One of our European accounts has a new PR Director assigned to their US office. He just spent his first July 4th in the US market and was deeply moved by his experiences on the streets of New York. He described his feelings hearing thousands of voices joined in the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Then he asked me if we have a similar event in Canada. I told him about Canada Day and he expressed interest in attending next year. So then I had to caution him that he was unlikely to find quite the same level of exuberance. It isn’t that Canadians don’t feel their patriotism just that we are certainly more restrained in the expression of it.
Personally I am quietly disdainful of all that hurly burly. In my own snobbish way I somehow see it all as so much hype. But am I right? Is there an authenticity in all that public display that I am somehow missing? Certainly, it has been a good year to be a proud Canadian. In the face of a Standard and Poors’ downgrade and last summer’s congressional gridlock, Canadians have been looking superciliously down our proud noses on our neighbours to the South. We’re no longer feeling that our social programs and parliamentary system reflect a milk toast society unable to compete against America’s entrepreneurial boisterism. The truth is that in many respects our business environment is more economically unencumbered than the US and certainly our banking system saw us through the worst of the economic storm.
As we approach our 150th anniversary as a nation in just four years, it may be time to count our blessings. Despite grave warnings that a housing bubble is about to burst, so far we have hung on to what OECD calls some of the roomiest homes on earth. No kidding. Multiculturalism seems to be working here. I had dinner last week with a friend just returned from living in the US. She is blown away by the polyglot community we live in. For all the abuse our healthcare system takes, we are leading the way in new medical research and it may be a bit uneven, but people in need do get care. Just check out the emergency room of any of our inner city hospitals on a Saturday night. We’re funny and we have a tsunami of creative talent from fine actors and musicians to theatre impresarios like Des McAnuff and Robert LePage. Our food and restaurant scene especially in La Belle Province can rival any European city. And mostly we like one another. We get along. Sure we quarrel like all siblings but we work it out. It’s the Canadian way. Maybe it’s time we shouted about it from the rooftops? For sure rest of the world could learn a thing or two from us.