Leading up to Canada Day, the Huffington Post blog team asked prominent Canadians what they would change about one aspect of our country. We are publishing their answers in our series "What I'd Change About Canada" leading up to July 1. You can find the full series here.
If I were able, I would change the map. There are a few options here, but for any of these we'd no longer be sitting on top of the United States and, as we are constantly told is the case, we'd not see ourselves as huddled along the border -- crouching almost.
The first option would simply be to flip the map and thus to put the United States up top. Let them sit in the attic for a while, and suffer all the indignities of imagining themselves away from the action. Our cities, such as they are, would then become fortresses against their preponderance, and they would be the bad wind from the North. Think Game of Thrones and, in this configuration, the United States are suddenly the wrong side of the wall.
The second would be to stand Canada on its side, so that our North and its archipelago drift away in straggling promontories towards the West a little like the occidental coasts of England and Ireland already do. We'd see possibility in that direction -- the West, for some reason, has always been the point of the compass associated with hope -- but also, I'd wager, manage our expansion with more care.
The oil sands and the Arctic, soon to be exploited just as relentlessly, would in this way no longer be so far away that only oil executives and Inuit we hardly listen to are the only ones that see and care about how we extract resources from these places. With one simple anti-clockwise turn, our resource-rich a tip fall into the orbit of California to Oregon progressive thinking. We'd respect the land more, if only because the belching open pit mines would be right in the middle of us. We'd also, I'm quite sure, end up building a lot of roads West so that we'd no longer be subject to the dull and uninspiring tyranny of the 401, most Canadian journeys leaving us no choice but to return the way we left. God knows what effect this syndrome has upon the national psyche.
A bonus, with the same quarter rotation of the map, Quebeckers would be speaking the truth as they sing, "Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays c'est l'hiver..." About Newfoundland, there would be no need to worry as they are already used to blizzards in high summer.
The third option is a bit more drastic, though we'd be leaving our points of the compass alone. For this one, we'd cut out the prairies so that Calgary, Hamilton and Toronto would be merged as cities, and it would be possible to ski in the Rockies and even make it to Montreal in a day.
We'd have a West Coast that was no longer so far away from the busy centre that its biggest city can forego bookstores and good newspapers and talk instead about the ten minutes it takes to leave work for the ski hill or the beach.
Pipelines would not be an issue, you could almost roll the barrels of oil east; Alberta would see the benefit in spending on infrastructure in Toronto because suddenly it would be their own, and, Fort McMurray a near commute, the Atlantic Provinces would have a market for their labour but also for their seafood and learn from B.C. how to fish more responsibly. Hell, we'd be almost European in the contiguity and pleasures of our topography and peoples, the latter actually meeting because they'd be butt up against each other and no longer able to bitch from their various corners.
As for the prairies, we could use them to fill in the gaps of the Northwest Passage, the territory soon to be prime arable land due to climate change, and the infill keeping the pesky Americans and Danes and Russians away as there'd be no question of the new landmass being ours by connection.
Or we can do nothing at all and continue to regard each other as contestants and even enemies, blissfully unaware of just how collectively fortunate we are.
Happy Canada Day!