There are so many reasons to be proud of Canada

Dominion Day is a day to put aside our political differences and celebrate the things we love about our country.

(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

Canada Day, or as I prefer to call it, Dominion Day – the historic name to commemorate the creation of the Dominion of Canada, on July 1, 1867 – is one of my favourite days of the year.

It’s a day we put aside our political differences, and celebrate the things we love about our country.

There are a lot of reasons to love Canada: freedom and opportunity, a world-class education system, safe communities, friendly and welcoming citizens, unmatched natural beauty and landscape, and, of course, being “the first nation of hockey,” as the famous ‘I am Canadian’ commercial once proudly proclaimed.

Whether you’re a new Canadian, or if your ancestors were early fur-traders, we’re all united by our true patriot love for Canada.

Aside from producing the best hockey players to ever play the great game, Canada boasts a record of peace, prosperity, ordered liberty and good government.

We’re part of a tradition of freedom that dates back to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 – the first charter in Europe to limit the king’s power and help enshrine citizens with individual rights.

Canada has played a proud role in advancing and preserving the foundations of Western Civilization – from fighting for freedom in the Great Wars to working tirelessly for justice and equal rights in society today.

We have additional reasons to be proud.

Canada remains the world’s model for sound immigration and successful integration.

Our innovative immigration programs, such as our economic immigration program with a focus on skills that will make newcomers successful in Canada, or the private refugee sponsorships program that ensures a whole community is there to help persecuted people resettle in Canada, are studied and replicated by other Western countries.

Canada is an energy producing superpower, with the capacity to be energy independent. Despite political quarrels that hold back the industry and prevent producers from getting their product to market, Canada punches well above its weight in terms of environmental standards, techniques and advancements in technology.

The world’s other energy producing countries could learn a lot from Canada’s and our natural resource industry.

Going back further, Canada was a pioneer in protecting individual rights for all citizens.

Slavery was once a fixture of every society around the world. Indeed, it’s still practiced in some dark corners of the planet (for instance, by ISIS). Canada banned slavery before we became a country, in 1793, and fought for slavery to be abolished and for former slaves to be compensated throughout the British Empire.

Canada isn’t perfect, and we, too, have dark moments in our past. But we face these hard truths, apologize for past injustices, and work together to fight for greater freedom and justice for all.

Unfortunately, these past sins are often exaggerated and manipulated by anti-Canadian activists. Some activists seek to divide Canadians into groups based on our superficial identity traits, and pit us against one another.

Rather than being united by our Canadian identity, they push falsehoods that Canada is a racist, sexist, homophobic society built on slavery, theft and genocide.

They try to strip us of our individual rights and agency, and hold Canadians collectively responsible for exaggerated tall tales of the past.

On Canada Day and every day, we should reject those who seek to divide us, and remember that Canada gets the big things right.

We’re the greatest country on earth, and unity is our strength.

Happy Dominion Day, to all my fellow Canadians!