I was having lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago. He’s waiting to hear if he is a Canadian citizen. He took the exam, and apparently it takes forever to hear back. The exam’s really quite difficult. He was asking me some of the questions that were on the exam, and I don’t mind admitting that I fancy myself quite a flag-waver, and I had no clue of some of the answers.
The official exam is one thing, but it's not enough to convince me.
I gave my friend the ultimate test of Canadiana. I cleared the table and handed him a sugar bowl, telling him the table represented an ice surface and the sugar bowl a Zamboni. His job was to resurface the ice properly. As far as I’m concerned, any man who doesn’t know how it's done isn’t ready to be a Canadian.
He started out fine, going around the outside of the table, and I held my breath as he came around for the second pass to see if…yes…he did it! He came up the middle. I waited to see what he’d do next, and sure enough, he took a right and doubled back in ever increasing half-ice circular passes until the top of the table, had it been an ice surface, would have been as smooth and pristine as the surface of an early morning northern lake, all misty and calm before the morning breeze picks up, or in the case of a hockey rink, before the second period starts.
He knew how to Zamboni the ice is what I’m saying, and I am so confident in him that there may be no need for the second test, in which we drop him into any small town in Ontario and he has twenty minutes to find the beer store.
OK, so that's not exactly how it went down, but, as my friend the Toastmaster says when you ask him if that was a true story, "it could be." There's more to being a Canadian than passing an exam, though that's important. There's appreciation of national sport and culture (not assimilation into it, necessarily), shared values, contribution to society through work and raising a family to the best of your ability, and a love of this country and her people.
My buddy's going to make a fine Canadian.