I WANT MY CANADA BACK.
I have never completely understood the notion of the “West” even after living in Lethbridge for fourteen years. I love it here and am very comfortable. Nobody has tried to run me out of town yet. I think Alberta is changing. Wealth is making it more urbanized and libertarian male chauvinism has become an embarrassment. Wild Rose Rick Strankman had to apologize and withdraw his “bring your wife’s pie” invitation tot a fund-raiser. And the same party would not sign Russ Kuykendall’s nomination paper for his stand against Gay Pride function. (Herald, April17, p.A2) Alberta is no longer the frontiers nor a Bible belt. Yet how come Mr. Harper is still chasing the tired old myth of the West and trying to reshape the whole country.
During the World War II, I was a child in Japan. I remember a disparaging image of Canada caricatured in political cartoons. Pudgy little boy MacKenzie King in short pants fighting to join the big bully boys club of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. They were rudely throwing at boy King nasty scrap jobs like disastrous landing of Dieppe and hopeless defence of Hong Kong.
However, when I applied for visa to come to Canada in 1957, Canada had a different image.
It was shaped by Pearsonian idealism of a middle power confidently making a unique contribution to the cause of human rights and peace with a creative use of armed forces. I lived in Switzerland during the seventies and eighties when young backpackers were hitch-hiking everywhere. Many kids including Americans had Canadian Maple Leaf sewn on their backpacks. A few radical leftist attacked anything American. Americans were frightened. The reason was the Viet Nam War. It was the same in Lebanon in 1982 where I worked briefly. I felt lucky to be Canadian as Danish, Dutch, and Swedish did, free to go anywhere. Americans, Britons, and French persons were told to stay inside in Beirut. Canada was neutral on both fronts.
Now, it seems we live in a different Canada. At her investiture into the Order of Canada, film maker Bonnie Klein was quoted as saying,”Today’s Canada is not the country we chose.” (The Walrus, Page 52, April issue, 2015) She is mother of Naomi Klein, who is Stephen Lewis’ daughter-in-law. For me, Klein/Lewis family represents the best of Canada. Where art thou my beloved Canada?