What is A Canadian?

In today’s Ottawa Citizen I read and article by Drew Gough titled A wanderer’s guide to patriotism. The author seems to be struggling with his Canadian identity and understanding what it is to be a Canadian. He mentions that in his travels he makes sure to sew a Canadian flag on his back pack because of his fear of being identified as an  American . He states “Sure, I was proud to not be American, but I didn’t feel quite proud to be Canadian, if only because I didn’t know what it meant.”

He ends his article by stating “Though it may be healthy to be challenged in this way and to try to come to terms with oneself (as an individual or as a nation), most 20-something Canadians will stumble with the question of “What is being Canadian?”

So this blog is written to all of those Canadians who are struggling with their Canadian Identity.

A few years ago I had something cross my desk that just blew me away. There was a report in the world news that someone in Pakistan had placed an ad in a newspaper with an offer of a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian-any Canadian. Who in God’s name would want to kill a peace-loving people like us Canadians kind of boggles my mind but I guess there are a lot of unbalanced people out there.

Any way according to this item I read (which unfortunately does not have a source) an Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so that they would know one when they found one. Here is what he wrote.

“A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.

A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux or one of the many tribes known as native Canadians. (Note he forgot our northern neighbours the Inuit). Canadian religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada, they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which recognizes the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least,-the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected. These are the people who build Canada.

You can try to kill a Canadian if you must, as other blood- thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but, in doing so, you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be Canadian. “

Now if you are a Canadian or a citizen of the world and after reading this you do not have a lump in your throat, than you are a lost cause. Isn’t odd that it took an Australian to describe a Canadian? Although frankly I am not surprised considering the wonderful treatment I received each time I have travelled to Australia.

So Drew I hope this will help you and your 20 something friends better understand what it means to be a Canadian.

Happy Canada Day.


Research Has Become a Dirty Word: Part Two

When I wrote my blog Research has become a “Dirty Word” in the Federal Government , I had no idea how far the government would go in dismissing  valuable research to help guide important government decision making.  Well the recent news about the long –form census being canceled threw me for a loop. When I first heard the news that government would oppose the mandatory long-form census, I thought it was a rumour, or worse a joke or prank but no this is really happening.

Based on news reports, last fall the government decided that they would oppose the mandatory long-form census. Since then, nothing has changed their mind. This policy is being denounced by almost every leading institution and commentator in Canada. See Maclean’s for list

Tabethy Southey in her column: Long-form census? Nah, we’ll ask Paul the octopus points out the  Industry Minister  explained that they can compensate for the fact that certain demographic groups are likely to forego completing the long-form census because “statisticians can ensure validity” with a “larger sample size.” ( i.e done voluntarily).

This isn’t the case. Simply put, no matter how broad a sample size statisticians use, the fact that some groups are likely to be underrepresented will mean that the database will be faulty.

You wonder why this decision was made. (the privacy argument is quite weak- the government knows there are provisions in the legislation preventing answers from being linked to the person giving them. They also know that neither the privacy commissioner nor the committee that crossed the country studying what should be in the census heard complaints about long-form privacy concerns. Canada’s privacy watchdog has received only three complaints about the census in the last decade). Perhaps it has more to do with how this government wants to develop policy.Without detailed data it will be easier to promote and defend public policies that appeal to conclusions based on personal opinions. Politicians seldom want to let the facts get in the way of their opinions based on what their constituents tell them at their local Tim Horton’s. In other words we have government who would rather not be confused by the facts.  But is this the way to run a government?  It means the country’s course will be shaped more by assumption and emotion than by proof and reason.

As Jim Travers points out , credible information is the starting point for sound decisions. Municipal, provincial and federal planners rely on the census for that information, as do businesses, academics and ordinary folks curious about their changing world.

For example, when political parties, including the party in power, want to get elected they make a great deal of use of the census long form demographic results in tailoring their campaigns and advertising.

Let’s face many people happily divulge large amounts of information on the comments card at a chain restaurant, and provide their phone numbers; they give intimate details to dating sites. They provide tons of info on web sites and they have no idea that when they sign up for a card that gives them points or some type of membership they are giving corporations an incredible amount of personal information.

How about social media sites like Facebook? Any privacy issues there?

Without scientific information, parliamentarians fly blind when developing policies or approving legislation… I suspect they like this scenario.


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