Opinion Column

Are you a true Canadian?

Canada has been a country now for 150 years, although not that many of us were here for the official kick-off in 1867, just a few old vets at the legion. You and I are proud citizens of a great country respected around the world even though The Donald doesn't like us. Actually, that's considered a plus. We know a Canadian pin displayed somewhere on our parkas or mukluks anywhere in Europe will get us a warm welcome as long as we pay in American dollars.

We know all that, but how do you and I know if we are real Canadians? Sure we look like one no matter what our colour (if you spell colour without the 'u,' you aren't). We speak English or French or God knows what else, but how do you and I know if we are real Canadians? What defines us?

Sure we live in Canada. We pay taxes, plus the dreaded HST on damned near everything we buy. We vote in every election knowing full well whichever party we elect will never do what they said they would do and if by accident they actually do something it will be a disaster and that's Canadian. Perhaps it would be easier to decide not who is a Canadian but who isn't.

You're not a Canadian if those autumn leaves that drift by your window fill your heart with fond memories of a carefree childhood and the bountiful blessings bestowed upon us by a kind and loving God. To a real Canadian, autumn leaves are a royal pain in the ass.

You're not a Canadian if you haven't hit a full-grown moose at 120 kilometres an hour on the main street of Kapaskacing doing $10,000 damage to your SUV and zilch to the moose.

You're not a true Canadian unless you have stood on the deck of Niagara's Maid of the Mist at the foot of the Horseshoe Falls and suddenly remembered you left the bathtub running.

You're not a true Canadian if you have never hung onto a lamp-post on the corner of Winnipeg's Portage and Main when it's 40 below zero in a howling gale and realized that wet, cold or dry, your little bum is freezing off.

You're not a true Canadian if you've never stood on a snow covered hill somewhere in the Muskokas spellbound by the beauty of the landscape breathing in the bracing cold of a Canadian winter and been run over by a drunk on a snowmobile going 90 kilometres an hour.

You're not a true Canadian if you have never celebrated Canada Day by filling your Japanese car with Arabian gas and driven across the border to Buffalo for cheap American beer and Chinese food.

You're not a Canadian unless you've been caught in white-out on Highway 17, just west of Sudbury, cars and tractor-trailers upside down and sideways all over the place and you still drive your SUV at 140 kilometres per hour because real Canadians know how to drive in the winter time.

You know you're a true Canadian if you try to make the 240 kilometres from Hearst to Longlac on Highway 11 with just a quarter tank of gas because the guy at the garage told you there's always a litre or two in the bottom when the gas gauge reads empty.

A Canadian black bear knows he'll never starve as long as he hangs around the highway somewhere between Hearst and Longlac. There will always be a true Canadian plodding along the highway carrying a gas can.

Jim Foster is a columnist for the Packet & Times. He can be contacted at fosterjames@rogers.com.

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