A few years ago, a friend made an interesting comment by saying that we were both lucky simply because we were born in Canada. He was stating that for no other reason being born in this country represented a stroke of good fortune. Canada as opposed to many other countries in the world gave all of us an upper hand by statistically giving us more choices and better chances than elsewhere. This is certainly not something I normally think about; after all, like everyone else I am very much caught up in living my life and I do not always turn my attention to such ideas. Nevertheless, I must admit that my friend was right and I suppose I do not always fully appreciate that fact.
I had a chance in 2010 to visit to Egypt to see the land of the pharaohs. (I recommend everyone going. See it "live" instead of on National Geographic.) Beforehand, I did a little research to better understand my destination. Unlike previous vacations I've had in the U.S. or England or France, Egypt is a 3rd world country and I had never visited a country which is officially classified as third world.
The per capita income of Canada according to numbers from a 2009 IMF study shows approximately $39,700 US per year, #18 on the list while Egypt was listed #114 on the list with $2,450. What? I was stunned when I read that. How in terms of my life here in Canada could I possibly conceive of what it would mean to live with only one sixteenth of our average income? That is not just stunning, it is unbelievable. Note the word I used: unbelievable as I truly can't believe it would be possible to live on such a small amount of money. Certainly not in Canada and I can't quite imagine in what circumstances I could live with so little money.
The United States has a per capita income of $46,400 but would I want to trade my life here in Canada for an extra $6,700 per year?
According to some 2009 statistics, the United States had 16,200 murders while Canada had 523. Okay, the United States has 10 times the number of people but do the math. 16,200 divided by 10 = 1,620 or 523 times ten equals 5,230. That still means that the murder rate in the U.S. is three times higher than in Canada. 3 times!
Aside: The Michael Moore film "Bowling for Columbine" has some very interesting things to say about guns, murder and the United States. Some may argue that the film is merely one's man opinion but I do think Mr. Moore brings up some valid points.
My sister moved to the states and married an American. While her husband, as former military has benefits, my sister has to fend for herself. She's explained to me that now that she has had a lump removed from her right breast, she no longer has coverage for it. What? Yep, that's right; she can no longer have her right breast insured. I'm shaking my head. I walk in some place and slap down my O.H.I.P. card (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) and get service. My sister has also said that she had a problem with her cervix and now that part of her is no longer covered. Something doesn't add up. Is all this coverage in the newspapers about Obama explaining how poor health coverage is in the United States is true? Once again, Michael Moore in his film Sicko had some very interesting comparisons to make between the U.S. and Canada and other countries. There's no way I want to give up my O.H.I.P. for the extra $6,700 US I would have if I was an American!
Aside: The film Sicko shows an American who accidentally cuts off 2 fingers with a table saw. Having no health insurance, he is told the middle finger will cost $60,000 to be reattached and the ring finger will cost $12,000. With limited funds, the man opts for his ring finger so he can continue wearing his wedding band. When Moore visits Canada, he discovers that if a Canadian accidentally cut off his fingers, he could have them reattached for free.
In the past week, Iraq has seen numerous bomb attacks: nine killed at a soccer game in the southern city of Hilla; 13 killed and 50 wounded in a sectarian attack in Baghdad; 4 killed, 20 wounded in car bomb explosion in Taji; the list goes on and on. When was the last time there was a bombing in Canada? I can think back a few years to an attack against the oil pipeline out in B.C. and an attack against a military recruiting office in Québec but does that in no way compares with what is going on elsewhere in the world. The worse we seem to have is some mischief makers setting off smoke bombs in the Montréal subway. An inconvenience, yes, but compare that the headlines in Iraq listing the number killed and the number wounded. On June 13 alone in Iraq a series of coordinated attacks saw 93 people killed and over 300 wounded.
Once in a while, it pays to look down and appreciate just how high up the ladder we are. It isn't perfect; I'll be the first to admit it but still, in comparison with other areas of the globe, Canada ain't so bad. In light of this, imagine my shock when I'm walking around during the G20 in Toronto in 2010 and I go by a protester, a woman who looked to be 35, just your normal type of suburban mom wearing a T-shirt which reads "F*** Canada". I beg your pardon? Let me consider that to be more a target of the G20 in general and not Canada specifically.