While "Woe Canada!" never replaced "O Canada!" as the national anthem, there were times during the 1970s and 1980s when it appeared social and political problems just might lead to the breakup of the country. A series of separatist referendums in Quebec almost passed. And restive western provinces, frustrated with eastern domination, were none too happy that their economic contributions weren't reflected politically.
Now? "It's very, very boring. But boring is sexy," said Gary Doer, Canada's ambassador to the United States, who was here recently to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Canadian consulate in Minneapolis.
Doer was referring to the relatively healthy Canadian economy and "not having to put a nickel into the Canadian banking sector," which through more rigorous regulation has avoided American-style bailouts.
Some of this economic success might be due to Canada's political landscape, which seems to be in a "boring is sexy" phase.
In Quebec, "for the third time in a row voters have chosen a federalist government," Doer said.
Symbolically underscoring the point, Doer recalled that the first Canadian to win a gold medal at home, Alexandre Bilodeau, "was both a proud Quebecker and a proud member of the Canadian Olympic team."
A generation ago, when the Winter Olympics were held in Calgary, Bilodeau might have waved the separatists' symbol, the Quebec flag with its signature fleur de lis. Instead, in Vancouver, Doer recalls with a smile, "He was there with a big maple leaf."
And mimicking the west's economic rise, mostly fueled by Albertan oil, the center of political gravity has shifted as well.
"Fifteen years ago, the feeling from the west was that everyone running the government was from Ontario or Quebec," Doer said. "But now Prime Minister Stephen Harper and nearly every other seat representing the federal government is from Alberta."
How long this lasts will be determined by 2012, or earlier, depending on when a parliamentary election is called.
If the Canadian election does come in 2012, it's likely to be a more civil civic event than the presidential election in this country. Indeed, given the divisions here, which at times have eerie echoes of the turmoil that once plagued Canada, a more boring election in America might just be sexy in its own right.
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