|Our Prime Minister Justin. Check out his tattoo.|
By now, I think all Canadians realize our new government is much different from the previous one under Stephen Harper. During Harper's majority government, I often found myself is some uncomfortable situations when travelling in Europe, having to explain what had happened to Canada. It is difficult to put into words how we had lost our collective mojo. We had become as cool as a cardigan sweater.
Of course, that's all changed. Sunny ways have pushed back the dark days of Harper. It all begins with our newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Is this guy cool or what? Obama didn't have a choice but to invite Justin to join him for a State Dinner in Washington. Obama knows cool when he sees it.
Since then, we have seen Justin holding a couple of pandas in his arms, greeting Syrian refugees at the airport, and inadvertently bumping a female Member of Parliament when trying to rescue a member of the opposition when he had been surrounded by members of another party who were attempting to prevent this member from voting on an important piece of legislation. Shortly thereafter, Justin, in the epitome of what it means to be Canadian, apologized for his "unruly" behavior, and promptly received a standing ovation. Only Canadians can understand how his gesture captures who we are.
But I have a confession to make. During the recent electoral campaign, I sent a photo of Trudeau after he was jumped upon by young woman (also porting a tattoo) during a Gay Pride Parade in Vancouver, and wrote to my Mexican-American friend that Justin was simply way too cool to become our Prime Minister.
Canadians proved my wrong. (OK, it was our stupid electoral system that gave him a majority government but that's what it is designed to do. I'll get to this in a bit.)
Now, we have the coolest leader in the G20, the only one who has a visible tattoo. The Americans are drooling. Poor devils, they are soon going to have to endure a Presidential campaign featuring a contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which is like being forced to listen to a radio that has only two stations, one for polka, the other for Japanese speed metal. These are the choices?
Now, don't get me wrong. Canada is not cool because Justin is our Prime Minister. No, Justin is our Prime Minister because Canada is cool.
Now that I am older and having traveled a bit, I realize the Great White North is a cool place to live, and not only during the winter. We have it right, a balance between freedom and social measures to make the notion of freedom meaningful for everyone: single payer health care, decent public education, affordable post-secondary education, an advanced mixed economy, but, more importantly, a social milieu that respects the fundamental human rights articulated and defended by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I live in a place where prejudice in whatever form is not accepted, whether it be based on colour, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious belief. Moreover, we have moved as a society to realize that our cultural restrictions of our Judeo-Christian past are no longer applicable in the 21st century. People can marry their same sex partners, smoke marijuana if they chose to, and, if of sound mind, end their days with the aid of physician. In other words, we care for each other without imposing our beliefs upon others. That's very cool.
In closing, I have another confession to make. I had been thinking about this post for a couple of weeks and I was going to entitle it: "Canada Is Cool, Except When It Comes To Sharing Power". The reason? Well, after promising to change Canada's electoral system, it appeared that the Trudeau-led liberals were going to continue to the practice of stacking the important committee looking into electoral reform so to give themselves absolute control of this legislative process even though they had not won a majority of votes during the last election -- a glaring anomaly if one is sincere about democratic reform. However, the representation on this committee was changed. It now reflects in a much better way the diversity of political views in Canada.
Again, I was overly pessimistic. Maybe, I had lost my cool. Maybe, Canada had attained a level of cool and I hadn't noticed. Maybe, it took a new leader to show us how cool we had become.
Sunny ways, Justin, sunny ways Canada. I stand on guard for thee.