I find flag waving difficult but I am feeling especially proud to be a Canadian this Canada day.
I am a citizen of one of only 3 countries that recognizes gay marriage. Why should this mean so much to me, a middle aged hetero man? It means a lot to me because it signifies that I am part of a society that accepts difference. Again why should this mean anything to me or say - to you?
Because of two things. Firstly, we are indeed a country of minorities. Maybe not here in rural PEI but if you spend a day in a large city in Canada where most of Canadians live, you will see that this is no longer a white Christian nation. This is simply a fact. Push time out 20 years and Canada will be maybe unique - a nation that has no tribal centre only a centre based on values. We will survive and thrive if we can make tis work and we can only make this work if we accept each others differences. The only value that will not work is intolerance itself. Marriage is not under threat, tolerance is. The irony of the so called Christian Right is that every aspect of the life and teaching of Jesus is about tolerance and acceptance. Just as Luther challenged the Church to show him where Jesus empowered the church, I challenge Christians to show me how Jesus can support intolerance.
My second point is about our economy. It is becoming clear that communities that accept difference accept innovation. If Canada is to think its way out of the challenges that we have before us, we have to be a community that can look at novelty and difference. Richard Florida's work suggests that there is a link between the acceptance of the Gay community and innovation. He is not stating that Gays are the driver in themselves, though they often are any firm's best customers and best employees. He makes the case that societies that have enough tolerance of Gays can accept many new ideas.
The closing of the American border and mind to difference gives us in Canada the opportunity to increase our national well being by becoming a magnet for open minded and intelligent and hard working people from all over the world.
So for me this Canada day weekend, I wonder if we have chosen more than to honor our brothers, sons, friends daughters, aunts, uncles, mothers who are gay but also to open our doors to thousands of people who want to make their home in a place that is so accepting.
Oh Canada - Glorious and free - I stand on guard for thee