Today I like: my country!
1. We take our liquor seriously!
"Canadian beer is like moonshine."
Okay, maybe not, but don't offer us a beer that's less than 6% - it's an insult; here, it's strictly for children and the elderly. Give me a nice two-four of the good stuff and we'll be all set. Actually, I prefer Crown Royal myself. We do whiskey right. Here it is legal to drink at 18 or 19, so we start at 12, and our elders put a lot of work into getting us ready for downing our first mickey. That way, when we get drunk out by the grain elevators we all have in our backyards, it's a pleasant and not too barfy experience.
And if you happen to be American, my grandparents probably sold liquor to your grandparents during the prohibition. No wonder we make it so well and can hold more liquor than countries 10 times our size!
2. We are a mosaic.
I think one of the biggest reasons why our country is so great is because of its diversity. Some countries have conversely been described as a 'melting pot' where all the new people coming in are encouraged to assimilate. Here, we encourage people to treasure their heritage and keep their individuality while at the same time being very inclusive.
"In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect."
U.S. President Bill Clinton
We're also really big on being bilingual. Most people don't speak both languages (French and English), but because of packaging on our favourite breakfast cereals, everyone at least knows both terms for fat-free, reduced-fat, and low-in-sugar!!
3. Gay marriage
I thank heavens that we can be reasonable about this. Love is not an accident, if you can find it, you deserve to keep it.
Brett Hull (yes, a hockey player) on SNL: "That's what happens in Canada when there's no hockey. Guys have more time to hang out, talk about their feelings, next thing you know they're in love with each other."
Oh. My. Gawd. Don't even get me started! Fries with curds and gravy: what more could a girl want? Sooo delicious I can't even tell you, but most Canadians live a life-long quest to find the perfect poutine. Here, even McDonald's has it. Just try to remember that it is a french word, so if you pronounce it poo-teen, I will have a violent seizure.
5. Pretty Money
Foreigners compliment us on our pretty money all the time, and we like it too. Money, here, is like a work of art. The $5 is blue, the $10 is purple, the $20 is green, the $50 is pink. They have original Canadian artwork on them, and sometimes prose or poems (the $5 has a picture of children playing hockey, and an ode to a popular children's book called The Hockey Sweater.
And yes, we do use $1 and $2 coins, called the loonie and the twoonie. No one will be surprised when they announce the advent of the "fivie".
6. Health Care
On Sunday night, Homer Simpson crossed the border looking for free drugs. It's strange to me that anyone should pay to see a doctor, or stay in the hospital. My health has never depended on whether or not I could afford it. I've never had a very serious condition, but somehow I do have many emergency-type situations, and thank goodness you can just show up without a penny in your pocket, and receive treatment. In fact, in all my years, I have only once received a bill from the hospital. Want to know the one thing our government doesn't spring for? Neck braces. When I was in a car accident, I had to 'purchase' the brace; they sent the bill to me a couple of weeks later, and I didn't even know what to do with it. How do you even go about paying the hospital $17? Can you write them a cheque? Do they take interac, and if so, where the hell do you pay? Well, the bill just got sent to my car insurance company anyhow, so I never did discover the answer to those questions, and I'm glad of that.
7. Relaxed politicians
We don't expect our politicians to be perfect; they can make mistakes. We elect people amid scandals because apparently we're a very forgiving people, and also, we don't let those little trifles colour our judgement. We have openly gay members of Parliament, we've had a female Prime Minister, and we've had a slew of really nice people representing us. I know, I worked on Parliament Hill for a couple of summers, and while I was there, the current PM would go around with drinks and smiles (we miss you JC!), and a former one actually held a door open for me once. Humble folk,indeed. We rarely know (or care) about their religious affiliations, and if they are having sex, we don't want to know about it! Personal lives remain very personal. The most publicity a member of Parliament has lately received was the guy who stole a ring up for auction, apparently intended for his (gay) lover...he later gave it back, apologized, and took a leave of absence due to stress. And then we all (including the justice system, apparently) forgave him.
The thing I really love about Canada though, is that politicians are not so anxious about votes that they coddle their citizens. Lately, my province has launched a campaign to call several of their consituents 'stupid'. Their new ad campaign, www.stupid.ca, is aimed at smokers. Commercials declare that pouring chemicals on your breakfast cereal, or standing on a golf green with a lightning rod during a big storm is still less stupid than smoking. Man, I love this country.
8. The language
First off, I just think that the "british" way of spelling things looks a lot more polite. Canadian students are always 'correcting' their dumb textbooks by filling in all the missing u's...But let's face it, we may all speak English, but Canada does have a language all of it's own.
If I decide a toque is minty, I expect that other keeners will follow suit, and if not, they must be real hosers, eh? But in the end, we'll all head to out for some timbits or a two-four and be fast friends again.
hoser; unsophisticated friend
keener; someone who is eager and enthusiastic
However, the one things about Canadian language that is not true is the pronunciation of about. The only times I have ever heard it pronounced 'aboot' is in dumb American movies making fun of Canada. Where did they get that idea in the first place? And have they ever heard their own people talk? Look no further than NY or Boston for astonishing examples of the supposedly-english language.
9. Tim Hortons
Now, I don't even drink coffee, but if you grew up where I did, you know that this is a cultural institution. In a town of 40 000 people, we didn't have museums, and sometimes not even a movie theatre, but we did have 6-12 Tim Hortons, and then at least that many other coffee places. At Tim Horton's, they know how to spell doughnut correctly. You can go for 'a coffee' and stay for the timbits (um, donut holes to the rest of you, I think). Literally, it's where you go to spend time chatting with friends. There are more coffee/doughnut places here than anywhere else, and that takes dedication! Tim Horton's is the place to be; it's where you eventually take your date, it's where proposals take place, business deals go down, shoulders are cried on. We had 2 Tim Horton's inside our University campus, and the lines between classes were astronomical. Tim Horton's is where Canadians get their healing, and it goes for about $0.69 a cup.
10. The politeness factor
Sometimes, it's almost silly how careful and polite Canadians are. When 2 people bump into each other on the street, both will stop to see if the other is okay, both will apologize, blame themselves, shake hands, and probably exchange pleasantries about 'this darned weather we're having' before they part ways. In Canada, even the mosh pits are polite. They're intense, but no one will ever get crushed underfoot. If something happens, I've seen the entire audience participate in retrieval. The band will stop playing the song until things are okay, and then ask how the person is doing. It's cozy.
Our road signs all say please, or thank you, or both.