Former U.S. president Barack Obama once said: “The world needs more Canada.”
I always loved that sentiment. He was referring to all the things that have always made our country great.
He made the comments to Parliament six years ago in what was his last trip to Ottawa as America's president.
As we approach another Canada Day and all that has changed in the world, I am both depressed and embarrassed to say I think Canada also needs more Canada.
We were always so friendly and accepting. Apologetic, perhaps to a fault. We were polite. We were not braggarts. We were nice.
Now, it is never popular to suggest that one is anything but a proud, flag-waving, anthem-singing, poutine-loving Canadian. And I am.
However, if I am being honest, I have started to question some of my fellow countrymen and their actions.
When I see vehicles driving through the streets with upside down flags flying and insults painted on the side of the truck about our prime minister, I cringe.
Judgmental? Yes, I am.
I assume they are law-flouting, angry, Trump-loving troublemakers and I get angry.
COVID changed people. I think it sent us all scurrying into our own homes. The fear of germs literally made us afraid of each other.
Once the vaccinations were politicized, it put us into two distinct camps. Those who refused shots were seen, by some, as selfish and irresponsible. Those who did get the vaccinations were seen as sheep who just did what the leaders told us with no logic. And I don’t think that divide has really narrowed much.
As we slowly drop the masks in some places and begin to move around more freely, I think we have forgotten some of the kindness we are known for. I still don’t see a lot of eye contact or smiles. Manners have been forgotten. In traffic, one-finger salutes are everywhere. So much for letting a motorist merge in front of you with a smile and a wave.
The other thing, in my opinion, that changed things was the so-called Freedom Convoy. Speaking solely for myself, I lost all respect for all of those who blockaded Ottawa and its residents for all those days. I didn’t understand what their beefs were then and I certainly don’t understand now since most COVID restrictions are being lifted.
Media reports suggest several groups — most formed out of the Freedom Convoy — will meet in the capital on Canada Day and throughout the summer for more protests. Expect traffic jams, road closures, increased police protection, noise, and potential violence.
Do we all have stuff to complain about? Of course.
Do we have the right to protest and speak out? Yes, we do.
However, I long for the carefree Canada Days of the past when I felt like we were really truly all the same with similar values, outlooks and goals.
I used to think I knew what being a Canadian meant. I just don’t feel sure any longer.
That will be my own inner struggle — not to let the loudmouths drown out the meaning of the national anthem for me.
I still love my country very much. I just don’t like what seems to be happening to it.