Today is Canada's 143rd Birthday so I am celebrating. My hubby just got back from a 50 km bike ride to Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa where he enjoyed the crowds and festivities. Tonight is a big fireworks display. I hate biking and I also hate crowds, so I decided to celebrate by opening this lovely 750 ml bottle of Niagara Riesling (and yes I have just poured the last drops into my glass). I am enjoying it immensely. I threw in the ml just so I could confuse my American friends. Right now things are a bit fuzzy which makes it hard to convert to Imperial units. But lets just say, I am also joining in an early celebration of Independence Day on July 4th. Anything for a party I say!
Taking my cue from Big Daddy (who writes about Dubai) I thought I would give you ten facts about Canada that you might not have known...
2. The Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada. She is our head of State but is really only a figurehead. Our government is a Parliament run by a Prime Minister and his elected government that make laws and such. Currently we have a Conservative government similar to the Republican's in the US, Conservative in the UK. The Governor General is the representative of the Queen when she is not in Canada. Lizzie II came to visit us this year and everyone is in awe of her. We respect and admire her stoicism but many want to completely cut off the monarchy and make Canada completely independent. We write British English which means we spell things like humour vs humor, colour vs color and favourite vs favorite. Spellcheck can be a horror. And we say Zed (Z) instead of Zee (Z).
3. The Beaver is our national animal (nuf said). The Maple Leaf is a symbol of Canada and is part of our flag which is two red stripes on a white background with a Maple Leaf in the middle. I know most of you saw our flag when we won gold in Olympic Hockey (and many other events).
4. The official languages of Canada are English and French which means the Federal Government must offer services in both languages. French is spoken mainly in Quebec but they want to separate from Canada because they do not like the English. The federal party representing Quebec in the Federal Government is the Bloc Quebecois whose mandate is to seek separation from the rest of Canada. I do not speak French which has hindered any advancement in my job (I work for the Federal Government). Montreal, Quebec was named after the mountain it was built on, Mont Royal.
5. We have oil which is why the USA want to stay friends with us. We were tremendously excited when Barack Obama became President and worry about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Our economies are joined at the hip and when things are bad economically, it affects all of North America. We can travel unrestricted to Cuba and know that travel restriction for US Citizens will ease in the future. The Cubans are warm and caring people and I hope you will visit if you can.
6. I don't say "eh" but the rest of the world thinks we do so I have to keep up the illusion. I still don't understand the "aboot" (referring to about) so will have to have a word-off when we get to Chicago. Sally and Roo will be first up!
7. Canada abolished slavery in 1834 and many Black Americans escaped to Southern Ontario in subsequent years. I was recently moved by reading "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill: (U.S. Title: Someone Knows My Name). It documented the life of a women captured in Africa and brought into slavery in the US and then resettled in Canada. A difficult read but a moving story.
8. Canadians are fighting the "War on Terror" in Afganistan and we have lost 150 souls. Canadians fight beside Americans, Brits, Australian and many other troops. God bless all the soldiers from all countries who are currently fighting and for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.
9. Ottawa is the capital of Canada and I live here. The Rideau Canal (pronounced Re-Dough) was dug from Kingston to Ottawa to allow a supply route to fight off the Americans who might attack us in the 18th century. We won the War of 1812 against American invasion. I am sure they finally figured out they really didn't want to live in a cold country.
10. We don't live in igloos. Really. The average summer temperature in Ottawa is 20C-40C (70F-100F). Winter is from -30C to + 10C (-22F to 50F). I love fall when the leaves change to multiple colours.
OK just one more:
11. We have free healthcare but it doesn't cover everything. I had to pay for my band. And we pay for healthcare through our taxes. Everyone is covered even if you are homeless. We have employer funded health insurance for things like dental care, glasses and prescriptions. But if we need surgery, we do not pay. If we need to see a doctor, we do not pay. If we are in an accident and are put in ICU, we do not pay. We are not communists or socialists (not even sure what these mean). We sometimes need more doctors and nurses and technicians so if you know someone who wants to live in a great country tell them. We gladly accept all immigrants.
So another July 1st has passed. And my bottle is empty. So sad. But I did promise to celebrate July 4th. BTW, one on my most favourite movies was Independence Day! I think I will have a little plateau this week.