O Canada

The Canadian Flag On Your Back Pack

CanadaWhen Americans travel in Europe, do they really stitch a Canadian flag into their back pack and pose as Canucks? I've often heard about this and yesterday on "The Simpsons" Lisa did just that before their trip to Italy. Is this practice merely an urban legend or does it actually happen?

A little Googling proves this is very common advice given to Americans who are worried they'll be mistreated because they're American. Many give this advice and speak of people they know who did this with much success, but there are few first hand reports from people who have done this. Now that the sewing of a Canadian flag on one's back pack has been immortalized by the Simpsons, I want proof that people actually do it and I want to know if it actually makes a difference.

During the Dubya years, you'd think this would be commonplace.

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Sized By Population

CanadaCanada is the second largest country in the world after Russia. We've got all this space but only 30 million or so people. There's a lot of room to spare.

Have you ever wondered what a map of the world would look like if all countries were sized by population? Here's such a map. We get pretty small in a hurry and countries like China and India swell to massive sizes. From this vantage point, Canada is but a miniscule speck of dust in a mighty dustbowl of a planet.

Just a speck, but a speck to be proud of.

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Never Forget

PoppyFew veterans of the First and Second World War are around to share stories about the horrors of war and remind us why so many fought for freedoms we now take for granted. We must never forget these brave souls and we have an obligation to share with our children this message.

Many Canadians paid the ultimate price in war...

South Africa War (1899-1902) - Approximately 7,000 Canadians served; 267 of them gave their lives.

First World War (1914-1918) - Approximately 650,000 Canadians served, including members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served with British forces (Newfoundland was a colony of Great Britain until 1949) and merchant mariners. Of this number, nearly 69,000 gave their lives.

Second World War (1939-1945) - More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in Canada's armed forces, in Allied forces or in the merchant navy; over 47,000 of them gave their lives.

Korean War (1950-1953) - 26,791 Canadians served in the Canadian Army Special Force; 516 of them gave their lives.

Peacekeeping - Nearly 125,000 Canadians have served in peacekeeping missions over the past 53 years; as of October 2000, 113 Canadians had given their lives in this service.

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The Maple Music Revolution

MusicOn Saturday, BBC Radio2 is is airing part two of their documentary "The Maple Music Revolution". Here's their description of the feature: "A major two-part series where Bob Harris looks beneath the surface to discover the reasons for the emergence of a unique, creative and dynamic government-funded Canadian music scene." "From Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen to Sarah McLachlan, the Dears and Arcade Fire, Canada has had a massive impact on the way the world listens to music," says Harris.

A happening scene finally gets some international cred. The vast majority of what I'm listening to these days seems to derive from The Great White North. There's Feist, Metric, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Death From Above 1979, The Hip, Sam Roberts, Sarah Harmer, Billy Talent, Hot Hot Heat, Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Custom, Hayden, Sarah McLachlan, K-OS, Stars, and old school leaders like Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Rush, The Guess Who, Joni Mitchell and The Band.

Check out all 180 artists I've tagged as Canadian on my Last.fm page. We've got a revolution goin' on in our own backyard.

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Hitching A Ride

CanadaI believe in the DART. The Disaster Assistance Response Team is something Canada can contribute to countries devastated by disaster, such as the Boxing Day Tsunami or the recent earthquake in Pakistan. I wanted to throw the damn DART back in December and we discussed it quite a bit.

The team consists of a group of engineers, a medical party, logistics people and a security detail. Its water-purification units are capable of producing 50,000 litres of clean, drinkable water a day even from heavily polluted sources. The medical team can handle up to 200 out-patients a day. The engineers can help open roads, clear debris and repair infrastructure. We should all be proud of the DART.

I've been reading a great deal this week about the DART's deployment to Islamabad. There's one piece of the puzzle that always makes me cringe. We have this team and equipment, but we have no means of getting everything to Pakistan. Unless the disaster is in Eastern Ontario, we literally have to hitch a ride.

This time we chartered a six-engine Antonov AN-225 from Ukraine. The cost of renting this massive air taxi is millions of dollars. I'm not suggesting the positive effect the DART will have on victims of this disaster isn't worth the coin, I just wish the DART was completely self sufficient and Canada didn't have to charter planes from foreign countries in order to provide the service.

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Our Other Anthem

CanadaNeil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" is our other national anthem. It's both musically and lyrically worthy of this honour, and two events over the past few months have cemented its status as the song that unites.

On July 2nd of this year, Canada's Live 8 concert took place in Barrie, Ontario. Neil Young closed the show with three fantastic songs, ending with "Rockin' In The Free World". Joining him for this song were the other performers from the Barenaked Ladies to Blue Rodeo and The Tragically Hip. Here's a photo of Neil Young and Gord Downie singing this tune.

On September 19th of this year, Pearl Jam sang Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" during their second and final encore of that night in Toronto, Ontario. Joining him on stage was none other than Bono of U2, creating a moment for the ages. Here's a photo of Eddie Vedder and Bono singing this tune.

It's an epic song of protest and thought provocation and it's ours. O Canada, keep on rockin' in the free world!

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Canadian Search-and-Rescue Success

CanadaI love Reuters articles like this.

A Canadian search-and-rescue team reached a flooded New Orleans suburb to help save trapped residents five days before the U.S. military, a Louisiana state senator said on Wednesday.

The Canadians beat both the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. disaster response department, to St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans, where flood waters are still 8 feet deep in places, Sen. Walter Boasso said.

"Fabulous, fabulous guys," Boasso said. "They started rolling with us and got in boats to save people."

"We've got Canadian flags flying everywhere."

Feel the pride.

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The Canadian Invasion

CanadaAdmittedly, I tend to gravitate towards a Canadian artist simply because they are Canadian. I seek out Canadian artists, give their material additional spins if I don't instantly like it and promote good Canadian artists more heavily than artists from other nations.

Now that's I've fully disclosed the above, I feel comfortable sharing the fact my five favourite discs these days are all by Canadian artists. I didn't consciously pursue this, it just sort of happened. Perhaps my subconscious made it so, but I didn't actually realize it until moments ago. The five discs I'm totally digging these days are:

  • Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine
  • Stars - Set Yourself On Fire
  • Arcade Fire - Funeral
  • K-OS - Joyful Rebellion
  • Hot Hot Heat - Elevator

Canuck rock is as strong as ever.

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The Canadian Conspiracy

CanadaThe passing of Peter Jennings got me thinking about The Canadian Conspiracy. The Canadian Conspiracy was a mockumentary from the mid 80s I caught on CityTV a couple of times. In a nutshell, we Canadians are infiltrating the United States of America, assuming control from within.

The main players were...

  • Lorne Greene, the leader
  • Lorne Michaels, the protege
  • Leslie Nielsen, the Canadian government connection as brother to Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Erik Nielsen
  • Peter Jennings, propaganda and disinformation
  • Morley Safer, propaganda and disinformation
  • William Shatner
  • John Candy, the henchman
  • Eugene Levy, the insider who risks his life to bring the conspiracy to light

Sadly, Jennings is the third player to pass away, following Lorne Greene and John Candy. I still miss John Candy.

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Happy Canada Day!

CanadaShe's 138 years young and we love her. Happy Birthday Canada!

  • Population: 32 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Ottawa
  • Area: 9.9 million sq km (3.8 million sq miles)
  • Major languages: English, French (both of official status)
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 77 years (men), 82 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Canadian dollar = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Machinery and equipment, automotive products, metals and plastics, forestry products, agricultural and fishing products
  • GNI per capita: US $23,930 (World Bank, 2003)
  • Internet domain: .ca
  • International dialing code: +1

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