July 8, 2020

Winnipeg
27° C, Fair

Full Forecast

Winnipeg Free Press

ABOVE THE FOLD

Subscribe

A very different Canada Day

Editorial

Now we prepare for Canada Day, our annual moment of flag-waving, boasting, self-congratulation and national pride — all of it done in a restrained, almost apologetic, very Canadian way. We have to get our patriotic licks in now before we are drowned out by America’s outpouring of national pride three days later.

It’s an odd kind of anniversary — marking 153 years since some people in England decided that Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia should form a country. Britain wanted to get rid of its colonies, but Ontario and Quebec had never succeeded in governing themselves. Prince Edward Island did not wish to be involved. Newfoundland, the Prairies, the Arctic and the folks on the West Coast were not invited.

It was an awkward solution to a local problem between the English and the French of Upper Canada and Lower Canada.

As it turned out, the thing worked well so that after a few more annexations, huge waves of immigration, a couple of world wars and a great deal of railway-building, Canada turned out to be one of the world’s most prosperous countries, covering half a continent, happier, healthier and more peaceful than most places. Colder, admittedly, but we deal with that by putting most of the people in the southernmost climes a few miles from the U.S. border.

Canada turned out to be one of the world’s most prosperous countries, covering half a continent, happier, healthier and more peaceful than most places.

We usually celebrate this annual occasion by gathering in huge crowds at places like The Forks and Parliament Hill to people-watch and enjoy stage shows and fireworks. None of that this year, on account of the virus, but a mere pandemic doesn’t prevent us from gathering in our families and our bubble-groups to rejoice in our shared good fortune.

The virus has taught us how closely we depend on each other. Especially in the densely packed cities, we are breathing each other’s air and (potentially) sharing each other’s viruses. Fortunately, we do know how to keep two metres apart when we have to, and we do know how to accept personal inconvenience for the benefit of our neighbours and ourselves.

The virus has also taught us that we have not been careful enough about protecting the health of our oldest neighbours and others in long-term care. Nor have we adequately housed the temporary-migrant farm workers who cultivate our orchards and pick our tomatoes. The packing-house workers who also help feed us need better health protection than used to be customary.

The country has decided in principle to repair those flaws exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. We may become a better country as a result.

Canada has its flaws, of course, but when you look around the world, which other country’s flaws would you rather have?

Fortunately for today’s Canadians, this vast region’s Indigenous peoples somehow survived the disruptive arrival of settlers. Smallpox killed many. Extermination of the plains bison starved many more. A remnant survived, however.

From that remnant, Canadians can learn that the land gives us life. The land should be treasured and cared for and shared. Canada has embarked on a path of reconciliation with its Indigenous people. Now, more and more, Canada is ready to start following their advice.

Canada has its flaws, of course, but when you look around the world, which other country’s flaws would you rather have?

So go ahead, Canada, pat yourself on the back. Admit that this is a fabulous place to live and join the effort to keep making it better. Wish your neighbour a happy Canada Day — from two metres away — and hopefully we’ll see each other next year at The Forks.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.