Saturday, July 01, 2006

The In T View: What Does Canada Stand For?

Updated!

Happy Canada or Dominion Day! Today we are all Canadians.

What does Canada Stand For?


It's a question that came to my mind after reading Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch comments about the recent arrest of the Canadian terrorist plotters. Spencer contended, "the miasma of Canadian anything-goes multiculturalism..." makes homegrown Jihadism in Canada possible now and in the future, because "Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology."

If you asked many Americans, What does Canada stand for, they would probably draw a blank for a moment, shrug their shoulders, and most likely reel off the well-known characteristics of the country. It's cold, they have great hockey players, the famous Canadian beers, pretty Canadian women, nice hunting, and so forth. To most Americans, Canada is just there to the north, quiet and peaceful, and that's the way they like it.

But, to the Canadians themselves, What Does Canada Stand For is a far more important question. It's a possible way of defining a National Identity or a Core Belief System. As an American, I tend to believe our national identity, our set of beliefs that define us as who we are, is much more readily apparent and stronger than those of Canadians. But, I could be wrong. So, I thought it was an interesting quesiton to query Canadian Bloggers and Writers on, to see what they had to say, learn how they felt, and present their responses.

Krista Boryskavich addressed the issue of What Does Canada Stand For? in her June 29 Winnipeg Sun column:

What does Canada stand for? It was a question raised to me in an e-mail from an American blogger, who wrote: "The reason I ask is I read ... comments about the recent arrest of the Canadian terrorist plotters (Robert Spencer at www.jihadwatch.org). Spencer contends 'the miasma of Canadian anything-goes multiculturalism' makes homegrown jihadism in Canada possible now and in the future, because 'Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology.' "If you ask me as an American what the United States stands for, the word that comes to mind is opportunity. But for you as a Canadian, what does Canada stand for?" Ask many non-Canadians what they think of Canada and it's likely they'll list some of the better-known icons, events and personalities that have come to symbolize our nation -- Tim Hortons, hockey, Wayne Gretzky, the beaver, the moose, the maple leaf, the CBC, the CN Tower, Pamela Anderson, the seal hunt, the Calgary Stampede, Celine Dion, and a cold bottle of good old Labatt's Blue.
But the question of what Canada stands for goes much deeper than mere symbolism. It involves a set of shared values that all Canadians can embrace.
So if the United States stands for opportunity, as our American friend suggests, what is the one word that best describes what Canada stands for?
Tolerance? Compromise? Equality? Diversity? Multiculturalism? Bilingualism?
If you think we're a tolerant society, try sitting in a school playground for half an hour, or reading some of the e-mail I receive from readers. It might change your mind.
If you think we're an equal society, I'd suggest you reread my recent column on the different treatment accorded urban and rural folk when it comes to the provision of health-care services. {...}
Perhaps more importantly, is it even possible to narrow the values of a vast, diverse nation to a single word? With the threat of Quebec separation in recent decades, and increasing talk of western alienation in recent years, can we really say that Albertans share the same values as Ontarians, or that Quebecers share the same values as Manitobans?
When I asked readers of my blog (kristasrants.blogspot.com) what their Canada stood for, one anonymous poster responded with: "the right to do what you want -- as long as you don't bring harm to others." {...}
On the right side of the political spectrum, many Canadians value safety and security, prosperity, and individual choice.
And on the left side of the political spectrum, many Canadians value the environment, compassion for those less fortunate, and community.
Combine the best of both worlds, and we just might have a set of shared Canadian values -- perhaps the one word that best describes what Canada stands for is compromise after all.
In reality, though, it's not that simple to narrow the values of a nation into a single word.
Try though I might, I certainly can't do it.
Can you?
What does your Canada stand for?


Krista Boryskavich is a columnist for the Winnipeg Sun, a co-author of The Auto Pact: Investment, Labour and the Wto, and a blogger at
Krista Rants.


Hello Mr. G.,
What does Canada stand for?
The official answer is: peace, order and good government.
Not as dramatic, to be sure, as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or France's liberte, egalite, fraternite, but a recipe for a quiet and contented society.
If the U.S. in one word is "opportunity," Canada would be "equality."
Whoever the jerk Spencer is and thinks, we do not have anything-goes multiculturalism. But we've probably erred in the past on the "tolerance of differences" aspect. Suspect we'll start to see a Canada-first drive in the (very) near future.) We'll all have mixed feelings about that: good in principle -- but American-style jingoism would be counter to the Canadian nature.
Hopes this helps.
Lynda Hurst


As a columnist and feature writer for the Toronto Star, Lynda Hurst has written on everything from Sharia Law to Adolph Hitler to the Pentagon's use of insects for military purposes. Her subject material includes national and provincial issues, the War on Terror, history, politics, Islam, Iraq, the U.S. Military, and Canadian culture.



Hi,
As with Americans, it depends on which Canadian you're asking.
Cheers,
Rachel


Rachel Marsden is a Canadian Media Personality, a Political Pundit, and a Columnist who has appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, the Dennis Miller program, Fox News, and hosted her own radio show. She has written for the New York Post, the National Post, the Toronto Sun, Front Page Magazine, Newsmax , and many others. Her official site is here.


Good question, and one we ask ourselves constantly. You happen to have hit upon one of the few neo-cons in Canada, so be advised that I am obviously a bit cynical. I think Canada stands for anti-Americanism first and foremost. That is not what Canadians will say: They will say they stand for Progressivism, Tolerance, Multi-culturalism,Equality, Peacekeeping rather than War-fighting, and (drum roll please) Medicare!!! But what really binds us as a nation is that we are not America. What that means in practice is fighting tooth and nail against any presumption of religious groups having any say at all in a public discussion and a show of open contempt for Christianity in the public square, the sanctification of gays and people of colour and those who wear cover, a pathological distaste for military adventures (even though peacekeeping is a non-starter these days)and an inability to take open pride in our heroes, but tons of compassion goes to victims. We are a victim-obsessed society and reluctant to show open admiration for those of high accomplishment. We cut down tall poppies with relish.We have no first amendment and tend to shut down debate when it becomes "offensive". We have a child-like dependence on the government to run our lives. We like that. We are rather infantile politically, passive until things go so bad there is no other choice but to change the government, which recently happened, but it took a scandal of corruption so widespread it couldn't be ignored to do that. We had been drifting with a bad gov't for years, but the complacency level is so high, it is hard to make a dent in the public consciousness. We think we are safe because our country is so big. We have not yet gotten it about terrorism, even though a huge plot was just uncovered here. It will take a while to sink in though, because we can't bear the idea of profiling since it is so un-politically correct. That being said, I would rather live in Canada than in the US, much as I admire America. Canada is in the fortunate position of being able to cherry-pick the qualities and opportunities America offers and to ignore the stuff that is not so palatable - the obsessive consumerism, the obesity, the cultural ignorance of the masses, etc. Canada is still a safer place, in many ways a more civil place, and as for Medicare, it is not perfect and we need the competition of the private sphere (it already exists unofficially), but it brings security to all at a basic level and it means we needn't be obsessed with health insurance as Americans are. I could not feel right about having access to good medical care knowing there are so many poor people who get second class treatment. Hope this helps, Barbara


Barbara Kay is a well respected columnist for the National Post, serves as "the editor in chief of FIRSTFRUITS, an annual anthology of creative writing published by the Jewish Public Library," has written for Front Page magazine, is a longtime book reviewer, and taught "Literature and Composition at Concordia University, Mariannopolis College, Dawson College, and Vanier College for many years."

Mister Ghost, Canada has struggled with its own identity from even before it has been a nation, but if I had to compress what I thought Canada stood for into one word, it would be this: community. Canada throughout its history has been built up by groups of people who have come to this nation, supporting each other as they entered this rugged, somewhat hostile land. From the French Canadians who were largely left to themselves after immigrating to New France, to the United Empire Loyalists who fled American persecution in the wake of the revolution, to Chinese immigrants who built our national transcontinental railway, to the Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans who opened up our West, and to many other groups too numerous to count, our history has been a patchwork quilt of immigrant stories (not to forget the stories of the first nations who occupied the land before us), and by respecting each other's identity, I think we've built up a country wherein we mostly respect each other. It has not been a perfect arrangement. Groups have butted heads in the past and will likely do so again in the future. But we've helped each other; we've pulled together, at Vimy Ridge, on D-Day, in the Liberation of Holland, in Korea, in our peacekeeping efforts, and even in our close and longstanding friendship with the United States of America. I think we've built a beautiful country. I'm proud of my land and my Irish/English/Scottish/Chinese history that I can lay claim to. I strongly dispute Mr. Spencer's comments suggesting that Canadian multiculturalism "makes homegrown Jihadism... possible now and in the future." Isn't it interesting that, in the United Kingdom, which struggles with its influx of immigrants, can point to specific mosques and Imans responsible for the inciteful rhetoric that contributed to the London Underground bombings, and yet we can point to no mosque or Iman where similar rhetoric occurs here? I was not surprised to learn of the arrest of 17 individuals planning attacks on Canadian soil (two of whom went to the United States to purchase weapons for use in those attacks; one could ask who is threatening whom here ). I'd been expecting something like this to happen sooner rather than later because the sad fact is that it has always been possible for a few madmen to make things uncomfortable for the rest of us. But those 17 individuals do not, in any way, speak for the overwhelming majority of the 600,000 Muslim Canadians who are as decent and as law-abiding as I am. The RCMP is on the ball, and doesn't have to deal with the complicated FBI/CIA/DoHS bureaucracy in dealing with our terrorist threats. Americans should take comfort in the fact that we are as ready to handle this sort of attack as they are. But nobody -- American or Canadian -- should forget that these sick individuals remain an aberration rather than the norm. And if Mr. Spencer truly thinks that Canada's multiculturalism is the root of the problem, I simply point out that the United Kingdom and the United States faced down terrorist attacks first. Did the melting pot or assimilation protect them? Anyway, I hope you find this useful. Yours sincerely, James Bow

Renaissance man James Bow is the author of
The Unwritten Girl
and other fiction, a Transit Geek, an Urban Planner, a Doctor Who fan, head of the Alliance of Non Partisan Bloggers in Canada, and blogs at Bow. James Bow.


Hi,
Thanks for writing. My first comment is about Robert Spencer's claim vis-a-vis Canadian multiculturalism. While our federal policy of multiculturalism, popular ideas about multiculturalism or a more pervasive "ideology of multiculturalism" might be called into question I fail to see what it has to do with jihadi religious or political beliefs or their propensity for violence. India, East Timor, Israel, Bali in Indonesia, the UK, Russia, mainland China and the United States are a diverse group of countries with little in common except for the fact they have all been and continue to be targeted by jihadis. Canada's particular political, social and economic make-up therefore seem dramatically less important to our own home-grown jihadis than the ideology they share with their fellow-travellers around the world.

That said, I would say Canada stands for diversity, reasonableness and compromise.

Yours,

Nicholas


Nicholas Packwood is heralded in blogging circles and beyond for his captivating blog, Ghost of a flea, where he recieves "love and hugs"
from Kylie Minogue, functions as "Anthropologist to the Stars", and was voted the Best Culture Blog in Canada in 2005.


Hello, and thank you for your question.
What does Canada stand for? It’s not an easy question to answer. We too believe in opportunity, although I don’t think that opportunity is what Canadians would say characterizes them. In truth, as with any free society, it is impossible to point one’s finger on one or two beliefs that all or most Canadians identify with. I’m not trying to dodge the question – just asking in return if such a question is fair and really answerable.
Having written this, I think that you have raised some important issues regarding Canada’s overt policy of multiculturalism, although you may be surprised to learn that I do not agree with those who assert that such a policy leads to the balkanization of society. Quite the opposite, enforced multiculturalism has resulted in a great conformity of ideas, though not practices. I refer you to a speech I delivered at Simon Fraser University that touches on this subject http://www.canadianvalues.ca/issues.aspx?aid=11.

Regarding Moslem extremists living in and operating out of Canada, this has been a problem that I have been intimately involved in for several years. I think that Canadians are naïve and self-righteous when it comes to the war on terror which leads, inevitably, to lax security. I don’t sense that the recent arrests were of sufficient magnitude to really change the minds of the general public even if it did serve as a wake up call to some. In this, though, I’m not sure that Canada and Canadians are much different that other much of western society including in the United States. May I refer you to a few interesting op-ed pieces on this subject on our website:
http://www.canadianvalues.ca/issues.aspx?aid=169,
http://www.canadianvalues.ca/issues.aspx?aid=178
http://www.canadianvalues.ca/issues.aspx?aid=173
http://www.canadianvalues.ca/issues.aspx?aid=183
http://www.canadianvalues.ca/issues.aspx?aid=194
I don’t know if I’ve been of much help. Let me know if you want or need more...
Joseph C. Ben-Ami


Joseph C. Ben-Ami is the Executive Director of the Institute for Canadian Values, and a "Senior Fellow specializing in Religion, Law and Society as well as Human Rights and Democratic Development." Ben-Ami is "the former Director of Government Relations and Diplomatic Affairs for the Jewish human rights organization, B’nai Brith Canada." And also serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation.


Uh ....... that's a difficult question. Canadians have identity issues.
1. We are a country of many distinct regions. Quebcers are not Albertans are not Newfoundlanders etc.
2. Then there's our multi-culti tradition. We are not so much a melting pot as an exotic stew with many different tastes and textures.
3. Because we are next to the giant, with many of the same values, a common language, and the spillover culture and media, many Canadians try to define themselves as not being Americans.
4. But basically most of us stand for socialized medicine and the notion, fantastic or not, that we are a kindler, gentler and just society.

Antonia Zerbisias
Media Columnist/Bloggerista
The Toronto Star


Born in Montreal, Antonia Zerbisias has had a long career as a Media Critic and Columnist for the Toronto Star, as well as serving as a TV host and reporter for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). In 1996, Antonia won the "National Newspaper Award for critical writing for her columns about magazines." Zerbisas currently blogs at Azerbic.

Canada is politically correct, inoffensive and apathetic to the point of offending anyone with half a brain and a healthy dose of conservatism.
Canada could be and should be a great nation - tolerant and fair without caving into the ridiculous, proud and dignified without being arrogant, moderate and gentle without being pussies.
-Lydia Lovric


Lydia Lovric has been a political firebrand from an early age, writing for the Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, and Globe and Mail. Currently, she is a columnist at the Winnipeg Sun, a contributor to the Vancouver Province, and is frequently heard and seen on such programs as the John Oakley Show (MOJO 640), Adler On Line (CJOB - Winnipeg), and the Michael Coren Show (CTS TV), as well as hosting her own show, the "Sunday Brunch" on AM 900 CHML. Her website is here.


Hi Mister Ghost:
I'd say Canada stands for Decency and Civility, two qualities becoming increasingly rare in our world. A lot of people might scorn at the idea of what Canada stands for, but I believe these are worthy qualities once were prized by gentlemen above all. Now what do gentlemen stand for these days? Regards,
Salim


Salim Mansur, BA, MA, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario. A writer, his column appears at London Free Press alternate Wednesdays, and the Toronto Sun on Thursdays... Salim is a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Islamic Pluralism based in Washington, D.C., a Senior Fellow with the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, and an academic-consultant with the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C...


...I'm almost sorry that you used the word "opportunity" to describe America as that is the word that I would have used to describe Canada. The difference is that Canada is a land of opportunity where diversity (at least for the time being) is not only tolerated, but accepted and celebrated, it is what makes us what we are.... the difference between the melting pot and multicultural concepts. We don't believe that everybody needs to conform to some ridgid national identity criteria in order to be "Canadian". Unfortunately, in light of recent developments, that concept may be in for a bit of a rough ride. Hopefully we will survive the calls of those who are afraid of whatever boogy-man they think is hiding in the closet and want people of other languages, cultures, or religions, to toe what they want to define as the "Canadian National Line". Hope this is what you were looking for Marcel


Marcel Mason, married to an Aboriginal Inuk woman, is a father of four, a network administrator for a Canadian National Aboriginal Administration, a member of the
Progressive Bloggers
, and can be found at Stageleft: Life on the left side.



Well that is a question Canadians have been trying to answer for hundreds of years. In the mid-twentieth century, “Canadian identity” became an obsession. Our writers and artists all debated it, esp. after Margaret Atwood’s famous book, Survival. She maintained that Canada had a “fortress” mentality, that we were haunted by the pioneer experience of Canada as cold, dark and frightening.

The areas of Canada are very distinct, just as the different regions of the USA are. But here in Toronto, the media and university elites as well as the politicians all hold to a very liberal, 1960s, 1970s view of Canada, mostly out of misplaced nostalgia. They believe everything Pierre Trudeau told them: that the French and English in Canada were equally important; that multiculturalism and socialism were the way of the future. If you dare challenge these views in public, your career in any of these fields, or even your chances of getting invited to a party, are greatly reduced...

More than anything else, Canadians define themselves in this way:

“We are not Americans.”

For all their pretend politeness and tolerance, most Canadians (except me and about 100 others!) hate Americans with a passion you cannot fathom. This predates George Bush — I was born in 1964 and heard it all my life. Americans are patriotic? Then we will look down on patriotism. Americans have a huge army; very well, we will reduce ours to a skeleton force. Americans don’t have “free” “health” “care” and we do, so we are superior (no matter than a Canadian has to wait almost two years for some routine operations that an American would get in a week). Imagine: Americans are proud of their inventions and their triumphs on the battlefield. We Canadians are most proud of a government entitlement that doesn’t even work anymore!

This smug bigotry is the only acceptable one in polite Canadian society. Americans are “fat, stupid, greedy, violent and evil.” My fellow Canadians consider this a sophisticated stance. Alas, they don’t realize how petty and jealous they appear. If America does indeed represent “opportunity” -- and I agree with you that it does — that is exactly what Canadians hate about it. They like their government run lives, no matter that our disposable income is 30% less than an American’s and our taxes are higher. Success is not something most Canadians admire. “Just keep your nose clean and one day you’ll win the lottery — or retire”. Very sad.

I would love to get out of here tomorrow, but alas, Green Cards are impossible to get :-)


Toronto's Kathy Shaidle is an award winning writer, author, and editor who has worked and written for Media and Corporate clients such as the Dallas Morning News, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the American Spectator, the Catholic Register (where she was a Contributing Editor), the Shopping Channel, the United Way, the Book Promoters Association of Canada, among others. In her blog, Relapsed Catholic, Kathy merges Pop Culture, religion, politics, life experiences, and conservatism in a grand syncretismic tour of her psyche.


Hi there,

This may be too late to respond to you, but I've been on vacation, so sorry about that.

Canada stands for "peace, order and good government" according to our constitution, which is in remarkable contrast to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". We're far more corporate that individualistic, and thus rely much more on the government to make our lives good than on individual effort.

Part of this, of course, is that we never had to fight for anything (the World Wars notwithstanding, when we were fighting for someone else, not ourselves). Even those who settled in Canada did so deliberately to avoid becoming American and cling to the British empire, or to actually flee the American Revolution. Tradition, peace, and order are a good part of our history.

We tend to frown on any ostentatious display of wealth, just as the British do, and we tend to view with suspicion anyone who has been too successful. The upper class in Canada is almost all Liberal. While Americans, too, tend to be liberal among the upper classes, it is not nearly as monolithic as in Canada.

To be Canadian is to believe in the Charter of Rights, the goodness of government, the evils of individualism, and the need to be protected from whatever may happen. It is to downplay one's own importance, to feel somehow not quite good enough, and at the same time to be angry about this.

Ironically, we do have much to be proud of. We subdued a huge nation. We fought valiantly in both World Wars. We had a navy and an air force that were amazing considering our small size.

Yet we forget these things and instead focus on Canada's perceived guilt in the world--our treatment of the aboriginals, the interment of the Japanese in World War II, the Chinese head tax. We feel guilty rather than proud. It's really quite sad.

That's about all I can say. Sorry if this is too late,
Sheila.


Sheila Wray Gregoire is a true Canadian Renaissance woman. She is the author of such books as, How Big Is Your Umbrella? To Love, Honor And Vacuum; Honey, I Dont Have A Headache Tonight, and Reality Check. She is also a Mom, a host of a radio show, Reality Check Radio, has her own Blog, is a Lay Minister, and writes a column, Reality Check for the Intelligencer and Southern Exposure newspapers.

Ha!! Mister Ghost. You have hit the nail on the head. We are a nation of the confused and muddled and we seem to like it that way.

It has to do with our geography. We are separated by geographic featues that make us very regional-centric. We also have huge disparities in population between the regions which makes for unequal representation in our parliament and a constitution that doesn't adequately address that disparity.

We've also got the French/English albatross keeping us embroiled in collective handwringing, fretting and finger pointing. Some of us identify ourselves by juxtapostion with the US, which expresses itself as: "The US is bad, therefore in order for us to be good, we have to bash everything American."

We're basically very worried about being swallowed up by the US, which causes us to do a lot of stupid things, like creating the CBC and the National Film Board which were originally intended to unite Canadians and foster a common culture, but they've become little more than propaganda tools for the left of centre view.

But when it comes right down to it, I think what defines us, or, to put it in your terms, what we stand for, what unites us, is our hatred of Toronto. HAhhahahaahahaha.

Seriously, we don't go into patriotism in a big way, but I do think we like to be proud of what we can do on the international stage, but we haven't done too well in that arena for quite a while. We also take great pride in being self-effacing. Maybe the second gets in the way of the first. I don't know.


Louise S. is a librarian in Western Canada, a frequent commenter on Iraqi Blogs, a strong proponent of a democratized Middle East, and a Blogger at the highly thought-of SEARCH, and Stubble Jumping Redneck.


I think it's a little too simplistic to boil it down to one word but I'll humour the question. :+)
I would say: Equality. True Equality (ie. not economic... but in treatment and respect).
That encompasses the truly Canadian values of multiculturalism, tolerance, and diplomacy.
Anyone who says "Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology" is ignoring the ultimate sacrifice made by thousands of Canadian soldiers in the First and Second World War.
I hope that helps you.
Cheers.
Chris


Green Blogger Chris A. takes the murky view on life with his blog of the same name, the Murky View concentrating on war, peace, family, politics, the UN, the environment, and the good life.


Hi again Mister Ghost,
I think if you had to summarize what people generally believe Canada stands for it would be Social Justice. This is reinforced mainly through socialist domestic policy that is reinforced through political correctness and underpinned by an ethos of multiculturalism, wherein no one culture is more important or morally superior to another and, consequently, nobody is driven to assimilate into another culture. It is the antithesis of the classical American "melting pot".
Now, many may call this ideal Equality, but it should not be mistaken as such, for any time socialism enters the fray what you really have is state-mandated wealth distribution from the rich to the poor; theft by proxy, as I call it. Canada does not treat everyone equally; our tax system (just one example) belies this truth. What is more, multiculturalism and political correctness hinge on a minority-as-victim philosophy and create an environment where it is practically impossible to level justifiable criticism against any minority -- perceived, visible or otherwise -- without being branded a racist, xenophobe and the like. In this sense, the majority culture within the "Canadian fabric" is also not treated as equal to minorities; it is treated as a victimizing oppressor, always.
I, as a conservative Canadian, deplore both socialism and multiculturalism and believe the former is crippling us economically while the latter is slowly eating away at the fabric of our nation, creating a nation with no real identity, hence no single rally point from which we can combat primitive ideologies like jihad. Unwritten codes of political correctness also severely hinder the possibility for rational public discourse on civilization-destroying ideologies like jihadism.
I would like nothing less than for Canada to abolish the pipe-dream Trudeupian socialist ideal, return to an assimilation model, impose flat tax rates and expose political correctness for the sham that it is... Hope that helps. Kind regards.
Mark


Mark Peters, originally from New Foundland, now living in Nova Scotia, is a married father of one, a member of the Blogging Tories, a strong proponent of the United States and Israel, and makes his opinions known at markpeters.ca.


You want one word? I would say “compromise”. “Pragmatism” would be a close second.
I say that because Canada has always been about balancing different forces. From the time that Britain took Quebec to the present, our domestic politics have been about balancing British and French North American cultures and traditions. Our Constitution was written calling for “peace, order and good government”. We were the middle link in the “North Atlantic Triangle” of the US and Britain through WWII. We were trusted peace keepers throughout the Cold War (including in Vietnam) even though we were decidedly on the democratic side. More recently we have been somewhat of a middle ground between the US and Europe.
To more directly address Spencer, I note that all the perpetrators of 911 were American. This is one Canadian plot that was stopped before it happened and, as far as I can tell, the only connection with the US is that the Canadian group was taught by Americans! How can one cell of terrorists in a country of over 30 million people be a sign that our society is broken? The very notion is laughable.
Even in the war on terror, we have been somewhat of an intermediary between the Western and Muslim societies. As one example, our Jewish Justice Minister organized a meeting of Israeli and Arab justice ministers before the Liberals lost the election. This would not have been possible if were not thought of positively throughout the Arab world. If there is going to be an end to Islamic terrorism without the clash of civilizations that people like Spencer hope for, the world will need to pay more attention to how Canada has been so successful by purposely avoiding ideology.


Jason Cherniak, who is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School and works for a major Toronto law firm, runs "the unofficial list of Canadian Liberal bloggers", and blogs at
Cherniak on Politics.


Good Evening Mr. Ghost,
I think this is the first time I have ever drafted a response to a question poised by a Ghost.
It should be an easy question to answer but as a nation we have been struggling for the last 30 years to answer it succinctly. I have written two Dominion/ Canada Day posts and you might care to visit them to get a feel for the national struggle. At one point, I was a member of the Red Ensign bloggers and hosted the bi-weekly carnival called the Standard. I think that it easier to quote what I wrote in that introduction:
It's tradition for the host of the Red Ensign Standard to write a personal introduction but since this is my second time up on deck I thought that I try to write more on a theme instead. I struggled for the last two weeks trying to define in my mind what a Canadian is in 2005 and still came up with naught. It should be easy, but really isn't. Since my teenage years, 30 years ago and the rise of Trudeaupia in the land, all discussions of Canadian nationalism begin with defining what we are not, which leaves very little room or inclination for what we are. We are probably the only nation in the world who does this. Can you imagine our American or Mexican neighbors beginning a discussion of American or Mexican nationalism and start by saying; "Well, we aren't Canadians." In 2005, we are still struggling with new Canada.

Fifty years ago, school children in Canada could have told you what it means to be a Canadian but the parameters have changed so radically that I fear we are in danger of losing not only our place in the world but our national will. Regionalism threatens all the ties that use to bind us. And sorry, I cannot rally around our healthcare system and do not see waiting patiently in line for years for a hip replacement or an MRI as a value that I want to pass onto my children.

We live in a land whose geography leaves its imprint upon our character early in life, and we were a nation forged and tempered by war; from the Plains of Abraham, to Vimy Ridge, to the beaches of Normandy. Freedom meant something beyond an existential definition which is all the value we place on freedom today. Here's the new Canada's truism; I am less free today by law than I was in 1985. In 2005, freedom is now measured by the quantity of law and by-laws that weighs down and restricts our daily existence.

The new Canada denies our warrior past and says we are a nation of peacekeepers with blue helmets. Frankly, I'll take Vimy Ridge and you can keep Rwanda and the helmets. For there will be no peace to keep if our leaders have lost the will to fight to keep the peace for freedom's sake.

We claim tolerance as a national virtue and yet we have Hate Speech laws. Tolerance in the New Canada seems to mean; think as I think, do as I do, speak as I speak, rather than allowing individuals the freedom to speak what they think or even reason - if that speech could potentially create division or dissonance in this new Canada. Our national tolerance seems a very shabby fragile thing.

We have embraced the virtues of multi-culturalism so wholeheartedly in this new Canada that when my children claim they are Canadian their teacher's teach them to call themselves Jamaican-Canadians, and yet, not one of them has ever left to find a home in Jamaica.

In discussions, I have often been told if I do not like this new Canada then I should leave my native land, and go to another where I might feel more comfortable and free, and I would, but the land ties me to it. What is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh and I will not give up this land or my children's place in it to live freely from sea to shining sea without a fight; against all odds and all comers - if need be. That is what defines and makes me a Canadian.
Do all Canadians feel as I do? Contrary to what is represented in Canadian MSM, we are not a few isolated souls. And here's the thing, if it came down to the wire, and Canadians were forced to bunker down to the barricades, I would be joined by my ex-Iranian and now Canadian neighbor who fled the rule of the mullahs to claim his place in the Great White North. He too is not prepared to give up this country to the jihadist theocrats without a fight. This is where he, and many others just like him will make his stand and we will stand for the land.
I would like to make one further point that often gets muddled by outsiders. It is an incredibly long and arduous process to legally immigrate to Canada but our official refugee process is one of the slackest in the Western world. Canada makes a very separate and distinct difference between those wishing to immigrate and those who are applying for refugee status. Basically, all one has to do to claim refugee status in Canada is show up at one of other borders and demand political asylum. At that point, all bets are off. A hearing will be scheduled to hear your claim and you will be free to go into the country to await your hearing. The whole process is long and it is not unheard of for refugee claims to go on beyond a ten year period. The Millennium Bomber is a prime example of slack refugee process.
Originally, our generous refugee policy was crafted in response to plight of the Vietnamese Boat People and let stand to provide entry to others in a similar plight, but as I have written before good intentions makes bad law, and the shame is that it has never been fully revisited or revised since that period.

Kateland


Kateland or Kate Y. is a Canadian Conservative, a former ballet dancer, a mother, and a widow, who blogs at The Last Amazon.

hi...

in high school, they teach us canada stands for peace, order, and good government (id say the first two with conviction, and giggle at the last). america stands for life, liberty, and property. i think canada has worked out a bit better because our "we stand for X" is actually about governance, and not some kind of amorphous libertarian ideology that has never been implemented :)

i dont think robert spencer's summation of what canada stands for is fair at all. "multiculturalism" as an ideology in canada was not invented in the socialist 60s, as these people claim. compromise is part of our history. look up the manitoba schools question and also quebec language laws and ukranian language instruction in alberta - youll see that canada has a bit of a history of accomodating minorities. (except for aboriginals, who were assimilated in residential schools)

of course, that history is restricted to accomodating white minorities until the 80s rolls around and multiculturalism comes to mean being comfortable with immigrants retaining their culture (in theory - in practice, canadians are as racist as anyone else, but they dont act on these beliefs criminally). i dont think canadian multiculturalism had anything to do with the actions of those arrested in conjunction with bomb plots in toronto. france assimilates immigrants, and experiences riots. canada (though also very secular) doesnt require assimilation, and could have faced a brutal attack. this problem is bigger than any western government's multicultural policy. radical ideology and criminal intent arent really provoked by whether or not these people feel "canadian." i dont think any indoctrination on our part could alleviate the alienation that drove these people to become politically-motivated criminals.

this attack plot scares me way less than ontario's flirtation with implementing sharia law.

i dont know if this helps. i wasnt fed enough propaganda in school to be able to speak so convincingly on such an emotionally-charged question as "what does canada stand for?" see the charter of rights and freedoms for information on that in a legal sense!

peace.
-ainge lotusland


The UBC's and Vancouver's own Ainge is a girl blogger and political science aficioanado contained within Lotusland.

Hi Mr. Ghost,
I could tell you what I think Canada stands for, but you may find it more interesting to see what the government of Canada is telling immigrants about what Canada stands for. See this excerpt from the guide A Look at Canada: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizen/look/look-02e.html

Regards,
Laurent


Laurent Moss, hails from Quebec, where he blogs at Le blog de Polyscopique , a bilingual blog renown for its fine coverage of Quebec politics.


Hi Mister Ghost --Interesting question, but I'm not sure I know. Mostly I think Canada and Canadians want to be liked. We will avoid the truth if it means not offending people -- and I'm not talking about on a large scale like Islam and jihad, I'm talking about simple things like a popular national sports commentator having been taken to task and put on a seven second delay because he said something outrageously offensive: "It's the French guys and Europeans who wear the most visors" (Don Cherry was speaking about hockey and why players don't control their sticks the way they should. He was commenting that most of the high sticking comes from players who wear visors, and that French Canadians and Europeans tend to wear visors more than English Canadians and Americans) It turns out that he was right on both points, but our national broadcaster CBC nearly fired him over the incident. Never mind the truth -- so long as you don't offend anyone. Best as I can figure, that is our national identity. I know I'm constantly telling my kids 'don't say this outside the house'. because there are just some things you can't say. Hope this is what you're looking for. Best. Canadianna


Canadianna or Angela is a twenty-something
conservative, criminology and psych graduate, married with children, who blogs at
Cerebral Compost
.


I was hoping you could answer a question for me, for a post I'm working on about Canada:
What Does Canada Stand For?

I'm not sure that I'm a particularly good source for the canonical answer to that question. My family immigrated to Canada in 1967, and I've been active in Libertarian political happenings -- off and on -- since the late 1970's. I'm not particularly close to the Canadian mainstream (and never really have been).


The reason I ask, is I read Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch comments about the recent arrest of the Canadian terrorist plotters. Spencer contends, "the miasma of Canadian anything-goes multiculturalism..." makes homegrown Jihadism in Canada possible now and in the future, because "Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology."

That is true for a number of Canadians, especially in Toronto and Vancouver. They're not a majority of Canadians, but they _are_ a majority of the type of Canadians that Canadian journalists think of as "typical Canadians". They're the sort of people for whom "universal medicare" could stand in as a replacement for their core principles without a ripple.

We have our "Red States" and "Blue States" (although we reverse the colour coding), but they really do break down more as city versus non-city.


If you ask me as an American, what the United States stands for, the word that comes to mind is Opportunity.

Most of the Americans I know through online contact would certainly agree with that...

But for you as a Canadian, what does Canada stand for?

Canadians tend to illustrate what the country stands for in contrast to what they think America stands for (the two are closer in reality than in rhetoric). Take away the guns, and add a state-mismanaged healthcare system and Minnesota or Pennsylvania would be very comfortable as Canadian provinces.

Alberta, on the other hand, feels less and less like a part of Canada every year. Quebecers think of themselves as a separate nation within Canada (rather like Wales or Scotland within the United Kingdom). Ontarians never quite "get it" that the rest of Canada isn't happy under the control of the Ontario/Quebec axis.

Canada doesn't stand for a single idea or concept: from Confederation, we've been more concensus-driven than concept-driven. For too many Canadians, it's sufficient to point south and say "We're not like them!"

I realize this doesn't actually answer your question, but I suspect the question doesn't lend itself to an easy one-word or short-phrase answer. I'll be interested to read your round-up of the answers you've received to this question.

Regards,
Nicholas


Nicholas R., an observer of Canadian political and sociological trends, does a very fine job at his
Quotulatiousness
blog, and in his capacity as a wine connoisseur, surveys the Ontario Wine Scene for the Ontario Wine Blog.


In the end, what did I learn from the responses? Well, Canada and Canadians do seem to have a bit of an identity crisis, but yes, the country and the people as a whole, have welcoming and admirable qualities, our nice neighbor to the north.

11 Comments:

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Krista said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:11 PM, Blogger Krista said...

Thanks very much for raising an important and topical question - it was great to hear others' thoughts on this topic.

For anyone interested in what ordinary everyday Canadians had to say on this issue, my Winnipeg Sun column on Thursday, July 6 will be presenting some of the feedback that readers gave to me (you can check it out by following the link Mr. Ghost provided above)

Krista Boryskavich

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Leap Frog said...

MG this is an incredible the write up, even a couple of blogs I've not seen before. Have the good ones booked marked now, thanks.

Disappointed for the one that said that all the 9/11 terrorists were Americans...? And that our homegrown terrorists are taught by Americans? Can't figure out the truth dear?
It's called ISLAMOFASCISM!

Figures it's a fiberal blog, par for the course for that political party in this country. See how they perpetuate the lies and appeasement? And at the same time blame Americans... bunch'a losers. I swear they'd rather give comfort to our common enemy than get along with Americans. Sad really.

Fortunately they've been booted out of power, hope for a long while, the pendulum needs to swing the other way for balance to be righted here.

All in all, Canada's much better than any European country I've lived in, all IMHO of course.


By the way, I think this is very special that you did this MG, thanks! :)

Happy Canada or Dominion Day!

Happy (upcoming) 4th of July!


Cheers!
Salut!

 
At 8:15 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Great job, MG!! Too busy with Canada Day celebrations right now to read through it all, but I will certainly be back.

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Mister Ghost said...

Hi Krista and Leap,
Thanks very much.
Hopefully more people
will see it and comment,
both here and at IBC.

Best.
MG

 
At 8:20 PM, Blogger Mister Ghost said...

Hi Louise,
It's kind of a bad day to post it (Canada holiday wise), and no ones around in the States either, because of the July 4th weekend, but I thought it was appropriate.

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger Louise said...

MG, no problem. One thing I could have mentioned is we do like to laugh at ourselves. I think we take pride in being anti-patriotic. As crazy as that sounds, maybe that is what binds us together.

Leap is right. It will take many years of the Conservative government to rid ourselves of the legacy of Canada's Liberal Party. If you understand how our Senate is populated, you'll understand what I mean. The Senate does have power to send legislation back to the House of Commons and the Senate is appointed, not elected. In other words, the majority of people who sit in the Senate are Liberal Party appointees. It has long been a place where loyal Liberal Party members were sent as a reward for their long standing efforts on behalf of the Liberal Party. We're going to have to have more than just a few more appointees from the Conservative Party to that tired old anachronistic institution before real change can take place. We also have a constitution which has an amendment process that pretty much guarantees we will never be able to change the damn thing. I think that's why we don't take our politics very seriously. Bring back the Rhinoceros Party. Please!!!

 
At 9:12 PM, Blogger Louise said...

PS: We're used to having Americans ignore us. We whine a lot about that, at the same time as we bash you folks ad nauseum. We're very good at double standards. We want you to love us, even though we hate you. Makes sense, don't you think? Makes me laugh, anyway.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Mister Ghost said...

Hi Louise,
You're right, Americans do tend to ignore Canadians, and Canadians are like the little brother than wants the big brother (US) to recognize them.

But, I have learned that Canada and Canadians have lots of endearing qualities to be proud of, and I feel somewhat of a bond with them, now.

However, I wish you would restore your military, especially on the Pacific front. That's likely to be a hot spot after the Mideast conflict settles down.

 
At 5:18 PM, Blogger Louise said...

LOL!! The little brother who has temper tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants.

We are restoring our military. There's been some headlines in the news over the last few days about just that. We have a long way to go though.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger Louise said...

PS: I think we need therapy. The kind that helps one to grow up.

 

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