But what ARE Canadian values?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ignited a debate that we haven’t seen waged in Canada for a generation around the question of what it means to be Canadian.
In other words: what are Canadian values?
Or to consider another perspective, are there actually uniquely Canadian values or are we just a random collection of people with different backgrounds and beliefs connected by shared geography?
Our constitution refers to “peace, order and good government”, or “POG” as it is known to the British North America Act intelligentsia.
Individual Canadians when asked, speak of compassion or public-sector health care or equality for all. Other cite our pervasive social safety net or our penchant for international peace-keeping.
Canadians who have fled dictatorship or economic slavery, celebrate the freedom they find in this country.
Until, of course, their first tax bill.
My mother is quite certain the good manners are the hallmark of a Canadian, especially abroad. But then again, my mother is quite keen on polite behaviour in general.
Looking back, what were values that built our country? And, almost more importantly, are they still relevant today?
Not that long ago, as far as nations are measured, ours was a physically demanding one, with a widely dispersed and diverse population. From the first days of settlement, we’ve had to learn to work together with folks that didn’t necessary share our religion or our culture or our ethnicity.
It has mostly worked.
When you are building a barn and it needs to be ready before the fall harvest, are you really going to refuse help from your Ukrainian neighbour, even if he speaks a different language?
There was a bias towards self-reliance. “God helps those that help themselves” wasn’t just a platitude in the early days of our country.
Work hard. Raise your family well. Help out your neighbour if she needs an extra hand. Follow the teachings in the Bible. Be brave. Don’t back down from a fight. Support your country and the King (before 1953). Mind your own business. Save for a rainy day. Build your community.
The question is, of course, are these values still relevant today or has our country shifted in a way that makes them antiquated, like buggy whips or hoop skirts or vcrs?
More importantly in my view, is if or how these historic values mesh with our current overactive government trying to solve each problem facing every Canadian.
A starting place for any discussion of national values should begin with our proud past.
So, what are your Canadian values? And do you feel most Canadians share them with you?
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