Odd Thoughts

Odd Thoughts: Taking stock of Canadian value

The "old stock" phrase caught Bob Groeneveld's attention during the last leader's debate.

Last week’s federal election debate on the economy left me a bit confused.

What the three PM wannabes said about the issues didn’t surprise me. They all said pretty much exactly what I expected — pretty much nothing.

There was so much skating going on, if the debate had been a hockey game, they’d have made Gordie Howe look like a first-grader.

On the other hand, nobody scored a single point. Even the shots on goal were so wimpy, there would have been nothing for Johnny Bower to do.

Okay, so you probably noticed I haven’t watched NHL hockey in a long, long time.

In fact, that has lent a certain earnestness to my confusion.

You see, after the debate, I am no longer sure I know what kind of Canadian I am.

And putting my thoughts on paper (yeah, that’s just an old expression: I’m actually putting them on a computer screen, and somebody else will decide whether or not they make it onto paper).

Professional hockey is an indisputable part of our Canadian identity, and not only does it not interest me much, I can barely skate.

That skating thing hits me from two sides.

See, one kind of Canadian I know I am is a Dutch-Canadian. That’s definitive, whether I want to be or not — and despite the fact I don’t much like the concept of hyphenated Canadians — because my parents came here from Holland.

I’m also a native Canadian. That’s also simple definition: I was born here, no I’m a native.

Let me be clear, I’m not a Native Canadian, with the capital N denoting title, as in those Canadians who are members of our First Nations.

Now, it took me a while, but finally I had that all figured out — and along comes Stephen Harper and his Old Stock Canadians.

Here’s the thing: what the heck is he talking about, really?

Am I Old Stock by virtue of being a native Canadian? Or does that take more than one generation? Is there a point when a generation becomes Extra Old Stock — like the whiskey?

Unlike whiskey, old stock can also be something a retailer has earmarked to be thrown out because it’s been on a shelf too long and just won’t sell.

But in the debate, the term seemed to denote privilege — like a rancher’s old stock which is privileged to be saved for breeding, instead of being shipped off to the slaughterhouse.

And then there’s a question of degree. For instance, Donna is two generations Canadian on one side, while she’s traced the other side of her family back six generations in Canada. When Mr. Harper’s minions calculate her Old Stock value, will they decide on the lesser of the two lineages? Or the greater?

Or is it based on an average? Does three-and-a-half get her into Canada’s Old Stock club?

Our grand kids pose a bigger problem — they’ve got a smidgeon of Cree mixed in from a few generations back on the other side.

That makes them part of Canada’s truly old stock — although I’m pretty sure that doesn’t get them a bona fide Old Stock seal of approval from Harper.

But luckily, they’re not old enough to vote, so they don’t really count at all.

That’s just like their Cree forebears who didn’t get to vote in Canada, at any age, until 1960 — just one of the many atrocities (albeit one of the lesser ones) suffered by Canada’s old stock at the hands of our Old Stock.

Indeed, as I take stock, I realize I’d rather not be part of Harper’s Old Stock anyway.


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