Skip to main content
opinion

The other day, the Halifax Chronicle Herald published a full-page Canadian flag inside the paper, and an apology on the front page.

It said the flag was for Canada Day, but quickly added this cross between a plea and a trigger warning: “We understand the flag doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, however, we hope our readers recognize their ability to play a role in shaping Canada’s future is a freedom worth acknowledging.”

The shorter version of that? Here’s the flag. Sorry.

The other day, Tobias Lutke tweeted, “Canada is awesome. Give it a try.”

This came after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended a key type of work visa, making it harder than ever for American tech companies to hire the best people from overseas, and for the world’s best and brightest to immigrate to the United States. Mr. Lutke, an immigrant to this country, is the chief executive of Shopify, which with a market capitalization of around $150-billion is currently the most valuable company on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Put us in the “Canada is awesome” camp.

That doesn’t mean this country is perfect. It doesn’t mean it’s without flaws. It doesn’t mean it isn’t capable of being better, in so many ways. Canada’s failings are what this page highlights, daily.

But on the whole, all things considered, under the circumstances, relative to the alternatives, what this country has accomplished over a century and a half is kind of awesome. If you travel around the world, or travel through time by reading history, you’ll see it. Graded on the curve, this place goes to the front of the class.

In this land of constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and belief, you have every right to not be interested in Canada Day. The Chronicle Herald, and other papers in Atlantic Canada’s SaltWire chain, had every right to excuse the presence of a Canadian flag, if that’s what they thought Canada Day called for. And the truth is, in a non-jingoistic country with historical amnesia, most people simply treat July 1 as a rare day off in our too-brief summer, where the main concern is whether it will rain.

Our country’s freedoms include the right to object to Canada Day, or Canada itself. People in Catalonia were thrown in jail for holding a referendum to leave Spain; in Hong Kong, you’ll be imprisoned for seeking independence from China, or disrespecting the Chinese flag.

In Canada? In Canada, you have an absolute right to advocate for the end of the country. Bring it on, Wexiteers; your arguments will be met with stronger arguments, not with the long arm of the law.

Canada has so much confidence in itself that members of Parliament from the Bloc Québécois can sincerely take the oath of loyalty, while sincerely working for Canada’s dismemberment. Are those two positions irreconcilable? Not in Canada. And Canada wins and endures, by force of argument and not force of arms, because that’s what most Quebeckers and Canadians want.

How would we describe such a country? In a word, we would describe it as awesome.

As we have written many times before, Canada is not just a fact. It is an act – a perpetual act of creation, maintenance and improvement. Canada was created by people of many faiths and races who had to find a way to bridge their differences and create a transcendent, common citizenship. That’s what the Fathers of Confederation did in the 19th century, when the gap that threatened violence and dissolution was French-English and Catholic-Protestant. In different forms, it is something that every generation since has had to wrestle with, as old fissures close and new fault lines are revealed.

If you think Canada has problems that need to be fixed, you have a commendable grasp of reality. If you think Canada is an abomination that needs to be erased, or something whose existence must be apologized for, you really need to get out more.

Mr. Lutke prefaced his pitch to tech workers from around the world with a reminder that, if and when the American visa rules change, they’ll of course still be free to decamp for the United States. But perhaps they won’t want to, once they’ve had a taste of Canada.

Be confident about what this country is. Be thankful for what we have inherited. Be determined to leave something better for the next generation. Have an awesome Canada Day.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.