Tuesday, March 02, 2010

So Much for Our Polite National Pride

Tomorrow, Canada’s ruling Conservative government launches a new session of Parliament, with a throne speech, and then the day after they release their new budget outlining how the federal government will spend Canadians hard earned dollars.

A mere days after the amazingly warm – and sadly rare – outpouring of Canadian pride thanks to our country’s hosting of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, our politicians are going back to their old tricks, which may be the reason we generally only see Canadian red and white spirit on Canada’s Birthday July 1.

American news anchor Brian Williams, of NBC fame, was so touched by our honest to goodness polite national nature, he wrote a thank-you note upon wrapping up his broadcasting of the Olympic Winter Games.

“Thank you, Canada: For being such good hosts,” he wrote. “For your unfailing courtesy.”

NBC’s Williams saw our Canadian pride, and was touched, he continued: “For your unique TV commercials -- for companies like Tim Hortons -- which made us laugh and cry. For securing this massive event without choking security, and without publicly displaying a single automatic weapon. For having the best garment design and logo-wear of the games -- you've made wearing your name a cool thing to do.”

For the 17-day run of the winter games in Vancouver, BC, Canada, we Canadians witnessed something we just don’t see enough of in this country – national pride.

Every day and night in the stands Canadian flags flickered from the waving hands of proud Canadians wearing our national colors of red and white. The streets of Vancouver were completely covered with many more fans in red and white, sporting jerseys with “CANADA” on them.

Even during the games, bars, restaurants, clubs and streets in cities and towns from coast-to-coast-coast were plastered in red and white. A portion of Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada had to be shut down when the Canadian Men’s Hockey team won the Gold against a game with the rival American team. While our Canadian Women’s Hockey team drew public scrutiny for being typically Canadian in celebrating their Gold medal victory – they were apparently being very loud, drinking beers and smoking cigars in a pub shortly after their win. Also in typically Canadian fashion, we apologized for their behavior – Hockey Canada issued a public apology on their behalf.

Both the opening and closing ceremonies were wonderful examples of pure Canadianna, filled with national symbols and treasures, and many moments when many Canadians – including this one in particular – were so filled with Canadian pride, tears welled up in our eyes.

But that Canadian pride, as amazingly wonderful a thing it is to publicly display and to share, disappeared just as quick as the last flame was extinguished in the Olympic Cauldron.

Instead of carrying the energy, drive and determination which a strong sense in one’s country fuels, our federal politicians have chosen the easier, and less Canadian route.

The opposition parties are already plotting how they can “de-throne” the throne speech, by re-igniting the burning tensions which caused Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to delay Parliament in the first place. Some will use his delay as fuel to their flames no doubt, as that decision in of itself placed the Prime Minister and his party on lose footing with the public.

In business, a sense of pride in one’s professional accomplishments often comes from the leaders at the top. Companies which have open, honest and publicly proud leaders, have open, honest and publicly proud employees.

Just as in business, countries leaders often set the tone for their citizens. So when a country sees its leaders display dishonestly, and bicker and fight with each other instead of doing things which demonstrate pride and the typical politeness of Canadian values, is it any wonder why we Canucks suffer from a lost sense of national pride?

Even during the enormous emotional Canadian pride sweeping throughout the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, our nation’s top dog continued his usual lackluster ways.

There were times when the camera focused on our Prime Minister during the closing ceremonies, where our nation’s leader actually appeared bored. There is still the question as to whether or not he was actually singing our national anthem during the closing ceremonies – from the images captured of him during the event, he may not have even been doing this simple gesture – which any nation’s leader should be more than willing to do.

There is more to building a strong and progressive nation than creating public policies. Leading by example is the most important thing – and in terms of leading a nation, that means oozing national pride to the point of excess. That excessive sense of pride filters down, and fosters that one thing we lack most in one of the richest countries on the planet – national pride.

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