Canada: It’s time to lose the Flag.

Hey Canada, howzitgoin’, eh?

It’s hard for me to say this, but I think we need to talk about your flag. You know, the one you have sewn onto your back-pack. And the one on your T-Shirt. And your hat. Ok, what I mean to say is that we need to talk about your entire flag-based apparel.

Let me first say that I totally get it. Listen: I’ve trotted the globe as much as anyone: from the beaches of Argentina to the ruins of Cambodia and all throughout Europe I have proudly dawned my beaming seal of maple-leaf quality. My point is that, having lived outside of Canada for some time now, I’ve come to the realization that our smug expression of patriotism might not have the effect we are hoping for.

I know what you’re thinking: we need the flag! We don’t want to get mistaken as Americans, right? Not exposing your leaf is the equivalent of leaving yourself open to getting ripped off, mugged or even worse for the Canadian sensibility: someone might be rude to you. Second, we should be proud to display our red and white. After all, we helped liberate a chunk of Europe during WWII and those people are grateful. Then we invented Peace Keeping: who for Pete’s sake doesn’t appreciate Peace Keeping?

O.K. Canada: Calm down, and please don’t use that kind of language with me, ok? I completely understand what you’re trying to say. Just hear me out:

First of all if you’d just look around you’d notice that we’re the only nation out there consistently engaging in nationalistic tailoring with the exception of Norway (turns out, it’s a clothing line) and North Korea. When a Canadian walks by brandishing his citizenship people think that a.) he’s very insecure in his identity and has an inferiority complex or b.) he’s overly-confident in the accomplishments of his nation and he’s got a superiority complex or c.) if he gets lost he needs you to know how to return him. None of these interpretations are things we want to be known for. Canada: you need to be confident in who you are without feeling the need to tell everybody about it. Believe me: you’re great! Everyone loves you just the way you are.

Now I can see you getting upset Canada but please, let me finish. Let’s talk about our noisy neighbours to the South. Yes it’s true that people generally have a more positive view of us than them, and it’s true that because we look and sound similar sometimes people  mistake us for Americans (excluding Quebecers. English speakers mistake them as being French and French speakers, well, they don’t ever mistake them for anyone).

While there may be some people in Cancun and Cuba that will be slightly nicer to you because you’re Canadian, most of the citizens of the world are very good at distinguishing between a people and its government and thus mean no harm. Furthermore, if someone is so morally deprived as to try to rob you or rip you off, that person probably doesn’t then make value judgments based on the foreign policies of OECD countries: they’ll probably rob you because you look like a rich tourist, not because you’re the subject of a neo-imperial force.

Also, when it comes to government, do we really have the upper-hand? Let’s face it: Americans elected Obama while Canada pulled out of Kyoto. Our Prime Minister is recognized at international conferences only because he looks like Rex from Desperate Housewives.  When you sit back and think about it, what other country does our flag waving remind you of? I’ll give you a hint: it’s overweight, wears an eagle-clad jumpsuit and really likes Nascar. You see: by wearing your flag you might be becoming that which you dislike the most!

Yes: then there is the history. Canada made significant contributions to the allied victory in WWII and no-one can take that away from you. The problem is the people in Europe who remember that spend their days on park-benches, vote for Sarkozy and walk their little dogs at an obstructionist pace. Try to get close to one to reminisce about the good ole’ days or ask if they knew your grandfather and you’ll likely get smacked in the face with an unfashionable purse. Times have changed: Canada’s position as a middle power was taken over by the BRIC countries. In the UN we vote more frequently alongside the U.S. and Guam than we do the underdogs. Heck, the rest of the countries on the continent created a new club for everyone except us and the US. They went OUT OF THEIR WAY to exclude Canada. Waddyamakathat?

Look Canada: I know this has got to be hard for you to hear because I know how attached you are to your flag. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud either: Canada has lots to be proud of (That’s the best link of the post, btw).  All I’m sayin’ is that you can be comfortable with who you are without advertising it, you know what I mean?

Let me put it this way: let’s just try to be a bit more Michael Bublé and a little less Don Cherry, all right? Now Come here Canada. Give me a hug. Your the best Canada. Don’t ever forget it, ok?

About Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo

A former Google and Twitter manager, Matthew Carpenter-Arévalo is the founder and CEO of Céntrico Digital, a managed marketing services company.

One Response to “Canada: It’s time to lose the Flag.”

  1. Come on now Matthew,
    Don’t paint all flag waving, maple leaf loving Canadians with the same brush eh? What are you trying to say… the only reason a Canadian would sport the red and white is to distinguish themself from American’s? Or that every single back-packing Canadian in the world waves the Canadian Flag as some sort of “Please be nice to me” sign? That view seems a bit limited and overly dependent on stereotypical anti-American apparel wearing argument. I’d like to offer a few other reasons why people could and should continue to wear the Canadian Flag:
    1. Whether it’s the Root’s beaver or a Root’s red and white sweater everything “Roots” is all good
    2. By wearing the Canadian Flag it’s a good way to find other Canadians and, by extension, a beer drinking pal for the night
    3. The Canadian flag, which is only two bars removed from the logo of a particular Toronto hockey team, is a great way for disgraced leaf fans to support a winning leaf.
    4. Some people just look good in red and white
    5. Sometimes your Canadian clad shirt isn’t expressing some Anti-American, Pro-Canadian, “Please be Nice to Me” agenda… Sometimes a shirt is just a shirt.

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