I have to say it: as a Canadian, I am not a patriot. I have no interest in celebrating the birthday of the country I live in. And since I have lived in and visited other countries (who do some things a lot better than we do here), I feel like I'm about to gag when I see the flag waving Canada-is-so-awesome bollocks shoved down our throats.
Case in point: a few years ago our provincial government thought it was a good idea to brand British Columbia as "The Best Place on Earth". WTF? Who came up with that? Have they ever been anywhere else? Sure it's easy to to love the place you live, but if you've never been anywhere else, it's really hard to claim something is the 'best'. (They beat that out of me when I was an undergrad).
So, as much as I love the Yarn Harlot, she is one of those flag-waving Canadians and in her tribute post today, she mentioned a few things that I am compelled to take issue with.
She mentions 'peacekeeping' and 'hockey' in the same paragraph. Having grown up in a hockey town, I would have to say that hockey is the most violent team sport I know. Players earn their stripes by being able to successfully pull their opponents jersey over their helmet and beat the crap out of them. And I know that she didn't mention hockey in the context of peacekeeping - in fact - she observed that the situation would be a lot different if the Americans had won the gold medal. In some ways, I wish they had. I am so sick of this Canadian pride and pomp around their hockey prowess, all these guys walking around like they need ball room.
I was at a friend's house the day of that momentous game, in the final moments when Canada finally did take that medal. There were some hardcore patriots in the room and one of them remarked about how the Americans were 'assholes'. Why? Because they are Americans? Or because they are the other team? Would they have been 'assholes' if they were Russians or Danes?
I had a real eye-opener when I was working in Korea and Japan - at just how accepted it was to bash Americans. Now I'm married to a man who as dual citizenship between Canada and the US, most of his family are Americans. Why is it that Canadians pretend, as the Yarn Harlot says, to be 'proud of diversity' (which means supposedly that we aren't racist, sexist, homophobic, or discriminate in other ways) and yet American-bashing remains a popular quasi-national sport? And where do these attitudes towards our neighbours to the south come from? How many Canadians that have actually visited the United States hold these strong opinions?
I've had the privilege of spending a fair amount of time in the US in the last few years. We visited the 10 most western states on our honeymoon last fall. Compared with the snobbery and aloofness of Victoria, most of the people we encountered were warm, friendly, and held none of that reserve that we were used to. It was rather astonishing, actually.
(I'm on a bit of a rant here, I realize, but do note that I have a number of readers on both sides of the border).
My final point is about health care in Canada. I will try to keep this brief because, having spent four years getting educated in health care, I know quite a lot about it. You wouldn't believe the conversations I had with people in the US when they asked me about 'socialized health care' in Canada.
Now to be fair, I have had a number of procedures, including three major surgeries, done in Canada that I didn't have to pay for. For that I am thankful. But after ten years of having bunion problems, I had to wait two years before I could get my surgery. Wait lists are a problem of money, plain and simple. And I would argue that the term 'health care' in Canada should be replaced with 'health service provision', because quite often the 'care' is missing - how many horror stories have we heard about grumpy nurses or snarky care aides or doctors who don't seem to give a shit? In the United States, because patients have to pay for health care, care providers have to compete for 'customers' and, as such, they place more emphasis on customer service. You know, being friendly and helping the customer to be happy.
Dan injured himself years ago while working as a commercial diver. He had to have surgery on his knee, in Canada. And they screwed it up. So he paid, out of his own pocket, to go to the US to have a second surgery to have it fixed. Best service he had ever received in a health care setting.
Finally, the problem with universal health care in Canada is that we aren't given a choice. We have to pay into it and even if we have the money to pay for a procedure, in Canada there is legislation against that kind of 'queue-jumping'. It's not fair, you see, for people with money to get health care before people without money. Well, on that note, several years ago, my own doctor went to England to get a procedure done because she couldn't get it done in Canada. So while the system here is good for lots of people, it is also not sustainable. When taxpayers have to pay for the obese alcohol-consuming smoker to have his third by-pass surgery, where do we draw the line? It's no wonder there is no money in health care.
End of rant.
I can't wait to move to the United States.