It's A Holiday Up Here

Greetings, readers from around the world! Today is Canada Day, our national holiday. On July 1, 1867, the four British colonies of Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island united in what we call Confederation. We didn't get complete control of our foreign policy until the 1920s but as far as we're concerned we became a country 137 years ago today.

Canada has a claim to fame that we don't broadcast to the world but which is very obvious to anyone who lives here: we're the original anti-Americans.

Quebec, which is French, was at war with the American colonies before the American Revolution. And although it had been conquered by England just before the revolt, it refused to rebel when the opportunity came its way.

And, English Canada got it's real start just after the Revolution when American Tories, whom we call Loyalists, decided to escape from the newly United States and found "a New America" north of the border. Ever since then, we've been jealous of our American cousins and spend a lot of time boasting how much better we are than them.

One of the biggest jokes is that Canadians are forever talking about how nice we are. Well, we're not awful but I live near a busy intersection and I dare anyone to spend a day on the corner and come away saying the same thing.

In 1867 Canada was created to prevent the colonies from becoming American. One of the reasons we united was so that we could pool our resources to pay for new railroads. But another was to prevent absorption into the US. The Americans believed it was their Manifest Destiny to own all of North America and we were actually being attacked in the 1860s by Irish Fenians based in the United States.

Of course, my family wasn't here then. But it's a nice place to be now because the main problems we have are "merely" those of daily living. In fact, when I was growing up I sometimes heard people say "The problem here is that life is too free."

They didn't like it that kids could dress the way they want, speak their minds and be lazy. I remember a guy telling me that if you're a student you should wear a uniform. Where he came from they liked things properly ordered. In fact, at the time, the police in his homeland were going out in the street and cutting people's hair (true!).

Now, I know that lots of people would disagree with me. I have a close friend from India who tells me that Canada is a very racist country. Of course, he seems to be doing OK. And when I ask him for examples of what he is referring to, he never has any. But he's very passionate about his opinion.

Recently, he invited me over to his place to meet a new business colleague. This guy, also Indian, is a much more recent immigrant having come here in the mid-1990s. Some new immgrants are simple folk who've come right off the farm but this guy is a very sharp, energetic and thoroughly modern man. He seems to be on the road to great success and in the course of the conversation he told us that he's never experienced any prejudice at all.

Three days ago we had a federal election. And that's what I'll write about tomorrow.

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