A weekend of celebrations to show our pride

By Pat Watson Wednesday July 04 2012 in Opinion
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A person would have needed a very good reason not to find himself outdoors last weekend because there were too many reasons to get outside.


Reason number one: The weather was positively tropical without the weight of humidity to make you wish for January. All that free vitamin D does a body good. I like to think that sunshine is the makeup that the day puts on. Everything looks more appealing when the sun is shining brightly.


Reason number two: The Euro Cup soccer finale. Azzuri’s Mario Balotelli couldn’t carry the Italian Euro Cup team all the way to the final title against Spain, but it was still something to watch amongst a crowd of Italians, eyes glued to giant TV screens as the Spanish mythmakers worked their way to a grand four-goal win in Kiev to take the championship. Moreover, even if you are not into soccer, the rush of Euro fans blowing car horns and waving flags along the streets added that much more energy to a city already in full party mode.


Once again, Toronto revealed just how diverse our city is. We know the Italian presence here is significant, but it is when people from so many other cultures emerge to show their loyalties that we are again reminded that we are a very diverse immigrant population.


Reason number three: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stayed away from it for yet another year but, regardless, there was an exuberant carnival like atmosphere and a spirit of goodwill and acceptance that came with the Pride parade in downtown Toronto. Super soakers showering the super-heated crowd of an estimated 1.2 million were a welcome addition.


Reason number four: Canada Day, celebrating the 145th anniversary of Canadian confederation.


It is not the Canadian way to do too much flag-waving; that is usually left to people living here with sentimental attachments to other countries, especially during events like the Euro Cup and the World Cup of soccer. There has been much waving of the flags of Europe in the past couple of weeks.


But, on Canada Day, you could see a particular change is taking place here. Perhaps old Canadians are learning from new Canadians that flag-waving is a good thing, and that it can be fun. Perhaps it’s those same flag-wavers who have affinities for more than one country. Already accustomed to flag-waving, when it is Canada’s turn they just as enthusiastically hoist the Red and White Maple Leaf. If that is the case, here is yet another reason to thank the newcomers.


There was a lot of Canadian pride on show on the weekend; a lot of people sharing their appreciation for being in a country where one can live in peace and in freedom.


The ardent nationalism on display seemed positively, well…American.


But it’s been a few years in the making and seems to have heated up with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. There was, at that time, an unaccustomed, almost aggressive Canadianism on display. When Canada beat the Americans at hockey back then – a game viewed by some 80 per cent of Canada – it was translated as some kind of moral triumph. And that nationalist verve has not dissipated.


As this trend continues, it’ll be just a matter of time before entire neighbourhoods are festooned with Canadian flags hanging from poles in front yards or from front façades.


Yes, American, without a doubt. To live in the shadow of the glamour god of North America, that high profile, world stage attention grabber, can be tiresome. So it stands to reason that, eventually, we want to feel special about our own nationalism. Some of us will, however, mourn the loss of the quiet smugness that used to define Canadian pride. We didn’t have to shout that we were great – we just knew it. Not only great, but morally superior. America may have the larger population and we may have to depend heavily on its buying power to keep us in the black, but we at least took comfort in knowing we lived on higher ground.


That was then. Yet perhaps it’s because America is having such a hard time economically, not to mention the European Union, that Canadians have found more enthusiasm for putting national pride on display.


Certainly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made that particular point front and centre in his Canada Day speech.


A note on the heat…


With temperatures moving up to the mid 30C range, those who are not able to tolerate the heat should invest in cooling devices before the rush is on – if it isn’t already too late.

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