The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Happy Canada Day

canadian-flagFor all its problems, this remains a good country to live in.  It’s beautiful, it’s big, and the social safety net, while showing some wear and tear, is still there.  As with most of the world, there’s been a right wing swing, but it’s been kept relatively in check by the simple fact that the majority of Canadians aren’t right wing.

The world is dividing into countries with trade surpluses and those without.  Canada tends to run a positive balance of trade and when we don’t, it isn’t hugely negative.  We have oil, water and still have plenty of arable land.  On the downside, we’re hugely overexposed to the US, but as long as the US still has seigniorage, this will remain an advantage, and when the US loses it, at least the Chinese will still need resources (and the North America auto industry is going away anyway.)

Canada’s also one of the most tolerant countries in the world with truly multi-ethnic cities which actually work.

There are going to be huge challenges going forward, many of them caused by the fact that our form of government tends to empower geographically clumped minorities (whether in Alberta or Quebec) and disempower groups which are more geographically widespread.  The US remains a significant threat which Canadians aren’t willing to face (when water and oil really start running out, anyone who thinks Americans won’t consider taking what they want is delusional) and the hollowing out of industrial capacity and the over-reliance on commodities is likewise an issue.

Nonetheless, all countries have problems, and overall, I’d rather have Canada’s than those of most other nations.

We’ll see how we handle them going forward.

In the meantime, happy Canada Day.


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  1. PurpleGirl

    Happy Canada Day! Have a Molsen or two!

    ( I drank Molsen Ice for a few years back when I was still drinking beer.)

  2. Heh. I wish I could be proud of, or even hopeful for, my country.. but I just can’t. I can’t remember a time when I was. Maybe as a small child who didn’t know any better.

    I’ll wish yours all the best of luck though. With us as neighbors, you’re going to need it.

  3. Happy Canada Day. I usually try to go back to hang out with my Ottawa friends and experience the large amount of free entertainment that Ottawa has today all over downtown (Major’s Hill Park is particularly good for higher-quality Indie bands), put together a gourmet picnic from the Byward Market (quite affordable specialty cheese shops with Quebec unpasteurized cheeses, farmer’s market with delicious strawberries, Lebanese spiced breads, etc, etc) and watch the fireworks.

    But I’ve been away at conferences and visiting overseas relatives and have to pay the piper and stay in the USA today. 🙁 I’m going to try to do something for the 4th of July as a substitute. Regardless of the holiday I love giant street parties. In the meantime, maybe I’ll find something maple flavoured. Most of the Canuck expat parties in the USA are happening when I have to be at work.

  4. Cloud

    the simple fact that the majority of Canadians aren’t right wing. … Canada’s also one of the most tolerant countries in the world with truly multi-ethnic cities which actually work.

    Way to make me envious. (I live in Utah.)

  5. nihil obstet

    Happy Canada Day!!! How are your invasion plans coming along?

    One piece of defensiveness on your post: the swing to the right has “been kept relatively in check by the simple fact that the majority of Canadians aren’t right wing.” It’s a simple fact that the majority of Americans aren’t right wing either. We just don’t have the kind of crazy neighbor that acts out as a warning to us.

  6. Oscar Romero

    I’m pleased you are still fairly proud of your country. I was going to take my family to Vancouver and Victoria and other parts of BC on our vacation this year. But the way the authorities treated the G-20 protestors changed my mind. We are going to go places closer to home. Compared to where I live, Canada still looks great though.

  7. beowulf

    Happy Canada Day to our oldest good neighbor!

    (The other pamphlets in the GI roundtable series, especially the ones on universal military training and national health insurance, are pretty interesting too).

  8. Happy Day, Canada. Couldn’t come up with anything but this lame card, but we’re still OK, right? Keep those Da Vinci’s Inquest eps coming, OK?

  9. Ian Welsh

    Oscar, I wouldn’t sweat it. The G20 stuff was revolting, but that’s not how law enforcement acts day to day. There’s a reason why they had to bring in cops from outside of Toronto to do it. And the BC coast is probably the most beautiful part of Canada.

  10. kirk murphy

    Happy Canada Day to you, Ian!

  11. Happy Canada Day, Ian. Wish my age didn’t wreck my points…

  12. DAT4120

    Ian, have enjoyed your writing for a long time. From one to another, happy Canada Day.
    Enjoy the poem.

    Reflections on Lake Steve

    Inanimate smashed by the disaffected
    Innocent bashed by the disconnected

    outside the chaos may rage

    I sit safe in an uncomfortable chair
    in a place where no expense has been spared
    to secure the stage
    and create make believe

    The shore of fake lake
    Lake Steve

    A grand facade of something idyllic
    Inspired by god
    delivered acrylic
    contrived and corny
    designed to deceive

    It is wet like a lake
    I’m reminded of Steve

  13. rumor

    Happy Dominion Day*, Ian. Hope you had a good one and found some of the intermittent sunny parts of the day.

    * Just for fun.

  14. ballgame

    Happy Canada Day, Ian!

    —An Envious American

  15. Suspenders

    The thing I most love about my country is the fact that it’s so sparsely populated. I hope it remains that way far into the future.

    And happy belated Canada day to all you canucks out there!


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