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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Canada, Tear Down This Firewall!

As I type, Rob Ford is on Good Morning America, telling Matt Lauer about how much Torontonians really love him.  Kory Teneycke is probably high-fiving his reflection in a mirror, congratulating himself on nabbing Ford for The Sun Network and scoring the greatest marketing attention-grabber since Miley Cyrus twerked at the VMAs.

Elsewhere in Canada, Mike Duffy is relishing the attention afforded him through his Senate Spending scandal even as he waves his fists with righteous indignation against the Party and Prime Minister that once used him as a sabre-rattling fundraiser for their own war chest.  That Prime Minister, a man who is all about message control and has not shied away from using public dollars to preen and promote his partisan message, is now doing everything he can do deny accountability for people he himself hired.

Prime Minister Harper has been desperately trying to rebrand Canada, puffing out our chest as a military presence and an economic powerhouse.  He's attempted this primarily by focusing on bilateral free trade deals with our ample resources serving as a carrot.  Meanwhile, every other nation is looking at multi-lateral deals and expanding their economic base into innovative fields such as advanced manufacturing.  Canada is now better known for our diplomatic woes, both labour and espionage, than for our fighting forces.  Rob Ford has become our chief export.

And yes - while the rest of the world is rightly focused on the aftermath and response to Typhoon Heiyan, keeping a watchful eye on rising tide of neo-Nazism in Europe and concerned more generally about poverty, inequity and its spin-offs like economic turmoil and terrorism, Canada has its eyes fixed inwards on scandals of our own making - Ford Follies and the Senate Scandal, gas plants and subways.

As a nation, we appear to have fallen victim to the "entitled to our entitlements" sentiment; we have become so focused on what we get and what we want that we are neglecting what Canada used to stand on guard for - not "we" but "thee."

Does anyone remember when Canada wasn't about propping up or tearing down "great leaders", but about actually leading?  Nixon only went to China after Trudeau did.  The underground railroad led to Canada because we did away with slavery before the US did.  In every war we have dedicated soldiers to, Canada has held its own.  The Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders have never given up one inch of ground since being founded in 1868.

Time was when we were confident enough in ourselves and our leaders that we focused on selling our ideas instead of individuals.  We have created the Canadarm, the prosthetic hand and the Nanaimo bar.  It was a Canadian, Lester B. Pearson who developed Peacekeeping, adding a valuable (now neglected) tool to the global conflict resolution tool box.  

By trying to firewall ourselves off from perceived seas of troubles, we have forgotten the welcoming spirit and inclusiveness that made Canada what it is today.  We have become complacent, comfortable in our little hobbit hole and far too removed from the world outside our door that shapes our landscape whether we like it or not.  We are part of this world, and it owes us nothing.  We will be defined by what we contribute to the whole, not by how we brand ourselves.

So enough is enough.  It is time to tear down the firewalls we've erected around our shores, our homes and our hearts.  It's time to get a little uncomfortable, take a risk, go on an adventure.

Canada can lead again but if we're to do that, we have to shake ourselves out of our indignation and start moving forward. 

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