Day 59. O Canada

Like millions of folks the world over, I also watched the 2012 Presidential debate last night.  No, I am not going there.  There’s enough regurgitation going on, without adding my opinion.  Consider yourselves spared.  Besides, I have a whole other point I want to make.

I was also monitoring social media.  Among my Facebook friends, there wasn’t that much conversation going on.  Some (I was probably the most vocal), but not a lot.  Twitter was going nuts, though.  Not surprising.  It was all fun and games until I saw a post from The New Yorker‘s Nick Paumgarten, who tweeted:  “What is this, Canada?”  I saw red.  Well, red and white, actually; and tweeted back:  “You should be so lucky.”

And so he should.

The lack of knowledge about this country (Canada) by too many of our neighbours to the South has always frustrated, disappointed and annoyed me.  As a child when I went to summer camp, in Vermont, some of the counsellors were surprised to hear we had indoor plumbing.  They also thought we all lived in igloos.

But for a journalist, particular one who writes for such a revered publication, to make as ignorant a remark as Paumgarten did last night, really got to me.  So I’ve decided to just share a few facts with ya’all:

  • We’ve had no banking scandals here.  We have regulations in place to prevent what happened in the U.S.  Maybe Mr. Paumgarten and Mr. Romney think that’s “too much government”, but there are about 26 million adult Canadians who would disagree.  About 26 million adult Canadians who can sleep at night, knowing their money, their futures, their hopes, dreams and families are safe.
  • Nobody here has lost their home during this crisis.  Again, maybe Mr. Paumgarten and Mr. Romney think that’s “too much government”, but I don’t know.  Call me crazy, but it’s nice knowing you can keep the roof that’s over your head.
  • No Canadian will die because he or she cannot afford health care.  Now I am the first to say our system needs some work.  It is far from perfect.  But it doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor.  Or those with pre-existing medical conditions.  Or the young.  Or the old.  Everyone can get to a doctor.

In all honesty, I’ve never been a fan of Steven Harper’s (our Prime Minister).  But I have to say that I think he’s done a good job, leading us through this crisis, this recession.  I will never agree with all of his policies or the stand he takes on some issues, but he has shown strength, courage and determination at a time when this country has needed it most.  He has been a leader.  So good for him.  Lucky for us.

A few more facts (courtesy of CBC, September 28, 2012):

  • Canada’s economy continues to defy adverse global conditions, posting a 0.2% advance in July, getting the third quarter off to an encouraging start.  It expanded at a 1.8% annual pace during the last quarter, the same growth seen at the start of the year and slightly better than what economists were expecting.
  • Economists had been expecting a 1.6% gain, although the Bank of Canada had forecasted the 1.8% it turned out to be.  If you’re curious, the U.S. economy expanded at a 1.7% annual pace during the same period.
  • According to Statistics Canada, an increase in business investment was the biggest factor contributing to growth.  This is very encouraging because it shows that the private sector has renewed confidence and is starting to drive expansion.
  • Bottom Line:  “While the growth is modest, it reinforces that Canada is on the right economic track, compared to other countries” — Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.

Think Nick Paumgarten still needs more convincing?

  • According to Statistics Canada, Canadian retail sales were up 0.7% to $39 billion in July, with 8 of 11 sectors reporting increases.  This was well ahead of the 0.2% gain economists had been expecting.
  • General merchandise stores registered a 1.5% increase, with department stores up 2.9%.
  • Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers increased 1.9%, while furniture and home furnishings sales rose 2.1%.
  • Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores edged up 0.2%.
  • Automotive sales were up 1.7% in July.
  • Non-automotive spending was up 0.4%.
  • Retail sales increased in all provinces.

What more can I say:

  • Forbes magazine considers Canada the best place in the world for businesses to grow.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, the World Economic Forum rates Canada’s banking system as the world’s soundest.
  • The International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development both forecast that Canada will remain among the leaders of the world’s major economies, through at least 2013.

“What is this, Canada?”  You bet it is, Mr. Paumgarten.  And speaking for this Canadian, I’m proud of it!

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4 thoughts on “Day 59. O Canada

  1. I agree with everything you’ve said. I’m so tired of the negative rhetoric here in the US, even if some of it is justified. We should be working together and looking at other financially sound economies, like Canada, for some possible effective strategies that would work here in the US to get us out of this slump – this is what the focus should be. Thanks for this.

    • Thank you! I know. It is so frustrating. What the world needs now is for everyone to have an open mind, and to collaborate. Drives me nuts!

  2. I enjoyed reading this post, and I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent here in Canada– but even though I don’t know the work of Paumgarten, I can definitely say that it takes a while for a US citizen to put a finger on the core identity of Canada. It’s something that haunted me for a while during my time here, It’s so similar to the US in so many ways, but with distinct barely perceptible differences; I confess to often asking myself Paumgarten’s question “What is Canada?” I don’t mean it in a condescending way, but more as a meditation on the mystery of this country’s identity. I think it’s a good question to ask,.and as I spend more time here, the answers are beginning to take shape– this is a country that’s proud of its social structure, that is full of truly kind people (I didn’t really get this during the early months of my stay here), this is a country that values the idea of global grade social harmonies and compassion, — it’s also a country that strives to enjoy life and appreciate it’s own good fortune, economic and otherwise. The US simply is more tortured I think by its global leadership role. This can often translate into ignorance, bluster, and arrogance, but again, we mean well. It just takes time to “get it,” this country we call Canada.

    • Great comment, thank you. I agree with you and I’ve lived here all my life. I’m not defensive by nature. It isn’t what Paumgarten was saying. He said “What is this, Canada?”. It was disparaging. Your question is totally different and one we, Canadians, ask ourselves. For many of the same reasons you have stated. Welcome to Canada. It is a great country. Not perfect, but great none the less. Hope you live here happily, in good health, with much success.

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