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New group hopes to fire up patriotism

Opinion Page, Winnipeg Sun, February 13, 1997.

Commentary by Mark Perry

Click the image to see original article

(Thanks to COOL POOL member Heather Geddie of Global Village Travel Book Store (204) 475-3254 in Winnipeg for submitting this article about Cool to be Canadian)

IS IT COOL to be Canadian?
There are some folks around town who think so and they're getting ready for the national launch of their notion of Canadian coolness this Sunday, 7 p.m., at the Winnipeg Winter Club.

Those of us who weather Prarie winters know it's not merely cool, but damn cold being Canadian far too much of the year. The sort of coolness the Cool to be Canadian Corp. is all about however, is not merely climatological, but concerns those things that make being Canadian special and worthwhile - and cool.

The group describes itself as "a non-profit / non-partisan group dedicated to provide recognition to young Canadians around the world... for their achievements, events and ideas that they themselves devise.."
It is "an answer to a feeling we all know in our hearts." says the press release from Cool to be Canadian Corp. / Corp. c'est cool d'ê:tre canadien. It talks about how Cool to be Canadian is "a response to misguided government policies regarding youth opportunity."

Cool to be Canadian, it appears, grew out of something called the Unity Thinktank in Montreal, and has come to these parts from there with Philip McMaster, a new Winnipegger and host of a series of "Blender Parties" that had people talking a few months back.

On the surface, Canadian coolness seems to have a lot to do with appreciation of what skeptics might scorn as the received liberal view of Canada: multicultural, multilingual, peace-loving, do-gooders, mild-mannered - all that nice-guy stuff. But you know, much of it is true and what's so bad about that?

Cynics will scoff. Hard-boiled Quebec separatists would, one has little doubt, dismiss Cool to be Canadian as just another federalist plot to insult and humiliate Quebecers and deny them their manifest destiny. We expect to guardians of the "pure wool" would try to figure out if Cool to be Canadian was illegal under Quebec law and seek evidence that it was being covertly directed, if not bankrolled, from the office of the heritage minister, the ever appalling Sheila Copps.

Cool to be Canadian's approach is, however, that "official" nationalism of the lame Copps variety is the problem, not the solution and that authentic Canadian patriotism (a preferable term to nationalism, which means not so much love of country as believing your country is superior to someone else's) can only come from "average" Canadians, young Canadians, coming to believe in themselves and their country - without a government program, funding or "official" sanction - or the likes of Keith Spicer. We have to agree at least that in this matter, as in most, that government and politicians are the problem, not the solution.

We like the idea. It's too much the Canadian habit to wait around waiting for one or the other self-serving elite - and certainly not the current gang in power in Ottawa and their mouthpieces - to tell us who we are and what we are - or ought to be about.

Sense of self and place
Western Canadians, perhaps even before eastern Canadians, may even have been ahead of the game in having a sense of self and place and calling the bluff of entrenched elites. If Peter Newman is correct in his book, The Canadian Revolution, in our questioning and rejection of traditional orthodoxies, this country has undergone a sea of change in the past decade. Perhaps Cool to be Canadian represents a part of that change.

You can find out. After this Sunday's launch, Cool to be Canadian will have a web page address, www.cool.ca . Check it out. Cool to be Canadian says a lot of things that make sense, about self reliance, responsibility - national self-esteem, if you like.

The Cool to be Canadian launch will be playing host to student and teacher representatives for local schools, entrepreneurs and volunteers and is intended to inspire young Canadians to expand the Cool to be Canadian concept.

They have a few cool ideas about how to do that. Wear your sunglasses.


Source: Opinion Page, Winnipeg Sun, February 13, 1997.

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