Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

A man waves a Canadian flag as part of a tribute to health-care workers outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, on April 8, 2020.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Back in 1972, in another era altogether, CBC Radio held a contest asking listeners to complete the phrase, “As Canadian as…”. It was meant to be a lighthearted search for our version of “As American as apple pie.”

The undisputed winner was, “As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.”

We are now through our fifth week of business and school closings, self-isolation at home, and physical distancing when we venture outdoors. We are mired in the most demanding part of our national response to the coronavirus pandemic. Are we closer to the end than beginning? Or have we barely begun to fight?

Story continues below advertisement

No one knows enough to answer that yet. Under these peculiar circumstances, we are simply being asked to be as Canadian as possible: trusting of government; tolerant of that which nature has imposed on us; stoic in meeting hardship; frustrated with the measures involved, but on the whole willing to put up with them for the greater good.

We could, at this point, recite the epidemiological justifications for the restrictions Ottawa and the provinces have imposed. We support them, and understand why, for now, they are necessary. So do most Canadians.

We could also point out that the measures are beginning to turn the tide in our favour. The rate of increase in new cases is slowing. The worry that hospitals would be overwhelmed is fading. There is hope.

And we could reiterate the need to continue the self-isolating and physical distancing demanded by the moment. Again, most Canadians understand this, and they know that we’ve come too far and paid too high a price to stop now and risk losing all the gains we’ve made.

But what we want to instead focus on is Canadians themselves. Because this isn’t easy, not even for those who have it the easiest.

There are the nurses, doctors, orderlies and cleaners who are treating the sick and keeping hospitals open and safe, and who expose themselves to the risk of COVID-19 every minute they are on the job.

Just as critical in the fight against the coronavirus are the people employed in essential services who make it possible for the rest of us to self-isolate: the grocery store workers, drug store clerks, delivery people and others who keep us in supplies, and the municipal employees who keep our towns and cities operating. They, too, are putting their health at risk to make it easier for the rest of us to protect our own, and many are doing it for the minimum wage.

Story continues below advertisement

There are the millions of self-isolating Canadians who have been laid off. And the thousands of small business owners and gig workers whose revenues are drying up.

There are politicians and bureaucrats working to rapidly roll out financial programs to rescue the hardest hit.

There are those caring for the homeless and other marginalized people, such as abused women or the mentally ill.

Basically, there is an entire country out there taking care of the rest of us: those who are still employed or financially stable enough to stay home, work from a desk in the living room, and break the chain of infection in relative comfort.

But even that isn’t always a walk in the park. For every person able to use the time to rediscover the joys of breadmaking, there are overburdened parents of restless children, and single people cut off from loved ones.

In spite of all the difficulties, Canadians are doing well in a way they might overlook.

Story continues below advertisement

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that small island nations like New Zealand, Iceland and Taiwan, and city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong, have been better able to manage deadly outbreaks than most large countries.

Canada is a very large, diverse and open country, and yet our rates of infection and death from COVID-19 remain far below those in Europe and the United States.

Then again, our performance is much worse than that of South Korea. Our governments have not been perfect. Many things could have been done better, and sooner, as this page has said more than once. And there is so much that remains to be done.

But the success we have had so far is owed directly to the people of this country, and the selfless way they have responded to the crisis. We should just keep right on being as Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies