Paul Robinson

Land of the free

Paul Robinson says we can learn a lot about decency and independence from plucky Canada

Paul Robinson says we can learn a lot about decency and independence from plucky Canada

You’ve probably heard that story about the Inuit having 50 words for snow? Well, the sign of a genuine Canadian is that he has 50 words for doughnut. When a glacial wind is howling through Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat and it has been dark for five months in Tuktoyaktuk, Canadians head for Tim Horton’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Robin’s Donuts, Country Style, Coffee Time, Baker’s Dozen, and all the rest of them. When it comes to the perfect doughnut, Canada is the unquestioned world leader.

In the less important matters of world politics and military strategy, Canada is rarely seen as a leader. Indeed, Canada-bashing is now very much in vogue, especially in right-wing circles in Britain and America. Canadians themselves tend to be self-deprecating. But insist enough, and you will find that under the chuckles about not knowing the words to the national anthem there are fierce patriots who will tell you that Canada is the best country in the world, and mean it.

Indeed, Britons should look to Canada for an example of civilised 21st-century living. There they will find a state which is unafraid of preserving its sovereignty in the face of enormous pressure to integrate with its gigantic neighbour; a state which is prepared to fight when fighting is needed, but which also knows how to make peace when peace is called for; a society which combines prosperity and opportunity for the individual with socialised medicine, a successful system of public education, and far-sighted subsidies to the arts and cultural groups. Canada really is the best place in the world; a fact repeatedly endorsed by that b’te noire of the American Right, the United Nations.

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