Canada is not the country in which I was born, but it was the country which my parents and grandparents chose some decades ago, the country about which they first dreamed and then dared to build a new life for themselves and for us.

This morning I reflected on why I still celebrate our country when some do not, or rather, when some can not. I hope no one thinks that celebrating ‘Canada 150’ is a requirement.

I’m not especially nationalistic, and in fact, I aver any excess of patriotism – the kind that pushes a highly particular view of how things should be on to others. I consider myself a citizen of planet Earth more so than the citizen of a particular country. But I find myself in a celebratory mood on this, our country’s 150th birthday, and so I decided to enumerate the reasons why. The result might not be all that interesting to read, so I provide the list as a footnote, that you can read or skip.

The main point is that Canada is still, by and large, the country of my dreams, and for the ways in which it falls short, I have not lost hope, and I certainly do not despair.

Above all, I hope that Canada remains a country where people do not fight only for what they can obtain for themselves, but strive to attain a greater good, a country that is good for all who live within its borders, and good to many who live without.

I celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday today because Canada is –

A country that is free. Where every individual can conduct their lives as they best see fit, and where there is freedom from want and from the depredations of others.

A country where not every one is born equal, but whose citizens value equal opportunity, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

A country where there is inequity, but where a tangible measure of our equability is seen when new Canadians of a minority race, ethnicity or religion can overcome prejudice and attain prosperity and well being over time.

A country whose citizens care enough about their fellow citizens to offer affordable education, universal health care, financial assistance for the unemployed and for the infirm, the elderly, and all who are in need.

A country whose citizens care enough about mankind to contribute to world peace and order, and to the welfare of others around the globe. Where we take in, as we are able, the war ravaged and oppressed who have no where else to turn. Where we respond to international crises of war and famine as they arise.

A country which, when individual citizens perpetrate wrong, will neutralize the offender, bring them to justice, and seek to aggrieve the offended.

A country which has done wrong itself and can do wrong, but will seek to address and correct its wrongs as they are uncovered, whether perpetrated by its current agents and citizens or those of its past.

A country which will strive to maintain a clear view of the consequences of its private and public actions abroad and within its borders. And foster a free press and free, honest speech to maintain a clear view, and to resolve controversies equitably.

A country whose lasting legacy is not measured only in buildings, in homes, and in industry, but in art, music and literature, and in parkland, wilderness and a sound ecology.

A country which values the prosperity and freedom of our citizens today, but cares even more for its children, those living now, and those yet to be borne, maintaining the basic stuff of existence: the water we drink, the air we breathe, the health of the land, our climate, and also the sustainability of our economy, government, institutions, businesses, culture, and every thing that makes us a country to celebrate today.