There is more than a scramble for hotel space in Vancouver for the upcoming Olympic Games there. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Canada itself is scrambling its image. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Here is a bit of the story: “Dominick Gauthier, a former Olympian now coaching two of the country’s top medal prospects, describes the country’s new Olympic philosophy this way: ‘Canada,’ he says, ‘is finally more concerned with winning than being nice.’”
Like any good rebranding, the effort promotes a snappy tag-line, too: “Own the Podium.” Holy Poutine, Batman, we are not in Halifax anymore!
All this is a bit jarring to someone introduced to the Canadian spirit by Benton Fraser of the Mounties (as in “Due South”), described by his Chicago cop sponsor as “the nicest man on the planet.” Bennie, how did you lose your way?
Or did you?
It may be a natural evolution of the culture as the systems that have sustained it (and the rest of us, too) have disappeared or changed. Borders are less meaningful, distance is less meaningful, climate is less forbidding and it is easier to now know what we could ever hardly have conceived.
In the midst of such change, if you don’t speak for yourself, who will? Start there — concerned more about yourself — and it is a short jump to a more self-centered brand.
So, despite what Robert Hughes might call “the shock of the new” in the rebranding of Canada, I hope they do get to “own the podium.” Otherwise there will be disappointment on a scale the formerly even-keeled folks never had to confront. But that is progress.