Anything is possible for Canada, if only Canadians believe it
For many years, many Canadians have feared a crisis of vision in Canadian politics.
Canada has come a long way since the heady days in which men like Pierre Trudeau, Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker spun glorious visions for Canada. Over the past 30 years Canadian politics has largely been reduced to ruminations over competing economic programs. Commerce has come to embody the visions Canada's leaders offer Canadians.
Liberal MP Ken Dryden, for one, has become wary of the acquiesence of all too many Canadians to a small vision for their country.
“We are more, so much more, than we are willing to see and know,” Dryden recently mused. “That bothers me because this understanding hammers into place in our country’s life a ceiling that is so limiting, so beneath what we can do and be.”
Dryden seems to think that this stems from what has emerged as an educational tradition in this country: teaching Canadians that their country is, by historical standards, a small country that has settled for a supporting role, second to larger and more powerful countries like the United States and Britain.
Yet Canadians have led on the global stage in many ways, and on many occasions -- something that Canadians all too often forget.
“If you have the wrong story, you get the wrong answer,” Dryden explained. “It’s time for a new story, because none of us can do the jobs the way they should be done without it.”
“Emerging out of World War II, the US was a country of greatness realized on the way to something greater," he continued. "Canada was a country of greatness imagined and greatness imaginable.”
Giving a voice to this kind of optimistic hope is something the Liberal party has long done much better than their premiere rivals, the Conservative party. This isn't to say that the Tories lack this belief in Canada.
Stephen Harper's great love of and faith in Canada is evident to those who actually listen to his words. These qualities are obscured by Harper's undeniably stuffy nature and by those who vacuously accuse him of wanting to transform Canada into the United States.
Most Liberal politicians clearly possess greater talents in terms of expressing an optimistic vision of Canada's future.
Ken Dryden is evidently no exception to this fact.
Moreover, he's right.
Canadians have fostered a vision of their country as one of the world's supporting countries. For too long Canadians have imagined their country as one that follows, as opposed to one that leads.
But Stephen Harper's words -- which all too often ring short of inspiring -- provide us with many reasons why Canadians should think of their country in grander terms.
Canada is an energy superpower. Between the oilfields of Western Canada and Nova Scotia, the hydroelectric resources of Quebec and British Columbia, and Saskatchewan's uranium, Canada can produce enough energy -- much of it renewable energy -- poises Canada to be uniquely influential in the global order. Candians only dare be bold enough to exert that influence.
Canadian researchers continue to lead in fields such as robotics and stem cell research -- both fields which will be increasingly important in future.
As a member of the G8, Canada has one of the largest and most productive economies in the world. The institutional infrastructure of Canada's economy has received high praise in the midst of the ongoing global economic crisis, meaning that Canada has partially insulated itself against the pitfalls that continue to suck other countries deeper and deeper into the ongoing calamity.
Even in the midst of the ongoing crisis Canada has an excellent base on which to continue building its future.
But mesmerized by an image of their country as a global bit-player, Canadians seem reluctant to imagine the kind of grand visions a country like Canada can embody.
This is something that needs to change. Canadians need to be taught that their country is more than a mere middle power. Canadians need to start thinking of themselves as a middle power with superpower amibitions, even if -- and especially if -- this doesn't embody becoming a military superpower.