I’m baaaaaaaack! Creeters and readers, I’ve missed you! Not only in the Vous me manquez! sense, but also, I’ve neglected/overlooked/let pass/failed to notice that Monday came and went, leaving my post behind. Le chum’s familia – a Canadian and a Brit – live in the States (the UN in a two-story grey house) and my sister and brother-in-law live in the capital of Canada, so for the last bout de temps, I’ve been on the road again (which is one of my favourite places to be), jumping on planes, trains and automobiles to travel all over the Great Lakes states and provinces. Visiting le chum’s household offered an entertaining glimpse into small-town America. Visiting Ottawa offered an overwhelming dose of American patriotism.
Yes, I did say “Ottawa,” and not Washington… or NYC… or Atlanta or Boston or Nashville or Lansing or pretty much any city in the USA, all of which would be unsurprising choices for displays of embarrassingly abundant patriotism. But Ottawa? Canada’s capital city? The representative beacon of Canadian government, identity and pride?
Apparently, nearly 142 years of Canadian history and culture just can’t compete with Barack Obama buying a cookie.
Throughout the Byward Market, I did not notice any signs informing me of the rich history of the market. I did not see any notices detailing the varied activities offered in the market. What I did notice, what I could not miss, was the paraphernalia devoted to Obama’s visit to the Byward Market in February. I know that he bought a keychain (rather ugly – poor taste, Mr. Obama) and I could tell you the serial number on the $5-bill he used to purchase it, because said bill is now preserved under glass at the kiosk. I know he bought a maple leaf cookie with the word CANADA iced in the Canadian colours, because those cookies are now, obviously, known as “Obama cookies.” Of course. Because they so appropriately represent America and its government. (But they do seem to make a reeeeeeeeally good impression on America’s government!)
Canadian apathy towards culture and politics has long been acceptable under the complaint that we don’t have a distinctive culture or an active government to be proud of. Geez louise, we don’t even have the energy to come up with good excuses. No wonder we don’t have enough energy to care about our politics!
A strength can be defined as a power of resistance, a vigour of action, or an essential characteristic. Canada’s strength lies in its diversity, its openness, its willingness to communicate and negotiate. Canadians know these strengths, and yet dismiss them as pathetic, the reject roles that we take on because we don’t have the global presence or power to do anything else. When will Canada see its roles of peacekeeping, negotiation and diversibility for what they are : not the roles that no one else wants to fulfill, but the roles that no one else can fulfill as well as Canada can?
To dismiss one’s strengths as weaknesses or to be jealous of another’s strength is not only ignorant, but very childish and a complete waste of time. So grow up, Canada! You’re needed on the scene.