A belated Happy Canada Day to children of global village bringing Democracy in Canada since 1497 home at last ..

Jul 2nd, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief
Summer Shen waves a Canadian flag while sporting a patriotic outfit during Canada Daycelebrations in Vancouver, on Monday July 1, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl Dyck).”

Another Canada Day has come and gone. And this year it’s hard not to be a bit uneasy about what at least we Canadians (with only 11.3% of the adjacent US population) continue to perversely believe is the real greatest country in the world — the “true north strong and free,” as the English words of the national anthem proclaim.

(A sign in front of a store on our local main drag this past weekend proclaimed : “Happy Canada Day. Stay strong and free!”)

According to the much-abused public broadcaster : “Conflicted and worried: CBC News poll takes snapshot of Canadians ahead of fall election [October 21] … Poll finds high levels of anxiety — and a low level of confidence in politicians.” Meanwhile : “Who’s got the election message Canadians want to hear? … CBC Poll reveals that health care, cost of living and climate change top voters’ minds.”

At the same time, this is still Canada where nothing altogether serious ever happens. And almost all the increasingly diverse citizenry likes it that way — while still honestly professing deep patriotism. Many of us are still most impressed by such good 2019 news as “Trenton, Ont. sets Guinness World Record for largest human maple leaf.”

Kiya Bruno sings the Canadian national anthem before first inning MLB baseball action between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals, in Toronto, Saturday, June 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker.”

On a longstanding path of extreme gradualism, however, small doses of real progress do continue to appear. The CBC is also reporting that over the holiday weekend : “’It’s priceless’: Indigenous teen sings O Canada in Cree at Toronto Blue Jays game … Kiya Bruno is from the Samson Cree Nation in northern Alberta.”

There is in fact some particular deep logic in having what’s known in English as the national anthem sung in Cree at a baseball game, to celebrate the Canada Day weekend. In his current work in progress on Children of the Global Village : Democracy in Canada since 1497, our esteemed colleague Randall White has commented on the historic Algonquian languages in northern North America — of which Cree in various forms is by far the largest.

In his chapter on “How indigenous peoples have given more than a name to Canadian history,” Dr. White points out that : “The vast east-west geographic reach of the Algonquian linguistic family in the 17th century … — from the Micmac (Mi’kmaq) in Nova Scotia all the way west to the Blackfoot at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains — foreshadowed and no doubt helped facilitate the pioneering transcontinental reach that the modern ‘Indian-European’ fur trade in Canada had achieved by the early 19th century.”

Indigenous languages in Canada. The green/blue-shaded areas are host to various Algonquian languages or dialects, of which Cree in various forms is by far the largest. (Map: Chris Brackley/Canadian Geographic.)

The online Canadian Encyclopedia expands on all this in its own way : “The Cree language … is spoken in many parts of Canada, from the Rocky Mountains in the West to Labrador in the East.” It “is often described by linguists as a dialect continuum (a series of dialects that change gradually over a geographical area), also called Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi. This dialect continuum belongs to the Algonquian linguistic family, and is spoken across Canada, from the Rocky Mountains to Labrador.”

Meanwhile in our own current corner of the second largest national geography in the world today, on Canada Day itself most of us from the lakeshore office here went downtown to take in Mitzie Hunter’s unofficial People’s Picnic at Queen’s Park.

Hungry Canadian citizens waiting for free food outside the patriotically generous Mandarin restaurant branch in the old Toronto suburb of Etobicoke on Canada Day.

The Ontario government’s reasons for cancelling planned official celebrations of Canada Day were alluded to at the June 29 Rolling Stones concert north of Toronto. As tweeted from the scene by the Canadian Press Pop culture reporter David Friend. : “‘For the next 15 minutes it’s a buck a beer, courtesy of Doug Ford,’ Mick Jagger jokes to a chorus of boos from the audience.”

We can nonetheless report ourselves that there actually was free ice cream at the unofficial People’s Picnic (which also understandably featured considerable Liberal party red!).

Alas, the free ice-cream lines were long enough to persuade us that they’d be even longer for the free Canada Day complete meals at the nearest Mandarin restaurant.

Finally, in this age of instant information of all sorts on the world wide web, we conclude with official July 2 announcements from “The central organ of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the voice of the party, state and people of Vietnam” :

Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter welcomes celebrants at 2019 Canada Day People’s Picnic at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

“Party General Secretary and President of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong sent a congratulatory message to Canadian Governor General Julie Payette on July 1 to mark the occasion of Canada Day, the National Day of Canada (July 1, 1867-2019) … On the same day, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc cabled a message of congratulations to his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau … Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh also sent a congratulatory message to Canadian Foreign Minister Alexandra Chrystia Freeland.”

Which reminded us again just how much things have changed since the late 1960s — when real men (and new women) smoked and drank almost every night after work, just to get to better know potential employers!

Anyway a belated very happy Canada Day 2019. May the best team for the very long-term future of this particular greatest country in the world win on October 21. And remember what Harold Innis wrote as long ago as 1930, in the conclusion to his now classic study of The Fur Trade in Canada : An Introduction to Canadian Economic History — “We have not yet realized that the Indian and his culture were fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions.”

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  1. Concerning the recent CBC “poll”, which you quote, I think we should be a little careful in how we interpret the results as broadly representing Canadian points of view. A “survey” becomes a “poll” when rigour is applied to the size and composition of the sample, the wording of the questions, and the nature of the questioning. This survey meets none of the relevant standards, and therefore cannot be generalized. It is valid for what it is, a survey of 4,500 Canadians not randomly selected who were asked slanted questions over the internet. It has no capacity to speak to the larger outlook.

  2. Virtually no polls nowadays can seriously qualify “as broadly representing Canadian points of view,” if you want to be altogether rigorous. But there can also be no doubt that there are Canadians who do entertain the views reported on in the two CBC polls mentioned here. The exact numbers involved and their practical significance is something we will only learn on October 21 in, as they say, the only poll that counts. And virtually everything that happens in any part of the country has some “capacity to speak to the larger outlook” at the bottom of all this There is no privileged broad, larger view that only rigorous analysts understand. (Just see eg how many mistakes such analysts so often make in predicting the future — and I frequently pose as one of them myself!) We should always be a little careful in how we interpret any kind of political information in our free and democratic society. And then vote as we see fit.

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