May I deviate from the continuing news headline of the week to tell you why I kissed Canadian soil this morning? I’ve just returned from a two week tour of Central Europe, with stops in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. From a tourism perspective every one of those countries is rich in history and culture. Magnificent architecture that leaves eyes watering and lungs gasping. “How were they able to do that?” You ask yourself over and over again. But in each of those countries, there were reminders of darkness, not the darkness that CBC tries to go to when they try to blacken Canadian history and heritage. I’m talking pure evil. The kind that sets a country and culture back hundreds of years, the kind that generates fear and loathing and hatred that is never far from beneath the surface.
My eyes feasted on so much of what I saw in the last few weeks in Central Europe. But my mind and my heart was so proud to be Canadian where so much of the public rhetoric is about nonsense like Thomas Mulcair’s desperate attempt to divide the country against itself on the matter of oil sands. I cannot remember the last time I saw a political football being thrown that was all air and no leather. All pig and no skin. When you have been up and close and personal with the true demagogues, the ones with high political lethality quotients like Rene Levesque and Jaques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, the Thomas Mulcair stuff by comparison is just a teaspoon full of political puke. But after two weeks of Europe where the gorgeous landscapes were at one time all bloodied by the evil ideologies of Communism and Fascism, where millions of families were murdered in the mayhem that followed the politics of paranoia, after witnessing that, I couldn’t help but feel once again like the luckiest guy on earth, with a Canadian home address, a Canadian passport and a Canadian audience that demands more than expensive words to deliver cheap shots.
Excellence is what I saw so much of. Excellence of workmanship, craftsmanship. Excellence in art and architecture and the preparation of food-My goodness. It looked so damn good you were ALMOST reluctant to have any of the masterpieces come close to your Canine Teeth. But you did and you always went back for more. Don’t go to Europe on a diet. Don’t do it. But once again you cannot take a look at everything I looked at without also knowing that his harvest of beauty in almost all things was at times soaking in the blood of tyrants. Canada on Canadian soil has never tasted this kind of poison and those who say we have are lying through their teeth. I kissed Canadian soil today. It was the least I could do as a grateful Canadian, grateful for the country that allowed my family to escape some of the planet’s worst political predators. Is this the best country in the world? You never have to doubt it. But if you do, take a trip far, far away from your comfort zone and then come back to Canada, and tell me whether or not you love this country more on the day you return than on the day you left. That is how I feel about my country and about you. Very grateful to be welcomed back by your ears and your thoughts and your hearts.