Stirring stuff. Stuff to make you proud.
Marvellous times for a lucky country
Have we ever had it so good? Taking a look around on this day of national celebration, it is hard not to be awed by how fortune shines on this country. By almost any measure, Canada in 2006 is in wonderful shape.
The economy is humming along and has been for several years, pushing the unemployment rate to its lowest in more than three decades. We just set a new record for the number of jobs created in a single month: 150,000. Just about everyone with some kind of skill can find work these days. Never in our 139 years has life been so good for so many.
Our economic growth is vying with that of the United States for bragging rights as first in the G8 group of industrialized nations. Even better news, the picture is bright right across the country.
Luck is part of the reason for the new prosperity, but good management plays a part too. It may surprise jaded voters, but Canada is remarkably well governed. Beginning last decade, Ottawa began getting its red-stained books in order, and today its finances are the envy of the world, with a falling debt ratio and surpluses as far as the eye can see. The provinces, too, have embraced fiscal responsibility. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell tamed British Columbia's deficit and Quebec's Jean Charest produced his government's fourth consecutive balanced budget this spring. Those who still run deficits, like Ontario under Dalton McGuinty, make plans to wipe them out before they dare face the voters.
The provinces are reinvesting too: Alberta in schools and hospitals, Ontario in education and power generation, the Atlantic provinces in job training. In Toronto, with government and private help, a beautiful new opera house has just opened its doors, and the art gallery and museum are undergoing spectacular redesigns. In every major city, house prices are up -- sometimes scandalously -- and homeowners are renovating like mad.
But money isn't everything, and Canada is doing splendidly other ways too. Take politics. The unhealthy monopoly enjoyed by the Liberals thanks to a divided political right came to an end in January and we now have two solid national parties again, one to the left of centre, one to the right, with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to keep things interesting.
Multiculturalism, that great Canadian experiment, is thriving. The 17 Ontario men accused of plotting terrorist acts are a rare exception in a good-news story: the integration of millions of newcomers from around the world. No other country has managed mass immigration so well.
It may be tiresome to boast about our tolerance, but Canadians have also managed rapid social change with remarkable equanimity. Just look at the two Mounties, both men, who were married yesterday in the town of Yarmouth, N.S., taking their vows wearing that symbol of Canada, the RCMP red tunic. What's the big deal? they asked. Most Canadians seem to agree.
What a day that was. What a day this is. Just look around you, and marvel at what we have. Prosperous and free, well governed and well defended, open to the world and accepting of change, this country has found its place in the sun. Yes, we have troubles, plenty of them. Those are for other days. Today is the day to sit back and enjoy the sunshine streaming down on this blessed country, Canada.