For example, when I was growing up, Canadians were united in fear of becoming too big for our britches. To paraphrase Lorne Michaels (my countryman), it’s the kind of place where they award Miss Canada to the runner-up because the prettiest already gets to be prettiest. Rather than demanding liberty or, failing that, death, we are a country forever giving up our seats to the elderly, all the while thanking one another for not smoking.
Which is not to say that we are raised without national pride. Canadians always know who’s Canadian. We just don’t go showing off about it. Say “John Kenneth Galbraith” to a Canadian and watch the words flicker across his eyes like the shadow of an angel’s wing. Then he will mention: “He’s Canadian, you know.””