Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Canada: A Dangerous Destination - Part II

A few weeks ago I mused at the idea that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades considered Canada to be a somewhat dangerous destination for Australian tourists. At first I got a really good chuckle out of it. I mean, who would've ever considered Canada to be a haven for terrorists and a land of spontaneous natural disasters like earthquakes and avalanches? Heck, the last great disaster we had on the East Coast was the French munitions ship Mont Blanc exploding in Halifax harbour - and that was 90 years ago!

Anyhow, it got me wondering about where the Australians could've gotten such a tainted image of this Great Country? At first, I thought that maybe we were ourselves to blame. After all, us Canucks just love to mess with tourists' innocent minds by telling tall stories of how we live in igloos and ride snowmobiles to work in the winter. And like good fishing stories, the effects of a winter storm of yesteryear always grow greater with time. But, as it turns out, it wasn't our doing at all.

Nope, after a lengthy investigation (i.e. Google search), I found the source of this erroneous information and it is... the UK?!?

Yes Sir, good 'ole Mother England is telling tall tales at our expense. Whatever happened to the great historic ties between our two nations? We're part of the British Commonwealth, for crissakes! But then I read on the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website that Canada has "an underlying threat from terrorism" and that "tornadoes can occur almost anywhere in Canada". What? I've lived here all my life and I've yet to see any tornadoes or terrorists... then again the East Indian guy who works at the hospital cafeteria does look somewhat suspicious - but I'd hardly consider the fact that he screwed-up my turkey wrap last week as an act of terrorism. Of course, don't forget that "Forest fires can break out at anytime, regardless of the season" in Canada. That's why I always travel with a industrial sized fire extinguisher bungeed onto my luggage rack.

Really, the last serious terrorist activities within Canadian soil weren't carried out by foreign nationals, but rather by Canadian citizens. All Canadians, and especially French-Canadians, remember the events of October 1970, when members of the FLQ (Québec Liberation Front) kidnapped government officials and murdered Pierre Laporte, then Labour Minister for Québec. It is a dark and shameful stain on the fabric of this Great and Peaceful Nation, the effects of which are still felt. But it was almost forty years ago!

Oh, and contrary to popular belief, none of the 9/11 terrorists got to the US via Canadian borders. Truth be told, none of them had ever even set foot in Canada. Guess we'll still be fighting that claim for years to come.

In the meantime, here are some true facts about Canada - and although they may not be enough to make you forget some of the lies out there, they may just convince you to visit the Great White North anyway:

  • About 10% of Canada's total population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died.
  • During the Second World War, the Canadian navy began the war with only six vessels, yet they ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world.
  • The United Nations Peacekeeping Force was future Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson's creation and he is considered the father of the modern concept of "peacekeeping". He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his role in creating what would become the UN Peacekeeping Force.
  • Canada only accounts for about 1% of the world's population, yet Canadians make up 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces.
  • Canadian soldiers are the greatest peacekeepers on earth - participating in 39 UN-mandated missions and six non-UN peacekeeping duties in the past half century.
  • In the medical field, Canadians have been responsible for many achievements: Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin, Wilfred Bigelow developed the first artificial pacemaker, John Dick is credited with discovering cancer stem cells.
  • Canada has consistently placed in the top-10 of the UN's Human Development Index, which is a measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living, and GDP per capita for countries worldwide.

You'd think that with all the above achievements, the rest of the world would cut us some slack... But if that isn't enough, here's another important tidbit: 52% of active players in the NHL are Canadian!


Doug K. said...

As a youngster I was surprised to learn that my dear 'ol dad was born in Canada (Borden, SK). Once I really confronted that truth and got some professional counseling I was ok with it.



Lucky said...

I feel your pain... I found out just two years ago that some of my ancestors on my mother's side were Irish! Oh well, guess that explains the drinking!