Green City

Now What, Canada?

By Eric Britton
Published March 01, 2010

Dear Canadian friends and colleagues,

Last evening just before midnight here in Paris, when that third Canadian goal came rocketing into the US cage - and once I stopped sobbing and gnashing my teeth - it occurred to me that it was just about the greatest way in which this year's Olympic Games could have come to an end: with a bang and certainly not a whimper.

Vancouver 2010. Who would have ever guessed what this might mean for so many? What a splendid and truly international event, how important for a needful world at a time in which the Olympic ideal has just about been entirely lost, and what a wonderful present that you Canadians have given yourselves and your country.

There are times when those of us who care and keep our eye on you feel uncertain about whether Canada is in fact there at all. I guess now we know.

As I reflect on all that has taken place over these last several years to bring this about, what strikes me as possibly the main lesson for the rest of the world to glean from your experience, is the extent to which all those involved combined high ambition and real modesty (a great Canadian attribute from which we just to your south have much to learn).

You accomplished this through hard work day after day and more than once in the face of adversity, and a capacity for quiet teamwork in the face of these unanticipated twists and turns that turned out to be exactly what was needed to face all of those unexpected challenges - including perhaps most famously our second goal, the one I believed was the beginning of the end for your hockey team. (So much for my self-proclaimed ability to foresee future events.)

I share these words with you on this morning after, because I feel very strongly that the qualities you have shown in this event are the same ones that are so much needed in the face of the enormous challenges of climate, sustainable development and social justice that face us all.

If I had one thing to ask as far as your performance before these challenges is concerned, it would be that you Canadians might perhaps do us the favor of being just a tad less modest when you are doing important things to show the way for others, eh?

Now, what is your next act?

Eric Britton was the founder of EcoPlan in 1966, formed to create an effective forum of international collaboration and independent counsel on issues regarding the management of technology as it affects people in their daily lives. In recent years he has turned his attention to sustainability, land use and urban planning, particularly in response to the challenges of climate change.

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted March 01, 2010 at 08:39:19

Canadians are an intriguing hybrid of Brits and Americans. (And I'll leave that subject alone.)

My favourite definition of a Canadian? 'An American with humility.'

Many people (a lot of Brits!) online have been negative about Canada's 'flag-waving enthusiasm'. To them I say: "You don't have a clue. Book some therapy." LOL

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 01, 2010 at 10:04:02

awesome job by Vancouver hosting the games, and once again, Canadians did us proud. Whether by joining in the 'USA' chants at the end of the womens hockey game or the thunderous applause for Ryan Miller after last night's game, Canadians know how to celebrate, party and be patriotic without putting other people down. It's a sign of great confidence in oneself, when we can simply celebrate who we are by doing just that - celebrating.

I loved Brian Williams' (the other one) thank-you note to Canada before heading back to NY. Among many respectful and humours comments in his final dialogue, he thanked us for the fact that he didn't see a single automatic weapon during his entire stay in Vancouver and felt perfectly safe. Who knew???

Bravo Canada!

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By nhl-hater (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2010 at 22:46:50

What are they doing next? They are all getting on planes and flying back to their homes in the US where they play for american hockey teams. Only exceptions are Iginla and Luongo. :(

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2010 at 14:04:06

"I share these words with you on this morning after, because I feel very strongly that the qualities you have shown in this event are the same ones that are so much needed in the face of the enormous challenges of climate, sustainable development and social justice that face us all."

Except that the Olympics work squarely against the goals of social justice.

  • contributed to the gentrification of lower income people out of town
  • facilitated development on unceded First Nations land
  • facilitated the growth of security culture/ police state
  • many Olympic symbology (including the five rings) were developed by the Nazis

Plus, I would argue that the "patriotic" fervor works squarely against critical thinking and dissent that's needed to bring about social justice.

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