I used to roll my eyes at my American cousin when he would say that the United States was the best country in the world. I thought their 4th of July celebrations were obnoxious and I still find it strange and amusing when an American crowd starts chanting, “USA, USA, USA” at a political rally or international sporting event.
Their patriotism is an odd spectacle.
We Canadians have a very different way of expressing our own love of country – a quiet, subtle, polite admiration for the truly remarkable place we call home.
We don’t hang on to symbols like our American neighbours. How could we? Our political class has a habit of making cosmetic changes to our national emblems every few decades.
In 1965, federal politicians decided to get rid of the old flag. They tossed the Red Ensign, our historic flag that was an homage to our British political heritage, and replaced it with a simple red maple leaf.
Many Canadians across the country cried foul. Some, including former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, refused to recognize the new flag and accused the government of trying to erase Canadian history.
In 1982, the Liberal government decided that the name of our national holiday was too British. In a quiet vote, breaking Parliamentary rules, Liberal politicians changed the name of our national holiday.
Canada Day had long been known as Dominion Day. On July 1, 1867, the British North American Act was signed and with that, Canada created its own federal government. The act stated that Canada would become an independent dominion, and hence the name Dominion Day.
Many older Canadians and history buffs still call the holiday by this historic name.
In 2016, the Liberals have done it once again. Just last month, a Liberal MP tabled a bill to change the English lyrics of O Canada. According to the politically correct little emperors in Ottawa, the old lyrics were sexist and exclusive.
And so, with a rushed vote in Parliament, again breaking several Parliamentary rules, the majority of MPs sheepishly voted to change our national anthem.
But it doesn’t matter how frequently politicians tinker with our national institutions and symbols. They can’t change Canada. They can’t change Canadians.
It’s the people of Canada that make our country great, not the political class or their imposed values.
We all have our own history within Canada. Some settled here before Canada became a country, but most Canadians have a parent, grandparent, or ancestor that deliberately chose Canada. Some chose Canada themselves. And they all made incredible sacrifices to pursue a better life here.
Whether our roots in Canada go back two hundred years, like mine, or twenty years, like my husband’s, we all adopt a similar attitude.
We are a strong, determined, self-reliant people, and we carry a proud legacy.
We don’t shy away from challenges and we pick the tough fights. When we see an injustice in the world, we roll up our sleeves and jump in to help.
Our soldiers, sailors, and airmen are unique in the world. Canadian forces have never gone anywhere to advance our own national agenda. For more than a hundred years, brave Canadians have given their lives to help improve the lives of others.
They’ve volunteered and travelled to faraway places to make the world freer, fairer and safer.
Every year, Dominion Day is the perfect occasion to honour all those great Canadian people and celebrate our extraordinary country. Not too loudly though. We don’t want to be rude.
This column appeared in Sun papers on July 2, 2016