Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Canada Rocks!

Vox celebrates Canada Day with a list of the ways Canada rocks, but it is incomplete.  As someone who has been an immigrant (with a citizenship application in process) here, let me add to the list:*
*  Of Vox's list, the only quibbles I have are "Canada's kids are among smartest" when it should be that they test well, and that the clean air bit is offset by the lack of serious policy on climate change.
  1. Canada is a great country for immigrants.  Not only have I been welcomed despite my strange American accent, but the country is incredibly diverse thanks to a fairly open door policy.  Of course, things are not perfect as we see some xenophobia here and there, and the selection criteria for immigrants can be politicized, but overall, Canada, like the US, gets this right far better than most of the world.  
  2.  While the slogan/maxim of "peace, order, and good government" gets contested by those who are not fans of the current government, we should not take for granted that Canada has very little organized violence.  The Vox piece deals with assaults and murder (and not car/computer theft!) but omits a Canadian miracle--that the Quebec separatist movement was only modestly violent for a brief period of time but has not been at all ever since.  While there have been some confrontations between First Nations and the government, they, too, have not been very violent.  Only nine countries are viewed as less corrupt than Canada, which is amazing given the corruption stories out of Montreal.
  3. Yes, it had marriage equality ten years earlier
  4. While College Spew didn't take advantage of it, university education is damn cheap here.  The students complain about the rising costs, but tuition is still very low.  If Canada had more of a tradition of parents covering the cost and more means testing for aid, the students would have little to complain about.  Oh, and when the Canadian dollar is not dropping, professor pay is quite excellent.
  5. It is a great place to do research.  Not only does the Social Science and Humanities Research Council have an acceptance rate that is something like three times better than the US's NSF, there is no discussion in parliament about how to politicize the grants or cut funds for political science.
  6. It is a great place to do research, part two.  I have had incredibly access to those in the government and especially in the military.  While the former are quite open and honest off the record, the latter have been, with one notable exception, very forthcoming on the record.  It has made my research not only far easier but so very interesting. 
  7. It is an amazingly beautiful country.
  8. Speaking of which, the skiing is great.  Last year, I had great experiences at Sunshine Villeage and Whistler.  I am hoping that my next book tour, Adapting in the Dust: Lessons Learned from Canada's War in Afghanistan, will take me to these and other ski areas.
  9. The students are terrific While I pooh-poohed above the relative rankings, I have greatly enjoyed teaching here for thirteen years now.  The students often have impressive experience that feed into the classroom, they are quite curious about the world, ask excellent questions, push me to think harder, and have been of tremendous help when I have asked for it.  Oh, and very little grade whining.
  10. Winters are long, which is bad, but it means that we all appreciate summer so very much.  
  11. And the summers have been chock full of ultimate.  Both Montreal and Ottawa have wide and deep communities of frisbee players that have tolerated my lousy defense and caught my throws.  I have seen more of both cities as I have driven all over the place to get to games.  
I can go on, but I have to prepare for my first real Canada Day, as I am going downtown this afternoon with my wife to meet up with some friends to be in the middle of things.  I will conclude with this: Canadians have been so very kind, helpful, generous, funny and neighborly to us since we moved here.  I am so very grateful for that, which is why I am embracing so very fully Canada Day this year.

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