Source: Unsplash

There is only one flag that matters to the future of Canada – the Canadian flag. Full stop. Tout court!

No other flag, whatever its beauty or the cause it represents, can obviate this basic truth: we all live in Canada, and our fate as a people and country will be determined by increasingly difficult realities and decisions on the ground, in the second largest state on Earth.

The proliferation of foreign flags, external causes and alien hatreds – including a wretched, incipient antisemitism – on Canadian soil has conspired to confuse the Canadian political and strategic imagination at a time of already heightened national disorientation and underperformance. Our great country is barely emerging from a devastating pandemic period – one that resulted in seven to eight major systems crises spiralling across state and society.

Post-pandemic, we cannot even properly educate our own kids – but the protagonists of faraway conflicts are strangely top of mind. Post-pandemic, we toil amid the rubble of disintegrated Canadian business and enterprise – but upheaval in some distant land will somehow vindicate us in all moral respects. Post-pandemic, our country has grave domestic threats to its national unity and social cohesion – but a radical change in leadership and ideology on another continent will apparently save us from ourselves.

Let us cease with these degenerate escapisms. We are all Canadians. And only by reinstating the “Canadianness” of all things can we begin to regain our eroding national sanity.

This sanity turns on two elements: first, that Canadian decision-makers always know and feel the national (Canadian) interest; and two, that there is always a large portion of the Canadian population thinking about – and defending – the national interest.

To be clear, I love all of Canada’s diasporas. I am of the diasporas. I am of Soviet-Jewish parents. I speak English, French, Russian and German, and am highly functional in several other languages. I can swear in some 20 tongues – a function of my street-wise upbringing on the soccer fields and hockey rinks of the Greater Toronto Area. And my friends are, without complexes, from all corners of Canada and the world.

But the diasporas must not govern. Ever. Their passions, fancies and caprices must never be dispositive in official Canadian decision-making, and their missions never central to our national imaginary. For if our country is, today, “thinking” and “dreaming” mostly about Israel-Palestine or Russia-Ukraine or Kalistan or Iran or Taiwan or Venezuela or Alabama or California or Country Y or X or Z, then who, pray tell, is thinking about Canada?

Answer: No one. Or not nearly enough people. More to the point – not nearly enough Canadians!

An absurdity of biblical dimensions obtains: we risk seeing Canada, one of history’s greatest political-constitutional constructions, die a fast, quiet death – a function of post-pandemic systems collapse in multiple areas – while it foolishly flails foreign flags, speaks to itself in fetishistic code and slogans about patent marginalia, and fantasizes about distant climes.

If Canada “stands with” every diaspora and every passion, then who stands for Canada? Who is for us? Who?

We must, post-pandemic, immediately reassert a Canadian understanding and rhythm of things – Canadian vocabulary, Canadian concepts and, in the end, Canadian ambitions, interests and projects.

I adduce three basic propositions.

First, the schools. If they do not function properly, we cannot assimilate the next generations into Canadiana, and they will not dream about our country. Let us, as a national mission, reconsolidate quality and comprehensive Canadian education for all kids and youth across this great land. Otherwise, we have no future.

Second, immigration. We need it, at scale, but with conditions and choreography. Consider Canada’s vast northern and Arctic spaces, which are fast opening up through climate change, but grossly underpopulated. If we do not populate the north – some 40% of our national territory – we will be destroyed strategically. Full stop. And so our immigration must be very deliberate, and all immigrants to Canada must be selected, distributed and assimilated assiduously, with care and purpose.

Finally, Canadian rule of law, institutions and norms. The pandemic collapsed many of these. We must, with huge energy and without sentimentality, return to pre-pandemic understandings and standards of proper Canadian lawfulness, behaviour, responsiveness, and duties and rights among ourselves as Canadians, and as between Canadians, communities and government at all levels.

In short, we must fight for Canada and all things Canadian. No one will do it for us. But this is a country well worth the fight.

Irvin Studin is president of the Institute for 21st Century Questions and editor-in-chief and publisher of Global Brief magazine. His new book is Never Close the Schools Again. Ever! – How the Pandemic Rise of Third Bucket Kids Changed the Arc of the 21st Century.


  • Irvin Studin

    Irvin Studin is President of The Institute for 21st Century Questions, Chair of the Worldwide Commission to Educate All Kids (Post-Pandemic), Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of Global Brief magazine, and Co-Chair of the Canada Science & Policy Committee to Exit the Pandemic. His new book is “Canada Must Think for Itself – 10 Theses for our Country’s Survival and Success in the 21st Century.”