Let's start with the negative stuff first, just to make sure that no one mistakes this for yet another "Oh aren't we just the most perfect nation on earth" piece of mindless, nationalistic claptrap and self-praise.
There's simply no denying that this is one hell of a great country, but we also have some pretty shameful things that need to be acknowledged and dealt with before I, personally, will ever say I'm fully proud to be Canadian. That's right people, like a Canadian Michelle Obama, I'm declaring that I've never been 100% fully proud of my country.
And I should mention that we're not talking about miserable winter weather here. Nor are we talking about much of the country's inexplicable love of both Don Cherry and bare-knuckle brawling during otherwise perfectly entertaining hockey games.
What we are talking about, however, are the following ten items from the Canadian Hall of Shame:
10. Celine Dion: Not much we can do about this one, she's out there, she's, tragically, perhaps the most famous Canadian in the world, she's reputedly sold over 200 million albums worldwide, and as Blender magazine so famously and perfectly put it she has been "Seemingly hellbent from birth on proving that Michael Bolton isn't the cheesiest balladeer on the face of the planet".
9. Conrad Black: If his name alone doesn't conjure up immediate feelings of scornful disgust, then perhaps you should read more here:
8. Alberta: Sure, with the influx of Canadians from other parts of the country and immigrants from overseas in recent years, there may now actually be some progressive types in the province, particularly in the two big cities of Calgary and Edmonton, but that in no way takes away from the fact that this Land of Rednecks, Bigots and Oil Sands is our very own Texas. Decades of opinion polls have shown a population that is much more in touch with their kin down there in the Lone Star State than they are with their fellow Canadians.
It may have the spectacular beauty of the Rocky Mountains going for it, but this bastion of The Three R's (that is, all things Right-wing, Redneck and Reactionary) is still a scar on the otherwise (relatively-) progressive Canadian landscape. Not only did they give the country the anti-semitic Social Credit Party of the 1930s and '40s and the dreaded earth-destroying oil sands of today, but they've also given us the dual scourge of Preston Manning and Stephen Harper as well.
And, yes, I guess I should acknowledge that the relatively large redneck element that exists right here in B.C. would probably rather be part of Alberta themselves, but, hey, everywhere has got at least some right-wing wackos, right? The difference in Alberta is they're the dominant force in the province.
7. Exporting asbestos: Few people may have known about this story before the CBC's recent expose', but, unbelievable as it may seem, Canada does in fact actually still sell this cancer-causing shit overseas, even though we won't let it be used here in our own country due to the overwhelming evidence that it kills people. You want horrific hypocrisy in the name of slimy greed, look no further than this.
To learn more about this blemish on our national reputation watch Canada's Ugly Secret, Mellissa Fung's excellent recent piece that aired on CBC's The National.
6. The Queen/The Monarchy: Is it just me or is it not simply ridiculous that Canada's head of state resides across the Atlantic Ocean in England? But that's not the half of it. Will somebody please tell me why on earth we still have the head of some inbred European aristocratic family as our nation's sovereign? Oh, I forgot, they're born of "good blood" or some such sh*t.
Read more here: The God Save The Queen Rant
5. Downtown Eastside, Vancouver (and other similar areas in other Canadian cities): It is absolutely inexplicable, inexcusable and downright disgraceful that a country this rich allows such an appalling, poverty-stricken, drug-riddled area to exist right in the middle of one of its major cities. And it's all the more outrageous when you consider that all these people have been abandoned to the streets of Vancouver, a city of incredible wealth and overabundance.