At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics: are Canadians “more like Texans” at last?

Feb 25th, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief
Canada's (and Quebec’s) Joannie Rochette cries after finishing her routine in the women's short programme figure skating event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 23, 2010. Rochette's mother died just days before the start of the women's Olympic figure skating competition. Photograph by: REUTERS/Andy Clark, National Post.

Canada's (and Quebec’s) Joannie Rochette cries after finishing her routine in the women's short programme figure skating event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 23, 2010. Rochette's mother died just days before the start of the women's Olympic figure skating competition. REUTERS/Andy Clark, National Post.

BUCKHORN, ONTARIO. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2010. Now that “Canada owns the rink with mauling of Russia,” the anglophone hardhats up here on the fluted edge of the Canadian Shield are relaxing a bit. At Pete’s Lunch by the locks this morning, it was also pointed out that we now have seven gold medals — just as many as the USA (or Germany for that matter): and at the top of the heap in this department at least.

On an allegedly deeper level, my neo-socialist cousin from Mariposa e-mailed me this morning about some remarks by the New Democrat professor at UBC Michael Byers: “I think that Canadians are changing, our society evolves. Perhaps we’re becoming more self-confident than we used to be … But it’s not a sudden development. It didn’t happen over night. These are trends that take place over the course of generations, and the Olympic Games provide an opportunity for these trends to manifest themselves in a more salient way.”

“Salient” … now there’s a word that can make people up here raise their eyebrows. And of course our American cousins are still gloating: “So much for Own the Podium: US is a juggernaut at Vancouver Olympics.” (But as usual nowadays, they’re still more friendly than our former UK imperial masters across the sea.)

For sheer nastiness — only vaguely redeemed by the truth that hurts — it seems the Russian journos have now jumped into the lead (to make up for their country’s mere three gold medals so far, no doubt): “The abject cruelty shown by Canadian soldiers in international conflicts is scantily referred to, as indeed is the utter incapacity of this county to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom, whose Queen smiles happily from Canadian postage stamps.”

So … we’ve still got a lot of work to do, of course, of course. Yet apparently even Forbes magazine down south has been saying that: “As the world assembles in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, the 21st century is shaping up great for Canada,” which “has avoided many of the problems that currently bedevil the US.”

Well … maybe … Old Earl down the road to Scotsman’s Point, who always votes Liberal, was also moaning over lunch about at least a few apparent troubling political side-effects — of the sort that currently bedevil the US too. Just moments ago, he e-mailed what he claims are four more or less relevant items from the net today (or yesterday): “Conservatives re-open gap over Liberals” ; “Conservatives enjoy three-point Olympic bounce” ; “Ignatieff ‘stupefied’ at suggestion he wouldn’t root for Canada” ; and (less directly to the point, perhaps, but still interesting?) “Own the podium — or let down majority of Canadians.”

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada (southwestern Ontario branch) perform at Vancouver, Monday, February 22, 2010. They finally became both the first Canadians — and the first  North Americans — to win the Olympic ice dance gold medal. Photograph by: John Mahoney / Canwest News Service.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform at Vancouver, Monday, February 22, 2010. They finally became both the first Canadians — and the first North Americans — to win the Olympic ice dance gold medal. John Mahoney / Canwest News Service.

I’m still not quite sure what to make of it myself. I’m hoping the ultimate truth will descend from the late winter sky at some point, when I’m out in the bush cutting firewood, for the old Quebec heater we still have, in the original part of the house. Meanwhile, I agree with Earl about the potential political side-effects. But I’m not entirely unhappy … at all.

Subject to further divine revelation, I think it reminds me most of what Bud Grant, the old American coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL (and then more famously of the NFL Minnesota Vikings) used to say, long, long ago: “Canadians should be more like Texans.” That does seem to me at least part of what’s happening, in some degree at any rate. And I don’t think it’s an entirely bad thing, at last. Setting aside the obvious objections, it could even be the beginning of something that’s almost entirely good. (In both official languages, at last as well.)

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