Saving Canada one oddball at a time

It’s time for another unfair parallel.

At the beginning of this week, a good load of this nation’s public turned their eyes to the CBC twice. First it was to see that old fashioned Grey Cup final, and next it was to watch the unfolding of yet another federal election. Both impacted the nation and both featured their share of loud and obnoxious voices, but it was the Grey Cup that did something good for Canada that the federal election could never do–it touched Canadians culturally and fostered unity.

The election proved to separate French from English, East from West (while ignoring the North) and slightly-left-of-centre from slightly-right-of-centre. Mud was slung from every angle without shame and the people of the nation became ever-so disillusioned over the brave new century that was to be Canada’s. Voters were let loose in all their festering conviction to place their ballot–cynically voting with strategy or for the lesser of four to six evils.

Although I may be embracing my duller qualities by hailing the Canadian Football League final as the saviour of this country, the fact exists that the Grey Cup did not cluster bomb the nation as did its political counterpart.

The Sunday afternoon game appealed to over 3.1 million citizens of this country from coast to coast (not Stockwell Day’s version of coast to coast: the Pacific to Lake Winnipeg). And even though fans of the B.C. Lions and the Montréal Alouettes may have cheered against each other, there were none of the deep resentments that have lasted for generations in Canada and no finger pointing as to who will indeed bring a bleak future to this country.

With the Grey Cup comes that strange gaze where people look at others not by what language they speak (or how well they speak it), or by the region from which they originate, or by the political values they may tout, but by the simple "Radically Canadian" culture they represent. Millions of citizens came together to share in this culture of sport. They shared the icy air of the frigid November landscape. They shared the iron-clad and undisputed laws that govern the game. They shared the understated, yet powerful words of "Share the Land" sung by the parka-wearing, Winnipeg-born Guess Who. They shared in the celebration of the strong and the fast. They shared emotion and excitement. They were united under the umbrella of this culture.

Events such as the Grey Cup, the Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey do more for this great country than any federal election could. These events appeal to the Canadian inside the citizen of the nation. For a few hours last Sunday, this nation was whole and together. It was the utopian Canada.

We shattered it at the polls. But, hey, that’s the nature of the game, right?

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