I have lived outside Canada for over a decade, but my country is still a reference for me. It is like a large thought, a place of common sense and intelligence in a dangerous and confused world. I work in international relations and diplomacy and, when I witness chaos and conflict, I bring to mind a quote by Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
“As against the ‘invisible hand’ of Adam Smith, there has to be a visible hand of politicians whose objective is to have the kind of society that is caring and humane.”
Fewer and fewer politicians enact this around the world, including in our country. Yet, our reputation in the world remains surprisingly positive because of this basic unstated perception. The idea is engrained in me, no matter where I live or travel, as much as my eternal wish that the Montreal Canadiens will again win the Stanley Cup.
– John Bell, former United Nations and Canadian diplomat and director of the Middle East program at the Toledo International Centre for Peace in Madrid
30. Two words: Ann-Marie MacDonald
From her riveting novels to her acting to her beautiful face.
– Emma Donoghue, Booker-shortlisted novelist
31.Trudeau on a trampoline
“When I was much younger, I was at Canada Day in Ottawa. Outside the National Arts Centre there was a huge crowd gathered around a trampoline. As I walked towards it, I caught sight of a familiar face, but thought, ‘No can’t be...’ And yet as I got closer I realized that, ‘Yes, it was.’ Pierre Trudeau on the trampoline with his sons standing around in the crowd watching their dad.
If there were security people there, I couldn’t see them. And that experience gave me a sense of direct access to our political leaders, which I have claimed as a right since then, making a part-time career out of advocacy on various issues, most recently involving Canada’s built heritage.
Last week I was flying to Ottawa, waiting in the flight lounge to board and noticed Tom Mulcair, no security, no aides, the leader of the official opposition flying along with everyone else. I have also run into Michael Ignatief at the airport, same story. All alone, no one bothering them.
Over the past five years, I have been advocating to protect the views of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, working with former Speaker Steve Peters. That campaign had some success, but I think my sense of its symbolic importance is directly connected to my ongoing sense of wonder that even post-9/11 Canada is a place where our leaders walk among us so easily, something that is uniquely Canadian, and that we should never take for granted.
– Catherine Nasmith, architect and heritage activist
32. Teeing off, no helicopters overhead “What I wouldn’t give to be booking a tee-time at my local Canadian golf course, spending my evenings watching the sun set at the driving range, and making regular visits to Golf Town to hold that new Titleist driver, wondering whether it’s really worth 500 bucks, whether it will give me a few extra yards off the tee.
There’s an 18-hole championship layout just a few kilometres down the road from my hotel in Damascus, but it may as well be in another country. Last time I was there was in 2012 and I had to hightail it off the driving range for fear that the helicopter gunship firing overhead would mistake my shiny Mizunos as something else. With my heart pounding, the last I saw of the course was in the rear-view mirror of my armoured Land Cruiser as I sped away.
It seems odd that when I think of Canada I’m reminded of golf. Surely there are more important things than breaking 90. But it’s not golf itself that’s important but what it represents: the ability to walk freely, to hang out with friends, to enjoy the outdoors. It’s these simple things that we all too often take for granted, but it’s these things that matter most. No place have I learnt this lesson more than in the last two years of war in Syria.” – Simon Hacker, logistics officer for the World Food Programme in Syria
33. That our national identity is about not really having one “Working in China, a country with a very clear and strong sense of national identity, what I’ve come to appreciate most about Canada is that we don’t have one ourselves. Because a strong sense of ‘us’ naturally engenders an equally strong sense of ‘them’ and an alienation of the Other.
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