It

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There is an opinion out there that the world as we know it is slated for destruction sometime later this year, or at least in the not-too-distant future. Some say the end will come by the hand of god, others forecast nuclear holocaust. Hell, for all I know, they might be right; such is the state of worldwide turmoil right now -- political chaos and civil war in the Arab world, financial and social meltdown in Europe, a general sense of fear and foreboding in the United States -- that the end may indeed be nigh.

But my best guess is even if we are headed toward some life-altering cataclysm, when the smoke clears Canada will still be standing, sturdy, peaceful and welcoming as ever. This country, it seems, is immune to economic disorder, social strife and all the other major and minor poxes infecting neighbours near and far. While everyone else is either stalled or hurtling backward, we keep chugging along.

How do we do it? It's quite easy, actually. We favour simplicity, eschew pretension. We don't play the victim, nor do we puff out our chest. We prefer to stay on the edge of the crowd, a supporting role over a spot on the marquee. Forget the road less traveled, we'll just follow the step-by-step directions on our trusty GPS, thank you very much. It's not the flashiest system, but it generates excellent quality of life.

For these same reasons, most nations look right through us, the rest laugh at our simple-mindedness. We would be lying if we said we weren't a tad annoyed by it, but we are not insulted. Glory, fame, notoriety -- these things are not our concern. What we Canadians are after is honour, because honour neither fades nor corrupts -- honour begets honour, the same way a good deed leads to another one. If everyone else just stopped to think about it, they'd realize we're right (not that that would matter to us).

Really, what is there bad to say about Canada? I can think of nothing. There are minor irritations, of course, the worst of which is that we tend to produce very little and import most everything from our neighbours to the south -- culturally, philosophically, politically, materially. But this really speaks to our innate practicality more than anything else: we've been dealt a monster geographic hand -- might as well make use of it.

(There is the issue of Quebec, a patented virus with no known cure that paralyzes us from time to time. I admit it's easy to ignore, when the waters are (relatively) calm, the fact that Quebec sovereignty would do irreparable damage to Canada. But there is no sense worrying about matters out of one's control.)

Continuity is a crucial Canadian asset. There is every reason to believe that 10 years from now -- 20, 50, 100 years, too -- Canada will be just as palatable as it is at this very moment, if not more so. Yes, the world is always changing, but our national game-plan is uncomplicated, devoid of moving parts that could cause friction and flashy googahs that inevitably break down. It is beauty in simplicity, and this is why Canada the good can last.

Still, I hesitate to subscribe to the catchphrase of this series -- "Why I love Canada."

Like Canada? For sure. Appreciate Canada? Definitely. But it should not be in our nature -- it certainly isn't in mine -- to love this country. In fact, loving Canada goes against the proprietary level-headedness that makes us so great. Love is too primal an emotion to be applied to one's nation; we have all seen what that level of deep connection to country can do to people. Those who accept into their hearts love for a homeland necessarily gain the corollary sentiment, "my country is better than your country." What happens next is usually not a pretty sight.

So, no, I don't love Canada. I would say, however, that this is the best country in the world in which to make a home, to build a family and enjoy the good things life has to offer. It is an evolved country, a humble country, and we Canadians are a classy bunch, a people demonstrably comfortable in our own skin. And here's the best part: Since the Canadian way is so well-tuned, we shouldn't need to spend much time and effort on maintenance or upkeep. Which leaves us with plenty of opportunity to make this place even better, for us now and for all Canadians to come.

Forget the end of days, Canada is just getting started.