The Montreal Gazette, July 10, 1992.
Hot line for cool Canadians frowns on nerdy nationalism
Page Two Column by Albert Nerenberg
Click the image to see original article
When I wrote about how it's becoming cool to be Canadian, I didn't expect people to agree. Who was I to say Canada had changed overnight after 125 years of Nerd Nationhood?
All of a sudden after last week's column, people were coming up to me on the street and saying things like "Get off the street, you lousy bum!" .... seriously, a lot of friendly people called and wrote, telling me I'd accidently written something that mattered.
Well, nobody's perfect.
Philip McMaster of the Unty Thinktank, a Montreal organization that collects ideas on unity and puts comic-book-type word balloons on city statues, was ecstatic. In fact, McMaster is starting something called the Cool to be Canadian project, a campaign aimed at redefining Canadian nationalism and stopping it from being so concocted and pathetic.
"When people think of Canadian nationalism, they think of somebody with a floppy hat at a parade waving a Canadian flag," said McMaster. "That's government-style Canadian nationalism and it sucks."
We're not Nerd Nation. The country's ready for a new nationalism, a cool nationalism," he said, "and it's already happening."
McMaster is so eager to define the new Canadian cool that he's written some kind of verse explaining it.
This is how it goes:
"It's cool to be Canadian, because we're:
peace-lovers and peace keepers
have generous hearts and open minds
we're smart and we're funny
relaxed and passionate
we're multicultural and multilingual
friendly and welcoming,
honest and trustworthy,
and after all that, we don't boast about our greatness
OK, but why is Canada cool?
Well, partly because we've been down so much. Can you think of a country that has been so regularly insulted, put down, ignored and written off as finished... whose individuals are so accomplished and recognized throughout the world? McMaster says we're cool because we've had it tough, relatively speaking.
"The challenging environment all Canadians live through - culturally, physically, politically - is giving us strength and identity," he said.
The new Canadian cool has many manifestations.
For example, beer commercials these days are playing on a kind of hip look. Bryan Adams made it world wide as a Cool Canadian. His upcoming national tour, which includes a concert in Montreal, is called "Waking up the Neighbours, Waking up the Nation." The Canadians protecting the airport in Sarejevo are ultimate in cool. Even the most uncool Canadian, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, appeared to have a moment of it yesterday when he complained about total American domination of the G7 summit.
The Cool to be Canadian project involves nominating Cool Canadians to a Cool Canadian Hot List (**Link to Name Game HOT LIST FORM**) says McMaster. The Cool Canadian early list includes the following people:
The Montreal Canadiens
Just to name a few
McMaster says there is a surplus of cool Canadians and he wants the world to know it.
For example McMaster says, he is going to talk to Mike Myers of Wayne's World fame and John Candy to wear "Cool to be Canadian" buttons at public appearances.
"Actually, Mike Myers is extremely cool," says McMaster. "He really understands the situation in Quebec and is willing to speak out about it."
Anyone wishing to nominate a Cool Canadian can suggest a name online at www.cool.ca (the telephone line was temporary -ed.).
What will a list of Cool Canadians do?
You can't eat it.
But it will let us and the world know that we have something to offer, says McMaster, "that we're happening, we're sexy and we matter."
We're happening and we matter and maybe we're even cool, sure.
Source: The Montreal Gazette, Page A2, July 10, 1992.