07.01.2017 08:42 AM

So: Canada, eh.

Present view. Little flag on our swim dock.

Hey, Canada Day.

People always say their country is the best country in the world. Canadians, too.

But I don’t know if that is true. I haven’t been to every country in the world – and I don’t think there’s anyone else who has, either.

So we don’t know. Belize could be the best country in the world. Who knows.

Canada is a good country, but – like the others – imperfect. We pollute, we waste, we do bad things. We have children living in the streets, we have children who go to bed hungry.

Our ongoing indifference to those who were here first is a disgrace. As Dad to a smart indigenous girl, I believe that we will never be great until we remedy that. We will never be a great country – or perhaps even a country – until we pay the debt we owe First Nations.

So, we are not great. We are okay. We are not bad. When we compare ourselves to the alternatives – like, say, America, which is anything but great, now, and for obvious reasons – we are better than those alternatives.

Mostly, we are a work in progress. We are on the way.

So, I will acknowledge this birthday, this anniversary, in the most Canadian of ways – half-heartedly. Fist up, halfway. Quietly.

We are not great. We are not perfect. But we are better than many of the alternatives.

Because we’ve been to a lot of the alternatives, and all of us keep coming back to this patch of rock and ice and dirt.

Happy you-know-what, eh.


  1. Sean Cummngs says:

    We can never be great when Canadians aren’t even batting an eye about the fact that indigenous people have shitty housing , can’t get access to clean drinking water, or when tampons cost three times as much as they do off reserve and when children are forming suicide pacts. We must, once and for all, resolve our differences with first nations. Christ, if we could just get that right …

  2. Iris Mclean says:

    You nailed it, Warren.

  3. Ted H says:

    Canada may not hold up to the perfect ideal but in the real world, in comparison to other real countries, it’s pretty darn good.

  4. Eastern Rebellion says:

    Happy Canada Day Warren, to you and your family.

    IMHO, Canada is hands down the greatest country in the world. I make no apologies for my patriotism. Just watch the news and tell where else you would rather live. And please don’t forget, “Perfect is the enemy of good”. Problems that have existed for generations will not be solved overnight.


  5. David Ray says:

    maybe you can comfort yourself with this. When climate change wipes out our silly consumer society the only group equipped to survive will likely be first nations. Nature will rebuild, Gucci’s will be worthless and the Kardashian cult will be long forgotten as the land reverts to its rightful owners.

  6. Luke says:


    Hard to be too enthusiastic. Particularly because of First Nations horror.

  7. Eric Weiss says:

    I’ve always thought most forms of patriotism and the notion of “best country in the world” are profoundly stupid, and usually based on misappropriated pride in the accomplishments of others. I love Canada. I’m glad I live here. I served in the Armed Forces.

    Treatment of aboriginals, treatment of veterans, a system that grants more provinces power than others. “Best country in the world”? Nope. Better than most? Absolutely.

  8. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    First of all, it’s not for Canadians to make the profound judgment that we are the best country in the world. That is self-serving and never credible. Only other nations can legitimately rank us.

    Why we are only so-so is because our record-setting mentality of total indifference actually means a qualified No in Canada. Canadians don’t really want to right First Nations — to spend the billions it would take to put those societies on a solid footing. Not really being willing to pay means NO — just like it does on the Quebec question, where a legal but illegitimate constitution is just fine by most of us.

    First Nations and other aboriginals, along with Quebec, will ultimately decide the fate of this country, and guess what, it won’t be good. Our indifference is slowly killing this nation. But hey, yeah, Happy Canada Day!

  9. Gene says:

    Don’t waste your breath

    I’ve been to Belize and many other places, they are not better than here.

  10. Howard says:

    “People always say their country is the best country in the world.”

    No they don’t. No one, aside from left-wing Canadians and perhaps some right-wing Americans (culturally two sides of the same coin), is smug enough to say such a thing.

    • Eric Weiss says:

      Maybe you need to travel more. I’ve set foot on 7 continents (yes even Antarctica) and people say that shit all the time. It’s more prevalent in some countries more than other, but in my travels I’ve always run into locals who try to convince me why their country is the best country in the world. My standard response is usually “I’m glad you’re happy here.” And it was usually genuine.

      • Howard says:

        Well done on checking off as many countries as possible to impress the folks on Facebook.

        I’m an expat Canadian in Europe and regularly deal with colleagues in numerous European countries. I have never encountered the sort of know-nothing smugness that drips from self-described progressive Canadians. I find them only somewhat more tolerable than hardcore American Trumpists although at least the Trumpists respect the right of opposing voices to air their views.

        Even Trudeau’s junior-high slogan “Canada is back” (where did Canada go, Prime Minister?) was reminiscent of Trump’s “Make America Great Again”.

        FWIW I think Warren’s entry here strikes a good, balanced tone.

        • Charlie says:

          [Even Trudeau’s junior-high slogan “Canada is back” (where did Canada go, Prime Minister?) was reminiscent of Trump’s “Make America Great Again”.]

          The only commonality between either phrases is that they are bromides meant to please the audiences they are meant for. The similarities end where Trump’s ambiguous statement is meant to be an empty substitute to any semblance of tangible policy propositions, whereas Trudeau’s statement is meant to serve as a self-congratulatory remark referencing new policy shifts in foreign relations.

          It is a nuanced difference, but it is nevertheless significant in any comparison.

        • Eric Weiss says:

          LMAO… Trumpists respect other view points? The people who brand anything that makes the orange Bawbag look bad “fake news” LMAO

          Awww Howard, you’re hilarious and cute. Don’t ever change. LMAO

          • Howard says:

            Reading comprehension difficulties Eric?

            I said that Trump supporters respect the right of opposing voices to express themselves, not that they respect the content of said voices.

            I’ll let you get back to your LMAO now.

  11. Bill Templeman says:

    Yup, Warren has it right. I grew up in the sleepy little suburb of Montreal West that was, back in the 40’s & 50’s, almost exclusively Anglophone. In the largely Francophone communities around me, notably Lachine and Ville St. Pierre, Canada Day was a non-event. No celebrations, just a day off work. The Quiet Revolution was still a decade away, but the disdain for all things federal was already palpable. In the First Nations reserve of Kahnawake, just across the St. Lawrence River, there was understandably even less flag-waving on July 1. So Canada Day for me as a child was a muted affair; just a summer holiday without fireworks. Canadian nationalism at home was an oxymoron. As a young adult I learned that the Americans just across the border in Plattsburg, New York had a very different approach to patriotism. I recall being relieved that as a young Canadian, I was missing that extra lobe in their brains that caused Americans to act in incomprehensible ways in response to their flag and anthem. It was nice to grow up without having to deal with the question “What does it mean to be a Canadian?” along with all the other quandaries of youth. Being a Canadian was simply a fact of life, and this fact needed no further reflection. Better to ask, “What does it mean to be a tree?” No one in my family, at school or among my friends ever talked about being Canadian, especially on July 1.

    All that being said, there is one version of O Canada that can still, despite my non-existent nationalism, cause me to blink back tears. That would be the version sung in French & in English on April 20, 2014, by the incomparable Ginette Reno at the Bell Centre before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup 1st round playoffs between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens. Reno had almost died in January of that year due to a heart attack, and she was not expected at the arena that night. But in response to a request from Michel Terrien, then the Habs coach, and with the approval of her cardiologist, she sang live for her team and 21,000 fans. The crowd went nuts. Montreal is hardly ever a hotbed of proud federalism, but that night Reno brought the house down. The Habs scored their first goal 11 seconds into the first period and went on to win that game 3 to 2.


    btw, les Canadiens went on to sweep the Lightning in 4 games that year, and then, with Ginette Reno singing “O Canada” for all home games, they went on to beat the hated Boston Bruins in 7 games to reach the conference finals. O Canada indeed.

    • Warren says:

      Good writing, there.

    • Charlie says:

      Where the Habs then proceeded to get their asses handed to them by the Rangers.

      By the way, Montreal had zero business getting that far into the playoffs that year. The Tampa series was a handed to the Canadiens on a silver platter with some of the shittiest and torqued officiating I have ever seen in my life. The Boston series was a continuation of the same contentious, one-sided officiating that rewarded MTL over and over.

      I’m sorry to jump on your poetic patriotism, but I can’t let up an opportunity to push back on the undeserved veneration your hoisting upon a unbelievably over-rated hockey team with an amazing penchant for choking in the playoffs.

      • Bill Templeman says:

        Apparently, Charlie, you are not a Habs fan; have I at least got that right? Our host here welcomes a very diverse congregation into his virtual church; there has to be room for all, including you & me. As this is not a hockey site, I won’t rebut your judgments, about which I not entirely unsympathetic. But I will challenge you to the hilt if you reply that you found Ginette Reno’ s rendition of O Canada uninspiring. A waste of time & breath. Forget the hockey team but think of the city and province where she sang. Dump on the Habs if you wish, but how can you dump on that version of our national anthem? As I described in my post above, I am not a flag-waving patriot; I did not wear red & white on Saturday. But if you cannot acknowledge the power, if not the skill, implicit in Reno’s performance, then a tiny part of our country’s heart stops beating.

        • Charlie says:

          By far, the best thing about MTL that year was the amazing atmosphere during the anthems in the Bell Centre. Reno brought the house down and Canadians whose hockey teams didn’t make it to playoffs that year joined in the swell of Canadian pride that Ginette and the home crowd sparked. For those few moments before the game, I completely forgot I was cheering against the Canadiens.

          I’m just saying, its too bad the Habs didn’t exactly match the passion and hype of the fans. 😉

  12. P. Brenn says:

    economy will blow up long before global warming gets us …see State of Illinois, Detroit , America , Ontario ,Greece…

  13. Kevin says:

    Well, WK, I agree with you there. Over the course of a long and intense career, I’ve done tours of duty in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Germany, the Czech Rep., Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands, Belgium, UK, US, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, S Korea, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Egypt, the DR Congo, some a few times over. Vacationed in some others. Canada isn’t perfect, but I’d rather be here than in any of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.