Sarah Palin said Canadians should dismantle the Canadian Health Care System (Bow Down and Kiss the Earth) and turn a buck. Now we all know, at least here in Canada, that Canadians don't know who we really are. It's the national joke. So to be fair, if we don't know who we really are, how could Sarah? That is, except for the Quebecois who have always known who they really are and occasionally remind the rest of us in Canada just so there is no confusion about that, too. As confused as the rest of us Canadians are as to our identity, the one thing that is rock solid, or so it seems, is our Canadian Health Care System (Bow Down and Kiss the Earth).
Living in a border community, we frequently meet Americans and the one subject which they have always brought up in conversation is praise for our health care. Canadians, it seems, are known better for our health care system than for our once-upon-a-time peacekeeping military, flag emblazoned backpacks or Mounties. How many can right now name Canada's first or present Prime Minister? No Googling - Canadians included. There are many things Canadian in the world but nothing more identifiably so than our health care and apparent lack of national identity. Canadians gave the world insulin, Bell, BlackBerry and basketball - yes, basketball. We have already had a female Prime Minister (that would be like President for Americans) but are missing a Bible Belt, Oprah, Kennedys, Football, and Apple Pie. Or so it seems.
We did once upon a time have a Sarah Palin-like rat-pack back bencher, who rose to Deputy Prime Minister. (That would be like VP for Americans.) Eventually she went to handing out Canadian flags to help us remember what country we live in - 45 million bucks out of our tax wallet to assure us that, yes indeed, we are Canadian. But any one of us could have pulled out of our wallets for free, a little plastic card telling us what we already know - "holder is Canadian, therefore eligible for universal medical care." Never mind, that some of the care may require months of wait time once, or if you can find a doctor and persuade him or her there is something wrong with you.
As bad as the Canadian Health Care System (Bow Down and Kiss the Earth) can be, it's the one thing we all have in common, Quebecois aussi. Most of us are thankful to have it even if it means long ER waits or an orphaned patient status. Yes, it's broken in places and needs a tune-up, but it is there and we are working on fixing it. For Canadians it's death, taxes and health-care. It is our history and it started in 1644 with Jeanne Mance.
Sarah Palin is confused about Canadians, just a bit more than we are ourselves. For Sarah Palin to say Canadians should dismantle the Canadian Health Care System (Bow Down and Kiss the Earth) is akin to a Canadian saying Americans should dismantle their military and skip teaching revolutionary history. Or at least nix the marines. Let the army take care of things. And no more talk about 1776. Did anyone just cough out their Wheaties? I didn't. Wheaties are American. We have Red River Cereal.
(Photos by GG)