--> Getting It Right: But what ARE Canadian values?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

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?

As seen today in 24 Hours


At 11:07 a.m., Anonymous Larry said...

CANADIANA VALUES AND CULTURE:RCMP/ National Railway/ Canadian Football League/ Montreal Canadians-hockey team/ Canada's Vast Size/ Capital City-Ottawa/ Christianity/ Authors and Musicians/ Monarchy/ 1867-Confederation Date/ Family/ National Post newspaper/ CBC/ Canada's First PM Conservative-John A MacDondald.

At 12:27 p.m., Blogger Mitch said...

I think that with the changes that started with the Pearson/Trudeau government, we have drifted from the 'values' that you have mentioned, those of freedom, self-reliance, pride in British hieritage and institutions, etc, to that of reliance in government. More people define their identity in reflexive anti-Americanism and government handouts (i.e. health care) than the more 'traditional' notions of citizenship. Faith in God has been replace by faith in the State. Self-reliance has been usurped by the opiate of the welfare state. History and tradition has been replaced by fads and solipism. A society whose values are selfish and hedonitic, that shun a greater purpose, that is what Canada has become.

At 2:04 p.m., Anonymous Sean P, Vancouver-Quadra/Quilchena said...


Canadian values are best described as what we are not.

We are not overtly capitalistic, and we are not as aggressive as Americans are. We are a compassionate and tollerant people, who are concerned about the general well being of the human race. We are extremely passionate about hockey, and are adapted to living our long and cruel winter seasons.

And, it depends on the generation you belong to. The older generation is very pro-monarchy, while the younger generations are less so....And one's view of government also reflects one's generational bias....The older people are more used to and tollerant of government authority and legitimacy, while younger people are more scepticle and synical....

...Older people tend to be more community oriented, while younger people tend to be more individualistic (example, the social welfare safety net, the economy, and methods of mass communications).

At 2:16 a.m., Blogger stephen buckley said...

so follow the teachings in the bible or ben franklin?

ben says that god helps those that help themselves, jesus had other ideas that are more community building that obsessive self-reliance.

At 6:11 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Each person has
different values
and each has his
own moral code. There
is no collective consciousness,
it is a myth.

The Bible has an
absolute moral code that
people could try and live by,
but it seems
most peoples moral code
is "Do what though wilt."

This country has gone
to hell in a handbasket
in the last 45 years.
The State taking 75%
of the median person's income,
through scores of taxes.

Without more immigrant
slaves to come here
and be taxed, this totalitarian
State of Canada would have collapsed long ago.
"If you now work for the government, the biggest
contribution you can make to
Canada is to quit
your job and find work in the private sector.
If you are responsible and conscientious, the
market place is full of opportunity for you. And when you put your efforts
into private industry, you will be producing wealth - i.e.,
products and services that people want, not services they are forced
to take".
Title of Book: Restoring The American Dream
Author of book: Robert J. Ringer
Page 283
Published by QED
Distributed by Harper and Row, Publishers
New York, 1979


At 6:19 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct Spelling:
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.



At 1:58 p.m., Blogger Kevin Dixon said...

Okay, let me express my idealism. Is it possible that a young country like Canada, whose only spanned century as a nation was the 20th century and whose values were shaped by the global upheaval of that hundred year period, is better positioned than most to face the challenges of the future?

Around us, we see other nations whose cultural edifices are crumbling, who are so smitten with what was that they're not ready for what will be.

Canada, on the other hand, has little history as a nation. We're young, but we're resource-rich and we've got lots of room to welcome more people.

For a while, especially during the Trudeau years, we had a crush on the social policies and culture of Sweden (we could do a lot worse). But the difference between them and us is their deeply rooted culture. Our culture isn't rooted nearly as deeply. That is to say, we don't have sets of social precedents and commonly held traditions to rally around.

Since we don't have much experience as a nation, but respect diversity and like to think of ourselves as good neighbours and global citizens, maybe we're poised to become a decent model of a post-nation-state nation. Not a mosaic, but rather like a kaleidoscope, constantly shifting and changing.

By the way, it's fine with me if you disagree. After all, I'm Canadian.

At 8:30 a.m., Blogger Erin Airton said...

Bernie - I've removed your post.

Personal attacks are not allowed on this site (aparently I agree with my mother about politeness).

If you can't debate issues respectfully, I will have to ask you not to post.


At 8:31 a.m., Blogger Erin Airton said...

Great to see you here!


At 10:39 a.m., Anonymous Jessi said...

As Canadians we are a more grateful, friendly, peaceful and free peoples.

I believe our diversity is what makes us Canadian and our morals of equality and kindness make us closer as individuals. Of course not ALL Canadians fall under this generalisation, as we have our murderers, rapists and molesters, but the majority of the population would agree that we are in fact a very furtunate nation. Spoiled and Happy, we are more likely to live a fulfilled life. This is what makes us Canadian.

At 4:33 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, sorry Erin,
I'll be more polite from
now on [ as long as I don't finsh off
a six-pack before I post :-)]

Jessi said what makes us Canadian
is our diversity.
If that means welcoming and being tolerant
of different races and cultures I have no
problem with that.

But there are too many tax parasites in this country
that want the State to pay
for everything
and get all goods and services for "free" ie off the backs of someone else. What if I propose
a tax strike, all individuals and
corporations refusing to have
money stolen from them,
refusing to pay extortion ( taxes )
The State people would not be very tolerant of that.

What if I propose that anyone should be able to start their own currency
company tomorrow morning.
backed by 100% gold or silver.
There should be 100 currency companies in this country.
The State people would be intolerant of that too.

What if I propose that The State
relegalise all drugs, that would
get rid of all organised crime.
Police may become unemployed.
The State would be intolerant of that.

What if I propose that a marriage means that the children are the property of the husband, as a result there would be next to no
divorces, a mother would never
leave HIS children. It was like this in the
1850's era. The man had the right to take the children
but he never did. Now the woman
has the right to take HIS children and she does. The State
would be intolerant of that idea.

In every area of life The State
throws in a monkey
wrench to screw up the gears, because
it provides employment and power for themselves.

The Satanic State is intolerant
of anyone except for their
totalitarian view.

This is NOT a very tolerant country.

No personal attack here.


At 6:18 p.m., Blogger Ryan said...

Excellent post Erin; too often the words "Canadian values" are thrown around in political discussions -- without any elaboration.

At 8:43 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan,

You seem like a political man.

Does the Power of The State,
The Power of the Government,
The Power of SATAN, The Power
of Government, The Power of
a Nice Suit, The Power of an Expensive
The Power of Coercion,
The Power of a Fake Smile,
does that turn you on?
The Power Of collecting other
people's money, does that
turn you on?

If a man earns $ 8.00 per hour
does it turn you on
to steal $2.00 of that
through something called a vote?


At 5:09 p.m., Anonymous Joseph Lavoie said...


What purpose does it serve for you to attack every individual who posts a comment? Is it not possible to engage in a debate of the ideas presented? And by this, I mean presenting an argument which isn't based on assumptions. (ie: "Ryan, you seem like a political man").

Your diatribe on what the state would not tolerate is very entertaining to say the least, but I certainly hope you wrote it with that purpose in mind. Among other things, because we respect women's rights, this does not lead to your overriding point: that the State is satanic because it is intolerant.

First, you need not only prove how the state is intolerant, but you should also outline how being intolerant is Satanic. As well, your conclusion can only be sound if your premises are true, and valid. The problem here is your statement that the Bible has an absolute moral code. It's only absolute to those who believe in it. Otherwise, it's just another book with cool parables and stories of natural wonders.

Even IF it was an absolute code, what does it have to do with Canadian values, or the satanic state? How would abiding by this code guarantee that no taxes are collected, when one could well argue that the Bible promotes a strong communal way of life (as this seems to be your biggest bone of contention),and that taxes a necessary means to achieve this goal.

At 2:05 a.m., Blogger YVRpilot said...

I strongly believe that in order to 'enhance' our Canadian Values, we first need to truly love our country. By this I mean that we need to become more PATRIOTIC.

Patriotism, if taught properly, will take Canadians to a new plateau. And in this plateau we find what it means to be a Canadian. Freedom, Equality, Respect for cultural differences, Peace and Law & Order.

At 9:18 p.m., Anonymous Adrian MacNair said...

I strongly believe Canada has its own culture, and I defy anyone would say otherwise:


At 9:19 p.m., Anonymous Adrian MacNair said...

Link got cut off

here is my definition of Canada

At 12:27 p.m., Blogger John M Reynolds said...

I can only really talk about my own values. Others can compare them to their own values and decide if I match theirs. The other question is whether or not I am a typical Canadian.

I value freedom of speech, freedom of religion, property rights, rule of law, integrity, self reliance, honesty, patriotism, bravery, compassion, persistance, patience, passion, politeness, and the golden rule. I understand that sometimes cool heads are required, but I do not value people who are always 'cool' since passion is much stronger driving force as long as you have reason behind it. In my life, I strive for a balance between cool and passion. I also believe that actions speak louder than words.

Am I a typical Canadian?

John M Reynolds

At 4:49 p.m., Anonymous Adrian MacNair said...

Reynolds: yes. Like all Canadians you're a fence sitter and you can't make up your goddamned mind lol


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