by Peter Johnson
Canada’s 156th birthday just took place. I wonder how it went. Because I am writing this before the event has actually happened, I am unable to look back on what took place. Instead, I am left with thoughts about previous celebrations, and some wishful thinking about this one.
Typically, as Canadians, we treasure our citizenship. We tend to count our blessings and think ourselves lucky that we live north of the border, rather than south of it. We embrace the things that make us Canadians; too often we define ourselves as who or what we are not. This is evident in the earliest of Canadian writings, and it still can be seen today.
We have in our possessions, one of the most sought-after items in the world – a Canadian passport. According to Parsai Immigration Services, “Canada passport holders can enter a total of 185 destinations, either without a visa, through a visa on arrival, or via an ETA.” According to the Henley Passport Index 2022, “Canada is currently the seventh-ranked most powerful passport in the world.” In addition, “The Canada passport ranking is due to the degree of global entry it guarantees to Canadian passport holders, who may travel visa-free to 186 countries…”(Guide consultants.com)
More importantly, the best thing about getting or having one, is that it guarantees you the rights and privileges of one of the most ‘free’ countries in the world. The number of people in the world who wish that they could have a Canadian passport vastly surpasses the number of those who currently hold one.
As much as we might complain about living cheek to jowl with the Americans, many in the world have far worse neighbours. Sixteen countries border Russia. They have a combined population exceeding 400 million people. That’s a lot of worried and anxious people. Add to that the 143 million that are living in Russia, that total might be roughly half a billion people who wished they lived elsewhere. And then of course, there are China and India: 1.4 billion each! Almost 3 billion people. It’s certain that there would be a hefty lot in those two countries that would like to live elsewhere. Somewhere, where people are not so expendable; a place where women are treated as equals, with their rights entrenched in the laws of the country.
How do we compare to other countries? It depends upon the criteria. “Canada ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, education levels, gender equality, public services, public security and environmental sustainability.” (Wikipedia)
According to U.S. News & World Report 2022, Canada is the #1 country where people would live. “Canada is a high-tech industrial society with a high standard of living,” said U.S. News. I look forward to your letters, but please note, before you go dashing off to your keyboard, the inclusion of the word ‘would’. In 2021, Canada was ranked #1, as The Best Country in the World…but it slipped to #3 in 2022 (according to U.S. News & World Report, BAV Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)
And so, with all of that, I think I can sum up by saying, ‘We are darn lucky to be Canadians’.
So many in the world would dearly love to be in our place; able to raise a family without fear or severe limitations. If you get into the habit of counting your blessings, your citizenship should not be overlooked. When I’m counting, I also add how lucky I am to live where I do, rather than a big metropolis. Small towns are a blessing. I hope you had a good Canada Day wherever you were.