Canada: Not as Good as Advertised
It's a strange thing being an expat, stranger still being a rather patriotic one. I manage to keep up on what's happening in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Amsterdam thanks to the wonders of social networking and do what I can to facilitate a cultural exchange with those around me. My coworkers teach me about kibbeling, and I teach them how to properly make use of the word "eh".
The thing is, as an expat, you start to feel like a sort of ambassador for your country and culture. Our traditions, geography, food... people ask me about these things and I do my best to represent Canada when they do. In my short time here, I've given crash courses on poutine, prorogue, and Parliament, explained numerous times that we don't all speak French, and painstakingly outlined our core differences from the Americans. It's an honour really, to serve in this role, but I find my enthusiasm for it is not as strong as it was only a few years ago. Canada is letting me down.
Our reputation abroad has been thrown away by our Glorious Leaders in the key areas of human health and climate change. Canada, a nation that at one time served in a role of moral leadership in these areas, is now being rightfully attacked by the international community for our abysmal track record.
We are being singled out as being the most damaging influence on the issue of climate change, worse than the United States, China, and India. Al Jazeera even did a recent story on our embarrassing track record. As if that wasn't enough, our duplicitous policy of banning the use of asbestos in Canada, while exporting the poison abroad is making headlines now... it's hard to proudly represent a country that you're just not proud of.
Canada is the nation that saved the world by inventing peace keeping. This, and acts like it earned a name for us in the international community as a fair, diplomatic voice, but as our attitude toward the world has changed, so has our reputation, and when we lost our seat on the UN Security Council, our Prime Minister openly stated that he really didn't care.
I've been told that I shouldn't worry about such things, that Canada is just like any other country: hypocritical and tainted with self interest. We "can't be Good about everything" is the thinking, but I disagree and see this as defeatist. If we accept the Canada that is destructive and disingenuous to our neighbours, then we'll never see the Canada we want. Instead, I must learn to be honest about who we are, and fight for who we should be... it's just that some days, it's so very difficult to be proud of my country and this makes me sad.