Things we could adopt from Canada…and get up and go!

At least you know what’s in your pork sausage before you make/buy/eat it!

A list of things we Brits could learn from Canada:

1. Politeness

2. Traffic stopping to let pedestrians cross the road

3. Newspapers only half as wide as UK full size ones…means you can read the paper on the train/bus/tube without poking your fellow passengers in the ribs, eyes or anywhere else!

4. Turning right at traffic lights when red and no other traffic is coming from the left…ok in UK the directions would be reversed but still makes sense to me.

5. Bus drivers who wait for passengers running for the bus!

And Australians could learn…

When you go into a restaurant and ask for a table for one not to turn the patron away but ask if they’d like a newspaper to read whilst they wait for their food! Now, that’s customer service!

Quirky Canada

1. When I speak to anyone I have to repeat myself as they’re expecting a Canadian accent to emerge but the Queen’s English takes them aback. Perhaps I should have left the Royal Family behind!

2. You’re not allowed to wear skates or use your skateboard whilst on a bus or train/underground…clearly people have tried hence it’s banned but I wouldn’t think of doing it in the first place.

3. Lacrosse is the national sport not ice hockey!

And now the serious bit…Canada is a young nation some 150 years old. It has come a long way in that time and has a positive future ahead of it. It has get up and go whereas in some nations it has got up and left if it was ever there in the first place!

One striking thing about Canada is its positive approach and acceptance of multiculturalism although there are political parties and the odd politician taking the populist approach as it seems to be the trend around the world and clearly in the neighbourhood! Canada doesn’t ask where you’re from, it asks what you can offer and what you can do to progress the nation. That means its not open house but it takes the best available and moves forward. Most people who live in Toronto were not born in Canada and the overall approach seems to work.

Yes there are lessons from the past which Canada openly accepts – only yesterday the PM apologised for maltreatment and mis-trials of First Nation chiefs over 150 years ago – but it’s a nation which looks forward.

In doing so it’s mindful of its neighbour to the south and the erratic path she seems to be taking but nothing lasts forever but as long as the change is not too engrained in its psyche then there’s hope. One does despair of asking the neighbour for a cup of sugar when on the one hand it openly accepts its gun culture and the danger to schools and refuses to change the law but within a day passed a law banning stowing dogs in overhead lockers on planes! Priorities seem to get muddled so often or is it me?

But this is about Canada. One thing that strikes is the sheer amount of space…vast swathes of it, mostly uninhabited but where it is life goes on. For example, whilst the rest of the world has had the winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, the far north of Canada (and its probably still dark for most of the time have been holding the winter Arctic Games which included sledge jumping (how many you can jump over consecutively from a standing start), arm and leg wrestling (take one of each, entwine each with that of your opponent and make them lose their grip) or headband stretching (take a large leather band, put it round the back of your head – your opponent does the same- and the winner is the one who keeps the band on the longest whilst stretching it). And that’s normal behaviour!

One thing this trip has taught me is the sheer cold…bitterly cold, bone numbing cold, so you wrap up well and as soon as you go indoors anywhere you need to take your outer clothing off or you’ll roast…a fag if ever there was one but the option of freezing to death is not to be overlooked!

So once you’ve got your get up and go, it’s expected to carry on! Every time it snows you are legally required to clear your drive and path, and if you’re neighbour can’t do theirs for whatever reason, then you’re expected to volunteer – not wait for the council to turn up and do it!

And road traffic accidents – since public transport is relatively poor and often disjointed everyone travels everywhere by car. Greater Toronto and its 10m people have some 11 different transport authorities to deal with and, of course, they don’t always talk to each other but when it works it works well. So with cars by the mile, there’ll be accidents but no road closures for hours and hours, the vehicles are simply shifted to the roadside and the rest just drive on by! To do otherwise would be chaos!

And no, it’s not perfect as a nation. There’s the usual array of crime, social issues, accidents, fires etc but where is perfect? And it has similar problems to other countries – an article on the front page of the Toronto Sun newspaper highlighted the issues over education funding or rather the lack of and its complicated formulas so it could have been lifted straight from the UK but would it make the front page of a British paper?

And it’s not perfect in working out to play the lottery here – highly complex and I began to lose the will to live as I read the instructions – but I did work out that a ticket for the big prize costs C$40 (approx £25)!

Nonetheless it’s a great place with plenty of space so if you’ve not discovered it yet, do so – you’ll be welcomed!

So if you’ve lost your get up and go get up and go!

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