Going Overboard?

I think I may have gone overboard with a comment I made in Stephanie’s blog. She’s become quite the Canadianaphile over time, perhaps in part due to (over)exposure to aMMusing and The Burning Bush. Consequently, she made a blog entry in honour of Canada Day even before I did!

I understand that the people who commented on her entry were attempting to be funny in that South Park “Blame Canada” sort of way. But I realize that my reaction to some of those comments is proof that most Canadians like yours truly are fiercely proud of their nation, their constitution, and all that constitution stands for. And most of us resent being lumped into a perceived homogeneous group known as “Canadians” because, precisely, unlike the people of a nation like Japan, we’re anything but homogeneous.

In fact, this notion is recognized in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is enshired into the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 27 of the Charter reads, “This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.” I’m no expert in constitutional law; however, to me this section not only comes in sharp contrast with a “melting pot” policy, but it also recognizes and embraces diversity.

I’ve known some Americans who have accused Canadians of being defensive — cry babies, even! — when their country is being criticized, or of being haughty in a “our shit doesn’t stink” kind of way. Those accusations may be valid, but they don’t address the reasons for that defensiveness, namely that the criticism levelled at us is often based on stereotypes and untruths. In fact, I believe Canadians are much better at poking fun at themselves and knowing where they fit within the global community.

I’m going to be unCanadianly boastful at this point. This is the age of the USA Patriot Act in the United States and of abuses perpetrated in its name:

“You are being held under the Patriot Act following suspicion under an internal Homeland Security investigation.”
When I asked to speak to a lawyer, the INS official informed me that I do have the right to a lawyer but I would have to be brought down to the station and await security clearance before being granted one. When I asked how long that would take, he replied with a coy smile: “Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe a month.”

In contrast, in Canada, we have sections 8 through 10 of the Charter which aren’t likely to be repealed soon by right-wing nuts of GWB’s ilk:

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention

  1. to be infomed promptly of the reason therefor;
  2. to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be infomed of that right [emphasis mine]; and
  3. to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

Does this make me feel like I live in a country that’s better than the United States?

Damn right it does!

O Canada Day!

canada_flag.jpgToday’s Canada Day 2003, or, as it used to be known before the repatriation of the constitution in ’82, Dominion Day. My home and native land is turning 136. There’ll be all sorts of “family-oriented” activities everywhere, culminating with fireworks over Halifax Harbour if there’s no fog. But there often is and likely there will be some tonight given the pattern in the last few weeks. So that means the fireworks will probably be bumped to the next clear weekend evening.

Quartet’s version of O Canada (mp3, 1.8 MB)

Canadians don’t make as big a deal of their national holiday as their southern neighbours. Except for the activities organized by cities and towns, it’s more of a day of thanksgiving. Gentle flag waving at most. And very few if any references to the situation in Afghanistan, in which Canada’s involved.