Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Canada

The following is yet another interesting response to the Conservative ads. The ads by their inference, have given rise to what it means to be Canadian and what we value in our citizens.

I'd say the Conservatives have begun a conversation they weren't prepared for.

Dear Canada: An open letter from abroad
About: I'm a Rhodes Scholar completing my doctorate in Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford.

My take: Dear Canada,
I write with sadness to confess I have been unfaithful to you, my home and native land. It seems I lack national sentiment, or so I have been told by your governing party’s most recent advertising campaigns.

Why am I anti-nationalist and unfaithful? Sporting not one, but three Canadian flags lovingly stitched by my mother onto my backpack, I have abandoned you to travel and study outside your borders. I am unfaithful because, like Michael Ignatieff, I have left you to study in England. Because on Canada Day, I, alongside other Canadians working and studying overseas, unfurled my Canadian flag with pride in London’s Trafalgar Square instead of back home in Saskatchewan.

We Canadians abroad who wave our flags from afar on July 1st, who carry our Tim Horton’s mugs, who search out specialty stores that sell maple syrup and Molson beer, clearly must be less patriotic than our peers who stay at home.

For we, like Michael Ignatieff, are now of the world: we have become ‘cosmopolitan.’
Dear Canada: you are one country, but are you not cosmopolitan too? As John Ralston Saul tells us in his most recent book, you are a Metis civilization, historically formed out of aboriginals and the arrivals of newcomers over the centuries. You are composed of not one (or even three) languages or cultures, but rather many.
You house people of many views and experiences and professions; and you are connected to even more outside your borders. You consume coffee from Colombia, bananas from Ecuador, chocolate from Switzerland and movies from Hollywood; use computer chips from Japan, phones fabricated in China, wear clothes made in India and shoes made in Spain.

Like it or not, Canada, you are a member of a global community: you yourself are a cosmopolitan global citizen.

You need the world beyond your borders and you need the people beyond your borders and that world also needs you. Which means you need your people to have experiences outside your borders. And you need them to cooperate with people on the outside, as well as people on the inside, because both are equally important. You need to appreciate the talents of all your people all the time, regardless of where they are in the world or where they have come from.

We, the immigrants from other countries who chose to come to you, we are yours. And we, who are born in your borders but leave you for a time, we remain yours. None of us are citizens of the world who come from nowhere: we are all Canadians living in one global village.

Our cosmopolitan identity doesn’t stop with our people: our national livelihood is global too. International exports account for more than 40 per cent of our GDP. International trade, especially of our commodities, is the fastest-growing area of the Canadian economy and our country relies on B.C. lumber, Alberta oil, Arctic oil, prairie crops, hydro from Quebec and Manitoba, mining from all over, steel and the auto industry in Ontario, and oil and gas and fisheries from the East Coast. A recent study says one in three Canadians is in some way dependent on exported goods or services for their income.

What this means for Canada is not just that we are dependent on our resources and international trading partners but that we are dependent on our own people who work in these industries: our commodities workers are vital to our prosperity. In turn, their livelihoods — like the livelihoods of all Canadian citizens — depends on our ability to understand the international community and befriend it. Thus, as we harvest the profits of our industrial workers, we must also harvest the international experience of some of our other citizens.

We are interdependent — we need each other. In this international world we need our workers and our politicians and our ‘elite’ intellectuals. Most importantly, we need them to communicate and to cooperate. Especially as we face this current financial crisis.

Why, then, are our current leaders talking about spending money on advertising campaigns to attack each other? Why would we even think about spending money to attack one of our citizens instead of to provide tools for the people of our country to learn and to communicate with each other?

We need people who can cooperate across difference. We must empower leaders who foster community rather than conflict: leaders who succeed for society through a politics of unity rather than succeed for themselves through politics of division.I am worried, Canada. I am partly worried for myself: when I come back to serve you with the knowledge and experience I have gained from afar, will you call me opportunistic and turn on me too? But I worry more for you: once you start rejecting the skills and knowledge of your own citizens where will that leave you, dear Canada?

Thursday, May 21, 2009 11:43 AM ET Submitted by JanaLee Cherneski


ridenrain said...

Is he running for Liberal leader too? Please leave you're resume and we'll get back to you in a couple years.
A better comparison than John A, Gandhi or Jesus at least.

KNB said...

It's actually a she, which makes your comment even more interesting.

RuralSandi said...

ridenrain - at this point in her life no one knows what her career path will take.

You don't know if she'll enter politics later or or not - your statement means nadda on this.

Cari said...

All it comes down to now is: will the person that is abroad want to become Prime Minister......
that is what the Con.s mean now.
Of course Lester B. Pearson was out of the Country for nearly 25 years..he was a good PM and won the Nobel Peace prize.
To all you should not not mean a tinkers damn!

Anonymous said...

It's about time to have this conversation. Harper doesn't define Canada.

ridenrain said...

If I'm not mistaken, both Lester B. Pearson and John A Macdonald were elected as leaders of their political parties.
The Liberal party can run whoever they want but the concerns that some Libs had against Iggy during the last convention are just as valid as they are now, and all Canadians will get a vote on it this time.
Thanks for posting my comments.

Tomm said...

Liberals can make their leader by carving a turnip if they wish. But if they do so, they have to be prepared to have someone point to it and say "that's a turnip".


If Liberal's think that it isn't important for Canadian's to know that YOUR leader has spent most of his life and the vast majority of his last 40 years in other countries, by choice, than that says something about Liberal's.

Liberal's are more comfortable in Toronto than Saskatoon. In fact Liberal's appear to be more comfortable in Paris than in Saskatoon.

Can't you guys see this?

If Ignatieff is more comfortable sipping champagne with blue bloods in Boston than he is having a coffee with farmer's in Melfort, is he really someone we want to lead our country?

You guys aren't acting like real Canadian's, you just look like Wannabee's.

Since Harper is changing this country so that you can no longer recognize it, once the LPC is back in power, why don't you just change the name?

KNB said...

You guys aren't acting like real Canadian's, you just look like Wannabee's. That is one of the most ridiculous lines I've read on this subject.

Drinking coffee with a farmer is more Canadian than...what? Just about anything else you dream up that smacks of snobbery? That's reverse snobbery of course, but let's not get into that.

This anti-intellectual idiocy is beyond grating, it makes no sense.

Harper is no good 'ol boy and that a gullible public a)see's merit in him being that and b)buys it, says little for those who voted for the man.

Canada Realtor said...

"You guys aren't acting like real Canadian's, you just look like Wannabee's." ... this made me smile :)

Can't but agree with you KNB, nothing more needs to be said...

Take care, Elli

Tomm said...


You can critize me but I'm right. Ignatieff (like his predecessor) has absolutely nothing in common with a western farmer, and has no interest in changing that.

Ignatieff seems to be to be an "upstairs, downstairs" sort of leader.

KNB said...

It seems to me that Ignatieff has made an effort to learn more and relate to farmers, etc., but you cannot expect the man to change who he is.

Unlike Harper incidently. That cozy, sweater guy was perhaps the most disingenuous ad campaign I've ever been exposed to.

I prefer people to be who they are and Ignatieff has made no bones about that. That doesn't mean that he doesn't understand the issues of someone who doesn't share his taste in music for heaven's sake.