Monday, February 23, 2009

Being Canobamanian

Welcome to the United States of Obama, otherwise known as The World.

If you've had anything resembling contact with the outside world this month, you know that Obama's first international visit since taking office was to Canada, and took place last week. Canadians travelled from all over the nation just hoping to catch a glimpse of the inspirational figure, and many were satisfied having just been within several hundred metres of him.

Should we be concerned that Canadians go shrill with glee at the mere mention of the name Obama, yet several months ago barely blinked at the names Stephane Dion, Stephen Harper, Jack Layton, and Gilles Duceppe? Should we be worried that they follow Obama's movements with rabid attention, but pay no more than a cursory glance to a Canadian budget that is huge on spending (boasting an $84 billion deficit) but small on vision?

They are understandably moved. Obama is a political rock star - a beacon for change, a uniquely gifted orator, a racial revolution. He is the leader of the world's most influential nation and only superpower. His actions will change the world - and that is not hyperbole.

Nonetheless, it is troubling how apathetic we are to the concerns of our own nation. We let our politicians run amok, yet many haven't the faintest inkling (nor interest) as to what they are doing. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper is busy polishing his image by carefully latching onto Obama with pretty-looking photo ops and press conferences. No doubt his public approval ratings have already risen several percentage points as a result.

A poignant illustration of Canada's position lies in Obama's visit to a local Ottawa bakery, Le Moulin de Provence, to buy some cookies for his daughters. He selected maple leaf-shaped shortbread cookies with red glaze and white icing, spelling the word "Canada" across them.

It didn't take long for the cookies to be dubbed "Obama cookies." Several minutes after the president left, they were sold out. The bakery has been swamped with calls for them ever since. It speaks to the nature of our identity when we can take a red, maple-leaf cookie with the words "Canada" emblazoned across and christen them "Obama cookies."

While I certainly hope that Obama will usher in a new age of recovery, reconciliation, and cooperativity - we ought to remember that we are Canadian, not American. If we want to play a role in Obama's new world, we should pay attention to our own house. There's nothing wrong with looking outwards (on the contrary, one ought to be aware of what's going on around them). But that doesn't mean we should indifferently watch the ground crumbling underneath our own two feet, as we covetously gaze at the green grass on the other side (which until a few months ago looked brown).

These days, Canadians seem to be stricken with a little manifest destiny - or perhaps they'd prefer to be known as Canobamanians.

This entry was
adopted by Brutus.