Ottawa’s Canada Day 2011


in Canada, Law, Ottawa, Politics

I am very skeptical of patriotism, generally. Very often in the past, people have done terrible things with that motivation and justification. All human beings are our kin,  national boundaries are arbitrary, and most wars start for bad reasons.

That said, there is something nice about being with people from all over Canada in the capital today. Whichever part of the landmass we are from, we have something in common that does have value. I think a lot of that value lies in the ethical traditions of Canada – traditions like fair elections, the responsible use of power, and the protection of the powerless. They also lie in institutions like the Charter and the Supreme Court. It is those substantive things that we ought to celebrate about Canada, while also recognizing our substantive faults. Aspects of our international reputation are badly tarnished, and there are groups domestically that deserve more protection than they are getting, not to mention those in future generations.

Our imperfections acknowledged, it seems OK to celebrate our commonalities. For instance, the ways in which the lives of Vancouverites are similar to those of Ottawans or Haligonians much more than you might guess, based on the distances between the places.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 2, 2011 at 1:33 am
. July 2, 2011 at 1:35 am

Hark, a vagrant – on Canadian stereotypes

Ian July 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

There’s nothing wrong with patriotism, kept within bounds: nationalism, on the other hand, can be absolutely cancerous. Isn’t this what Trudeau feared most for Canada? I speak as someone brought up in Northern Ireland, admittedly in reasonably ccomfortable and non-sectarian circumstances.

. July 3, 2011 at 10:41 am

“The sheer scale of the slaughter of the first truly industrial war has become, if anything, more shocking with the passing of time. After nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan, Britain has lost fewer than 370 of its service people; on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, 57,500 British soldiers were killed or wounded. Above all, 1914-18 has come to symbolise the futility of war. It was a conflict that seems to us to have been fought for no great principle and whose bitter fruit was the even more destructive 1939-45 war. “

oleh July 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Canada Day is also a highlight for me. I enjoy the feeling that it is a particular day we are able to reflect on and enjoy being Canadian. I spent on Canada day on Parliament Hill with two sons and three nieces and nephews. It was wonderful and much less hectic than I imagined. The timin of Canada Day being on July 1 also usually co-incides with good weather which allows us to spend time together outside.

Tristan July 7, 2011 at 2:57 am

Why should you and I, as people born into a country which already possessed traditions of fair elections, a supreme court, etc, feel the need to celebrate these things as achievements? If there is a need to celebrate things done in common as Canadians, we should do positive things in common, and then celebrate those things. I see little value in recognizing our faults, if it is not as part of a substantive effort towards finding remedies.

Milan July 7, 2011 at 8:26 am

Canada Day is benign. It looks like a worrisome nationalist display in the same way a mole looks like a skin tumour. Like the mole, however, Canada Day’s chief features are visibility and harmlessness.

oleh July 31, 2011 at 5:01 am

Tomorrow is BC Day. This is truly a benign event. Basically a reason for Canadians to have a long weekend during the best summer months. It seems quite fortuitous for the Fathers of Confederation to do something that would have that same effect on July 1 . Question what did they do?

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