Monday, March 01, 2010
Why Canada Believes
In the days following any major event of international significance, the question is often asked:
What do we have to show for it?
The answer to this question is often based economically -- decided by the comparison between the money spent to host the event, compared to the amount of revenue attracted by it.
It's often based on the amount of international renown the event earns -- generally judged by whether it's praised or panned by international critics.
But the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics will, in time, be judged by the sentiments it inspired in the Canadian people -- as a breakthrough in which Canadians were reminded of the great things that this country can accomplish.
Reminders shouldn't be necessary. After all, Canadians managed to settle a country nestled among one of the the most inhospitable environments imaginable, and in time made it a welcoming place of refuge for peace-loving people all over the world.
After disappointing Olympic outings in Montreal and Calgary in 1976 and 1988, many Canadians surely must have begun to wonder if Canadians would ever win Olympic gold on Canadian soil. In 2010, Canadians didn't merely win gold -- they owned it, even if they fell short of owning the whole podium.
But more importantly than that, Canadians sent a message to the rest of the world, and reminded themselves of one fact: Canadians love their country just as much as anyone else.
The rest of the world -- who have often come to think of Canadians as unpatriotic -- didn't always appreciate this lesson. One British writer went so far as to tell Canadians to "keep it down", while another denounced the opening ceremony while pretending to be Canadian.
Not all Canadians caught the Olympic fever. Malcontents who march up Whyte Avenue giving the Nazi salute to jubliant Canadians celebrating a national triumph are free to hate their country, as they very evidently do.
But as Canada just now finishes its 17 Days of Canada day, we have been reminded that Canadians very much believe in this country, and that unlike the Heather Mallicks and Charlie Smiths of the world, they don't need to think of Canada as a specifically ideological construct in order to love it, and be proud of its achievements.
Canada believes in itself, and for the first time in far too long, even remembers it.
The days ahead are rife with opportunities to remember some of our country's achievements. The 2012 World Cup will be contested very close to the day Canada defeated the Soviet Union in the famed Summit Series. It will also be the 25th anniversary of the 1987 Canada Cup.
The Sochi Olympics will even present us with an opportunity to avenge the 1974 WHA Summit Series loss by winning Olympic gold on Russian soil.
As far as defining moments go, many Canadians will gladly take the 2010 Olympics as one for Canada. Canada's pride -- and its belief -- has been well-earned, and will endure.
Canadians may never think of Canada the same way again, because we may never forget what we, as a country, can do together.