The View From Here – Young Canadians are not less patriotic, they are just more worldly

Tom Henihan

A survey conducted by CBC and the Angus Reid Institute shows that Canadians aged 18 to 34 feel less of an affiliated to Canada, less patriotic than older Canadians do.

There is something gratuitous about conducting a survey to establish if young Canadians are less patriotic than older Canadians are.

In the normal process of maturing as individuals and as citizens, young people tend to reject the circumstances they inherited. They usually feel that they have to shake off the confines of a prescribed identity in order to discover who they really are.

It is a natural, healthy impulse for a young person to believe that life is elsewhere.

As often happens with religious and cultural identity, young people reject what they are born into but eventually, through experience, they find their way back and rediscover their religious and cultural underpinnings on their own terms.

This would also account for older people appearing more committed to being Canadian.

It is typical of the CBC to engage in polling of this kind, considering its relentless obsession with Canadian identity in its role as self-appointed keeper of the flame.

On the subject of what it is to be a Canadian, CBC functions as the official state broadcaster, propagandizing on behalf of Ottawa, as both the CBC and the federal government need to promote a brand of Canadian identity that reinforces their own existence. To this end, the CBC engages in the most facile, lowbrow idea of national identity, framing the Canadian experience and the Canadian identity in a recreational context.

Programming such as “Canada Reads, “The Greatest Canadian” “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister” “The Seven Wonders of Canada,” and so on, demean the idea of being Canadian, reducing it to a collective, trival board game. According to the CBC, being Canadian is interactive entertainment and fun for the whole family.

It would be interesting to know how CBC and Angus Reid posed the questions of their survey regarding Canadians’ affiliation with Canada.

If in any way, the questions reflected the CBC brand of Canada then it is encouraging that young people want little to do with their version of this country.

Canada is a more varied and interesting country than the popular image paints. Canada’s cities such as St. John’s, Halifax, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, each have a distinct character, a local culture and momentum unique to themselves as do the provinces and regions across the country.

Yet, the CBC, in attempting to present a generic image of Canada, paints a picture of the country that is drastically less than the sum of its parts.

I believe that young Canadians feel no less affiliation with their country than older Canadians do. The difference is that young people feel greater connectedness with the rest of the world. They do not experience the world from an exclusively Canadian perspective but see themselves through an eclectic array of influences and shared aspirations with people of their generation in other parts of the world. That does not make them any less Canadian.

Share this post