The folks up here north of the 49th parallel have been saying “Happy Canada Day” for the last 150 years. Well, okay, maybe they didn’t say much in the first few years, but it has become more of a celebration over the last couple of decades. Kinda like the realization that, hey, we’re an actual country! And recently it’s become all about those social media posts and hashtagging #Canada150. My, how the times are changing.
Anyway, I’m actually in Canada for Canada Day this year and thought I’d write up a little bit of a post of what it’s like to be one of those Canadians whose usually overseas for this day.
First, our passport is one of the most valued passports in the world. We currently sit at a power rank of 5 out of the whole world (according to Passport Index) with a score of 155, which simply means that quite a few countries let us in pretty easily, but not as many that let in the Germans or Singaporeans. I also recall Laos charging Canadians the most which might have something to do with the absence of diplomatic relations.
But that doesn’t make our passport the most in demand on the black market either, as prices have been plummeting as of late, according to the Huffington Post’s article on the subject. Only a mere $2,600 for a Canadian passport? $173 for a SIN card? Geeez, you’d think they’d be worth more than that. We barely even register on Money Talk’s list of contraband available through the black market. You see, despite our passport being a good one to have, it’s kinda tough to get to our country (which is where most of these people want to come. It’s not like they want to flit about the world as a Canadian backpacker!) seeing as though there is an ocean on either coast, a frigid north (good luck with that one), and a rather gun-ho neighbour to the south soooo… you may be able to get a Canadian passport, but you still have to get here.
But in a more sincere form of flattery aside from the benefits of the Canadian passport (which can often be confused with the USA or Australian passport), is our reputation. Being a white Canadian backpacking the world often lands me into the conversation of “Are you American?” To which I reply, “No, Canadian.” And that lightens the mood considerably. But let’s not skip over the reason why this occurs.
First, the USA spends a lot on military power, you might recall that the country was founded after a few wars and then were blindsided by the Japanese in World War 2. None of that happened to Canada. Canada, in a way, was founded as a “not American” country. We didn’t actually have our own constitution until 1982!
Second, it’s US companies that you see overseas which can translate into “US interests”. Be it military or corporate, the British used to have a similar empire, so did the Danish, the Dutch, the Spanish, and the list goes on. Canada, we’re not so prominent in the international business scene.
That’s not to say we’re not there for either of those things. Canadian troops are still in Afghanistan and we do export a lot of soybeans to China (like, basically everything we produce)… and bacon, too. So we do have “interests” as well, just nothing that looks like a big M to draw other people’s attention or whatever comes to mind when you say the word “cola”. (Though according to one recent commercial, Colonel Sanders of KFC fame actually lived in Canada for 15 years.)
Okay, so you get the point. We’re not a big presence on the international stage and our visa cost to Laos doesn’t make the headlines like the USA and Russia threatening each other, or the Brexit or whatever. No, but what do we have?
First, clean drinking water that comes from a tap. It’s odd to think just how strange this fact actually is: in most countries in the world you would be taking a bit of a risk drinking tap water for hydration (or even as a joke). Instead, it’s bottled water (or beer).
People speak English with a bunch of different accents yet these people are “Canadian”. Some countries, if you have an accent, you are a foreigner no matter how long you’ve been there. (And being born in Canada is a quick way to expedite your Canadian passport application. Read about that here.) All that is to say, we have quite the diverse range of people and cultures living here in Canada.
Again, our passport is welcomed broadly across the world.
We have good internet, and by that I mean utilities like electricity, water, waste disposal. When you flick a light on in Canada, it goes on. Turn the tap, water comes out. Shit in the toilet, it gets flushed away. These are things that don’t always happen in other parts of the world. Oh, and we have hot water that doesn’t scald you, which is just a side benefit.
We have police, firefighters and medics who don’t need to be bribed to get anything done. This is kinda something overlooked, though that’s not to say diplomacy and tact don’t go a long way when the going gets tough.
We have a space program; standards of work safety that might slow things down but actually help people live better lives; women are able and willing to work and have babies in the process without losing their job; the list goes on.
And, if you need some controversy, we came up the with Kyoto Protocol and then broke our commitment to it! Booya, politics at its finest. Who would’ve known that energy would play such an integral role in Canada’s economy? #oops
Finally, another controversy is the government’s battle with the First Nations people who are looking back at their history and saying that they were treated unfairly. This is a big issue because it’s not so simple because what you hear being talked about doesn’t often include both sides of the argument. So that’s something the country will have to deal with in the future.
Anyway, those are just a few of the things I’ve noticed being here in Canada for Canada Day. I’ll be honest, I’d rather be in Ottawa or Montreal for today’s celebration but I’ll have to content myself here in Winnipeg. Canada is a good country with good people and, though I see where we might need some work (border security, water-proof passports, international presence), it’s a good place to live.
Happy Canada Day! Here’s to another 150 years!