May 05, 2007

[Diatribe] The 7 Wonders of Canada

In the spring of 2007, CBC Radio's Sounds Like Canada and CBC TV's The National teemed up to run a gushingly nationalistic competition regarding the choosing of seven "wonders" of Canada. The response was considerable:at leaset 25 000 nominations were cast, and a shortlist of 52 "wonders" was prepared. Finally, on June 7th, Shelagh Rogers and Peter Mansbridge revealed that the winners were 1) the Bay of Fundy; 2) Nahanni National Park; 3) the Northern Lights; 4) the Rockies; 5) Cabot Trail; 6) Niagara Falls; 7) Sleeping Giant (Ontario). I remember tuning into Shelagh Rogers' Sounds Like Canada every morning for nearly a month to hear this flag waving display of nationalism. I felt the whole project was reminiscent of the types of diversionary projects of nationalist-capitalist societies that keep citizenry from focusing on the important issues - like unemployment, health, education, and the increasingly violent role that Canada is playing in the world arena. The following is from a letter I wrote in to the radio program:

This Seven Wonders of Canada contest (like all of Sounds Like Canada’s shamelessly nationalistic projects) is hard to listen to for many Canadians who, like me, feel that a Canadian sense of civic responsibility has fallen by the wayside. These types of gushingly celebratory displays of patriotism have the effect of sidelining the important socioeconomic and political issues of our society.

With this in mind, I would like to suggest that the greatest ‘wonder’ of Canada – and certainly what keeps me ‘wondering’ – is how a nation as rich, as well-educated, and as diverse as Canada, backed by a plethora of natural resources, has allowed this society to degenerate socially, economically, politically, environmentally – and morally! To think that this nation allows tens of thousands of its own community members to go hungry and homeless every night; to consider that the very institutions of Canada’s liberal democracy, including UNIVERSAL public health care and AFFORDABLE education, have almost entirely disappeared; to think that a society that was once commended for its peaceful approach to international relations has just partaken in war crimes and human rights abuses in Afghanistan; and to think that our nation has consistently failed in our commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions! These real experiences are absolutely astonishing – and the fact that we allow their existence is by far the greatest Canadian ‘wonder’ of all.

This may not sound like a “place”, but in a way this ‘degeneration’ has manifested within some type of locality – it has taken place on the typical Canadian street, in the Canadian workplace, the Canadian wilderness, the Canadian hospitals and schools, the Canadian household and thus, the Canadian ‘community’ as a whole.

Like the pyramids of Egypt, these Canadian wonders are wonders of the past! For we have destroyed our environment and natural resources, we have forgotten our role as proponents of world peace, and we have eroded the social fabric of our democracy. What a shame of a wonder.

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