It's summer time. Yes, that's right; in a week or so, summer will officially be here, and Canadians will perform a few of their annual rituals: the annual shift in complaints about the weather from it being too cold to too hot; barbeques fired up in earnest; and kids pouring forth from their classrooms and into the wilds of summer.
In addition to all of those events, there is the annual flurry of ads from provincial governments urging Canadians to visit their province. Ontario's got the "There's no place like this" moniker, New Brunswick goes straight for the snowbird jugular by advertising the "Warmest Saltwater Beaches in Canada," while British Columbia opts for the spiritual, suggesting that BC is Super, Natural.
I see two motives behind these ads. The first, and more honourable of the two, is that Canada is the most beautiful country in the world, and the provinces are simply doing a bit of self-promotion—nothing wrong with that. If you've got a Niagara Falls, a Dinosaur Provincial Park, or a Gros Morne, it would be a little strange if you didn't do a bit of show and tell.
But beneath the healthy sense of pride in the beauty of our country, there is always a part of me that smells a whiff of stale mercantilism. Thus, we get governments throwing huge sums of money at developing ad campaigns, building tourist centres, gazebos, and the like to draw the gold from other provinces and countries into their territory, while trying to persuade as many of their own citizens to stay at home and "spend local." It's good for the economy, after all! The more we get the better! In some ways its like the new fad of eco-tourism; just lose the granola and add some filthy lucre. But, green and clean, or a dirtier shade of green are both moralistic reasons for going on vacation. And lame reasons, I might add.
Of course, nobody decides to take a vacation at home because it's good for the economy. Anyone who does is likely to be vacationing alone. People vacation for pleasure, and sipping an English Bay Pale while thinking of economics is not pleasure (well, the drinking is, the thinking is not).
This summer, go take your vacation and enjoy it. Go for the glory of the Nahanni river, or for the history of Quebec. Heck, go for the thrill of seeing democracy at work. Take the time to enjoy the beauty of our country and the culture made by Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Revel in the prosperity, beauty, and work that can thrive within a long tradition of peace, order, and good government. Just don't go because your province says it's good for the economy. Or, if you do, don't invite me.