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Oh, Canada

Happy 150th Birthday (sort of)

There’s an old joke that when Moses was on Mt. Sinai, God asked him where he wanted to take the Israelites, what would be their home. So Moses, glancing at the world, picked what he thought was the best spot imaginable — abundant natural resources, plenty of room, no enemies. “Canada,” he tried to say. But Moses, of course, had a stutter, so what came out was “Ca-ca-ca-” — and God interrupted him to say, “oh, Canaan? Well, I dunno, that wouldn’t be my first choice — but if that’s what you want.” And that’s how a narrow arid strip sandwiched between mighty Egypt and Babylon became the promised land.

Well, I go to Canada pretty regularly with my family, and have to say, from where I sit, the country’s promise only looks brighter. They’ve got their problems, of course. But it really is hard to beat abundant natural resources, plenty of room and no enemies to speak of. Not to mention a really impressive theater festival.

Anyway, my latest column at The Week is about my promised land, the gentle giant to the north, which celebrates its 150th birthday tomorrow:

Canada may deserve to be examined as more than just a liberal fantasy object. Canada, after all, is a real place, with its own history and culture and way of doing things, and a strong if peculiar nationalism of its own. And yet it is also one of the most diverse countries in the world, with nearly twice the percentage of foreign-born residents that America has. If Canada has figured out how to construct a workable liberal nationalism in the age of mass-migration and populist backlash, maybe America has something to learn from it?

Celebrating its 150th birthday this weekend, the gentle giant to the north may finally be ready for its close up. But a close look reveals that it might be harder for Americans to copy it than our own liberals might wish.

Read the whole thing there.



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