Happy 150th Anniversary Canada!

In 1867 a group of visionaries got together and united a diverse collection of British colonies into a single country. The new nation was connected by a single railway, and little else. It was a country of Irish immigrants on the east coast, an entire province of French immigrants and cities that feel more European than anything one would expect in North America, prairie provinces with entire communities of Scottish, Ukrainian, and Romanian settlers who kept their own language and culture, and the westcoast with Spanish names on First Nations land filled with Asian immigrants seeking a new life. My own hometown of Victoria is often considered to be more British than Britain.

And yet over the past century and a half we have worked together to build it into the greatest nation on the planet. 

Canadians from across the country came together to fight two world wars when our values were threatened. We were one of the first countries to introduce healthcare for everyone, whether rich or poor, and our scientists have changed the medical world with such advancements as mapping the brain and developing insulin (and offering it to the masses instead of making a profit from the sick). And while I have often criticized certain aspects of the Canadian medical system, I am the first to admit proudly that our medical system is among the best in the world and in most cases a major illness will not lead to financial ruin. Canadians can live with the knowledge that no one will die when they or their families cannot afford to pay the hospital and the doctor.

We fought for justice around the world, and ended barbaric punishments and practices. Canadians now enjoy a charter of rights that has been copied by countries around the world, and guarantees all citizens a set of basic rights and freedoms. And because of these freedoms, Canadians were among the first in the world to grant women and minorities the vote, to allow women control of their own bodies, and to allow everyone to marry the person the love. All Canadians have the right to practice their own religion, and of equal important the right to not be controlled by their neighbour's religion.

We have built a system of schools and universities that are among the best in the world. Canadian scientists built the Canadarm for NASA, assisted in the construction of numerous probes for scientific missions in space, and helped to build and operate the Large Hadron Collider that is currently probing the highest energy reactions. The properties of neutrinos have been studied in detail in Sudbury, Ontario. One of the best research centers for theoretical physics, the Perimeter Institute, is a Canadian facility located in Ontario. The city of Vancouver boasts world leaders in the development of quantum computers and nuclear fusion reactors. The most prestigious award in mathematics is named for a Canadian. 

Too often we focus on the negatives and the small setbacks, but when you step back and look at our country as a whole it is truly an amazing place to live and work. In just a century and a half we have changed this land from a handful of brave pioneers from many diverse lands into a united, strong country that is quickly becoming a world leader. This is our century, and Canada is poised to grow even stronger and greater in the coming years.

So take a moment today to stop and think about what a great country we have built together. Whether you came here last week, or your family has been here since before confederation, this is your country. 

It is time to celebrate Canada!!